13 Ways Peptides Make Vibrant Health Happen

Safe to say, just about all of us want to remain as vital as possible for as long as possible. To help our bodies do that, our cells, organs and systems need to work in concert, to ‘talk’ to each other to keep everything running smoothly. Helping to keep that communication moving along are peptides, which go to work inside our cells and have a host of positive effects on our physiology. In short, they help make good health things happen and it’s a big reason why I’ve become such a fan of putting peptides to work for myself and a number of my patients.

But, what are peptides all about and what are they actually doing? Here’s an introduction to these unsung heroes of our physiology:

Getting to know peptides.

Peptides are natural signaling agents in the cells, which are responsible for a host of beneficial biological effects. They have a wide range of uses and functions in the body, transmitting information between cells and tissues, thereby influencing various physiological processes. They can stimulate cellular repair, restore mitochondrial  function, modulate immune responses, regulate hormone production and neurotransmitter activity, among other functions. In other words, these molecules pack a big, positive punch, perfect for using them therapeutically.

What’s also great, is that because your body is already familiar with them, it doesn’t view them as invaders to attack or fend off, so they have few side effects and are effective at optimizing health, while correcting dysfunction and disease.

Painting the protein and peptide picture.

Proteins are the “building blocks of life.” When we eat food that contains protein, our bodies break it down into amino acids (20 of them in all), which are in essence, the building blocks of the building blocks. You can think of an amino acid as a single Lego piece and a protein as an elaborate 3-D Lego sculpture. What makes peptides special is that they fall in-between, in both size and complexity, a chain of between 2 and 50 amino acids (or, if you like, Lego blocks).

Peptides are like protein’s simpler, more nimble, helpful younger sibling.

Because of their unique, in-between status, and their ability to slip into some places where proteins can’t, peptides are increasingly gaining traction as some of the most promising ingredients in medicine. Because they’re smaller than the larger and somewhat clunkier proteins, peptides are absorbed into our cells more easily. And unlike proteins that have more defined functions, the peptides can be more nimble, more adaptable, serving a helper function, improving how key systems in the body work.

In fact, a number of highly effective drugs have been developed from peptides. For example, the GLP-1 receptor agonists (Ozempic and Mounjaro etc.), which have been generating so much excitement in the new generation of diabetes and weight-loss drugs, are therapeutic peptides. The pharma chemists found a long-lasting peptide capable of binding to the GLP-1 receptor, synthesized it, and came up with the hottest category of drugs on the market because they are so effective.

Peptides can help take the edge off some aspects of aging.

I got interested in peptides initially because of their ability to combat some of aging’s more insidious irritations, like weight gain (especially around the abdomen), muscle loss, decreased insulin sensitivity, flagging energy and so on. This usually happens because, as we get older, our cellular mechanisms become more sluggish, cells lose their “flexibility” and don’t make energy as efficiently as they did in our younger years. Peptides help ramp this efficiency back up again. For instance, with advancing years, your physiological production of many key hormones and enzymes decreases and peptides can influence this physiological production, helping your body to make more of the hormones and enzymes that you were making at high levels when you were younger.

Put another way, the hard truth is that by the time you hit 50, you’re making approximately less than 50% of the amount of growth hormone you were making at 25. So, with the right combination of certain peptides, we can influence the body’s own production of internally produced growth hormone – without actually needing to take growth hormone. Taking these peptides can lead to improved energy, a more efficient metabolism, increased muscle mass and less fat around the belly — good news for those who wish to slow their aging roll.

Peptides provide a bounty of benefits.

While peptides can be true health-enhancing game-changers, please keep in mind that most of these amazing molecules will not work very well (if at all) if you are reckless with your health. Pairing peptides with the good habit essentials – as in a healthy diet, plenty of exercise (both aerobic and resistance training), and adequate rest – will ensure you reap the benefits from head to toe.

The benefits of peptides on their own and/or in varying combinations, include:

  1. Combating aging and enhancing longevity by reducing oxidative stress, and in some cases, increasing the body’s internal production of its own growth hormone.
  2. Stimulating cellular repair and regeneration processes, which help speed up healing and combat aging.
  3. Restoring mitochondrial health and function, which in turn can help boost energy and vitality, prevent many chronic diseases and slow aging.
  4. Taming inflammation, important for the prevention of most age-related diseases (including the 4 most common, coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s), and maintaining an overall sense of wellbeing.
  5. Regulating hormones and aiding in the management of age-related hormonal imbalances, which is especially useful for maintaining muscle mass, a healthy metabolism, and energy.
  6. Restoring and enhancing immune function, especially helpful when ill, for those with a compromised immune system and in older people, whose immune response tends to decline with age.
  7. Boosting brain health and cognitive function, by positively affecting various regions of the brain and increasing brain-derived proteins (like BDNF) & anti-inflammatory factors.
  8. Enhancing sleep quality, with some peptides delivering anti-anxiety effects, normalizing circadian rhythm, and restoring melatonin production.  
  9. Improving sexual function, inducing arousal and helping with male and female sexual dysfunction by stimulating the brain and central nervous system.
  10. Improving skin & hair health, promoting skin elasticity, hydration and glow, the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, hair growth and thickening, while also supporting the body’s natural collagen production.
  11. Maintaining & optimizing bone health by regulating and improving bone density, preventing bone loss, as well as preventing and even improving osteoporosis.
  12. Boosting muscle growth and repair, making certain peptides particularly helpful for athletic performance.
  13. Influencing appetite and satiety, enhancing fat-burning – all of which can greatly aid in weight management and metabolic health.

Do peptides with a pro.

As excited as I am about peptides and peptide-based therapies, before you consider them, it’s absolutely essential to consult with a qualified healthcare pro who can provide guidance based on your current health status and individual goals. Peptides are anything but one-size-fits-all and therapy is best closely monitored, so I urge you to enlist a professional on your therapeutic journey.

Peptides are quite expensive – and often involve injections.

While some peptides may be available as a topical cream or nasal spray, be advised that it’s more likely that you’ll be looking at shots and needles which can be a challenge for the needle-phobic. The good news is that the needles are tiny, and with proper guidance, peptide injections can quickly be viewed as nothing more than a quick poke!

Don’t cut corners.

Another non-negotiable is to know the source of your peptides and their quality. Do not freestyle or DIY it to save a few bucks by taking your business to the lowest bidder, for instance, a random internet source where you have no way of knowing what you’re actually getting, or what environment the peptides were exposed to. Instead, do your research and be sure that your practitioner procures peptides through legitimate, regulated, reputable sources – and that they are obtained from a licensed and inspected pharmacy that continually tests for and verifies safety, sterility and potency. Quality matters.

Peptide therapies to come.

The range of applications of peptides is mind-boggling – truly, the sky’s the limit. Think essential and potentially life-changing peptide treatments for boosting the immune system, tamping down inflammation, fighting pathogenic microbes, etc. – basically doing all the things that conventional “small-molecule drugs” are supposed to do, yet, potentially with greater effectiveness and milder side-effects. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what these clever molecules can do.

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