The human body contains a vast amount of cells, chemicals, and other substances that all contribute to the proper function of its systems and organs. For everything to work as it should, the entire symbiotic system needs to run in harmony. If any vital component of the body begins to fail, the whole system suffers.
Failures in the system can be induced by nutrient depletion, the over- or underproduction of hormones, peptides, or imbalanced oxygen levels – just to name a few. Hormones and peptides are both crucial components to overall health and wellness. But what are they, what do they do to keep everything running as it should, and what is the difference between peptides and steroids?
Steroids can be both naturally occurring within the body and synthesized outside of it. They are a specific class of hormone and use proteins to help the production and maintenance of muscle and tissue. They aid in cell response when they make their way through the circulatory system and induce physiological responses such as the regulation of gene expression.
A well-known example of a steroid is cortisol, the “stress” hormone. It helps modulate stress levels, and can increase both blood pressure and blood sugar levels in response to stress. Other examples of steroid hormones include progesterone, which is largely used in menses regulation, and estradiol (estrogen). The synthetic version of steroids is used in many medicinal ways, including birth control pills, muscle building and repair, and to battle inflammation.
Steroids are a vital regulator when it comes to bodily processes. They tend to be grouped by what part of the body they come from. Adrenal steroids are created in the adrenal cortex and sex hormones are created in the reproductive organs.
The importance of having a natural balance of steroids in the body draws from physiological functions and what they need to be constantly working. The release of hormones needs to take place in a calculated and harmonious way for these processes to work as they should. When a steroidal hormone is released at levels that are too low or too high, the body suffers.
Peptides are essentially a “little brother” to protein. They are a type of short chain molecule and are used to bond amino acids together. Peptides can include anywhere from 2 to 50 amino acids. They are split up into several different categories depending on how many amino acids are present.
Peptides are naturally occurring in the body and contribute to the structure of cells and tissues as well as hormones, enzymes, and toxins. In some cases, peptides can be synthetic and used in the function of different receptors to help modulate cell response.
Peptide therapy is a form of medicine that has been used for decades to help combat a wide variety of different maladies. Since peptides are naturally occurring within the body and have a direct role in cell signaling, they can be used to help restore receptor response for different ailments.
A good example of peptide therapy is insulin use for people with diabetes. When insulin resistance occurs, the body’s cells are unable to process glucose levels properly. The synthetic form of the hormone is given to people with diabetes to help mitigate these effects, thus restoring optimal glucose levels in the blood.
As previously mentioned, peptides are found naturally within the body, but they can also be synthetically created. Natural peptides work to build muscle and tissue, whereas synthetic forms of peptides are injected to elicit specific responses when they bind to receptors.
Synthetic peptides are the form used in peptide therapy, and can be effective at treating a wide variety of different illnesses because they have specific characteristics that make them more attractive in treatment. Those characteristics include high bioavailability, low toxicity, and high specificity.
Although peptides and steroids can both be considered hormones, their respective roles in the body and its processes differ significantly. Steroids are able to diffuse across plasma membranes of cells where peptides cannot. Steroids also bind to cells differently than peptides. Where peptides need to bind through receptors on the surface, steroids will go deep into the cell to target the nucleus, binding directly to DNA.
Peptides are used in a process called signal transduction, which is the activation of certain cellular activities whereas steroids act as transcription participant in gene expression. The two are both required for the body to function, but they don’t complete the same process, and thus are two completely vital but separate components of overall health. Some research has shown that they may have more of a connection, though, in the way that their signaling mechanisms operate similarly.
Steroidal treatments were used as early as the 1930s in the form of testosterone to enhance male performance, but peptide therapy is a relatively new thing outside of insulin use. The research surrounding the use of a plethora of different peptides has shown that it can help many different health issues, restoring optimal levels of health for many Americans.
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