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What Is The Endocrine System?
The endocrine system is a chemical messenger system comprising feedback loops of the hormones released by internal glands of an organism directly into the circulatory system, regulating distant target organs. In humans, the major endocrine glands are the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands.
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things.
The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce and secrete hormones that the body uses for a wide range of functions. These control many different bodily functions, including:
- Sensory perception
- Sexual development
Hormones are produced by glands and sent into the bloodstream to the various tissues in the body. They send signals to those tissues to tell them what they are supposed to do. When the glands do not produce the right amount of hormones, diseases develop that can affect many aspects of life.
The study of psychology and the endocrine system is called behavioral endocrinology, which is the scientific study of the interaction between hormones and behavior. This interaction is bidirectional: hormones can influence behavior, and behavior can sometimes influence hormone concentrations. Hormones regulate behaviors such as aggression, mating, and parenting of individuals.
Hormones are involved in regulating all sorts of bodily functions, and they are ultimately controlled through interactions between the hypothalamus (in the central nervous system) and the pituitary gland (in the endocrine system). Imbalances in hormones are related to a number of disorders. This section explores some of the major glands that make up the endocrine system and the hormones secreted by these glands.
Major Glands of The Endocrine System
The pituitary gland descends from the hypothalamus at the base of the brain, and acts in close association with it. The pituitary is often referred to as the “master gland” because its messenger hormones control all the other glands in the endocrine system, although it mostly carries out instructions from the hypothalamus. In addition to messenger hormones, the pituitary also secretes growth hormone, endorphins for pain relief, and a number of key hormones that regulate fluid levels in the body.
Located in the neck, the thyroid gland releases hormones that regulate growth, metabolism, and appetite. In hyperthyroidism, or Grave’s disease, the thyroid secretes too much of the hormone thyroxine, causing agitation, bulging eyes, and weight loss. In hypothyroidism, reduced hormone levels cause sufferers to experience tiredness, and they often complain of feeling cold. Fortunately, thyroid disorders are often treatable with medications that help reestablish a balance in the hormones secreted by the thyroid.
The adrenal glands sit atop our kidneys and secrete hormones involved in the stress response, such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). The pancreas is an internal organ that secretes hormones that regulate blood sugar levels: insulin and glucagon. These pancreatic hormones are essential for maintaining stable levels of blood sugar throughout the day by lowering blood glucose levels (insulin) or raising them (glucagon). People who suffer from diabetes do not produce enough insulin; therefore, they must take medications that stimulate or replace insulin production, and they must closely control the amount of sugars and carbohydrates they consume.
The gonads secrete sexual hormones, which are important in reproduction, and mediate both sexual motivation and behavior. The female gonads are the ovaries; the male gonads are the testis. Ovaries secrete estrogens and progesterone, and the testes secrete androgens, such as testosterone.
Glands that compose the endocrine system include the adrenals, ovaries/testes, pancreas, thyroid, parathyroid, and kidneys. These glands are influenced by the pituitary gland in the brain. When abnormalities occur, illness or death can result.
Biopsychology of The Endocrine System Hormones
The pituitary gland is sometimes known as the master gland because the hormones released by the pituitary gland control and stimulate the release of hormones from other glands in the endocrine system. The pituitary gland is also divided into the anterior (front) and posterior (rear) lobes (see right), which release different hormones.
A key hormone released from the posterior lobe is oxytocin (often referred to as the ‘love hormone’) which is responsible for uterus contractions during childbirth. A key hormone released from the anterior lobe is adrenocortical trophic hormone (ACTH) which stimulates the adrenal cortex and the release of cortisol, during the stress response.
The main hormone released from the pineal gland is melatonin, which is responsible for important biological rhythms, including the sleep-wake cycle.
The thyroid gland releases thyroxine which is responsible for regulating metabolism. People who have a fast metabolism typically struggle to put on weight, as metabolism is involved in the chemical process of converting food into energy.
The adrenal gland is divided into two parts, the adrenal medulla and the adrenal cortex. The adrenal medulla is responsible for releasing adrenaline and noradrenaline, which play a key role in the fight or flight response. The adrenal cortex releases cortisol, which stimulates the release of glucose to provide the body with energy while suppressing the immune system.
Males and females have different sex organs, and in males the testes release androgens, which include the main hormone testosterone. Testosterone is responsible for the development of male sex characteristics during puberty while also promoting muscle growth. In females, the ovaries release oestrogen which controls the regulation of the female reproductive system, including the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
Keeping Endocrine System Energetic and Healthy
Food is Medicine
You can start to heal your endocrine system through nutrition. The phrase “you are what you eat” rings true. The basic dietary approach goes back to understanding that all hormones are made from cholesterol, so avoid low fat diets and consume good healthy fats that are rich in omega fats. It is well studied that eating a diet rich in varied, colorful veggies will give your body the nutrients and nutrition that it needs to function properly and to prevent cancer. An example is dark green leafy veggies are packed full of B vitamins, essential nutrients when you are under stress.
Your body also needs Vitamin C, which is found in the green leaves, oranges, mango, parsley, broccoli, and cabbage. Vitamin C prevents free radical damage, strengthens and maintains healthy cell integrity, improves wound healing, enhances immune function, inhibits cancer formation, and lower inflammation. Natural carotenes, the orange pigment found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe aid balance by promoting healthy differentiation of cells, is a potent antioxidant, and enhances the immune system. And the constituent in green tea, epigallocatachin-3-gallate, stops free radical damage and lowers inflammation.
Fish can also be a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which play an important role in endocrine system health. The endocrine system also requires numerous vitamins and minerals to function properly, so a healthy endocrine diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens, such as spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, kale, and asparagus, are especially good for endocrine health.
Other foods that support a healthy endocrine system Foods include lean protein (think chicken breasts, eggs, and wild-caught fish); vegetables and most fruit; chia seeds, flaxseeds, and most nuts; olive oil and some other unsaturated oils and fats, like canola oil; and whole grains like buckwheat, brown rice, and quinoa.
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References: https://www.nawellness.com/balancing-the-endocrine-system-naturally/, https://www.tutor2u.net/psychology/reference/biopsychology-the-endocrine-system-hormones, https://courses.lumenlearning.com/waymaker-psychology/chapter/the-endocrine-system/, https://www.livescience.com/26496-endocrine-system.html,