The endocrine system of a human body is usually referred to as the hormone system. This system fundamentally refers to a network of “glands” located throughout the human body. These glands secrete “hormones” either directly into the bloodstream or the surrounding cells. The secreted hormones greatly determine the behavioral nature of the human body as various organs respond according to them. They act as messengers instructing organs to function in a particular fashion.
The levels of different hormones in a body control their respective biological processes more in a lock and key fashion. Some of the examples of such hormones are :
- Insulin controlling blood sugar level.
- Testosterone controlling function and growth of reproductive organs
As stated before, the hormones secreted by endocrine glands regulate nearly all bodily functions from conception to adulthood and further into old age. The development of the brain and the whole nervous system, metabolism rate of the body, blood sugar levels, development of the reproductive system, all are subjects to hormonal balance in the body.
Therefore, any imbalance in the secretion of hormones and their levels in the body can impact the bodily functions on the levels of mild to severe.
The Endocrine Glands
The glands forming the whole endocrine system are known as endocrine glands. Let us know about some of the major endocrine glands and their functions:
- Hypothalamus : It is responsible for linking our whole endocrine system with the nervous system. It is actually the core that drives the endocrine system.
- Pituitary Gland : This gland consists of 2 lobes - the anterior lobe which produces its own hormones which in turn act on other endocrine glands & the posterior lobe which necessarily secretes the hormones produced by hypothalamus.
- Thyroid Gland : It secretes hormones which are critical for healthy development of the vertebrates and balancing the metabolism rate.
- Adrenal Gland : This gland is actually made up of 2 glands - the cortex and the medulla. They are largely responsible for regulating the salt and water proportion in the blood, hence , regulating the blood pressure. They also produce hormones in response to stress.
- Pancreas : It is responsible for producing glucagon and insulin which help regulate the glucose metabolism and therefore, blood sugar levels.
- Gonads : These are the male and female reproductive glands, testes in men and ovaries in women. They produce hormones that regulate reproductive cycles and behaviors.
Taking Care of the Endocrine System
A healthy endocrine system is a prerequisite for a healthy body. It performs many important functions of the body and impacts almost all the biological processes either directly or indirectly. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the first and the most important step in keeping the endocrine system healthy. In today’s era, our lifestyle is largely affected because of our schedules which adversely impacts our endocrine system. Some of the measures that can be taken to take care of the endocrine system are as follows:
- A Balanced Diet : Eating a balanced diet is the first step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When you eat a balanced diet, your body receives the right amount of nutrients which induce the correct secretion hormones creating a healthy balance in the body.
- Minimize the junk : Our eating habits are particularly getting worse in today’s era. Sugar, alcohol, increased amounts of caffeine are some examples responsible for creating an imbalance in the body. Therefore, start eating fresh as much as possible and put as little junk into your body as possible for a healthy hormonal balance.
- Good Sleep : This is another prerequisite for a good lifestyle and consequently the endocrine system. There is no exception or replacement of a good 6-7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
- Physical Exercise : Ensuring that our body is doing the right amount of physical work in a day can work wonders for us. Therefore, choose the right kind of exercise according to your body and do it regularly.
- Eating the meals at the right time : Knowledge of when to eat is equally important as what to eat. Thus, practices like early dinners, taking small meals in regular intervals of time, nor skipping breakfast can be adopted keep the body in check
Our endocrine system is too important to be taken lightly. Therefore, we must maintain a balanced life to keep it healthy and functional. Also, regular body checkups and always consulting the doctor whenever necessary is always helpful in mitigating the unforeseen damage. Symptoms like insomnia, fatigue etc. should not be ignored after a certain period of time.
Always follow the mantra of “Eating healthy, Sleeping Right” and live a long, healthy life.