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  • Writer's pictureLaren Cavicchio

The Hormone Effect

Ask anyone who is serious in the studio, gym, track, or field about the cardiovascular, respiratory, and/or musculoskeletal system, and they will likely have a lot to say, with enthusiasm might I add. Then ask them to talk about the endocrine system...

The endocrine system does not often come up in conversation when we talk about training, and yet it is the endocrine system that greatly influences and impacts our performance on a daily basis. We should all learn as much as we can about this complex yet incredible system that helps us balance our internal stability, and bring our cells back to homeostasis.

The Brain

I'm going to start with the brain because your brain controls everything that happens in your bodies and consciousness, and the keys to our endocrine system are located in the brain. The brain's only function is to keep you alive. So, it makes sense that everything you need for your organs to function properly starts within the brain.

The Hypothalamus and The Pituitary Gland

The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are located inside our brains. Although the pituitary gland is dubbed as the "master gland", the hypothalamus gets far more done as far as everyday function. A few examples of the hypothalamus in action includes our heart rate, blood pressure, fluid balance (the hypothalamus promotes the feeling of thirst), sleep, feelings of hunger and fullness as well as our digestion, and sweating or shivering (temperature control).

How Does It Work

Now we know that the endocrine system is controlled by both our hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, and works on a loop where messages are sent back and forth via neurons and hormones, we can talk more about how this all works.

The hypothalamus provides information to the pituitary gland via neurons in the brain (neurons send and receive information), and the pituitary gland signals other glands via hormone secretion into the blood stream. This information tells the other glands in the body how much hormone to produce (and when), which allows the body to function properly (hormones perform specific jobs). You can imagine how detrimental it is to cellular function if this loop is interrupted at any point in its cycle.

The endocrine system is complex, and I am going to briefly mention to five other glands in particular (the first mentioned was the pituitary gland) to get you hooked on why you should love your hormones.

The Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland regulates metabolism, and I want to broaden the scope of what the word, "metabolism" means in the context of the human body. The human body needs energy to perform (this includes but is not limited to moving well and bone health), and metabolism makes this happen.

NOTE: if you are living with an official thyroid diagnosis, please consult your endocrinologist on the ongoing care of your thyroid. There is no scientific evidence that diet and exercise alone will regulate the thyroid in any individual who is living with an under/overactive thyroid, or has had their thyroid removed.

Parathyroid Glands

Parathyroid releases hormones that stimulate the release of calcium by the bones into the bloodstream, the absorption of calcium in the intestines, and the reabsorption rate by the kidneys.

Convinced yet that your hormones are wonderful and should be loved???

The Pancreas

The pancreas is an organ located behind your stomach, and is made up of two types of glands.

The exocrine gland releases digestive enzymes at the beginning of the small intestines as the stomach slowly releases its contents. These enzymes neutralizes stomach acid at this point in the small intestines and continues to break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

The endocrine gland releases insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream to regulate blood glucose, and somatostatin to prevent the release of insulin and glucagon when they are not needed.

The Adrenal Glands

Suprarenal glands. So many reasons to love them. These glands produce hormones that regulate energy conversion (AKA, metabolism), immune system responses, and your fight or flight responses. These glands also have two parts, which give off different hormones.

Cortisol is only one of the hormones that is released by the adrenal glands, and I am mentioning this hormone because this is the hormone that people hear about on commercials.

This hormone can cause a myriad of chaos in your body if there is too much of it. Sustained stress in a person's life may lead to a higher level of cortisol over time, and exercise, and artistic expression, may help combat fight or flight responses in the body, which can bring the body back to homeostasis (neutral).

The Thymus

This gland begins to shrink after puberty and becomes fatty tissue by the time a person is in their 70s. Why should we love this gland? Because it produces thymosin, all your T cells, which is how your body fights off infection.

So many reasons to love hormones.

I will be sharing more information about the endocrine system at a later date, but please consider this article as a starting point, and learn as much as you can; a little at a time. The knowledge you gain will help you love your hormones instead of fear them, or hate them.❤️

Remember, training changes everything😊

- Miss Laren



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