We have 11 different systems in our body, and they all work with each other. The endocrine system is the one that contains our hormones and food passes through the digestive system. These systems can work in sync or there can be many factors that make them work against one another.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the blood, which carries them to organs and tissues of the body to exert their functions. They are secreted by the endocrine glands in the body. Some of the major glands include: Thyroid, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries and pituitary gland.
Some hormones we may have heard of include Cortisol, Insulin, Glucagon, Adrenaline and Growth hormone. I want to explain a little bit about how these hormones can be affected by the foods we eat or our environment etc.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is the stress hormone and is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels, acts as an anti-inflammatory, controls salt and water balance and influences blood pressure.
Cortisol levels are usually high in the morning and decrease as the day goes on. Our body wants to regulate the amount of cortisol released, too much or too little is not optimal. But some factors may affect Cortisol secretion, like times of high stress or malnutrition or obesity etc. This can lead to a negative impact on the body.
Too much cortisol can lead to:
- Weight gain
2.Consistently high blood glucose levels coupled with insulin supression lead to cells starved of glucose. Cells send hunger signals to the brain.
3.Cortisol also influences cravings for high calorie foods
- High blood pressure
- Muscle weakness
- Mood swings – anxiety, depression, irritability
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use carbohydrates as energy and allows us to store carbohydrates for future use.
If you have extra carbohydrates (in the form of sugar) than your body needs, insulin helps store the sugar in your liver and release it when your blood sugar is low, such as in between meals or during physical activity. When the liver has taken it’s capacity of glycogen, insulin signals fat cells to take up glucose to be stored as fat in the body. Over time because of over consumption of carbohydrates our cells can become resistant to the effects of insulin. Type 2 diabetes can then occur. This is very common in the overweight/obese population.