Endocrine system facts: our endocrine system produces hormones to regulate our bodies. The major glands in this system secrete hormones directly responsible for many weight control functions. You cannot fight your hormones, learn how to work with them.
Major Glands in the Endocrine System
Many glands and tissues work together to create a system of signaling.
- The pituitary gland – with growth hormone
- The pineal gland – with melatonin for good sleep
- Thyroid – role in metabolism and body temperature
- Adrenal – with Cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine
- Pancreas – with insulin (fat storing and energy producing)
- Gonads (testes and ovaries) – with hormones influencing fat distribution and metabolism
This tiny pea sized gland, linked to the hypothalamus stimulates other endocrine glands. It helps control growth, blood pressure, hydration, metabolism and body temperature.
Tiny rice grain sized gland in the center of the brain. It produces melatonin to regulate circadian rhythms and our sleep cycle.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. It produces hormones that affect basal metabolic rate, generate body heat, growth, heart rate and blood calcium (bone development). It needs iodine to function well.
The thymus gland is a vital part of our immunity. It allows T cells originally from bone marrow to mature. Different types of T cells can destroy viruses and tumour cells. Problems can lead to autoimmune diseases. It is largest in children, shrinking as we age.
The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and release important hormones enabling us to respond to stress, including cortisol and adrenaline. They also produce small amounts of testosterone, progesterone and estrogens (important after menopause) and aldosterone (water and electrolyte balance). The hypothalamus and pituitary glands regulate it.
The pancreas sits vertically behind the stomach. It produces hormones vital to weight control and energy production. Glucagon for carbohydrate metabolism. Insulin for digestion, energy, fat storage and artery muscle tone. Grehlin to stimulate hunger and fat mass.
The ovaries produce estrogens and progesterone. Estrogens promote fat distribution in hips, legs and breasts.
Progesterone influences the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, skin elasticity and bone strength, as well as brain functions such as memory and cognitive ability. It also has an anti-inflammatory and regulates immune response. Low progesterone balance can result in water retention (and water weight).
The testes produce male sex hormones under the control of the pituitary gland. Testosterone is the most well known of these. Testosterone’s importance in weight control is its effect on lean body mass. It also affects bone density, libido, mental and physical energy and normal sperm development.