The human endocrine system is a network of glands secreting hormones responsible for regulation of numerous functions such as digestion, sexual reproduction, growth and internal homeostasis. Glands constituting the endocrine system include the kidneys, thyroid, pancreas, pituitary, adrenal, ovaries/testes and parathyroid glands. An imbalance of hormones caused by an unhealthy endocrine system can produce symptoms ranging from panic disorder, to metabolic dysregulation, to diabetes. Problems with the parathyroid gland may allow excessive calcium levels to build in the body, creating a condition called hypercalcemia, while pituitary adenomas, or tumors, emerge when the pituitary releases too much growth hormone.
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Omega 3, 6 and 9 Fatty Acid Oils
Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acid oils are obtained by eating fish or taking fish oil supplements. They enhance the operation of the endocrine system by facilitating the transportation of hormones throughout the body. Certain cells require hormones to maintain their efficiency in performing targeted tasks within the body, such as reproductive cells regulating menstrual and testosterone difficulties. Omega fatty acids also promote proper fluid balance and kidney functioning, which prevents water retention and possible resulting hypertension. Blood circulation benefits from fish oil as well, which assists in carrying hormones to their destinations.
Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a good balance of fruit and vegetables keeps the body healthy and relatively free of disease. As a result, the endocrine system benefits from these foods as well, since glandular hormone release is not disrupted by disorders that may be exacerbated by too much fat, sugar or salt. Kidneys are affected by the amount of toxins they are forced to filter and excrete from the body. Occasionally, they are unable to regulate accumulations of purine caused by a diet of high purine foods. Excessive purine is directly associated with the development of uric acid crystals and gouty arthritis. In addition, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables prevents the thyroid from becoming sluggish, which causes weight gain and chronic fatigue.
Garlic and Herbs
Garlic is a natural immune system enhancer and an important endocrine system nutrient. Chewing one or two garlic cloves each day may help maintain normal levels of blood sugar which assists the pancreas in generating correct amounts of insulin. It also may act as a blood thinner and cholesterol reducer as well. Certain herbs such as ginkgo and ginseng may also keep the endocrine system healthy by regulating release of hormones throughout the body. Garlic, ginseng and ginkgo are all available as supplements.
Stress and the Endocrine System
When people suffer from chronic stress, the HPA axis -- hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal -- is constantly activated, producing a stress hormone called cortisol. Maintaining excessive levels of cortisol can have extremely detrimental effects on the body. Heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, kidney failure and diabetes are all potential disorders as a result of a heightened stress response that remains unalleviated. Too much cortisol also contributes to premature osteoporosis, overly rapid inflammatory responses and increases in body fat. Reducing stress in your life is just as important as eating healthy in order to have a functional endocrine system.
- The Natural Beat; Health Tips For The Endocrine System; October 2nd, 2010
- University Of Maryland Medical Center: Endocrinology Health Guide
- Better Health Channel: Hormonal (Endocrine) System
- Zimbio.com; Low Cholesterol Foods Your Future Health Depends On Omega 3 Fish Oils; April 23rd, 2011
- American Medical Association: Endocrine System