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The hormonal system or the endocrine system as it is otherwise known consists of all the glands in the body that produce hormones.
For us to enjoy sustained energy all day, good sleep at night, digestion with no hiccups (so to speak) hand a healthy metabolism it is important to keep these glands happy.
The glands that are responsible for, well, pretty much every function in our bodies are, in no particular order:
- Hypothalamus – Bossy dude, tells the pituitary gland to stop and start making hormones.
- Pituitary – Brainy dude, uses information from the brain to tell the other glands what to do as well as a role in growth, metabolism, energy among other things
- Pineal – Makes melatonin which modulates sleep
- Thyroid – Controls your metabolism
- Parathyroid – Keeps your bones healthy
- Adrenals – Known mainly for making adrenaline that feeds you the extra energy you need to run when confronted by a lion, which is good because in normal circumstances I wouldn’t get one foot to the ground before he had me in between his incisors.
- Pancreas – Makes insulin, digestive enzymes and glucagon
- Ovaries – Makes estrogen and progesterone
To keep these glands healthy there are foods we can eat that help and foods we should avoid.
Of course, the foods we should avoid is a looooong list.
They are easy to spot because every other article on healthy food spouts their evil doings.
- Saturated Fats
- Processed carbs
- Too much caffeine – notice I say “too much” because one cup actually does some good and there is no way in hell or on earth that I will be giving that up!
- Excess alcohol
The pineal gland –
is supported by foods rich in B5 and B6 to help with the production and distribution of that all-important hormone, melatonin. Melatonin naturally sets our circadian rhythms helping us to fall asleep and stay asleep. Foods good for these vitamins are lentil beans, avocados, sweet potatoes, tuna and turkey. Sleep deprived mums take note.
The tiny pea-sized pituitary gland –
with the king-sized job of regulating growth needs vitamins D and E, so meats, fish, eggs, nuts, leafy greens, avocado, and seeds keep it happy. It also gobbles any Manganese you can give it so again with the leafy greens and almonds. Also pineapple, acai and dark chocolate. I’m pretty sure there could be a delicious dessert to be whipped up with those last three. In researching this I came across this recipe with the hilarious description of insomnia.
The pancreas –
likes olive oil so go to town. I drizzle it instead of butter. Or, a little tip, if you freeze some in a jar then put in the fridge once it is down to fridge temperature it is like a spread.
For healthy function, the thyroid –
likes its nuts and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and Brussel sprouts. My favourite veg to eat is baked Brussel sprouts. Quarter them and bake on an oven tray on medium drizzled with plenty of olive oil and salt and pepper. Make sure you throw in all of the outer leaves, when they go brown and crispy they are delish!
Gluten is one you particularly want to avoid for decent thyroid function. I recommend getting rid of it altogether. It has no positive function in a healthy diet.
As with any health regime
it is standard to include exercise. When you start exercising, the thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body’s temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. The pituitary gland releases human growth hormone while exercising, which tells the body to increase bone, muscle and tissue production.
Your take home from this post – eat healthily and exercise regularly.