How do hormones work?

What do Hormones do?

What do Hormones do

Hormones are chemicals produced by the endocrine system that travel though the bloodstream, messaging and signalling various parts of the body into action.

Functions of hormones

  • Control metabolism
  • Growth and development
  • Sleep
  • Sexual reproduction
  • Emotions and Mood

A simple way to understand the Endocrine System

A simple way to understand the Endocrine System

Let’s say your body is a branch of shops and this is the work flow.

The stock buyer in this situation is the Hypothalamus, he or she is in charge of the stock levels of products on sale.

The floor manager is the Pituitary gland he is in charge of the stock levels on the floor.

Supply and demand are constantly fluctuating, at the days end the stock buyer and the floor manager realise that they are low on handbags but have a surplus on coats (hormones).

The order is re-adjusted to meet demand for the next day.

Hormones and Nutrition

INSULIN – The fat controller

This hormone signals the body to let glucose into the cell which your body uses for energy. A diet high in sugary foods and highly refined carbohydrates can cause insulin resistance. Which leads to elevated levels of sugar circulating in the blood and weight gain. A diet rich in clean protein, healthy fats, fibre, fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates is beneficial to regulating blood sugar levels and therefore weight.

Did you know? FAD DIETS – drastically reducing carbohydrates can have a negative effect on your thyroid hormones reverse T3 and raise your stress hormone cortisol which is a consideration when making dietary changes as this can impact and can have an effect on other hormones.

CORTISOL – The CEO of inner peace
This hormone is known as the stress hormone, at it’s highest at 7am when waking, it is responsible for roles such as allowing glucose into the bloodstream, keeping inflammation low, boosting energy in stressful situations, and the sleep wake cycle. With all hormones you need a balance – too much and you may find it difficult to sleep! Furthermore, a bad nights sleep raises cortisol further and can lead to weight gain. Too little and you can suffer with muscle weakness and low energy.

Did you know ? Cortisol regulates fat storage around your stomach. Evidence suggests that increasing sleep quality, deep breathing exercises and supplementing with fish oils can all reduce cortisol levels,.

THYROID – Antibodies (TPO)
The thyroid gland is responsible for controlling the heart, digestive function, muscles and metabolic function. Symptoms such as hair thinning, brain fog, feeling cold and unexpected weight gain may indicate a thyroid abnormality. Evidence suggests that gluten consumption and autoimmune disease of the thyroid Hashimotos disease maybe inter connected. It is also reported that if you suffer with an autoimmune disease such as celiac disease you are more prone to developing Hashimotos disease.

Did you know?
Iron, zinc, iodine and selenium are all key nutrients to thyroid function.


Melatonin is the sleep wake guru of hormones, produced by the brain in response to darkness this hormone plays a key role in your circadian rhythm.

Blue light from devices and exposure to too much bright light at night can disrupt melatonin production conversely not enough exposure to daylight can also send this hormone out of whack.

Although there is no specific recommended daily amount of melatonin established, you can find Melatonin rich foods such as follows, tart cherry juice, eggs, warm milk and nuts such as pistachios and almonds.

Did you know?

Melatonin levels increase before going to bed at night, Cortisol works on the opposite cycle – If you are experiencing significant levels of stress, this can throw both of these hormones into disarray leading to a reduction is sleep quality.

Hormones and Nutrition

Hormones and Nutrition

TESTOSTERONE – The bicep builder
Predominantly a key male hormone, yet women do have this hormone in smaller amounts, Testosterone is responsible for sperm production, libido, muscle mass, body hair, behaviour, metabolism and much more.

Did you know?
Research suggests that Androgen Disruptors such as Bisphenol A used in clear plastic and the inside of metal cans and phthalates that make plastic more durable, decrease testosterone in men and increase testosterone in women. Try to store food in glass jars.

ESTROGEN – The proliferator
This hormones primary role is to develop and maintain the sexual and reproductive systems in women, it is the hormone that gives women their physical characteristics such as breasts and hips, although most oestrogen is made in the ovaries it can also be made by fat cells and the adrenal glands. Oestrogen dominance is linked to PMS and ovarian uterine fibroids.

Did you know?
Drinking an excess of alcohol can raise levels of oestrogen. Eating a more plant based diet can lower oestrogen levels.

LEPTIN – ” The I’ve eaten enough hormone”

Leptin is made in your fat cells and is responsible for making you feel satisfied after you have eaten, Essentially in theory this hormone should stop you from starving or over eating. But when this hormone stops communicating effectively with your brain this process stops working and you can become resistant. Leptin can signal the body to expend less energy in overweight individuals which results in lower calorie burn and consequently weight gain.

Did you know ?
“Leptin” resides from the Greek word “leptos” which literally translates to thin! Research suggests that this hormone could play a role in weight gain after multiple fad diets due to the brain thinking you are in starvation mode after significant weight loss.


Is it a neurotransmitter or is it a hormone?

Master mood stabiliser, CEO of happiness and well-being, serotonin also plays a key role in digestion and sleep.

Low levels of serotonin can be associated with poor mental health such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression.

L-tryptophan an essential amino acid found in foods such as milk, tuna, turkey and oats is one of the precursors of serotonin (5-HT).

Did you know? Your gut makes 95% of your serotonin.

For more information on hormone balance contact the Nutripath team


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