What is the Endocrine System and what exactly are hormones?
Everything in this world to be complete, full, and healthy has to be in balance. Therefore, how do our bodies attain that equilibrium? The endocrine system is a network of organs which help regulate the body and maintain homeostasis (the tendency for the body to maintain a condition of equilibrium within the internal environment, when faced with external factors). And even though it’s axiomatic that the nervous system is linked with the muscular system (nerves direct the signals of the muscles), there is also another relationship between the muscular and endocrine system. The endocrine major organ “working group” are the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, and thymus glands which perform but are not limited to the following functions: reproduction, growth, tissue maintenance, and help manage both eustress and distress.
Glands are organs that produce secretions for uses through the body. These secretions or hormones direct different chemical messaging throughout the body. These hormones or regulatory substances regulate biological activity. For instance, hormone receptors are a receptor protein on the cell surface that binds to specific hormones. They are specific to a single hormone and it depends on the specific responsibility of that hormone. Therefore, only specific tissues that are supposed to receive the chemical messaging gets the information, and this set of “communication” is known as the target cell specificity (hormones circulate to all tissues but influence solely based on the receptors).
Glands, Hormones, and Function: The following are a quick summary of major endocrine glands, the hormone, and the responsibility.
Pituitary has the growth hormone (GH) which stimulates protein synthesis, growth, metabolism, and stimulates insulin growth factors (IGFs). Note the following with IGFs. When produced naturally, it helps the body a tremendous amount through muscle building, muscle recovery, and brain cell and never damage reparation. But when synthetic and out of balance, it can have bad repercussions. Moreover, it is often compared with testosterone for hypertrophy implications (increase in size of an organ due to increase in cell size). Testosterone’s contribution to hypertrophy is the effect of increasing the quantity of growth hormones in the pituitary gland. Growth Hormones protects glycogen reserves and carbohydrate breakdown by the fat lipid utilization during exercise.
Adrenal Cortex has the thyroxine hormone which stimulates metabolic rate and regulates cell growth. Androgenic hormones are steroid hormones that control the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics. Adrenal Medulla has the epinephrine and norepinephrine hormone that increases cardiac output, glycogen catabolism, and fatty acid releases.
Pancreas has the insulin and glucagon hormone which promotes glucose intake by the cell, helps store glycogen, aid in protein synthesis, and helps release sugar from the liver for circulation. Glucagon opposes the action of insulin as insulin controls the level of glucose in the blood and glucagon stimulates increases in blood sugar levels. Liver has IGF hormones which helps increase protein synthesis. Ovaries have estrogen which stimulates bone remodeling and is essential for females, as it is their sex hormone. This does not mean the males don’t have levels of estrogen as the little that may present is needed for homeostasis. Testes have the testosterone hormone which stimulates growth, increase protein and metabolic construction, key for body fat reduction, and essential for males as it is their sex hormone. This does not mean the females don’t have levels of testosterone as the little that may present is needed for homeostasis.
Hormones and Exercise
The simple fact is the specific level type of training would dictate specific hormonal responses. That is why if a workout does not activate the full hormone responses, such as GH, Testosterone, IGF, and Insulin, muscle development is not ensured.
There are some interesting dynamics to keep aware of. In aerobic exercises, testosterone is less when compared to anaerobic, but insulin sensitivity is increased when exercises become more prolonged. When training stress is high and the resistance is heavy with lower rest periods, GH levels are elevated. Also, if you do a lower repetition scheme while decreasing the intensity, the heavier weights would not stimulate GH as the more intense levels. Therefore, when aiming for hypertrophy, do not lift to light, don’t take long for resting periods in between sets, and apply the proper compound and isolative routines.
Androgenic-Anabolic Steroids (AAS) and Potential Hormonal Drawbacks
We thought it was important to comment on what is AAS and how if abused, can negatively affect the endocrine system. We believe that if you are healthy and are able to maintain homeostasis, this should never be taken. AAS is the male steroid hormone, which does have synthetic components. AAS are drugs that have specific therapeutic and developing purposes for individuals that require it; but more often than not, there are many healthy individuals who use it for the wrong purposes. Reasons for why people take it is evident as it increases mass and strength, while reducing body fat. But, the abuse of these steroids does have adverse effects that compromise the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis.
The following are 10 ways it affects the body:
1. Unexplained aggression, mood swings, depression (suicide thoughts), and dizziness
2. Severe acne, mouth soreness, hair loss, and increased in body hair
3. Gynecomastia (male breast development)
4. Myocardial Hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart)
5. Functional hormone loss of gonadotrophin (hormone that stimulate gonad growth and activity), loss of fertility, prostate enlargement and increase risk of cancer
6. Heart disease, strokes, hypertension, difficulty breathing, increase in bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease in good cholesterol (HDL)
7. Nausea, vomiting, bloody stools, liver damage, and kidney stones
8. Blood clots and poisoning, cramps, and tremors
9. Jaundice – yellow discoloration of the skin and membranes affecting the processing of bile (fluid form the liver which aids in the digestion of lipids)
10. Carcinoma (development or onset of liver cancer)
Knowledge of the endocrine system is significant to understanding the human body. And having extensive on hormones and hormonal balance can help employ new awareness for physical self-sustainment.