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Published: May 15, 2023

Demystifying hormones: understanding the body's messengers 

Key takeaways

  1. Hormones are tiny chemical messengers produced by glands in our body.

  2. They convert food into energy, regulate metabolism, and maintain internal balance.

  3. Hormones are crucial for growth, development, and mood regulation.

  4. Your body's feedback system prevents hormone overproduction.

  5. Understanding hormones helps us appreciate their vital role in promoting overall well-being.

Imagine your body as a big factory with various workers performing different tasks to keep everything running smoothly. Hormones are like messengers in this factory that control our bodies' functions and keep everything in check. They are tiny chemical substances produced by special glands in your body, and their job is to carry important messages from one part of the body to another.

Often we hear the word "hormone,"and thoughts of “either pills and supplements”, “hot flushes and mood swings”, or “avoid at all costs” comes to mind. Hormones unnecessarily get a bad wrap, but the world of hormones is vast and intriguing, with new discoveries being made all the time. So, let's uncover the role of hormones in our bodies.

How do these messengers work? 

Making it simple: Imagine you're feeling hungry. When you eat, your body needs to know that it's time to start digesting the food and turn it into energy. That's where hormones come into play. The hormone "insulin" is released into your bloodstream and its message is simple: "We've got food coming in! Let's start using this energy and store some for later!" This is just one example of how hormones send specific messages to various areas and cells in our body to perform specific functions.

However, sometimes things can go a bit haywire in the factory, and your hormone levels may become imbalanced,leading to various health issues. But don't worry, your body is incredibly smart! It has a feedback system that helps keep hormone levels in check. An example is when the desired hormone reaches its optimal level, it signals a counter-hormone to be released, stopping its action. This process, called feedback inhibition, is one of many keeping hormone levels in balance, preventing overproduction. When the job is done, the hormones are cleared out of your bloodstream, and everything goes back to normal. 

What role do they play in our body?

At the core of our survival lies energy metabolism. Hormones play a crucial role in converting food into energy, storing excess energy, and mobilising stored energy when needed. For instance, insulin and glucagon regulate glucose metabolism, ensuring our body's energy needs are met. Additionally, thyroid hormones help regulate our metabolism, and glycogen and lipids provide long-term energy storage when food is scarce. 

But hormones do much more than just regulate hunger and digestion. As we age, hormones guide our body to grow taller, develop muscles, and even change the sound of our voice. This harmonious interplay of hormones, including thyroid hormones, growth hormone, and sex steroids, ensures our body grows and develops properly. Maintaining internal balance, or homeostasis, is another critical function of hormones. They balance water and sodium levels, regulate calcium metabolism with the help of vitamin D, and perform numerous other tasks crucial for overall bodily functions.

How do they influence us?

Hormones also regulate your mood and emotions. You know that feeling of happiness you get when you're with loved ones or doing something you enjoy? Well, that's thanks to hormones like serotonin and dopamine. They send messages to your brain, telling it to feel good and happy.

In addition to all of that, hormones help your body respond to different situations. For example, if you're in danger, your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that gives you a burst of energy and sharpens your senses. This is your body's way of preparing for a fight or flight response.

Conclusion

As you can see, hormones may be small, but they have a big impact on your overall health and well-being. So, next time you hear the word "hormones," just remember they are like the messengers in your body, working hard to keep everything in balance and make sure you feel happy, healthy, and ready to take on the world!

References 

Neal, J. Matthew. How the Endocrine System Works, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/pretoria-ebooks/detail.action?docID=7104243. Created from pretoria-ebooks on 2023-08-01 14:47:50.

Reviewed

In process

Author

Mrs Enrike Maree (BScAgric)