11 Body Systems: What you can do to support your Endocrine System
The 11 body systems are a collection of organ systems made up of parts that are able to work together to serve a common purpose – growth, reproduction and survival.
Each part of a system depends on the other parts to perform tasks that can’t be achieved by single parts acting alone and help to improve our chances of survival by maintaining a stable internal body environment.
This stable environment is known as homeostasis. Our series, 11 Body Systems goes into depth about each body system and how it relates to the rest of the body.
Why is the endocrine system important?
The endocrine system is our internal messenger system. It involves chemical messengers (hormones) released by various glands into the circulatory system and acting on target receptors on organs. These chemical messages trigger actions within cells to allow us to function.
What is it made up of?
The endocrine system comprises of glands that produce hormones and receptors that receive these hormones. The major endocrine glands are the thyroid and adrenal glands and the hypothalamus (in the brain) is the major regulator of the endocrine system.
How can I support the endocrine system?
Any system in the body relies upon all others and a nutrient-dense diet to provide optimal amounts of macro- and micronutrients. The endocrine system benefits from many micronutrients, herbs, and foods that can be seen in their effects on ‘functional outcomes‘ like blood sugar control (via insulin and glucagon homeostasis) and in the regulation of sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and more.
Endocrine supporting ingredients in Nuzest Good Green Vitality
Vitamin E is involved with blood-sugar regulation and better glucose control (shown by a reduction in HbA1c - a measure for average glucose) has been demonstrated in those with metabolic disorder (pre-diabetes), (1) there is reduced hospitalisation and cardiovascular mortality for those people with diabetes taking vitamin E supplements. (2)
Vitamin K might help to manage insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. (3) Supplementation with both the more common vitamin K1 (found in vegetables) and the less prevalent forms of vitamin K2, reduce bone loss and may assist in reducing the incidence of bone fractures, partially through endocrine actions. (5, 6)
Magnesium is involved with blood glucose regulation and while the research is equivocal in those without diabetes, people with metabolic syndrome and diabetes might achieve positive changes in blood glucose, insulin levels, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides from magnesium supplementation. (7-10)
Green tea catechins can help to reduce body-fat levels, and it has been hypothesised that this is due to synergistic effects including those of caffeine and green tea catechins on fat oxidation, (11-13) and there are also positive effects on blood glucose and insulin. (14)
Evaluations of randomised trial data show promising results for ginseng improving blood sugar control, (21) and helping to modulate immune responses. (22)
There are many purported benefits to overall health from the traditional use of Cocoa and Cocoa-containing foods and drinks for cardiovascular, neurological, oral, endocrine, immune, respiratory and reproductive systems, and these are beginning to be shown in modern, scientific studies.(25, 26) Reviews of the research have shown that Cocoa and its plant phenols can improve insulin function and sensitivity, blood pressure, and improve flow-mediated dilation, (27, 28) important for proper blood-flow and overall health of the cardiovascular system.
Rosemary extracts could also be useful for the treatment of diabetes and metabolic disorder. (32, 33)
In vitro and animal studies suggest that curcuminoids from turmeric have high biological activity and improve many aspects of health, including benefits to the endocrine system. Many pharmacological actions are considered likely, including blood-glucose control, reductions in cholesterol and blood lipids, and improved immune function. (36)
Lipoic acid improves blood-sugar control by reducing glucose levels, fasted insulin levels, and improving insulin sensitivity. (37-39)
A meta-analysis of the effect of resveratrol in diabetes showed dose-dependent and significant reductions in glucose and insulin concentrations. (40)
Beta-glucans have demonstrated the ability to reduce blood glucose from either high doses (~ 6 g per day) or longer-term use of lower doses. (41)
An extract of globe artichoke has also resulted in improved blood glucose and insulin homeostasis in another randomised, double-blinded trial. (44)
It is hypothesised that milk thistle might also help in the treatment of metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes). (45)
Ginger also likely has anti-diabetic properties; improving insulin sensitivity, reducing blood glucose, increasing HDL-cholesterol, reducing LDL-cholesterol, reducing triglycerides, weight and BMI, (46-50) and reduces the inflammatory marker c-reactive protein. (51)
Liquorice can help to preserve cortisol and might have beneficial effects for those with a distorted HPA-axis (commonly known as ‘adrenal fatigue‘).
Kelp is high in iodine, a mineral that is essential for the creation of thyroid hormones and traditional medicinal use has typically been for the nutritional support of the thyroid gland. Pre-clinical evidence has also suggested that there might be anticoagulant and anti-diabetic effects of kelp supplementation. (53)
Zinc is required for the function of hundreds of enzymes and thousands of transcription factors in the body. Because of the relative abundance of zinc and its use in so many enzyme reactions, zinc is essential to endocrine function. Zinc status is often low in those with metabolic syndrome and zinc has been shown to reduce fasting and post-meal glucose, fasting insulin, HbA1c, and c-reactive protein, (54) and improves insulin resistance in both men and women. (55)
Selenium is a non-metal essential mineral. It is a component of the antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase and is a component of deiodinase enzymes which convert T4 (thyroxine) to the active thyroid hormone T3 (triiodothyronine), a key endocrine messenger that helps to govern metabolic rate. Selenium is required in small amounts but many soils (like those in New Zealand) are sparse in selenium.
Research shows that chromium supplementation (specifically chromium picolinate)
significantly reduces high blood sugar and insulin levels in patients which
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The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.