Woman being checked by a doctorThe endocrine system is arguably one of the least-known organ systems in the body. It’s ironic, really, since it is involved in almost every cellular function. In fact, it works alongside the nervous system to facilitate functions like breathing and voluntary muscle movement. Its main job, however, is to produce the hormones that cells, tissues, and organs need to function well.

Glands in the Body

The endocrine system is made up of these glands:

  • The hypothalamus, which releases hormones for the body’s metabolism.
  • The thyroid, which releases hormones for brain development, metabolism, and growth.
  • The pituitary gland, which links the endocrine system to the nervous system.
  • The adrenal gland, which helps regulate blood sugar and fat and protein synthesis.
  • The pineal gland, which facilitates sleep patterns and produces melatonin (regulates reproductive hormones)
  • The ovaries and testes, which produce gametes (egg cell, sperm cell) and estrogen and testosterone, respectively.
  • The pancreas, which produces insulin for blood sugar regulation and enzymes for digestion.

These glands produce and release hormones directly into the bloodstream.

Affecting All Body Functions

As demonstrated above, the endocrine system plays an important role in several bodily functions:

  • growth and development
  • metabolism
  • sexual function
  • reproductive processes
  • chemical functions that affect mood and behavior

Endocrine Disorders

Imbalances in hormone levels indicate endocrine disorders, like hypothyroidism and thyroiditis. Not many people are aware, but diabetes is also a type of endocrine disorder — the most common one in the U.S. as a matter of fact.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin, according to Revere Health, a holistic health clinic specializing in diabetes management in Provo, Utah. The condition occurs in about 5% of people with diabetes.

A healthy endocrine system may spare you from Type 1 diabetes and other diseases caused by hormone imbalances. With it, you can achieve good holistic health.