How Do Hormones Affect Your Body Metabolism?

Posted On Dec 07, 2022

10 Min Read

Diabetes and Endocrinology Hospital in Bangalore

Hormones are non-nutrient chemicals which act as intercellular messengers and are produced in trace amounts by endocrine glands and then released into the blood from where they are transported to a distantly located target organ. In addition to providing chemical coordination, integration and regulation in the human body, hormones are also responsible for regulating metabolism. Your metabolism can be slowed down by some hormones while certain hormones can speed it up.

Metabolism is the process through which living organisms take and utilise the free energy required to carry out their life processes. It can directly or indirectly affect your general health, weight gain, and energy throughout the day. Some people have fast metabolism while others have a slow metabolism, but what factors affect the metabolism of a person? Many factors like age, sex, muscle mass and physical activity affect metabolism or BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).

What are Hormones and How Do They Affect Metabolism?

Hormones are like messengers of our body which are synthesised and produced by specialized glands known as endocrine glands to control and regulate the activity of certain cells and organs. The endocrine glands that produce hormones consist of the hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, parathyroid, thymus and gonads (testis and ovary). In addition to these, some other organs, e.g., the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, heart etc., also produce hormones. 

A good hormonal balance results in good health and proper bodily functions, including metabolism. On the other hand, hormonal imbalance can slow down metabolism which can result in weight gain. There are many hormones that affect the metabolism directly like cortisol, thyroid hormones, and testosterone.

Different Types of Hormones and Their Role in Metabolism

Hormones are vital for our body and they determine almost everything — from growth, mood and behaviour to digestion and fertility. Your hormones are responsible for ensuring you function properly and stay healthy. The endocrine glands produce different types of hormones and they regulate metabolism in more than one way. According to Dr. Arpan Dev Bhattacharyya, Consultant - Endocrinologist and Diabetologist at Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, "The important hormones on which metabolism depends are thyroid hormone, cortisol or steroid, and androgens in women”.

1. Insulin

Insulin is a vital metabolic hormone produced by the pancreas. Its main purpose is to promote the absorption and storage of glucose in the muscle, liver, and fat cells for energy or later use. Without it, your body would not be able to perform important functions. It regulates the amount of sugar present in the blood, so insulin resistance (cells do not respond to insulin signals as expected) can result in high blood sugar.

Hence, people whose body is not able to produce insulin or suffer from a condition such as insulin resistance develop diabetes. They can suffer from many diseases like kidney disease, nerve damage, heart problems, eye problems, and stomach problems due to high blood sugar levels.

A few tips to reduce insulin resistance in the body are,

  • Exercise regularly

  • Get enough quality sleep daily

  • Get omega-3 supplements if you have prediabetes or high blood sugar.

  • Include veggies, fruits, nuts and healthy oils such as olive oil in your diet.

  • Keep your BMI in check. Obesity increases the risk of developing insulin resistance.

2. Testosterone

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men and is responsible for various male characteristics such as facial hair, deep voice, development of acne, etc. It is an important organ for both males and females for proper body growth and well-being. But it is released more in males compared to females. A surplus or deficiency of testosterone can result in serious conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. 

Testosterone is fairly known for muscle mass growth and bone growth, especially during childhood development. Even in adults, testosterone is responsible for bone density. Old-age people with less testosterone are more prone to bone diseases such as fractures. In addition to that, testosterone is proven to be responsible for fat breakdown to provide energy to the body. Considering its importance in metabolic performance, it is important to keep your testosterone hormone levels healthy.

3. Thyroid Hormones

These hormones are produced by the thyroid glands and they are mainly responsible for controlling the speed of your body’s metabolism. There are two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland - thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). They control the body’s metabolism by increasing the basal metabolic rate. These hormones stimulate the metabolism of carbohydrates and anabolism of proteins which leads to increased oxygen consumption, respiration rate, and body temperature. 

Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can result in conditions such as,

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)

  • Thyroiditis (thyroid inflammation)

  • Goitre (enlarged thyroid gland)

  • Thyroid cancer

4. Leptin and Ghrelin

Leptin and ghrelin are hunger hormones. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that suppresses appetite. On the other hand, ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite and influences body weight. The signal that leptin sends to the brain to stop eating can not reach the brain when there is leptin resistance in the body, which can lead to obesity. 

Ghrelin is a hormone that your body releases when your stomach is empty or you don't have enough calories, telling your hypothalamus that it's time to eat. Ghrelin levels are normally at their greatest just before meals and at their lowest an hour later.

These two hormones play a major role in food intake and body weight in humans. To keep both leptin and ghrelin hormone levels in check, you should avoid foods with high-fat content and get enough quality sleep.

5. Cortisol 

Cortisol is our body’s primary stress hormone. Whenever our body is under stress, our adrenal gland secretes cortisol to trigger the flight-or-fight response of the body to take necessary actions to curb stress. It raises the amount of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream, improves how well our brain uses glucose, and increases the amount of substance that can be used to repair tissues. 

In small amounts, cortisol is harmless and helps our body deal with stress. However, when someone is under constant stress, cortisol production never ceases, and the amount of cortisol in the blood becomes very high, resulting in conditions such as hypertension, high blood sugar, and suppressed immune system. High levels of cortisol also have an impact on metabolism because they speed up the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates, which makes people crave foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.

To keep the cortisol hormone level in check, do regular exercises, improve your eating habits and take proper sleep. To know more visit our diabetes and endocrinology hospital in Bangalore

Signs of Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalance is a condition in which you have too much or too little of a certain hormone. Since your hormones play an integral role in your overall health, any changes in hormonal levels can have serious impacts throughout your whole body. Depending on which glands or hormones are not working, there are several signs that can indicate any kind of hormonal imbalance. Common signs and symptoms are,

  • Muscle weakness

  • Weakness

  • Increased thirst and frequent urination

  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Blurred vision

  • Nervousness, anxiety, or irritability

  • Abnormal heart rate

  • Dry skin and puffy face

  • Decreased sex drive and infertility

Learn about female hormonal health from Dr Vinieta Diwakar, Consultant - Obstetrics & Gynecology, Manipal Hospitals, Ghaziabad. 

Causes of Hormonal Imbalance

Some hormonal imbalances are natural and happen due to age. But sometimes, hormonal imbalance can also happen because of endocrine glands not functioning properly. Several medical conditions and disorders can impact how endocrine glands release hormones. This can be better treated by the best endocrinologist in BangaloreSome common conditions that can cause hormonal imbalance are,

  • Diabetes

  • Overactivity and under activity of the thyroid gland.

  • Adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones.

  • Adrenal glands produce too many corticosteroids.

  • Overproduction of growth hormones.

  • Overproduction of glucagon.

  • The body produces more insulin than there is glucose in the blood.

  • Solitary thyroid nodules

  • Pituitary tumours

  • Benign tumours and cysts (fluid-filled sacks) that affect the endocrine glands.

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (low levels of cortisol)

  • Cancers in endocrine glands

  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

  • Iodine deficiency

  • Hereditary pancreatitis

  • Turner syndrome, in which females are born with only one functioning X chromosome.

  • Pituitary gland injury with bleeding and congenital genetic abnormalities in a pregnant person and their fetus.

  • Hormone therapy

  • Medications

  • Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy

  • Tumours, whether cancerous or benign

  • Stress

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions on hormones and their role in regulating metabolism,

Q.1: What is the role of hormones in metabolism?

A: Certain hormones play an important role in balancing and regulating the metabolism like insulin, cortisol, testosterone and thyroid hormones. 

Q.2: How do I balance my hormonal metabolism?

A: To create hormonal balance, you need to make changes in your diet and lifestyle. Eat a balanced diet, don’t sit for too long, get enough sleep, and manage your stress.

Q.3: How do hormones make you lose weight?

A: There are certain hormones that induce fullness and reduce food intake, thereby helping you lose weight. Hormones such as leptin, cholecystokinin, insulin, and obestatin are released in response to eating food and bind to receptors in the brain, decreasing appetite.

Q.4: Which hormones are important for regulating metabolism?

A: Certain hormones such as insulin, testosterone, cortisol, and thyroid hormones are vital for all bodily functions and also regulate metabolism.

Q.5: What hormone causes weight gain?

A: Ghrelin hormone is also known as the hunger hormone. It helps stimulate appetite and increase fat deposition, thus helping you gain weight.

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