Hormones are signals that tell the organs in your body that it’s time to perform a particular action. For example, when to sleep, when to digest food, when to increase your heart rate and when to feel happy.
Notable hormones for your health throughout each day:
Insulin/Glucagon – Work together to regulate blood sugar concentration.
Leptin/ghrelin – regulate hunger signals. Leptin suppresses hunger signals and makes us feel full. This hormone is controlled by our circadian rhythm (daily cycle) so make sure you’re getting a decent 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night, otherwise your hunger signals will be out of whack. Ghrelin is the hormone that makes us feel hungry. Ghrelin levels increase before a meal to signal when our body requires more food then decrease after we eat so that we no longer feel that hungry feeling in our gut.
Endorphins – You may have heard that exercise brings on a rush of endorphins. This hormone is a natural pain killer and sedative which means it reduces anxiety too. And bonus, it signals your brain to increase serotonin too so you feel happy and calm.
Dopamine – Reward systems in the brain are controlled by dopamine. Repeated rewards lead to reinforcement of the behaviour which lead to the reward, for example when you train an animal with treats you reinforce a particular behaviour because the animal will continue to expect a reward each time. The same goes in our human brain. In this way, dopamine indirectly controls our behaviour and helps us to learn how to relate to the world around us.
Serotonin – Sometimes serotonin is called the happiness hormone because it is known to stabilise mood and make you feel happy. Serotonin is involved in many areas of our physical health including sleep regulation, appetite, communication between brain cells and improved memory and cognition. People with low levels of serotonin can be prescribed anti-depressants that involve keeping serotonin levels stable in the brain.
All of these hormone levels fluctuate throughout each day to keep your body functioning. Knowledge is power, the more you know about the hormones that create signals in the body, the more understanding you have of your own personal health.
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