The endocrine system is a system of glands that secrete hormones to instruct the body’s cells about what do to and when to do it. The major glands of the endocrine system are the pituitary, pineal, hypothalamus, parathyroid, thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries, and testes. When each of these glands secretes a particular hormone, that hormone enters the bloodstream. Together, the glands secrete more than 20 major hormones that are responsible for mood, growth rate, metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, and other body processes. For instance, the pancreas secretes insulin, which allows glucose to enter the body as energy. The thyroid secretes hormones that regulate metabolism, bone growth, and growth in the nervous system. The adrenal glands secrete energy-boosting hormones in times of stress. The pineal gland’s hormone, melatonin, regulates sleep and wake cycles. Finally, the ovaries and testes secrete hormones for reproductive functions.
Overseeing all this secretion and keeping the body in balance is the pituitary gland, located in the brain. The pituitary gland produces hormones that control the other glands and tell them when to secrete and when to hold back.
You can help your baby’s endocrine system develop and strengthen by feeding her whole foods, especially healthy fats and oils and minerals. Avoid using products or toys that contain endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, such as BPA, PVC, and parabens. Contact with these products can affect your baby’s delicate system.