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Hormones, nutrient digestion, absorption, and metabolism

Published: April 14, 2017


Several hormones, as well as an array of enzymes and your parasympathetic nervous system, are necessary for effective nutrient digestion, absorption and metabolism of the nutrients in the foods and beverages you consume.

Hormones are chemical messengers which respond to stimuli and mediate in a wide variety of metabolic reactions in your body.
In general, hormones are produced and released by endocrine glands and are transported through you blood to their specific target sights, such as various tissues and organs, which respond to hormonal stimuli.
The over arching function of hormones is to maintain homeostasis within your body. The production and release of hormones occurs in response to your body's changing conditions.
Enterogastrones is the general term for hormones associated with your gastrointestinal tract. Once digested nutrients have been absorbed other hormones respond to the changing nutrient environment within your blood which influences a variety of metabolic reactions and the utilization of absorbed nutrients.
Whereas all enzymes are proteins, only some hormones are proteins. Other hormones such as the reproductive hormones testosterone and estrogen are cholesterol based. 
Hormones switch metabolic reactions on or off, while enzymes facilitate the making and breaking of chemical bonds of compounds within your body.
Innervation of hormonal response in your gastrointestinal tract
Innervation of hormonal response in your gastrointestinal tract (GI) is initiated through your sensory perception of food.
That is, when you see, think about, smell, and taste food, and even when you hear the sound of food cooking your hormonal system, as well as your parasympathetic nervous system responds and begins to prepare your body for digestion of food that you may soon consume.
Over time your body becomes accustomed to the types of nutrients you most frequently consume which improves sense recognition and hormonal response.
If you make radical changes to your diet, over a short period of time, your hormonal response to new or larger amounts of specific nutrients may not initially result in an adequate supply of specific hormones and innervation of sufficient amounts of nutrient specific enzymes.
This may be one reason why drastic changes in diet can result in disrupted...link to the full article to learn more


Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
Gropper, S.S., Smith, J.L. & Groff, J.L. (2005). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (4thEd.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.