We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Connection between the Endocrine System and Digestive System?

By H. Colledge
Updated Jan 24, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

While the endocrine system is concerned with the production of hormones, the digestive system is involved with processing food. Although the two systems seem quite different, the gut is actually the largest of the body's endocrine organs, making the endocrine system and digestive system closely linked. Inside the intestines, ordinary gut cells are interspersed with individual endocrine cells which make up what is called the enteric endocrine system. More than 30 hormones are produced by this system, which regulates the complex process of food's digestion, absorption and incorporation into cells. Endocrinology is the branch of medicine concerned with the endocrine system, while the branch relating to the digestive system is called gastroenterology.

The physiology of digestion involves close cooperation between the nervous system, endocrine system, and digestive system. As well as having its own endocrine system, the gut also has a nervous system, known as the enteric nervous system, which is linked to the central nervous system. Nerves help control food movement, intestinal blood flow and movement of substances across the gut wall. The hormones of the gut endocrine system regulate secretion of substances into the intestines, gut muscle contractions and factors such as hunger and fat metabolism.

Although the digestive tract is affected by hormones from other endocrine glands, it is most strongly controlled by its own hormones, the chemical messengers secreted by cells in the enteric endocrine system. The hormone gastrin is one of the first to be released during the process of digestion, and cells which produce gastrin, known as G cells, are located in the stomach lining. When food enters the stomach, G cells release gastrin into the blood stream. Gastrin binds to receptors in what are called parietal cells in the stomach lining and stimulates them to secrete acid. As a result of this connection between the endocrine system and digestive system, many potentially harmful microorganisms which enter the stomach with food can be neutralized.

When acid is released from the stomach into the small intestine this stimulates cells in the gut lining to produce a hormone known as secretin. Secretin causes the digestive organ known as the pancreas to release an alkaline fluid, which enters the small intestine and neutralizes the stomach acid. Cells in the bile duct, which leads out of the gall bladder, are also stimulated to release bicarbonate. This interaction between the endocrine system and digestive system protects the small intestine from acid burns. As the gut becomes more alkaline, secretin production is switched off.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Feb 06, 2013

@MikeMason-- Doesn't this syndrome usually result from a tumor in the endocrine system?

I think an abnormal growth in one of the endocrine organs causes endocrine cells in the digestive system to produce more acid.

This actually shows how interlinked the endocrine digestive systems are. In Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, the symptoms are seen in the digestive system, but the cause is actually found in the endocrine system. So treatment has to be directed at the endocrine system which would be the removal of the tumor.

By stoneMason — On Feb 06, 2013

My wife has Zollinger–Ellison syndrome. She has very high levels of gastrin and stomach hyper-acidity because of it.

What is the role of the endocrine system in this syndrome?

By literally45 — On Feb 05, 2013

I gained a lot of weight when I had hypothyroid because of this connection between the endocrine and digestive system.

Thyroid hormones determine the rate of metabolism. My body wasn't producing enough thyroid hormone and so my metabolism slowed down. I became lethargic and gained weight even though I was not eating more than usual.

I was put on synthetic thyroid hormone medication which increased my metabolic rate and I lost the weight I had gained. After a year, my thyroid fixed itself and my metabolism is completely back to normal now. I don't have to take medications anymore either. I'm so grateful.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.