We all aim for a healthy body. For this, we look for the right diet and right exercise regimen that truly fits us to maintain our health. But these bits of knowledge aren’t enough to keep us truly healthy and fit. We need to understand how our body works to fully comprehend the body signals that mean something is off. Since biology class in school has already taught us our body’s biological processes, let’s have a quick recap to refresh our memories. To begin, let’s get back to the role of homeostasis in our bodies.
Emeritus Professor Kelvin Rodolfo of the University of Illinois defines homeostasis as a process that living things use to actively maintain fairly stable conditions necessary for survival. It’s the body’s response to maintain stability despite external changes.
The human body survives a temperature of around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. In higher temperatures, the body tries to maintain homeostasis by sweating to cool the body and avoid overheating. While in colder temperatures, the body tries to reduce blood circulation and less sweating to prevent heat loss.
Interestingly, a healthy body’s response to changes in temperatures is automatic. The small blood vessels quickly expand to bring heated blood much nearer to the skin’s surface to cool it, which results in reddish skin. When too cold, the body shivers to burn body tissue and produce heat.
Physiological factors are involved in maintaining the body’s homeostasis, which means each system of the body needs to function at its best because certain processes will go haywire when the body is not in a balanced state. For example, the enzymes will function improperly outside of the body’s normal temperature. This may lead to serious consequences like the onset of a disease or eventually, death.
Our body is uniquely designed consisting of trillions of cells, seventy-eight organs and over sixty thousand miles of blood vessels. All these parts work in unison to ensure the body is in optimum health and perfect condition. Twelve major body systems that are interconnected with each other are at work right this very moment. These are the following:
1. Skeletal System
The skeletal system comprises the bones and cartilages that support the structure of the body and its organs. It also facilitates movement.
2. Circulatory System
This system is responsible for the transport of blood and oxygen through the heart, arteries, and veins.
3. Digestive System and the Excretory System
These systems are responsible for removing waste and absorbing nutrients.
4. Muscular System
The muscular system enables movement through voluntary and involuntary muscles.
5. Endocrine System
This system’s main function is to produce and secrete hormones as well as regulate cell activity.
6. Nervous System
This system is responsible for the overall communication of the body through the nerves and brain, which commands physical action.
7. Reproductive System
The reproductive system consists of the sex organs and its parts necessary to create an offspring. The female reproductive system is designed to produce egg and nourish the offspring while the male reproductive system functions to produce and deposit sperm.
8. Digestive System
This system digests and absorbs food for the body’s use.
9. Respiratory System
This system is responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide.
10. Lymphatic or Immune System
This system consists of the body’s defense mechanisms that get rid of toxins and fight against infection.
11. Integumentary or Exocrine System
Consisting of the hair, skin, nails, and glands, this system acts as a barrier to protect the body from the external world.
12. Urinary System
The main organ of this system is the kidney, which filters wastes and eliminates urine.
All of the above body systems have their specific jobs to ensure the body’s proper function. But they’re also interconnected that when one system fails, the whole process will suffer. For example, when the body absorbs too much toxic air, the lungs will not only suffer but also the nervous system through altered brain functions and hormones thrown out of whack.
Any disturbances that happen in the body are automatically reported by the nervous system to the brain for the appropriate action in response to the disturbance. Scientists refer to this continual loop of disturbance and adjustments as negative feedback. This negative feedback is what triggers sweating or shivering after the body’s temperature has been altered.
The negative feedback is also designed for adaptive plasticity, meaning the body can handle anticipatory responses to upcoming potential disturbances. However, it’s only for a short period. For example, the body will work to maintain homeostasis during changes in climates. But when the change in external conditions takes so long, the body isn’t able to handle it. It will come to a certain point where it’s bound to fail.
Important Factors at Play to Maintain the Body’s Homeostasis:
Right body temperature
The body sees to it that the body temp is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius. Any variation of one degree up or down is still acceptable.
A normal range of blood cell count
An imbalance may result in cancers or myeloproliferative disorders.
A normal pH-balance
The normal pH-balance, wherein the body is not too acidic or too alkaline, falls within the range of 7.35 to 7.45. Too much acidity can result in acidosis, which is the perfect condition for tumor cells to grow.
Normal blood sugar levels
A deficiency in insulin or resistance to it can lead to diabetes.
Water balance in the body
The kidney eliminates excess water and ions from the blood. When the kidney fails, it can lead to kidney diseases.
Proper supply of oxygen
Oxygen is vital for human survival. Not enough oxygen in the blood causes a dangerous condition known as hypoxemia.
Enough sleep provides the body with ample energy. A lack of proper sleep may lead to diminished physical and mental functions.
As you get older, the ability of your body to maintain homeostasis decreases. But you can assist your body to keep functioning well by eating the right foods, sleeping well, exercising, taking supplements, and giving your body a massage.
Since higher levels of stress can also alter your body’s homeostasis, incorporating a mindful practice such as yoga and meditation into your lifestyle can work wonders for your body while lengthening your life span.
Additionally, if you’re able to listen to your body and regularly monitor your health, you can prevent diseases from disturbing your body’s homeostasis. Remember, prevention works best than cure.