Believe it of not, homeostasis is something that is rarely ever discussed within bodybuilding or fitness circles and most of you may have never heard of it before. Homeostasis is a state that our bodies fight to reach and maintain all day every day.
Human homeostasis is derived from the Greek, homeo or "same", and stasis or "stable" and means remaining stable or remaining the same.
Due to the stress of the lifestyles we lead day to day, we often place a huge amount of pressure on our bodies and force them to adapt or survive very quickly. The human body manages a multitude of highly complex interactions to maintain balance or return systems to functioning within a normal range. These interactions within the body facilitate compensatory changes supportive of physical and psychological functioning. This process is essential to the survival of the person and to our species.
The liver, the kidneys, and the brain help maintain homeostasis. The liver is responsible for metabolizing toxic substances and maintaining carbohydrate metabolism. The kidneys are responsible for regulating blood water levels, re-absorption of substances into the blood, maintenance of salt and iron levels in the blood, regulation of blood pH, and excretion of urea and other wastes.
As serious as it sounds, an inability to maintain homeostasis may lead to death or a disease, a condition known as homeostatic imbalance. Some diseases which result from a homeostatic imbalance include heart disease / heart failure, diabetes, dehydration, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, gout and any disease caused by the presence of a toxin in the bloodstream. Medical intervention can help restore homeostasis and possibly prevent permanent damage to the organs but prevention is always better than cure.
So… by now you’re all thinking that this sounds pretty serious right!? Hopefully reading this is helping you all to realise how important this process really is. To make things more simple, humans are warm-blooded, maintaining a near-constant body temperature. Thermoregulation is an important aspect of human homeostasis because without the constant regulation of our bodies core temperature, we would die. Heat is mainly produced by the liver and muscle contractions. Have you ever noticed why overly muscular guys are always hot and sleep with the covers off all night? Well now you know why because muscle produces large amounts of heat. However, without the process of homeostasis taking place, our bodytemperatures would not be regulated.
For example, the average human body is around 37 decrees centrigrade. Our body works hard to maintain this constant temperature in order to perform at optimum level but should our temperature reach extremes of 45°C, (the heat at which cellular proteins denature, causing the active site in proteins to change) our metabolism will stop which will lead ultimately to death.
The way our bodies manage homeostasis is through energy balance of energy within a living system. This can be measured with the following equation: Energy intake = internal heat produced + external work + storage.
When calculating energy balances in the body, energy is often measured in calories, with the definitions of a calorie falling into two classes:
- The small calorie or gram calorie (symbol: cal) approximates the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 °C. (This is about 4.2 joules.)
- The large calorie, kilogram calorie, dietary calorie or food calorie (symbol: Cal)approximates the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 °C. (This is exactly 1,000 small calories or about 4.2 kilojoules.)
Once again to simplify this, the body works hard to manage / balance energy to be in a state of equilibrium. This state is usually a body temperature of 37 degrees, a ph of 7.35 and 0.1% bloody sugar. This is the state that the body (as a living organism) functions at its best. I hope by now that I have sufficiently explained what homeostasis is and how important it is. Please try to remember that health isn’t always just about healthy eating and exercise. Sometimes by learning about the body and the way it functions, it can provide you with a greater understanding of how it works.
Thanks again for taking the time to read my articles. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime.
By Stephen Greensted
Sponsored Athlete - Bodybuilding Warehouse