Many of you might have heard about the homeostasis concept, but for a large majority it might sound like Chinese. However, this concept is of vital importance when we talk about health and well-being, since it plays a big role in the processes of our body achieving equilibrium.
Aleix Pellejero our technical department colleague explains that, homeostasis has been known for thousands of years, when the power of food, plants and mushrooms were directly involved in the maintenance of our well-being. Despite not being aware of the mechanisms and action as we know them today, societies used all kinds of natural remedies to self-regulate, strengthen and reinforce the bodies balance.
Homeostasis comes from two Greek words: homos ” similar ” and stasis ” stability ”. In more technical terms, the tendency of an organism or cell to regulate its internal conditions, such as the chemical composition of its body fluids, as to maintain its health and function, regardless of outside conditions. This concept was discovered by Claude Bernard, a French physiologist born in the 19th century. Bernard observed that body cells only survived when the temperature, pressure and chemical composition is taken into account remain relatively constant.
He concluded that the fluid by which each cell is surrounded should contain different substances that would keep them healthy. The precise composition of substances in the internal environment must be maintained in a relatively strict margin to preserve their integrity, for example, if the cell grows in an environment with 3mg of iron and 4mg of magnesium, it would not tolerate 5mg of iron and 2mg of magnesium, causing the cell´s death.
It was in 1932 when Walter Bradfort Cannon, an American physiologist, suggested the concept of homeostasis for relatively constant states of the internal environment of the organism in relation to the external environment.
An adequate homeostasis is achieved thanks to a perfect conjunction and good performance of the body systems.
Homeostatic imbalances occur when the conditions of the internal environment of the organism are altered due to imbalance in interaction of the regulatory processes of the organism, caused by interference (cold, heat, diet …) or internal damage (altered glucose levels, stress …).
Homeostasis is controlled by regulatory mechanisms that adjust the body’s systems to maintain balance. This ability of the organism to self-regulate and maintain itself serves as a basis for understanding the pathogenic mechanisms in which each cell, tissue, organ and system play an important role.
Why homeostasis is important for our body
Homeostasis, as a property of the organism, allows maintaining the composition and properties of the internal environment of the organism in a constant equilibrium, being the most important function of the human body.
When all the necessary nutritional components are available in adequate amounts, the biological structures can function correctly, but if any nutrients are missing, the bodily functions will be in a compromised situation.
The body, through its homeostatic mechanism, makes sure the essential bodily functions receive the proper nutrients so that life can continue, but it could generate some inconveniences in those bodily functions that are not essential because they “suffer” the lack of nutrients which have been kidnapped, to put it simply.
That is why, after the body has received all the nutrients it needs to maintain essential bodily functions balanced, those non-essential organs will demand energy and attention to solve their deficiency.
This is when the corporal systems will work in conjunction to destine those necessary nutrients towards the organs and cells that require it most.
To maintain the body homeostasis, it is necessary to maintain an adequate diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Under normal circumstances, an adequate and balanced diet can provide all the nutrients necessary for the normal development and maintenance of a healthy organism. However, research shows that this ideal situation does not occur in practice for all nutrients or for all population groups.
That is why, sometimes, the use of food supplements is so necessary.