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Homeostasis and Survival

User Emma Jones time25 May,2019

When humans are in their healthy state, their body temperature is at 98.6 Fahrenheit and does not drop or rise suddenly. This is an example of homeostasis. It can be defined as the process that helps to maintain the physical and chemical conditions inside the internal environment of the body. If you are studying Biology and specifically Physiology, you have to write papers on Homeostasis. This blog will help you to learn a lot about homeostasis.

Homeostasis and Survival

Definition of Homeostasis in Biology

Before we know about its importance, it is necessary to learn what is homeostasis. According to the homeostasis definition, it is the constant preservation of optimum physiological conditions. All of our body systems function in accordance with each other to balance the homeostasis of the body.

It can also be considered as the tendency to oppose any change to sustain a constant and stable internal environment.
The American physiologist, Walter Cannon created the term ‘homeostasis.’ He used this term to explain the dynamic equilibrium that our body tries to acquire in order to survive. 

Now that you know what homeostasis is, let us move on to learning why it is important.

Homeostasis can be seen as a set of mechanisms of our body that maintains the internal consistency of temperature, energy availability, pH, etc. Life continues if homeostasis is successful, and if not, it can lead to death. Since we are all warm-blooded organisms, it is required to metabolise constantly. Apart from this, we should also retain our pH, temperature, etc. within the narrow range within which the systems of our body functions.  Failure to do this will lead to a breakdown, gathering of waste, and ultimately death.

Importance of Homeostasis for Maintaining Body pH Level

The body pH is monitored very closely. This is due to the fact that enzymes and other molecules in our bodies have certain pH values for performing their necessary functions. But, there are different pH values for the different body parts. Now, it is known to all that the essential molecules in the blood are very different from the ones present in the stomach. The blood must have a basic pH to accommodate haemoglobin. In this case, if the pH level changes even a little, haemoglobin cannot deliver oxygen to the various parts of the body.

 A real-life example concerning the importance of homeostasis can be blood glucose regulation. If any issue occurs with the regulation of blood glucose level, a human being can suffer from Diabetes. This disease can be devastating for any human being if not controlled properly. A high sugar level can damage different parts of the body. This is why a Diabetes patient is provided with medicine and diet to assist the body in maintaining homeostasis. 

How Does the Body Maintain Homeostasis? 

Homeostasis usually includes negative feedback loops that forestall various changes in properties from their target values, which are called ‘set points.’ In contrast, positive feedback loops increase their initiating stimuli. To say it differently, the positive feedback loops take the system away from the beginning.  

The body maintains the homeostasis in different ways. Temperature, pH, glucose, blood pressure, toxins, calcium, etc. are regulated by homeostasis.

  • Temperature– It is essential that the body upholds a relatively constant temperature.  When the body gets hot, it utilises vasodilation to lower the temperature. This expands the blood vessels and lets more heat to get out via the skin.
  • pH balance- The amounts of bases and acids in the blood are controlled by the body. When the pH level is unbalanced, the lungs push carbon dioxide out of the diaphragm as per the requirement. This will either increase or decrease the body’s pH levels.
  • Glucose- The body utilises glucose as an energy source. However, if the glucose level becomes too high or too low in the blood, many complications can arise. Hence, the body controls the glucose level to maintain a healthy state. In case of a high glucose level, a hormone named insulin is released by the body. When the level is too low, glycogen is converted to glucose.
  • Blood pressure- It is also necessary to retain a healthy blood pressure level. For this purpose, the heart receives signals from the brain for speeding up or slowing down as per the blood pressure.
  • Toxins- If the blood contains toxins, it can upset the homeostasis of the body. The hormones of the body control the toxin level and make sure that the body excretes the toxins.
  • Calcium- Other than the 99% calcium present in the bones and teeth, 1% calcium also circulates within the blood. If this balance is damaged somehow, it will negatively affect the body. This is why the body controls the level of calcium.

Maintaining Stable Internal Conditions in an Organism

The condition for organisms to function is that their internal conditions must be kept within a certain range. Hormones are secreted by the endocrine system to help homeostasis to happen.

The basic organisational plan of a single cell and multi-celled organisms create the difference between how they perform homeostasis. A single cell can simply throw out the waste outside their cell, and their work will be done as the metabolic activity will reach their standard level an the internal temperature will balance. However, a multi-celled organism has to give much effort into carrying the waste out of the body.

Homeostasis fully depends on the negative feedback loops. Hence, anything that disturbs the feedback mechanism can upset homeostasis.

Let us take the example of Diabetes. The reason behind the appearance of this disease is a broken feedback loop that involves the hormone insulin. The body cannot lower the high blood sugar level and bring it to a healthy level due to the broken feedback loop.

The condition or term for stable internal conditions is that the negative feedback loops should not get disturbed.

Now that you have a basic understanding of homoeostasis, you can use this information to write your paper or do further research on the topic.

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