What is Homeostasis?
You may have already read somewhere that the Endocannabinoid System plays an integral role in your body’s ability to achieve Homeostasis. Don’t worry if you are not aware of what that means for your well-being; that is what we are here for!
Homeostasis is the process of bodily self-regulation, where biological systems maintain internal stability and adjust to deal with external conditions to ensure optimum survival. Our body is a delicate ecosystem of chemicals, fluids, processes, and signals that keeps us functioning as we do. Put it this way, if Homeostasis is successful then life continues; otherwise, disaster or death will occur. If our internal balance is stopped or disrupted beyond repair our body cannot function correctly and therefore we will die.
We often refer to homeostasis as a ‘happy medium’, our body systems work to achieve a state of equilibrium, which is a balance that resists outside influences. So when there is an environmental change (internally or externally), our bodies kick a regulatory response into gear and works to achieve a new balance; these changes in the body are achieved with the nervous system, hormonal systems and the activation/deactivation of cannabinoid receptors.
An Example of Homeostasis at work?
The easiest example of this regulation is something us in Scotland (or the UK in general) know very well; when you shiver in the cold. Internally, our body works optimally within prescribed a core temperature range (usually around 37 degrees) and a change in this can signify something is wrong or can be catastrophic for your internal workings. This process is controlled by the Hypothalamus region of the brain, which detects a change in temperature via information from the bloodstream, change in breathing rates, level of blood sugar and metabolic rate.
As your body’s thermostat detects an imbalance in the form of body temperature (heat loss: reduction in insulin, decreased circulation to the skin), it triggers an involuntary response to shiver in an attempt to increase your body’s temperature back its ideal temperature range. An opposite reaction would be our body producing sweat to cool us down. If your body gets too hot or cold, the body stops working properly – if we cannot maintain our core temperature, we will get sick or die.
There are thousands (if not millions) of examples of self-regulation; if there is even a slight imbalance it can have an impact on your well-being. To enable us to unlock the optimal internal balance, we need to be our bodies best friend.
How to ensure healthy Homeostasis?
Healthy body function often happens/ doesn’t happen on its own. There are millions of factors that can affect your body’s ability to achieve homeostasis, and most of them are out of our control. It is, however, our responsibility to ensure that all of these vital systems are able to work correctly. We need to monitor our own bodily functions and take note of when something doesn’t feel right. Even slight changes to your lifestyle could prevent future (or correct current) imbalances.
If you are wondering how you can help your body achieve optimal homeostasis then have a look at a couple of lifestyle changes that will help your body out:
- Regular Exercise (For Body & Mind)
- A Healthy Balanced Diet
- Drinking Lots of Water/ Keep Hydrated
- Ensuring a Healthy Sleeping Pattern
- Practice Mindfulness (Mental Health)
- Listen to your body’s needs.
We simply need to ensure that we are looking after ourselves and giving our bodies the best opportunities that we can. If we live an unhealthy life, there is more chance that something would go wrong- do everything in moderation and keep an eye on what your body is telling you! Prevention is better than a cure!