What Is Homeostasis? The Central Organizing Principle of Physiology
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Homeostasis refers to the body’s ability to regulate its internal functions amid constant changes in external conditions.
A lack of homeostatic regulation can result in illness and disease.
Taking a supplement, like fatty15, can help support your body’s ability to self-regulate.*
If the title of this article didn’t quite grab you, but you find yourself still reading, get ready to learn some pretty amazing features of your body. Homeostasis is a founding principle of physiology, and understanding what it is and how it works can help you stay healthier longer.
Together, we’ll explore what homeostasis means, what your body does to achieve it, and what happens when it is lost. We’ll also discuss how it’s restored and how a fatty acid supplement can support your wellness journey.
But first, a few basics about physiology.
What Is Physiology?
Physiology is the science and study of living things, starting on a microscopic level, with the study of atoms, molecules, and cells. It encompasses the understanding of tissues and organs, organ systems, organisms, and entire populations.
In addition to studying each living thing and groups of living things, it also studies how living things interact and depend on each other and how they interact with their environments. Human physiology studies the bodies of humans, how their systems act and react, heal from illness and injuries, and how they maintain proper functionality.
What Is Homeostasis?
Your body’s ability to self-regulate and maintain a stable internal environment despite ever-changing external environmental conditions is homeostasis. It’s also sometimes referred to as homeostatic regulation.
This concept isn’t new. It was loosely defined in the 1800s by a physiologist named Claude Bernard and further honed by a scientist named Walter Cannon in the early 1900s.
These scientists understood that the body had a way of ensuring its ultimate functionality and wellness even when constant external changes were taking place. Homeostasis is not a steady state function; it is ever-changing as it responds to stimuli and changes.
Homeostasis controls bodily functions like temperature regulation, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and nervous system responses based on information collected from environmental conditions or occurrences outside the body.
Understanding Set Points
To better understand homeostasis, scientists have developed set points, which work as baselines for determining whether or not a particular homeostatic function is within normal range.
Some of these set points are familiar to us, like a body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or an average heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute in adults.
How Does Homeostasis Work?
The process of regulating homeostasis involves four parts: stimulus, receptor, control center, and effector. Each homeostatic process in your body has these four parts that work together to keep your set points in a normal, healthy range.
Here’s how it works.
- Stimulus. A stimulus, something in the external environment, changes. This triggers an imbalance inside the body. This could be something like the heat of a hot day raising your body temperature.
- Receptor. Receptors called PPARs (pronounced pee-pars) located all over the body respond by sending a message to the control center. On a hot day, the receptor could be your body’s thermostat rising above its set point.
- Control Center. The control center then sends a message to the effector, telling it what is needed to bring the body back to homeostasis. The central nervous and endocrine systems act as control centers that help regulate homeostasis. As part of thermoregulation, the hypothalamus (part of the central nervous system) receives the message that the body is too hot and sends a message to the appropriate effector to stop the temperature from rising.
- Effector. The effector then makes the needed changes to restore homeostasis. In our example of a hot day and rising body temperatures, the effector will trigger the release of sweat and other biomechanical processes that help cool your body.
The four-step process is a feedback system with a hierarchy of feedback mechanisms that all work together to help keep your body balanced. There are two ways the system works, with negative and positive feedback.
What Are Feedback Loops?
There are two different ways that the four-step process of homeostasis works.
Negative Feedback Loops
Also known as inhibitory loops, these responses reduce or inhibit the body from further production or reaction.
For instance, if a bodily system produces an excess of proteins, enzymes, hormones, or other compounds that trigger a response from the body’s system, the control center will tell the effector to slow or stop the production from bringing back homeostasis.
Examples of negative feedback loops include heat loss and body temperature, calorie consumption, blood pressure, pulse, insulin production by the pancreas, and osmoregulation (the balance of water and electrolytes in the body).
Positive Feedback Loops
Unlike negative feedback loops, positive feedback loops cause the body to ramp up production and responses. For instance, if an injury occurs, the body sends extra blood cells to the site and causes the blood to clot and begin healing the wound.
Examples of homeostasis that utilize positive feedback include childbirth, ovulation, coagulation, inflammation, and shock.
What Happens When Homeostatic Regulation is Disrupted?
The human body is designed to be self-regulating. When homeostatic mechanisms are disrupted on any level, illness and disease can result. Age-related illnesses, heart failure, and diabetes can happen when the body is out of balance.
Sometimes, there are no outward symptoms that your body isn’t achieving homeostasis. Type II diabetes, for instance, is often non-symptomatic until a person has a blood panel that shows their blood glucose levels are not within normal set points.
This is why ensuring you take care of your body, make healthy choices, and get regular checkups is important to staying well.
How Do I Know if My Body Is in Homeostasis?
One of the easiest ways to gauge your basic homeostatic functions is by checking your vital signs. This is why your healthcare provider checks your blood pressure, pulse, and core body temperature every time you see them.
These are good markers for some of the most identifiable ways your body maintains homeostasis. Your doctor may order a blood panel to find out if there are imbalances on other levels.
Blood tests can show if other functions in your body (like thyroid function, liver, and kidney function) are within normal range. Some of the diseases and conditions most prevalent among Americans result from unbalanced homeostatic processes.
- High cholesterol levels
- Unhealthy blood pressure
- Insulin resistance and unhealthy blood glucose levels
- Obesity ( as the result of unbalanced caloric homeostasis)
The products of these conditions result in higher risks of heart disease, stroke, and blood vessel diseases that can negatively impact your health. Bringing the body back into homeostasis is a multifaceted process.
How Do I Support Homeostasis?
When the body’s biological systems suffer, certain therapies may be needed to help return it to its set points. For instance, if your blood glucose levels are too high, diet and exercise may help lower them.
It’s always important to talk to your doctor about how to approach imbalances in your body. They can help you decide whether medical intervention is necessary. To prevent imbalances and to help bring balance back, you can take a few steps on your own.
The famous Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine.” This remains an excellent tenant of good health.
Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats is the easiest and most natural way to nourish your body and give it the ingredients it needs to thrive.
Dietary deficiencies can lead to chinks in homeostatic regulation, so getting proper nutrition is important for maintaining and restoring balance.
Physical activity is necessary for cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health and for maintaining a healthy weight. Your body was designed for movement, and ensuring you’re getting plenty of it (at least 150 minutes per week) helps bring back balance to an unregulated body.
Some lifestyle choices can disrupt homeostasis and negatively impact our health. Smoking, for example, exposes the body to free radicals that can destroy cells and interfere with our body’s ability to function properly.
Whether you have a dietary deficiency of a particular nutrient or want to boost your body’s ability to stay balanced, taking a supplement can be a solution that works.
Although no single supplement will magically restore you to health, some are scientifically proven to help regulate your body’s homeostatic systems. One such supplement is fatty15.
What Is Fatty15?
Fatty15 is a breakthrough supplement born from a scientific discovery, containing one pure ingredient, FA15™.
FA15™ is the vegan-friendly, sustainable version of a very special fatty acid called C15:0, pentadecanoic acid.
Wait, What Is Pentadecanoic Acid (C15:0)?
C15:0 is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that science supports as the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered in over 90 years.
Although we have heard that all saturated fats are bad for us, science now supports that that is not the case. For an entire generation, dietary guidelines have instructed us to avoid all fat to increase our health, but the results have proven that advice didn’t work.
Higher levels of odd-chain saturated fatty acids (like C15:0) are associated with better heart, liver, and metabolic health, as well as healthy cholesteroland triglyceride levels.*
How C15:0 Helps Your Body’s Homeostatic Function
C15:0 (the only ingredient in fatty15) naturally binds to the PPAR receptors found throughout our bodies. These receptors help to regulate our metabolism, including our cholesterol and glucose homeostasis.
This helps to explain why daily fatty15 supplementation helped to promote healthy cholesterol and triglyceride homeostasis.*
Additionally, two recent peer-reviewed papers discussing the linear link between higher C15:0 and lower risk of heart disease, involving a meta-analysis with 18 prospective cohort studies, and another published in the journal, Cardiology, showed a link between higher C15:0 and improved cardiovascular health and even living longer!*
To dive deep into that science, you can read the reports here.*
Fatty15 and Cellular Function
Fatty15 helps keep your cells healthy and balanced by supporting them in three key ways:*
- Strengthening cell membranes. Fatty15 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into cell membranes to protect them and keep them strong.
- Increasing mitochondrial function. When cells are off-balanced, mitochondrial function declines. Fatty15 increases mitochondrial function by up to 45 percent.
- Repairs damaged cells. When compared to the most pure, highest performing , omega-3 (pure EPA), the pure C15:0 ingredient in fatty15 had 26+ more clinically relevant cellular benefits than omega-3, repaired 83 percent of cell types (versus 33 percent with omega-3 EPA), and was safe for all 12 cell types studied at all doses. In comparison, at the highest dose, EPA was toxic to 33 percent of cell systems.
This is great news because your cells are the foundation of every tissue, organ, and system in your body.
C15:0 is primarily found in trace levels in whole-fat dairy products and some types of fish and plants. However, increasing your intake of whole-fat dairy products comes with extra calories, sugars, and high levels of the "bad" even-chain saturated fats.
A solution? Fatty15.
One capsule per day can support your body’s homeostasis, improving your total body wellness and allowing you to feel and function better.* Achieving homeostasis is part of your body's wisdom, but when that balance shifts, you can work to restore it.
Fatty15 is a solution you can trust to help support your body’s ability to self-regulate and improve your body's homeostasis.*
Ready to see for yourself? Get started with fatty15 here.
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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