Homeostasis is a term that’s frequently used when we talk about health, but what does it actually mean and why is homeostasis important?
Homeostasis essentially means a state of balance and steady regulation that’s maintained by your bodily systems despite the changes that occur in the external world. It’s basically the innate, intelligent way that your body works to maintain health and fend off illness through the ways that it regulates functions such as temperature, heart rate and growth.
But what does it really mean to be balanced, and how does the body maintain homeostasis? Keep reading to learn more about the ways your body works to keep you healthy and how you can create healthy habits that allow for maximum wellness and functioning.
Why Homeostasis Is Important
The bottom line is that homeostasis is crucial for maintaining optimal health — according to the British Medical Journal, health is homeostasis. If your body is out of homeostasis, you’re likely to experience decreased wellness and health over time. Your body is built to handle a lot of stress, but over time, its natural defenses can wear thin and start to break down, thereby putting you out of homeostasis. Homeostasis can be affected by a lot of influences, including stress, environmental pollution and endocrine disrupting chemicals (such as those found in PET plastic containers).
How a Lack Of Homeostasis Affects Health
Your body works hard around the clock to maintain balance. Even when one system fails, another attempts to take up the slack. But when your body can no longer cope and becomes imbalanced, you can develop a variety of problematic symptoms, depending on which system is affected, including illness, disorders or even death, according to LiveScience. At the very least, you can experience decreased well-being and difficulty functioning until the problem is addressed and your body is able to recover.
Mechanisms That Promote And Maintain Homeostasis
Our bodies are innately intelligent and they have countless ways to maintain homeostasis, including “automatic cellular controls, neural and endocrine controls, and behavior.” In terms of behavior, your body provides signals to let you know you need to take action, such as putting on more clothes in cold weather or drinking water when you’re thirsty. Homeostasis is largely maintained through a negative feedback system; in simple terms, this means that when something gets too high, your body works to lower it back to normal and vice versa.
Yet many of the systems that maintain homeostasis act behind the scenes to keep you alive and functioning. For example, you have different processes to maintain a normal body temperature of 98.7 degrees F. This includes sweating to combat overheating, or reducing circulation and shivering to help you warm up. Another example is when your salt levels get too high, your body signals different hormones that let your kidneys know that they should conserve water.
The Role of the Endocannabinoid System
The CS is a neuromodulatory system (meaning it regulates and acts on nerves) that deals with internal and external threats. Your ECS is present in almost every part of your body, allowing it to help aintain homeostasis due to its involvement with other bodily systems, including your brain, immune system and endocrine systems, among others. The ECS activates cannabinoid receptors when needed — for example, during times of inflammation — and releases endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters that act on the receptors to bring your body back into balance. According to AMA Regenerative Medicine & Skincare, “there are more receptors for CBD in our body than any other kind of receptor.”
The ECS plays a role in almost all the ways that your body works to help you feel your best; it affects hormone balance, your sleep cycle, energy expenditure, metabolism and more. So, you can see why taking an active role in maintaining homeostasis and caring for your ECS is so crucial for your overall health and wellbeing.
Creating Healthy Habits to Achieve Homeostasis
Creating healthy habits can help you not only achieve, but maintain, homeostasis by supporting your body and avoiding or minimizing conditions that cause it to have to work harder (such as smoking or drinking excess alcohol).
Some of the things you can do include:
- Limiting exposure to endocrine disruptors (not only those in plastic bottles: see this link for more information.
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Avoiding or minimizing your intake of toxins such as alcohol or caffeine.
- Getting enough sleep.
- Minimizing stress.
- Ensuring that you get enough physical activity.
- Making sure to meet your daily vitamin requirements (especially vitamin D).
- Supporting your ECS.
AMA Regenerative Medicine & Skincare explains that using CBD is one of the most beneficial and supportive ways to achieve optimal health. They say that CBD may provide you with “tremendous healing, tremendous relief, right through your own natural endocannabinoid system that brings homeostasis both to your immune system and to your central nervous system.”
That’s why we at SHEbd have created advanced CBD-rich broad spectrum hemp supplements — because we want to help you achieve optimal health. Our products are sure to help you meet your health and wellness goals.
Stacy Mosel, LMSW, is a licensed social worker and psychotherapist. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, she continued her studies at New York University, earning a master of social work degree in 2002. She writes in the fields of mental health and holistic wellness, drawing on her prior experiences as an employee assistance program counselor, individual and family therapist and assistant director of a child and family services agency.