General principles of Homeostasis

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General principles of Homeostasis

Homeostasis is the way the body maintains a stable internal environment. It is important for the body to have a stable environment for cells to function correctly. There are several things that need to be regulated:

  1. The body's temperature. If temperature were allowed to rise out of control, protein and therefore enzyme, structure would be affected, perhaps with disastrous results.

  2. The amount of water within the body. The levels of water can affect metabolism and osmosis. Again this can have serious consequences.

  3. The amount of glucose in the body. This level can also affect osmosis and obviously the rate of respiration as well.

  4. The amount of nitrogenous waste in the body. Nitrogenous waste can become toxic in the body. It is important that this level does not get too high.

To regulate these things the body needs firstly to detect the level and then to respond in an appropriate way. For temperature, water and glucose there is a level called the 'norm' (e.g, normal body temperature is 36.9°C). If the level gets too high this triggers the body to lower it. If the level gets too low this triggers the body to raise it. This is the principle of negative feedback. (Positive feedback is when a high level of something triggers the body to increase it even further).

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