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Friday, June 24, 2011

Homeostasis

Homeostasis is the first concept taught in biology 101. Homeostasis says that the body works toward a constant and steady state of being. Blood pressure and body temperature are examples of things the body attempts to keep constant. Another example is a paper cut which can introduce all kinds of foreign organisms into the body. When this happens the body’s natural defense mechanism kicks in to return the wound to normal. This healing is homeostasis in action returning the body to normal.

This same concept of homeostasis applies to all of our other bodily functions and processes. If we get a cold our body fights the virus, if our blood pH gets off the there are mechanisms to return it to normal, if we become dehydrated we have a thirst mechanism and so on. Could it be then that weight is also controlled by the same homeostasis?

Given that many lose weight only to gain it again it seems as though weight on an individual basis is controlled by a set point or homeostatic control. Many in the medical and health community have given credence to this idea that weight has less to do with the external and more to do with internal controls.

For a more observable validation of this theory simply look at how many you know who have lost weight with great effort only to gain it back with very little effort. In relation to the diet and weight loss industry it has been noted that the very existence of these businesses is proof they don’t work. In other words if it were easy or natural to lose weight and maintain that loss then the weight loss industry would over time go out of business because it would become needless. Yet that is far from the reality of the situation.

For all of the caterwauling of those in the health establishment that there is a benefit to weight loss long term weight loss is elusive to most. The truth in most cases is that weight loss is possible but maintaining that weight loss may well be a fight against nature itself.

It may be that a re reading of those old biology class notes is in order for a whole lot of smart people in modern medical practice. Homeostasis, the first concept taught in human biology is that the body is designed in such a way to maintain itself unless there is some underlying disease state. All that said why are some processes under such control and others not? It is apparent to at least me that there is more to the whole idea of thin and healthy that self control at the dinner table.

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