Homeostasis Is Balance and Balance is Optimal Health

December 26, 2023 9 mins to read
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Balance is everything…In life, love, diet and exercise…it seems an indelible law of the universe! Our bodies always try to return to a state of homeostasis aka balance. Exercise too much and the body wants to rest and recover, eat too much and the body launches mechanisms to deal with the elevated blood sugar and digestive load…all in an attempt to restore the body to a state of balance. An hormonal imbalance can manifest in a wide range of symptoms and disease. I could go on and on with how every system in the body always tries to return to a state of homeostasis, but I think you get the point.

In this article I outline what homeostasis is, why it’s important and how we can harness it to boost our health and empower us to reach our health goals; we need only harness systems already in place in our bodies to keep us healthy.

Understanding Homeostasis: The Key to Health

Homeostasis is in every process in our body, the constant effort to reach equilibrium. Without balance we could not live, let alone be healthy. So what is homeostasis and why does it matter? Let’s take a look…

What is Homeostasis?

Homeostasis is sort of like your body’s thermostat. It constantly adjusts internal functions like: temperature, pH levels, and hormone production to keep everything in balance. This biological balancing act is crucial for preventing diseases and staying healthy.

Why Does it Matter?

Think of your body as a finely-tuned orchestra. When one instrument is off, it affects the entire performance, while it may go unnoticed for a short time, as it worsens eventually it can’t be ignored and the music is ruined. Similarly, when homeostasis is disrupted – say, by stress, poor diet, or lack of exercise – it can lead to issues like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and hormonal imbalances (to name a few). Keeping this internal balance is essential for long-term health of the mind and body.

Diet: Your First Line of Defense

It may surprise you to know that 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut, and we produce roughly the same amount of neurotransmitters in our gut as we do our brains! This means that our gut health is n essence our immune system, and plays a big part in our mental wellbeing – our mood, whether we experience depression or anxiety, how well we can focus in work or school and more.

Balancing Act with Nutrition

Our diet plays a significant role in maintaining homeostasis. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats ensures that our body gets the nutrients it needs to function optimally. For example:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish (wild caught), flaxseeds, and walnuts, these help reduce inflammation.
  • Fiber: Abundant in whole grains and vegetables, fiber supports digestive health.
  • Antioxidants: Found in berries and leafy greens, they combat oxidative stress.

*Always try to get organic to prevent toxic pesticides and herbicides. There is plenty of research on the range of negative impacts they have on our health, especially contributing to cancer.

Unfortunately even a balanced and very healthy diet is going to leave you nutrient deficient. This is because of the way modern agriculture strips our soil of nutrients, and leaves our food lacking in nutrient density…but this isn’t some made up claims by me, it’s decades of research by nutritional deficiency pioneer Dr. Wallach.

Dr. Wallach & Nutritional Deficiencies

Dr. Joel Wallach is a pioneer in nutritional deficiency disease, his research states that due to modern agriculture our soil and food are nutrient poor, meaning the meat and plants we eat aren’t sustaining us and providing adequate nutrition. Even if we eat the same as our grandparents, were simply not getting the same food. Our food is also genetically modified to resist pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on them which can damage DNA, cellular function and potentially lead to cancer and a range of other diseases. When you put those two together you get a cocktail of toxin overload and lack of the nutrients needed to support the immune systems ability to detox them and keep you healthy. He has formulated all 91 essential nutrients our body needs for optimal health into a bundle. But there are other nutrient dense superfoods that can help augment our nutrient depleted diets. Again if our body doesn’t have the nutrition that it needs, how can it restore homeostasis and optimal health?

Foods to Limit

Based on my research of centenarian and blue zones (long lived cultures), the commonality with those that live long is a healthy diet of whole foods and no ultra-processed garbage. Take it a step further and try to get local or organic to keep toxins out of your body. It takes a little bit of effort but you and your families health depends on it – inflammatory and ultra-processed foods make it much harder for the body to maintain homeostasis.

Try to limit intake of ultra-processed foods, as well as gluten which damages the digestive tract, sugar with is the major problem in the western diet. It is now well researched that excess sugar can lead to diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and more. In fact Alzheimer’s is now nick named ‘diabetes type 3’, as insulin resistance contributes to neuron cell death and can be a big factor in cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.

Lifestyle: More Than Just Diet

In holistic nutrition we learn to consider all parts of health as interconnected parts of the whole – diet, lifestyle, mental and spiritual health all work together and affect each other.

Exercise Your Way to Balance

Regular physical activity is a powerhouse for maintaining homeostasis. It regulates blood sugar, improves heart health, and helps manage weight. Try to get 20-30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day! That can be a walk with your dog, loved one or family, sports or a leisurely jog in nature, yoga or weightlifting at the gym… Add to that 30 minutes of high intensity exercise, to get the heart pumping, a few times a week – this comes from research by Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist who specializes in exercise and brain health – she states that only a few hours of high intensity exercise weekly is adequate to boost brain health in a powerful way that has long-lasting effects.

Stress Less, Live More

Our mental health has a close relationship with our physical well-being. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, or simple deep breathing exercises can work wonders in maintaining hormonal balance and emotional health. I know, I know…many guys just want to work their shift, get home and drink a beer in front of the T.V. and I’m not saying you can’t do that sometimes, I’m just saying expand your toolbox of stress relief activities to more than alcohol and being a couch potato – switch it up once and a while! Again just try to find balance…your homeostasis and health depends on it!

Sleep: The Foundation of Good Health

Sleep is probably the greatest, and often overlooked health hack of all time. Most people want better memory so they can focus and preform better at work or school, who wouldn’t want to gain a few IQ points, improve their mood and be less depressed or anxious? Sleep is when your body does most of it’s repair, consolidates memories, detoxes the brain, repairs tissues (including muscle), and helps to restore that balance or homeostasis to the body: hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. That means putting sleep first and aiming for at least 7-9 hours of sleep daily. If your health is impacting your sleep make it a priority to figure out what you need to do to get a solid nights sleep. If you are really struggling with sleep and insomnia, book a video call and let’s get you on the track to better health.

Final Thoughts | Conclusion

Maintaining homeostasis isn’t about going to one extreme or the other, it’s about finding balance in every aspect of your life: diet, lifestyle and mental – one step at a time. Trying to do it all at once is just going to lead to overwhelm and not making any long-lasting changes! Be present and in the moment instead of having your head in the clouds – thinking about the past or the future – Be mindful of the things you do everyday. A balanced diet, regular physical activity, stress management, and adequate sleep are the cornerstones of balancing the body. So experiment with what works for you and slowly rebalance the scales of your health. If you think something more drastic needs to be done due to health issues or illness that is fine to, if you are dedicated book a video call appointment and let’s make a radical plan to get your health back on track!

References

  1. “Human Physiology: An Integrated Approach” by Dee Unglaub Silverthorn – A comprehensive guide on human physiology and homeostasis.
  2. The Nurses’ Health Study – A landmark study linking lifestyle factors to chronic diseases in women.
  3. Harvard School of Public Health Reports – Publications on the role of balanced diet in health.
  4. “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger – Explores the role of diet in preventing and reversing diseases.
  5. “Salt Sugar Fat” by Michael Moss – Investigates the health impacts of sugar, salt, and fat.
  6. World Health Organization Physical Activity Guidelines – Guidelines emphasizing the importance of exercise for health.
  7. “The Stress-Proof Brain” by Dr. Melanie Greenberg – Offers strategies for managing stress for better health.
  8. “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker – Discusses the critical role of sleep in health and disease prevention.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any health care agency or government entity in Canada or the United States.

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