Homeostasis: This is a self-regulating process which maintains a constant internal environment despite external changes; this is to allow optimal survival. When homeostasis is successful, life continues; when unsuccessful, disaster or death comes. The stability which is achieved is actually a dynamic equilibrium, this is the continuous changes occurrence however relatively uniform conditions prevail.
Most systems in the dynamic equilibrium tend to reach a stable state (a balance resisting the changes from the outside forces), however when these systems are disturbed a built-in regulatory device responds immediately to establish a new stable balance (known as feedback control.) Some examples of homeostasis are mediated by electrical circuits, your nervous system and hormonal systems. An example of homeostasis in a biological system is the control of body temperature in humans. Your body temperature fluctuates around 37 degrees Celsius, however other factors like hormones, metabolic rate and diseases can affect this value as they can lead to extremely high or low temperatures. This is controlled by a region of the brain called the hypothalamus. This response is carried through the bloodstream to the brain, resulting in compensatory adjustments in the breathing rate, levels of blood sugar and metabolic rate. Heat loss in humans is aided by a decrease of activity (known as perspiration) and by heat-exchanging mechanisms that’ll approve larger amounts of blood to circulate nearer the skins surface. Heat loss is reduced by insulation, quickly decreasing the circulation to the skin, and cultural adjustments like clothing, shelter and external heat sources. The dramatic range between low and high body temperature levels will constitute towards the homeostatic plateau, as negative feedback will return the systems to the normal range. Homeostasis is a combination of biodiversity and large numbers of interactions that occur between species. This is a concept that is thought to help explain the ecosystems stability, however the concept has differed to incorporate the ecosystems abiotic parts.
My data
I have collected date of my own heart rate, breathing rate, temperature and blood pressure before and after 1 minute of running on a treadmill.
Measurement At rest After exercise After 1 minute interval After 2 minutes After 3 minutes
Pulse 86 109 94 91 92
Breathing 14 26 20 16 14
Blood pressure 90/51 148/80 133/72 100/53 104/70
Temperature 37 degrees 38 degrees 38 degrees 37 degrees 37degrees

Your pulse is the rate at which your heart beats; the average healthy pulse for individuals over 10 years is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. This table shows that my pulse rate when relaxing is at 86 which is between the average and at a healthy rate. When exercising the table shows how my heart rate increases by 23 beats per minute, this is quite dramatic however it is normal for your heart rate to increase when exercising. Once I finished running on the treadmill you can see that my pulse was slowly starting to decrease every time it was taken, this is due to my body cooling down and going back to its relaxed state.
Your breathing is to do with how many breaths you take per minute, though your breathing can be easily manipulated if you have to record your breathing rate for an experiment like the one I had to record on myself. My breathing when resting was 14 which is healthy for an individual of my age (17 years.) When exercising you can see that my breathing increased, this was to allow more oxygenated blood and nutrients get to my muscles to help them work harder and more efficiently for the kind of exercise I was doing, whilst in this state my digestive system slows down so that it doesn’t use up the energy that my muscles need. After a few minutes of exercising my breathing rate decreased back to its “relaxed” state as my body did not need the extra supply of energy to my muscles.
Blood pressure is the amount of pressure on your arteries every time your heart beats. The first number is the systolic pressure; this is the amount of pressure on the arteries from the blood. The second number is the diastolic pressure; this is the pressure on the arteries when the heart is not beating. When my body was relaxed my blood pressure was quite low. Throughout exercising my blood pressure increased dramatically and after exercising my blood pressure started to decrease steadily. My blood pressure was quite low when relaxing and after exercise, however this could be because I was on prescribed medications called PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors) and scopolamine butylbromide. Though this may not have affected my results, I have to consider the probabilities that it may.
The blood pressure scale for individuals:
• 90 over 60 (90/60) or less: You may have low blood pressure
• More than 90 over 60 (90/60) and less than 120 over 80 (120/80): Your blood pressure reading is ideal and healthy. Following a healthy lifestyle can keep it at this level.
• More than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90 (120/80-140/90): You have a normal blood pressure reading but it is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to make changes that’ll help lower it.
• 140 over 90 (140/90) or higher (over a number of weeks): You may have high blood pressure (hypertension).
• If your top number is 140 or more – then you may have high blood pressure, regardless of your bottom number.
• If your bottom number is 90 or more – then you may have high blood pressure, regardless your top number.
• If your top number is 90 or less – then you may have low blood pressure, regardless of your bottom number.
• If your bottom number is 60 or less – then you may have low blood pressure, regardless of your top number.
My temperature when I was relaxed and after exercise stayed at 37 degrees. Though when exercising it rose to 38 degrees. This is due to the energy that is powering my muscles are lost as heat, causing my body temperature to rise during exercise.
Factors that may have affected my results could be down to being on medications that affect my digestive system as well as my cardiovascular system. The side effects are being that it can make you have a faster than normal heart rate (tachycardia), and potentially causing you to have a lower blood pressure (though this hasn’t been proven yet/ there are no resources that have enough evidence to prove so.) Another factors affecting my results could be to me recently starting smoking, this could cause my body to pump more blood around by body which will increase my heart rate, as well as making me taking more breathes.
The homeostasis response in my body was to ensure that my body converted food into energy during exercising, this so producing heat as waste product. The extra heat my body produced elevated my body temperature above 37 degrees. To maintain homeostasis my blood vessels had to dilate to allow more blood flow to the surface of my body where heat is then dispersed. During exercise my breathing rate increased so that more oxygen could be supplied to my skeletal muscles. This caused me to breathe more heavily even after I had completed my exercise. After I had finished running on the treadmill my body still needed larger amounts of oxygen to help break down the lactic acid build up in my muscles. During exercise my body produced more heat than usual as well as activating the heat exchanging process, though this easily went back to my normal temperature at 37 degrees. During the exercise my blood pressure increases in order to allow an efficient supply of nutrients and energy to my active muscles. Afterwards my body cooled down, though because I went straight to as seated recovery my blood pressure could have dropped abruptly which can have a negative effect on my body, considering I have low blood pressure.
The importance of homeostasis
Homeostasis is extremely important in maintaining a healthy functioning of the body. Enzymes traveling throughout the body speed up chemical reactions and they’re often known as catalysts. For these catalysts to work at their best, enzymes need to be in an environment which has a constant temperature to enable the body to function correctly and reduce denaturing. A healthy functioning human body would have a body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius, which is the best environment for your enzymes to function properly in. This means that when your temperature drops below 37 degrees your metabolic processes and reactions will become slower as the molecules have less kinetic energy; as well as that when your temperature goes above 37 degrees all enzymes will stop functioning and become denatured. This happens due to the ‘active site’ of the enzyme changing due to the rise in temperature and therefore molecules can no longer bind to the enzymes leading to no reaction taking place.
Blood vessels supplying the capillaries of the skin dilate (vasodilation) which increases the blood flow through the capillaries leading to excessive energy loss. Heat stroke is mainly caused by an uncontrolled rise in body temperature, as well as this strained exercise during warmer weather can cause heat stroke due to the increased blood flow to the skins surface. Dehydration can occur due to excessively sweating, however when dehydrated you will sweat less which will increase your body temperature. This results in your normal mechanisms for controlling heat to break down. An opposite of this would be when you have a lower body temperature, this would lead to an increased rate of respiration stimulated by your muscles contracting quickly (shivering.) Blood vessels which supply capillaries will constrict (vasoconstriction); this reduces blood flow therefore reducing energy loss. This would then result into hypothermia as the body’s core temperature is dropping below 35 degrees. When hypothermia occurs your body is unable to replace body heat as fast as it’s being lost.
Within your body your hormones are responsible for controlling blood glucose levels (produced in the pancreas.) If your blood glucose levels get high then your pancreas will detect this and a hormone called insulin will be secreted. The insulin then binds to the receptor of the proteins in cell membranes within the liver. This causes more protein channels to open up so that more glucose can enter the cells. As a result, insulin within the liver will boost enzymes to convert glucose to glycogen for storage in the liver cells, however if the blood glucose levels decrease then the pancreas will secrete another hormone called glucagon which will release enzymes so that they’re able to break down glycogen to glucose, so that blood glucose levels are able to return to normal.

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Temperature regulation is an examples of negative
feedback mechanism. The optimal body core temperature is about 36.8 ºC which is the homeostatic set point.
 This optimal temperature is closely
regulated due to factors like enzymes works best at certain temperatures. If
the temperature raises to 43ºC, it
may be fatal and cause death.  Whereas, if
the temperature falls below 32ºC, the
individual may go into coma and die. The changes in the temperature are
detected by nerve-endings in the skin and the hypothalamus of the brain. When
blood temperature raises above the optimal temperature, the heat-loss centre in
the hypothalamus is activated which then initiates an autonomic response. This
response triggers changes to the effectors like the blood vessels which
vasodilate and increase blood flow to the skin so that there is increase in
radiation, conduction and convection to lose heat. Subsequently, metabolic rate
and muscular activity are decreased to slow down further heat production. The
sweat glands, additional effectors, are activat

In negative feedback loop, has a
counteraction effect on its own influence. Therefore, the negative feedback
mechanism can increase or decrease the stimulus. If the level is high, the body
decreases it and if it is too low, it elevates it and thus it is known as
negative feedback. Homeostasis always tends to provide optimal internal
environment in which the body can function best.

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Another positive feedback mechanism is blood
clotting. When a blood vessel is damaged, platelets arrive to the site and
stick to the site of the injury. They release chemical signals that attract
more platelets to the site and accelerate the process of clotting. This
continues until the clot repairs the damaged vessel.

During labor, the oxytocin hormone is
released by the hypothalamus and released by posterior pituitary. The oxytocin
stimulates and intensifies the contraction of the uterus, forcing the head of
the baby into the cervix. Subsequently, more oxytocin is release when stretch
receptors that are in the cervix are activated. In turn, more oxytocin is
released causing more contractions and maintaining labor. This cycle continues
until the baby is born. Once the baby is born, the stretch receptors are
deactivated and since the stimulus is not present anymore, the release of
oxytocin is stopped ending the positive feedback mechanism.

In positive feedback mechanism, the output is
amplified to maintain homeostasis. They are designed to push levels out of
normal ranges. This is achieved by initiating a series of events, which
originates to amplify the effect of the stimulus. This mechanism can be useful
but are rarely used due to its ability to become uncontrollable. For instance,
child birth and blood clotting are paramount examples of the use of positive
feedback mechanism.


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