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The Role Hormones Play in Homeostasis

written by: CatNorth•edited by: Diana Cooper•updated: 3/21/2011

The role of hormones in homeostasis is essential to overall health. Getting regular exercise and eating right can help keep all natural processes within the body intact. Without healthy hormone regulation of various processes, the body is more vulnerable to disease.

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    Homeostasis comes from the Greek homeo, which means unchanging and stasis, which means standing1. A very typical homeostasis occurs in humans as the body regulates its temperature in order to maintain approximately a 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature, according to Biology Online1. Hormones regulate various homeostasis, such as glucose homeostasis and calcium homeostasis. Homeostasis is maintained by the endocrine system which secretes hormones—steroids, peptides and amines. Knowing the role of hormones in homeostasis may help you understand the natural processes occurring within your body, as well as help you make better decisions about diet, exercise and health.

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    Glucose Homeostasis

    Gut hormones regulate glucose homeostasis. After you eat, multiple gut peptides help with the uptake and storage of energy from food, according to Daniel J. Drucker in his article, The Role of Gut Hormones in Glucose Homeostasis, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation2. Neural circuits activated by gut hormones communicate with organs, such as the liver and muscle tissue, to manage energy intake and absorption. Incretin hormones enhance meal-stimulated insulin secretion and encourage liver and muscle tissue glucose uptake while suppressing glucagon secretion at the same time. Whenever blood glucose levels fall, glucagon increases, and it decreases when glucose levels go back up again. Diabetes results when this delicate process goes haywire and inadequate levels of insulin are produced, according to Mike Farabee, Ph.D., author of the Online Biology Book3.

    Losing weight, following a health diet and exercising regularly can help keep diabetes at bay. Constantly relying on your body to bounce back after eating too much sugar or after prolonged periods of intense daily stress isn’t a long-term solution. It’s important to be proactive and diligent when it comes to your own healthcare. According the American Diabetes Association, simple factors such as age and carrying extra weight can put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes4. Take the Diabetes Risk Test via the American Diabetes Association website4.

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    Calcium Homeostasis

    In order for the body to maintain adequate calcium levels, certain hormones must work to regulate calcium homeostasis. Many physiologic process depend on calcium, and maintaining its balance in the body is crucial, according to Colorado State University Department of Biomedical Sciences 5. Find calcium in cells, blood and bones within the body; the small intestine, kidneys and bones help supply and remove calcium to and from blood when needed. There are three hormones that manage fluctuation of calcium in or out of blood, as well as extracellular fluid, says Colorado State University Department of Biomedical Sciences 5. The parathyroid hormone works to increase concentrations of calcium in the blood, and calcitonin is that hormone that works to reduce blood calcium levels when needed. Hormones work together and with nutrients such as vitamin D to regulate calcium levels.

    Lack of calcium is a common concern for older women and men. The National Osteoporosis Foundation5 estimates that as of 2011 ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and thirty-four million have low bone mass. It’s important to understand guidelines for calcium and vitamin D supplementation, as well as the importance of daily exercise, to stave off the crippling effects of osteoporosis. When it comes to calcium, the role of hormones in homeostasis changes significantly after age 50.

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    1. Biology Online: Homeostasis
    2. The Journal of Clinical Investigation: The Role of Gut Hormones in Glucose Homeostasis; Daniel J. Drucker
    3. Estrella Mountain Community College: The Endocrine System
    4. American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Risk Test
    5. Colorado State University Department of Biomedical Sciences: Endocrine Control of Calcium and Phosphate Homeostasis
    6. National Osteoporosis Foundation