Uniform internal physiological environment
Posted on September 19th, 2012

Dr Hector Perera      London

Naturally the conditions inside our body must be controlled within certain narrow limits to function for which we called homeostasis. This is not an easy task to the body; it needs coordination of the organs in the body to maintain this state. Homeostasis is maintaining the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, relatively constant condition within the body.  These conditions include water content, ion content, body temperature and the blood glucose concentration in the blood.

 I am sure you know some people have no limit when they start to eat and drink, especially some men addicted to alcoholic drinks after that keeps on smoking. Fortunately the body tells off, “That’s it, stop it” or something like that by nature. Once the limits are exceeded, again the body needs to work backwards to maintain a balanced system. I am sure if one over eats and drinks, then some of it or sometimes all of them are send back or we called it “sick out”.

When there is nice weather, what do we do, often we sit down comfortably under a shade or some foreign ladies lye down on the beach with little clothes on them. Whether there is sun or not the body tries to maintain a balanced body temperature throughout the body. This is called thermoregulation and the thermoregulatory centre part of the brain that monitors and controls body temperature. Hormones are often used to signal the changes that must be made to restore balance, but the body also uses other mechanisms. For example, receptors in the skin sense when temperature rises and signals the hypothalamus in the brain, which sends impulses to glands that release more perspiration to cool the skin and reduce body temperature. What a wonderful natural reaction!

Starchy foods, rice, pasta, potato chips are rich sources of glucose because starch, despite the fact that it doesn’t taste like it’s made of sugar is actually made up of long chains of glucose molecules chemically connected together. Chemically, starch isn’t identical to glucose; explain Drs. Mary Campbell and Shawn Farrell in their book “Biochemistry.” Starch molecules are called amylose, and they have to react with enzymes in the digestive tract to be broken into glucose. After the digestive tract breaks amylose down, however, cells in the tract lining can absorb glucose into the bloodstream, and cells can take up the glucose from there.
Most of the foods we eat are converted to glucose that is oxidised in the process of respiration into energy. When some people eat, they eat lots of starchy food then followed by sugary stuff such as ice creams, chocolate or what about, “watalappan” or any other sugary things including fizzy drinks. Mainly Sri Lankans know exactly what I mean, “watalappan”. One cannot miss these kinds of Sri Lankan delicacies once you are on holiday in the island of Sri Lanka.

If there is excess sugar in the blood then a small organ called the pancreas converts food into energy. The pancreas is an organ located in the abdomen, actually located at the duodenum part of the small intestine. It plays an essential role in converting the food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells. The pancreas has two main functions: an exocrine function that helps in digestion and an endocrine function that regulates blood sugar. So the pancreas monitors and controls blood glucose concentration. It produces a hormone called insulin that reduces blood glucose levels.

 The pancreas contains exocrine gland that produces enzymes important to digestion. When food enters the stomach, these pancreatic juices are released into a system of ducts that culminate in the main pancreatic duct. The common bile duct originates in the liver and the gallbladder and produces another important digestive juice called bile. The pancreatic juices and bile that are released into the duodenum to help the body to digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. One of the main pancreatic hormones is insulin, which acts to lower blood sugar, and glucagons, which acts to raise blood sugar. Maintaining proper blood sugar levels is crucial to the functioning of key organs including the brain, liver, and kidneys. The blood glucose concentration is controlled to provide all cells in the human body with a constant supply of energy. Pancreas lowers the blood glucose concentration if it has become too high level of sugar in the blood. This can happen after eating a meal that is rich in carbohydrates for example, sweets, potatoes, bread, rice or pasta or even by drinking sugary fizzy drinks.

If the glucose inside the cells is high, the cells will convert it to the insoluble from called glycogen to prevent the soluble glucose from interfering with cellular metabolism. Ultimately this lowers blood glucose levels, and insulin helps to prevent hyperglycaemia.  When insulin is deficient or cells become resistant to it, then comes a problem called diabetes. Glucagons, secreted by the alpha cells of the pancreas, encourages cells to break down some stored glycogen or convert non-carbohydrate carbon sources to glucose via gluconeogenesis thus preventing hypoglycaemia. The people with diabetic condition must have come across this condition then fortunately body naturally recovers by this process. The people with diabetic condition sometimes feel dizzy and an unusual warmness and sweating, this is another sign showing that the body is lack of sugar. In these cases doctors have advised to take some sugary drink such as orange juice or some sweet to give the instantly required sugar. One needs to understand that not to exceed the limit, a half or quarter glass full of orange drink would be sufficient in these cases. This can happen if you missed a meal or ate not enough food.

 If too much sugary drinks are taken, it can turn into another dangerous condition so need to be careful. Sometimes too much sugar in the blood turns the person into a coma condition which is a dangerous condition. Severe hyperglycaemia can cause a condition called ketoacidosis. This happens when there’s plenty of glucose in your blood, but your cells can’t use it because you don’t have enough insulin to convert fat into energy. The glucose can’t get into your cells, so they don’t get the energy they need.

When this happens, your body tries to get energy from your fat instead. To turn fat into energy, your body makes chemicals called ketones. The Ketones in your blood can be harmful. Your body tries to flush them out in your urine. You’ll usually need immediate medical help to get your blood glucose back to normal.

I have noticed some takeaway shops give a free cheap 1.5 litres of fizzy sugary drinks when you buy a certain large portion of takeaways, now you need to think twice, is this a generous give away but still some innocent school fall to them as their victims. Think what they sell, starchy oily fried food, lots of salt and additives, different sauces to cover up then sell dissolved sugar. Who would say the children get a good deal meal from these takeaways?

Any comments please perera6@hotmail.co.uk

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