How we keep our cells happy
With the survival of our cells being essential to the survival of our bodies, it pays to keep them happy. Find out how from Dr Charles Sevigny, lecturer in the Bachelor of Biomedicine and the Bachelor of Science.
While humans are resilient beings, we also harbour certain fragilities inherent to our physiology. Without realising, many of our daily behaviours are finely calculated interventions designed to maintain internal equilibrium, despite the varied environments and circumstances we constantly navigate.
The happiness of our cells and indeed our survival is predicated on homeostasis, the process of maintaining a stable internal environment. This includes our blood temperature, glucose levels and fluid balance, amongst others. With our lifestyles seemingly conspiring against this stability, how is homeostasis achieved?
To answer this question and to comprehend physiology demands an understanding of each of the body’s systems, and how they work in concert. For example, when your fluid balance gets low, perhaps due to heat or exercise, your body simultaneously engages in automatic processes like retaining water and triggers the conscious decision to drink by making you thirsty.
Dr Charles Sevigny explains, “Our cells are a fickle and delicate bunch. They demand a certain stable environment all the time; a constant temperature, constant pH…so our body has to work really hard to maintain this internal environment for them”.
“If physiology is doing its job, nothing should be changing inside our body. Yet all these other things are going on around it to make sure that things remain constant.”
The simplicity of this concept belies the extraordinary complexity of our physiology, and how the body’s systems coalesce so we can endure changing circumstances every day, from the insignificant to the extreme.
“We can’t understand things in isolation when it comes to physiology, we need to understand the whole body together” says Dr Sevigny.