Balance and Homeostasis are Essential for Health

Balance and Homeostasis are Essential for Health

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The human body is an extremely complex system, but our cellular functions and overall health are tied to a simple concept: maintaining balance, or homeostasis. Our bodies are continually creating and using energy. We constantly need to replenish our cells with oxygen, nutrients, and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy that powers everything we do. This ongoing back and forth keeps us alive and well. [1]

This article is about homeostasis and the importance of biological balance. We’ll also break down why our cells need light and discuss how red light therapy can improve the body’s natural balance.

What is Homeostasis?

“Balance” is a simpler way of talking about homeostasis. In biology, homeostasis is a state of equilibrium maintained by the body’s chemical and physical processes. Homeostasis depends on a physiological equation with many variables that are constantly changing, like body temperature, caloric intake, blood sugar, fluid balance, and pH levels, to name just a few. All of these factors need to be regulated by the body at all times, while it also adapts to changing environments (temperature, light, level of activity). [2]

Our biology is a constant interplay of all these processes, and living organisms are always striving for homeostasis because it’s the optimal environment for life. Humans and every other animal are at their biological best when they can achieve and maintain this balance. We perform better physically and mentally, and can overcome stress and strain more readily. [3]

These are some common examples of homeostasis within our bodies:

Cellular Energy: In our cells, the mitochondria break down food and oxygen to create ATP energy for our body during the cellular respiration process. Light intake is an important variable in the cellular energy equation because certain light wavelengths stimulate the mitochondria to create ATP energy more efficiently, with less inflammation and oxidative stress. This is one of the primary mechanisms of action for red and near infrared (NIR) light therapy, which enhances cellular and mitochondrial function [4,5]. You can read more about light and cellular energy here.

Body Temperature: You’re probably aware that a normal body temperature is about 98.6 degrees fahrenheit. The body responds to changes in external temperature by regulating internal temperature with processes like sweating or shivering. These heat-regulating processes help to maintain the body’s temperature balance. Temperature is a good example of how balance is the natural state of life: when you have a fever, you don’t feel as well and don’t function at your best. The same is true if you’re too cold for too long. But when humans are at about 98.6 degrees, we thrive. So our bodies are always trying to reach that level of homeostasis and balance. [6]

Calcium Levels: Calcium is essential for the circulatory system, coagulation (blood-clotting), and bone mineralization. Most of the body’s calcium exists in our bones and teeth, but the calcium found in our blood requires constant maintenance to remain around 10 mg/dL. If calcium concentration gets too low, our heart rate can be negatively affected and the heart may even skip beats. If it gets too high, the nervous system becomes underactive and your body will feel tired and sluggish. Many systems in the body, like the skeletal, endocrine, and digestive systems, work together to maintain a basic calcium homeostasis. [6]

The Body Compensates When Imbalanced

The body’s continual goal is homeostasis, but that goal is complicated with so many overlapping functions and processes. Think about how many systems it takes for our body to create ATP energy: we need nutrients from food, oxygen, and light. To get the necessary energy, we’re using our digestive and respiratory systems, as well as multiple organs. None of our bodily systems exist in vacuums and they all depend on another to remain in balance.

To maintain a natural, balanced state, when something is lacking in one system, the body can compensate by pulling from another area. Let’s go back to the calcium example we mentioned before.To maintain the necessary balance of calcium in the bloodstream, our body usually relies on the food we eat. If our diet lacks calcium, our body can get the necessary calcium from our bones. In the short term, this regulates the calcium in our bloodstream, but in the long run, it can lead to weak bones. [6]

This sort of ‘resource shifting’ is one of the body’s greatest feats, but relying on it for too long can lead to larger problems. Deficiencies build up and are more difficult to deal with over time. This is even more reason to pay attention to your body’s balance and how your diet, exercise, and light exposure are all intricately linked.


Healthy Light is Key to Biological Balance and Good Health

Light is an essential ingredient for life on earth. It powers our cells and drives the cellular respiration process that creates our energy. Light intake is one of the key measures of biological homeostasis, and when a person doesn’t get enough healthy light from the sun, they can fall out of balance, leading to negative health consequences like inflammationmental sluggishnessdisrupted circadian rhythms, and poor sleep.

Unfortunately, most people don’t get nearly enough light from their environment. According to surveys, Americans spend over 90% of their time indoors, surrounded by artificial light. [8] Our bodies simply were not designed to sit indoors and stare at bright screens all day; our ancestors evolved in settings with far more available light, and our bodies are still programmed to thrive when our cells take in an abundance of healthy light. For example, when you don’t get enough sunlight, your body can fall out of balance and produce less cellular energy and Vitamin D. [9]

The body is always trying to maintain homeostasis, but sometimes that’s just not possible. If you’re outside in extreme cold, your body can only do so much to maintain an ideal temperature. If you eat a consistently unhealthy diet that lacks nutrients, your cells won’t have the fuel they need to produce energy and regulate your body. If you don’t take in enough calcium, you can become deficient, and your natural bodily processes won’t work as well. The same is true of healthy light intake. 

Humans are at a strange place in our history: we live on the same earth and under the same sun as always. Our bodies and cells and internal processes are still programmed to work with an abundance of light. But in the last century, modern technology and shelter have taken us away from the natural settings we’ve always thrived in. Our modern way of life has many advantages, but we generally still perform worse when we don’t get enough light and fall out of balance.

Red Light Therapy Delivers Healthy Wavelengths of Light and Promotes Balance

You should always try to get outside every day and take in as much healthy light as you can from your surroundings, but that’s not always possible or realistic. We have jobs or school during the day, and many people live in climates that don’t get as much natural light. Red light therapy is a simple solution for getting healthy light everyday, even when the weather or your schedule don’t cooperate.

What is Red Light Therapy?  Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation (PBM) or low level laser therapy (LLLT), is a simple, non-invasive treatment that delivers wavelengths of red and NIR light to the skin and cells. Here, the term “red light therapy” refers to treatments from light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Red light therapy is simple and easy. Joovv recommends 10 minutes per treatment area, ideally every day. This can help supply the mitochondria in your cells with the light needed to make the ATP energy that powers your body. That helps keep your body and cells in balance, even when you can’t get enough light from your environment. [10] You can learn more about the basics of red light therapy here.

How Red Light Therapy Promotes Balance and Homeostasis

Red light therapy treatments help you get the healthy wavelengths of light your body and cells need to perform their best. It’s part of a healthy lifestyle that includes hydration, a nutritious diet, exercise, and restful sleep. Each one of those is important to maintaining balance, but light is more often overlooked. 

Red light therapy promotes homeostasis and overall health by supporting a more efficient cellular environment. Wavelengths of red and NIR light have been shown to stimulate the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, and can optimize the cellular respiration process that makes ATP energy. [4,5] Supporting the mitochondria in our cells and enhancing the energy process is a great way to promote homeostasis, giving our cells the tools they need to self-regulate.This is one of the reasons why red light therapy has shown such positive results for things like recovery, sleep, and inflammation. Want to dive deeper into how red light therapy works at the cellular level? 
Check out this article.

Conclusion: Biological Balance is Essential for Good Health

Humans thrive when we’re in a state of biological balance, or homeostasis. Maintaining a balanced cellular environment is a crucial aspect of good health, and getting enough healthy light is one of the key components to biological balance, just like exercise, diet, and sleep. Red light therapy supports bodily balance and enhances cellular function by delivering red and NIR wavelengths of light that stimulate the mitochondria and support more efficient cellular energy production.

Interested in learning more about how red light therapy works and what the potential benefits are? Check out our Science Page.


Sources and References:

[1] Törnroth-Horsefield, S.; Neutze, R. Opening and closing the metabolite gate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2008 Dec.

[2] Book: L. Asarian, V. Gloy, N. Geary. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior (Second Edition). Academic Press. 2012. Pages 324-333. ISBN 9780080961804.

[3] E Lazzeri, A Peired, & L Ballerini, et al.. Adult Stem Cells in Tissue Homeostasis and Disease. Current Frontiers and Perspectives in Cell Biology 2012.

[4] Karu TI, Pyatibrat LV, Kalendo GS, Esenaliev RO. Effects of monochromatic low-intensity light and laser irradiation on adhesion of HeLa cells in vitro. 1996

[5]  Castro KMR, de Paiva Carvalho RL, Rosa Junior, GM et al. Can Photobiomodulation Therapy (PBMT) Control Blood Glucose Levels and Alter Muscle Glycogen Synthesis?

[6] OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. Rice University. OpenStax CNX. 2016 Feb.

[7] Klepeis NE, Nelson WC, Ott WR, et al. The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology. 2001 May.

[8] Yale Medicine. Vitamin D Myths 'D'-bunked.

[9] Ferraresi C, Kaippert B, et al. Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy Increases Mitochondrial Membrane Potential and ATP Synthesis in C2C12 Myotubes with a Peak Response at 3-6 h. Photochemistry and Photobiology. 2015 Mar.