We discussed the concept of Homeostasis as being the property inherent in the control systems of the body to maintain optimal functional capacity within the environment where the physical body is found. Also, implied is the ability to shift whatever processes are at work at any given time in order to meet the demands of any new and/or periodic changes presented to the body as a whole. Ultimately, the genetic material functioning at that time will shift regions of DNA transcription to support the demands of the moment.
The control systems and feedback to these systems is dual in nature. One system is nervous and the other is hormonal. Periodic and rhythmic fluctuations in the environment due to day length and lunar influences are mediated by the Pineal Gland (PG). Several proteins are produced by the PG whose fluctuations in secreted concentration are shunted by nerve transport to the Hypothalamus and there regulate the activities of the many nerve cell loci found there. It is not known what other fluctuations of energy and fields found in the environment affect the Hypothalamus. This is an area of ongoing research. The Hypothalamus releases many peptides and proteins which are either released to the bloodstream or shunted to the Pituitary Gland. Those released to the bloodstream are channeled to the Pituitary Gland or one of the Hormonal Glands, these compounds then regulate the activities of those glands. The Glands respond by secretion of their own protein and hormone products which in turn regulate the activities of other specific tissues or all the cells of the body. Target tissues then secrete products specific to them and regulate their internal processes.
The activities of all the tissues and cells involved in this process finally produce compounds which affect the activities of the Hypothalamus and other Hormonal Glands in a negative feedback manner to lessen the output of the original tissues and cells. This exceedingly complex and intricately involved control system functions quite well unless some aberration upsets it and causes a derangement. If this derangement pushes one or more of the control systems away from the homeostatic balance capabilities of the body, then the result is a biochemical derangement which results in the symptoms of disease, if this condition persists.
What of the aberrations? What causes the derangementís? The most obvious cause of disease is a faulty genetic material. Hereditary diseases such as Tay-Sacs, Sickle-Cell Anemia, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, etc. are due to defects in the nucleotide base sequence of the DNA. The proteins produced are altered and do not function in the appropriate manner which results in a deranged metabolism.
Diet plays a very crucial role in helping the body maintain itself in the environment within which it is found. The foods, herbs, minerals and whatever consumed are tailored to the demands the environment places upon the physical body. Ethnic and availability choices for foodstuffs are in part genetically determined, and in fact co-evolve to yield an optimum ecological niche for any particular species. The specter of not receiving the foodstuffs adequate to allow one to be successful for us in the developed world is not an issue. Unreal expectations as to dietary needs and requirements are a problem for some, for example: new strict vegetarians. Where do the newly strict vegetarians get their Vitamin B-12? Vitamin B-12 is found in meat and microbial fermentations. Do these individuals make an effort to determine the changes which their bodies will need to go through and modify their diets accordingly? Most do not and thus become sick. This leads us to Disease Concepts discussed in the next Chapter.