It could be argued that homeostasis – the act of maintaining equilibrium, balancing the functions of the body – is the basis of health.
Easily, effortlessly, seamlessly, fluidly maintaining homeostasis, even in the presence of potentially unbalancing forces, is an expression of vibrant health.
In other words, to experience health, we need to maintain balance in the face of stress.
I want to know why some people are resilient, and others cannot handle stress.
This is why I am fascinated with the mechanisms of metabolism and homeostasis.
I want to know why some people feel full after a meal and some people never feel full, and why some people seem to be able to eat whatever they want, while others cannot even look at carbs without gaining weight.
I want to understand what is at work when a person can jump in a cold lake and come out and warm back up, and what is at work for those people who would never, ever consider jumping in a cold lake, because they have cold feet no matter what they do.
This is one reason why I find the nutrition research of Dr. William Wolcott to be fascinating.
He read the research of the great doctors who came before him, and he incorporated all of the best nutrition, metabolism and homeostasis information from all of the other greats in the field into a comprehensive working system of evaluation.
The Homeostatic Controls
To Dr. Wolcott’s mind, there are 9 homeostatic mechanisms of import in the body, and each of these has control of an aspect of body function.
Wolcott’s work remains the most complete today, but since the time he released his system two decades ago, our knowledge and understanding of metabolism and the microbiome have grown exponentially.
I was surprised that no one had yet tried to amalgamate this new research into the metabolic typing framework, so I have set out to do it myself.
In his system, there were 9 homeostatic controls.
Based on learning from the most renowned researchers in the field of the microbiome and from well-respected Functional Medicine practitioners, I edited the homeostatic controls to include the enteric nervous system and the microbiome.
So my list has 10 revised homeostatic controls.
Therefore, the 10 homeostatic controls related to metabolism, as I see them, are:
- How fast or slow one ‘burns’ fuel for energy via the process of oxidation
- Autonomic Nervous System
- Which of the 3 branches (sympathetic, enteric, parasympathetic) is dominant
- The predominance or strength of the system converting fats to energy
- Which gland (pituitary, gonad, thyroid, adrenal) is dominant, and your corresponding overall body shape and craving tendencies
- The predominance or strength of the system that converts carbs to energy
- Microbiome diversity
- The diversity and resilience of the microbiome, or lack thereof
- Blood type
- Whether you have A, AB, B or O type blood
- pH balance
- When eating the same food as another person, the tendency of your blood pH to being more naturally alkaline or more acidic
- Electrolyte adequacy
- How your hormones signal the CNS to regulate the balance and quantity of electrolyte minerals in your blood
- Prostaglandin balance
- The kind and quantity of chemical messengers you have for regulating body functions such as dilation and contraction, inflammation, and pain
Solving the Health Puzzle means knowing how many aspects you are dealing with
Getting control of your health
In order to experience the best health, we need to maintain balance in the face of stress.
Our blood pressure and electrolyte levels should stay rather level, so that we avoid feeling light headed when we stand up quickly or weak after a bought of diarrhea. We should be able to warm up when we come in out of the cold, cool down when we stop exercising or leave the sauna. We should be able to maintain our weight effortlessly, and feel neither anxious and hyper nor tired and depressed. However, we tend to imbalance in one or another are.
Ways we tend to be dominant:
- Fast vs. Slow oxidizer
- Catabolic vs. Anabolic
- Sympathetic vs. Parasympathetic dominant
- Diverse Microbiome / Dominant ENS vs Depleted Microbiome / SNS Dominant
- Thyroid, Adrenal, or Pituitary, dominance (for women, maybe Gonad dominance)
- Excess vs. Deficiency of electrolytes
- A, B, AB or O blood
Therefore, we must regain or maintain balance.
In order to do this, we need to know the best fuel balance for our bodies.
It would also help if we didn’t do things to excess, and if we knew a bit about our biochemical and metabolic balance.
For example, periodic cleansing is something most of us should engage in – but whether or not we should engage in certain activities to encourage cleansing may depend on our metabolic type.
A specific example might be a sympathetic-dominant, electrolyte-deficient person. They would likely succeed using weight lifting or Hatha yoga combined with vegetable broth as tools to support cleansing.
Conversely, Bikram style hot yoga and diuretic tea would likely work wonderfully to help a slow-oxidizing, parasympathetic-dominant, electrolyte-surplus person to reduce toxins.
The first person, the sympathetic-dominant, electrolyte-deficient one, likely would crash if they tried using diuretic tea and practicing Bikram hot yoga! They might be fine if they were to try hot yoga while on an intense electrolyte supplement product, and if the hot yoga was a flow or a fusion class that involved meditation or supportive music, more the better.
I hope this helps to explain a bit about how the body works to keep us healthy, and explains a bit what I mean by “biochemical individuality”.
If you are interested in learning about your personal and unique metabolic balance, book a discovery call, cause that’s what I do!