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Homeostasis - blood sugar and temperature

Age range 14-16

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Homeostasis - Sugar balance and temperature control

Homeostasis describes the functions of your body which work to keep your internal environment constant within a very narrow range. Two important aspects of homeostasis are balancing the blood sugar levels and maintaining the body temperature.

Your body is made up of millions of cells which need the conditions inside your body to be as constant as possible so they can work properly. However everything you do tends to change your internal conditions.

You take millions of new molecules into your body when you eat and digest food. Your blood sugar levels soar after you have a meal - but your cells use up the glucose fast when you exercise hard. You release heat energy every time you move about, the amount of water you take into and lose from your body varies all the time and your cells are constantly producing poisonous waste (see Homeostasis - the kidneys and water balance.)

The blood sugar levels in your body are coordinated by hormones, chemicals which regulate and balance the working of organs and cells. Hormones are made in endocrine glands and are carried around the body to their target organs in the blood stream.

Some hormones have long term effects, for example, the hormones that control how you grow and the changes that happen at puberty. Other hormones have shorter term effects. The hormones insulin and glucagon which control your blood sugar levels are like this.

It is important that the core temperature of your body stays within a very small range for the enzymes in the cells of your body to work properly. Your skin is one of the most important organs in the control of body temperature.

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Glossary
A list of often difficult or specialised words with their definitions
Cell
The basic unit of all living organisms
Core temperature
The temperature in the core of the body - not at the surface of the skin
Enzyme
A biological catalyst made of protein
Glucagon
Hormone made in the pancreas which makes the liver break down glycogen and convert it into glucose to be used by the cells
Homeostasis
The maintenance of a constant internal environment in the body
Hormone
Chemicals which are made in glands and carried around the body in the bloodstream to coordinate many body processes
Insulin
The hormone which allows glucose to be taken into the cells of your body for cellular respiration and allows soluble glucose to be converted into insoluble glycogen stored in the liver and the muscles
Organ
A collection of tissues specialised to carry out a particular function in the body
Puberty
The stage in human development when the reproductive organs mature and become active and the body grows and changes to its adult form
Skin
The outer covering of the body