If you don't know how important oxygen is, then try holding your breath for a few
To fully appreciate the importance of oxygen to the efficient functioning of the body we need to understand something about basic cell biology.
I make no apologies for trying to simplify the concepts of cell biology for those of us who don't have a background in science but still need to know what is happening inside our bodies.
It is probably a good idea at this point to remind ourselves just what we really
are. When we look at ourselves, we see hands,
arms, legs and we call it our body; however the body is really a huge co-operative of millions of individual cells, all bound together to create this miraculous thing we call our body.
If we don't appreciate the basic nature of what we really are how can we hope to
know how best to care for and nourish ourselves.
We never think about cells until it's late in the day, when we are given a crash course in cells called cancer cells, which are paying us back for a life time of innocent neglect, or all to often, abuse such as smoking or pollutants in the work place and home.
A SIMPLE CELL DIAGRAM
One way of understanding a cell is to think of it as a small chemical factory, because
that is exactly what it is.
Even today scientists don't understand all the functions and workings of a cell. So it would be foolish to think that we can become an expert in a few minutes, but with some basic facts and common sense it is possible to see how oxygen plays a vital roll in the optimum health of a cell.
The main focus for our little study will be Mitochondria, which are very important components within a cell.
While thinking of our cell as a small chemical factory the
Mitochondria would be the energy generator. You could look on all the other elements of the cell as the machines and production lines of the factory. Nutrients are delivered to the cell from outside and processed into useful materials for the body to use.
To generate power for our factory the Mitochondria break down Glucose(sugar) which
produces a substance ATP.
In our factory ATP is the energy that powers the factory.
The process of breaking down the Glucose(sugar) is carried out in two stages.
In the first stage:
No oxygen is used as glucose is turned into a substance called Pyruvate. Because no oxygen is used in this process it is called anaerobic (without oxygen) metabolism.
It takes two units of our ATP/energy to perform the job but it produces 4-10 units of ATP/energy , a net gain of 2-8 units of ATP/energy. That may sound pretty good but look at stage two.
FIRST STAGE: Glucose to Pyruvate uses 2 ATP(Energy)
but creates 4-10 ATP in the process.
In the second stage:
Our newly created Pyruvate is processed using oxygen (O2)
It is not important to know details of the chemistry, but what is important is that during the process, and because (O2) oxygen is involved (aerobic metabolism), 30 units of ATP/energy are produced.
SECOND STAGE: (02) Oxygen metabolism uses 0 ATP
but by using oxygen it creates 30 ATP.(Energy)
How do you feel?
Are you running on 4-10
units of energy
30 units of oxygen
If there is not enough oxygen a cell will only metabolise stage one. Then it will switch into self preservation mode and cease to contribute to the immune system and overall health. When cells are deprived of oxygen and shut down it leaves you feeling tiered and lethargic all the time.
Know the feeling?