ATP and pH

Remember when your mother would tell you to eat your vegetables? Now as an adult you know you should, but why? Below are some chemical reactions that take place within our body. I hope they illustrate why taking in clean air and maintaining a well oxygenated body system is so important. It also gives a new perspective to the potential of Hydrogen (pH), and why maintaining a healthy pH level is so important. First the science, then what the science means to you on a more personal level. 

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), is present in all organic material, and is considered the universal unit of energy in all living cells. ATP is produced and/or broken down into metabolic processes in all living systems making it very important to life. Photosynthesis in plants, muscle contraction in humans, respiration in fungi and fermentation in yeast are all driven by ATP. In short, ATP is the activated carrier which gives organisms energy. The other metabolic processes which relate to our health is Pyruvic Acid. 

Pyruvic Acid is the end product of the metabolic glycolytic pathway. In biochemistry, a metabolic pathway is a series of chemical reactions occurring within a cell. This particular three-carbon metabolite is an important junction point for two reasons: it is the gateway to the final common energy-producing pathway, the Krebs cycle; and it provides acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl CoA), through which fatty acids, and in turn fat, are produced from glucose. Pyruvic acid converts to lactic acid as needed. Pyruvic acid increases in quantity in the blood and tissues in Thiamin (vitamin B-1) deficiency. Vitamin B-1 is essential for its oxidation. Both ATP and Pyruvic Acid play an important role within our bodies. 

Food is the fuel for our body just as gasoline is the fuel for a car. Crude oil would be the equivalent of the food we eat, refined oil the glucose and the end product gasoline would be the ATP. Our cells get the much needed ATP from glucose. All carbohydrates and sugars are metabolized into glucose. Our body also converts fats or proteins into either glucose or into substances the cells can use in place of glucose. Glucose consists of six carbon atoms, twelve hydrogen atoms, six oxygen atoms. Glucose enters a cell by means of a specific process called facilitated diffusion. The diffusion process is facilitated by insulin. No insulin equals a greatly reduced entrance of glucose into the cell (diabetics know this all too well). This is not a situation that we want to have happen. This is why it is helpful if the quality of the sugars we take in are slow burning (green vegetables) rather than fast burning (refined sugars and grains). This is also why "empty calories" do us harm. Our body must work to process the fuel taken in, but if no quality energy is produced, we've been cheated. If we were a car, we would not run very well or for very long.

Once the insulin gets the glucose into the cell it is split into ATP and pyruvic acid. The ATP is used for immediate energy and the pyruvic acid is sent to the mitochondria within the cell, (the mitochondria are the cells power sources). As the mitochondria eat the molecules of pyruvic acid, waste is produced. In the end, the mitochondria discards two molecules of pyruvic acid, six molecules of carbon dioxide, plus the twelve hydrogen atoms that were attached to them. The carbon dioxide molecules can be removed fairly simply by being transported out of the cell and then back to the lungs for exhalation. The hydrogen atoms are a different matter. The hydrogen must bond with something in order to be transported out of the body. Enter the oxygen we breathe in. This "potential of Hydrogen" (pH), to be acid or alkaline is dependent on the amount of useable oxygen brought in by the air we breathe and by the quality of the minerals in the foods we eat. One oxygen atom bonds with two hydrogen atoms (H20), and is easily transported out before the hydrogen can become a dangerous acid that will do harm to our cells. The overall equation is:  One molecule of glucose (C6, H12, O6), plus six molecules of oxygen (O2) yields six molecules of carbon dioxide (6 CO2) plus six molecules of water (H20). The final equasion: (C6, H12, O6 + 6 O2) = (6 CO2 + 6 H2O).

This process also yields a grand total of 38 new molecules of ATP. About 60% of this energy created is given off by our body as heat. This leaves only 40% to do all of the other functions that keep us alive. This makes the air we breathe and the oxygen getting to each cell of our body of the utmost importance to the quality of our life. A report published April 4, 2007, in The Guardian, has suggested that air pollution in our big cities could be as damaging to our health as the radiation Chernobyl survivors were exposed to. The latest study follows a report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution which said air pollution was responsible for 24,000 premature deaths in Britain alone every year. If you live in an urban environment - which four out of five of us now do, then you are exposing yourself to a cocktail of airborne pollutants that could be seriously damaging to your health. When ancient air pockets are uncovered in glaciers and tested, scientists have found that the earth's atmosphere used to possess a higher concentration of oxygen than it does today. 

This depletion of oxygen says to me that the air we breathe today is not as conducive to life as it once was. However, it's not hopeless, we may not be able to change the world, but what we can do is change ourselves. Our natural world is in itself a miracle. There is a lot we can do to maximize our body chemistry by eating a diet rich in whole natural foods that help oxygenate the blood, such as whole green foods. Drinking purified water with a few drops of Cellfood to help oxygenate the blood. Sleeping with an air purifier in the bedroom. Do some light exercise such as walking or yoga. If you haven't yet checked your pH level I highly recommend you do. As the saying goes; Accept the things you can not change, change the things you can and recognize the difference. 



Monica Pallares