by John Burroughs
In the human body, the oxygen is absorbed by the blood stream in the lungs, being then transported to the cells where an elaborated change process takes place. Oxygen plays a vital role in the breathing processes and in the metabolism of the living organisms. The nutrient compounds, inside of the cell, are oxidized through complex enzymatic processes. This oxidation is the source of energy of most of the animals, mainly of mammals.
The products are carbon dioxide and water (exhaled air has a relative humidity of 100%), which are eliminated by the human body through the lungs. Appropriate levels of oxygen are vital to support cell respiration. Oxygen plays an important role in the energy metabolism of living organisms. The living cell is the site of tremendous biochemical activity called metabolism.
This is the process of chemical and physical change which goes on continually in the human body: build-up of new tissue, replacement of old tissue, conversion of food to energy, disposal of waste materials, reproduction – all the activities that we characterize as “life.” Research shows that cells have only a “limited number” of cell divisions possible in a human lifetime.
Studies show that by the time you’re 20 most of the cells that make up your body have used up half of the divisions available in their cell lifespan. By the time you’re 40, there are maybe only 30% of your possible cell divisions left. When the cells use up their natural allotted cell divisions, the end is death!
Molecular oxygen, O2, is essential for cellular respiration in all aerobic organisms. Oxygen is used as an electron acceptor in mitochondria to generate chemical energy. Oxygen diffuses through membranes and into red blood cells after inhalation into the lungs. The heme group (that consists of an iron) of hemoglobin binds oxygen when it is present, changing haemoglobin’s color from bluish red to bright red.
A liter of blood can dissolve 200 cc of oxygen gas, which is much more than water can dissolve. After being carried in blood to a body tissue in need of oxygen, O2 is handed-off to an enzyme (monooxygenase) that also has an active site with an atom of iron.
The enzyme uses oxygen to catalyze many oxidation reactions in the body (metabolism). Carbon dioxide, a waste product, is released from the cell and into the blood, where it combines with bicarbonate and hemoglobin for transport to the lungs. Blood circulates back to the lungs and the process repeats.
While oxygen supports our life, and “oxidizes” or “burns” food to create energy and heat for our bodies, certain types of altered oxygen molecules called “Free Radicals” which are ever-present in our bodies, will damage our own cells and even our DNA, causing degeneration and diseases such as cancer.
A “radical” is an atom with an unbalanced electrical charge, and it will seek to steal electrons from other atoms – such as the atoms of our body cells!
As Dr. Tai likes to say, the oxidation of cells by free radicals makes the human body “rust” like oxidation of metal makes it rust – and you know what rust does to the strength and natural beauty of the metal. Our bodies need the help of “antioxidants” to neutralize the oxidation properties of those invading free radicals.
There are thousands of research papers that point to the production of free radicals as the primary cause of aging. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body created as part of the waste products or normal cellular metabolic activities. YOU ARE ONLY AS OLD AS YOUR CELLS! Recent research has given new hope to the task of rejuvenating and extending the lifespan of cells.
This cellular rejuvenation, life extension, and improved vitality has been achieved using special antioxidants that can actually keep cells looking and acting younger – and may even reverse the aging process. The human body represents one of the most perfectly designed and coordinated structures. However, all these structures are held in position by a dense network of systems which constantly work together to keep us going.
The brain represents only 2% of the human body weight; it receives 15% of the cardiac output, 20% of total body oxygen consumption, and 25% of total body glucose utilization. The energy consumption for the brain to simply survive is 0.1 calories per minute, while this value can be as high as 1.5 calories per minute during crossword puzzle-solving.
When neurons in a particular region of the brain are highly active, they consume a great deal of oxygen, which results in recruitment of extra blood flow to that region. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, and Huntington’s disease are caused by the gradual death of individual neurons, leading to decrements in movement control, memory, and cognition.
Mental performance in the human body can be improved by “feeding” the brain with extra oxygen or glucose, according to research published today that could have implications for the treatment of dementia. It’s well known that after about nine minutes of no oxygen, from drowning or whatever, you can kiss your brain good-bye. Brain cells are extremely sensitive to oxygen deprivation and can begin to die within five minutes after oxygen supply has been cut off. Decrease of oxygen supply to the brain even though there is adequate blood flow caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, pollution in our cities, choking or suffocation can create conditions like tiredness, depression, irritability, poor judgment and health problems. Increasing the oxygen supply to the brain and nervous system will reverse these conditions.
The oxygen regimen improves alertness, reflexes, memory and apparently intelligence, and may offer the elderly a new weapon against senility and related disorders. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are reported to be responding to it. Alcoholics who start taking oxygen supplement soon loose interest in alcohol.
The size of the human body is firstly determined by diet and secondly by genes. Body type (slim, fat, tall, petite, wide-shouldered, etc) and body composition (percentages of fat, bone and muscle) are influenced by postnatal factors such as diet and exercise. By the time the human reaches adult-hood, the body consists of close to 100 trillion cells. Each is part of an organ system designed to perform essential life functions.
By mass, human cells consist of 65-90% water (H2O), and a significant portion is composed of carbon-containing organic molecules. Oxygen therefore contributes a majority of a human body’s mass, followed by carbon. 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.
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