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ATP: The Currency of Life

Dear Friends,

Can you name this Beautiful Creature?

Did you stuff yourself Thanksgiving, like our creature friend here? We hope you had a good Holiday.

Two weeks ago we lightly conversed about how almost all functions within the body operate through metabolic pathways, and that proteins are the building blocks of these pathways. Today we will investigate this fascinating topic further through looking at the creation of the ultimate fuel that runs our bodies, and no, it is not coffee, but ATP.

ATP is the currency of life. Our body makes ATP from food, and without ATP our body would die. It is the fuel that gives our body the energy to move, that sets our protein gears—the pathways, in motion to do their designed job. It is the animating fuel of life. Let’s go over the pathways of ATP creation within our body.

We produce ATP through a process called cellular respiration, which has three components: glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, and the electron transport chain. Cellular respiration is an enzyme-mediated reaction (remember that all enzymes are proteins).

A method to learn and understand the basics of ATP synthesis can be grasped by understanding the simple line-circle-line diagram below. Part 1 illustrates the basic skeleton for glycolysis (the vertical line), the Krebs cycle (the circle) and the electron transport chain (the horizontal line). Part 2 illustrates the line-circle-line ATP flow. Part 3 and 4 Illustrate a manner in which additional information can be added to the line-circle-line skeleton—such as the various co-factors of vitamins and minerals that are crucial in each step.

Glycolysis happens in the cytoplasm of each cell where glucose (a 6 carbon molecule) is split in half to form 2 pyruvate molecules (3 carbon molecules). The process is fueled initially by 2 ATPs, setting in motion the protein gears to generate 4 ATPs along with 2 NADHs. The 2 NADHs will be used later in the electron transport chain to produce more ATPs. Consequently, there is a net gain of 2 ATPs plus 2 NADHs that are produced for the body’s energy needs. Check out the ten enzymes that catalyze the glycolysis pathway to produce pyruvate—an interesting visual explanation: Glycolysis.

Next the pyruvate is converted into either acetyl-CoA or lactic acid depending on first, whether oxygen is sufficiently present, and second, if there are enough specific vitamins and minerals present for the process. If there is enough oxygen and co-factors, then the process enters into the mitochondria and the Krebs cycle is activated. If there is not enough oxygen, lactic acid is the by-product and ultimately no more ATP is produced.

Assuming oxygen is present, within the inner membrane of the mitochondria the pyruvate is oxidized to 2 carbon molecules called Acetyl CoA, which is joined with the 4 carbon molecule oxaloacetic acid to form the 6 carbon molecule citrate or citric acid—and the Krebs cycle begins. Again, all of this and everything that follows is conducted through enzyme pathways.

This next video clip is an excellent lecture on Glycolysis and the Krebs Cycle. It spells it out beautifully. One of the by-products of the Krebs cycle is CO2. Each cycle produces 3 CO2. There are 2 cycles per glucose; therefore 6 CO2s are produced, accounting for the 6 carbons in the glucose. The beautiful cycle of life between plants and animals. We take in plant as food, taking in 6 carbons in one glucose molecule, using the glucose to produce the energy molecules NADH, FADH and ATP, and then return the 6 carbons in our exhalation to the atmosphere where plants can breath the carbon back in to create structure and food for us to eat.

Energy is captured by the generation of NADHs and FADHs and ATPs. The NADH and the FADH get oxidized in the electron transport chain to produce more ATPs. The bottom line is that one glucose molecule can result in the production of 38 ATP molecules when all three component (glycolysis, the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain) are taken into account. Here is a great video on the proteins involved in the Electron Transport Chain. And, finally this video is on the large protein, ATP Synthase that makes ATP

Acetyl CoA is the general catabolic intermediary that can enter the Krebs Cycle and generate ATP, whether our fuel is carbohydrate, fat or protein, and it is all mediated through enzymes/protein pathways. The quality of food consumed does affect the quality of energy produced. To have our body operating well, we need to think of food molecules as the vehicle to building and supplying the necessary tools for metabolic pathways to function properly. We need to detox, to purify our blood, to oxygenate, defend, build up immunity, lubricate, and of course, think clearly. All is accomplished best with the correct foods—organic, clean, full of nutrients, healthy foods.

Sincerely yours,

Seann Bardell

Clinical Note: The greenest food—Chlorella.

I have updated the Therapeutic Foods-Help Your Body Chart with the addition of our new organic Chlorella. As you can see we’ve placed it in the category of Oxidative Stress Defense. I definitely think it belongs there don’t you? You can find as page three in our catalogue. Just go to our Home page, click on the library tab, and then on the BioImmersion Catalog.

The Last Quiz Answer: This amazing creature is commonly called the Shining Cat. It has a Latin name that suggests it is a cat— Ailurus fulgens. It is not, being more closely related to bears and raccoons. They are similar to the more famous Giant Pandas, but sufficiently distinct so as to have their own family name, Ailuridae. It is more correctly named —the Red Panda.

The red panda is slightly larger than a domestic cat. It has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs. It eats mainly bamboo, but is omnivorous and may also eat eggs, birds, insects, and small mammals. The shining cat is a solitary animal, mainly active from dusk to dawn, and is largely sedentary during the day.

Isn’t it amazing that it is in the panda family. It is now considered a species that is vulnerable.

John O’Donohue: A Friend of the SoulJohn O’Donohue is a mystic, a lover of life in the fullest sense. See him live commenting on the soul’s journey in illness. It’s beautiful. Get his book: Anam Cara. His poems connecting us deeply with nature around us: A Blessing of Solitude.

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