OXYGEN – THE BREATH OF LIFE
HOW TO OXYGENATE YOUR BODY*
Oxygen plays a vital role, not only in our breathing processes, but in every metabolic process in the body. Nutrient compounds inside our cells are oxidised by enzymes, and this oxidation process is our main source of energy. Healthy cells in our body are aerobic, meaning they require adequate levels of oxygen for cellular respiration and growth. When cells are deprived of oxygen for any reason, decay sets in and cells can mutate and die.
According to Ed McCabe, author of Flood Your Body With Oxygen, a lack of oxygen to our cells weakens our immune system, which may lead to viral infections, damaged cells, bacterial growths, inflamed joints, serious heart and circulatory problems, toxic build-up and premature aging.
You can go for weeks without food, days without water, but ten minutes without oxygen and you are dead.
How Oxygen is Utilised in the Body
Oxygen utilisation is a highly complex process in the body. In brief, when we inhale, oxygen from the air, taken into the lungs, diffuses through the bronchial tree down to the alveolar sacs in the peripheral parts of the lungs, where it passes through the thin walls and is taken up by the red cells of the blood. A litre of blood can ‘carry’ about 200cc of oxygen gas. This oxygen-rich blood circulates to all parts of the body, supplying oxygen to every one of the trillions of cells that make up our bodies. Enzymes use the oxygen and initiate the many metabolic (ie oxidative) processes in the cells. One of the waste products of oxidation is carbon dioxide, which is then released from the cells into the blood stream, where it is transported back to the lungs and exhaled.
Appropriate levels of molecular oxygen, O2, are vital to support cellular respiration.
Oxygen plays an important role in the energy metabolism of living, aerobic, organisms. Probably the only living cells that do not need oxygen are some anaerobic bacteria that obtain energy from other metabolic processes. The oxidation process in the cells is the source of energy for most other living creatures.
Oxygen is used as an electron acceptor in mitochondria to generate chemical energy.
While oxygen supports and is essential for life, and oxidises or ‘burns’ food to create energy and heat for our bodies, some altered oxygen molecules are formed. These are ‘free radicals’ and these are ever-present in our bodies. These can damage cells and even DNA, causing degeneration and disease. A free radical is an atom with an unbalanced electrical charge, and it seeks to ‘steal’ electrons from other atoms. Antioxidants protect against the damage that free radical can cause. This is discussed in detail in my January 2007 newsletter Free Radicals - Antioxidants.
Oxygen in the Human Body
Oxygen is found in almost all biomolecules that are important to (or generated by) life. A biomolecule is any molecule (an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds) that is produced by a living organism, including large molecules such as proteins, polysaccharides and lipids. Only a few common complex biomolecules, such as squalene and the carotenoids, contain no oxygen. Of the organic compounds with biological relevance, carbohydrates contain the largest proportion by mass of oxygen. All fats, fatty acids, amino acids and proteins contain oxygen (due to the presence of carbonyl groups in these acids and their ester residues). Water, H2O, contains oxygen, and since some 75% or more of the body is water, it has been estimated that oxygen is 65% by mass of the body (carbon being 18%, hydrogen, 10%, nitrogen, 3%, calcium, 1.5% and phosphorus, 1.2%).
How to Oxygenate Your Body
This newsletter will not be discussing:
· Ozone therapy
· Hydrogen peroxide therapy
· Sodium hypochlorite (stabilised molecules of oxygen) therapy.
These three forms of supplemental oxygen therapy depend on the fact that ozone (O3 or O2.O), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2 or H2O.O) and sodium hypochlorite (NaCl.O) all contain an extra atom of oxygen which is unstable and released into the body as part of the therapy, thus improving the availability of oxygen to the body.
The following are some of the ways that are effective in improving oxygenation in your body, before considering using one of the above therapies.
1) Alkaline Diet
Our bodies are slightly alkaline (pH 7.4), and have to be for health. The correct pH in the body maximises the uptake of oxygen. Foods can be either alkaline-forming or acid-forming in the body, meaning that, after digestion and processing by the body, the waste is either alkaline or acid. Excess acid has to be neutralised and then excreted via the kidneys. The ideal diet should consist of 75%-80% alkaline-forming foods (20%-25% acid-forming foods). In broad terms, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, nuts etc are alkaline-forming and all animal products are acid-forming. For a detailed discussion of this, including food charts, see my September 2005 newsletter Acid / Alkaline Balance - The Ideal Diet and my March 2009 newsletter Foods for Health.
Since the correct pH in the body maximises the uptake of oxygen, eating the correct dominantly alkaline-forming diet leads to improved oxygenation of the body.
2) Adequate Hydration
Drinking enough water daily is essential, not only for the utilisation of oxygen in the body, but also for transporting the blood and other bodily fluids. Without adequate water, all bodily functions are diminished, including cellular respiration and the removal of toxins and metabolic wastes.
3) Optimal Breathing
Healthy breathing is slow (about 12 breaths per minute), from the diaphragm (rather than the chest) and through the nose (rather than the mouth), and is quiet and light.
Most of us tend to be sedentary, we spend most of our time just sitting. As a result, our breathing is shallow, with a small tidal volume. This means that the oxygen in the inspired air has a longer way to diffuse before reaching the alveolar sacs of the periphery of the lung where it crosses into the haemoglobin of the red cells.
Following are two suggestions to improve the supply of oxygen to the peripheral parts of the lungs and so to the haemoglobin:
· Periodic deep breathing.
Every hour or so, pause, stand up, and take 10 deep, slow breaths, and then resume your activity.
· The 1- 4 - 2 breathing cycle.
Again standing, breathe out, emptying the lungs as completely as possible. Then, breathe in as fully as possible. The time it takes to fill the lungs = 1. Then, hold the breath for 4 times this time = 4. Then completely empty the lungs by breathing out, taking twice the time it took to fully inhale = 2. Repeat this 1 - 4 - 2 cycle 10 times, three or four times each day.
4) Regular Exercise
Aerobic exercise such as walking, running, swimming, tread mill, bike-riding (preferably an exercise bike in a gym or at home) etc. will help your body utilise oxygen. It will increase the depth and rate of breathing, delivering more oxygen to the blood. The muscular activity of the exercise will help remove waste and toxins through the lymphatic system. Whereas the circulatory system has the heart to pump the blood throughout the body, the lymphatic system has no pump. Lymph, the fluid surrounding the cells in the tissues, is circulated and flushed primarily through movement, and in particular the activity of the muscles. With good circulation of the lymph, there is better supply of oxygen to the cells. The red blood cells, with the haemoglobin saturated with oxygen, transport the oxygen to the cells throughout the body, passing the oxygen from the red blood cells into the fluid surrounding the cells, outside the blood vessels, ie the lymph. Thus, from the standpoint of health and body oxygenation, you would be better off walking for 15 minutes several times a day, rather than spending an hour or more in the gym once or twice a week. An effective exercise to flush and circulate the lymph is ‘rebounding’, using a mini-trampoline. (The jumping up and down on the trampoline is ‘rebounding’.)
Adequate oxygenation and a healthy body pH are essential for health and vitality.
Some of the potential health benefits of maintaining body oxygenation at a balanced level include:
· Enhanced brain function (the brain uses some 20% of total oxygen consumption)
· Stress reduction
· Increased energy
· Longer and healthier life.
Another ‘health benefit’ is in the area of cancer prevention.
Oxygen Cancer Connection
Dr. Otto Warburg, a 1931 Nobel prize-winner, discovered a close relationship between oxygen and cancer. His studies showed that the primary cause of cancer is directly related to oxygen-deprived cells. He showed that cancer cells are anaerobic and actually thrive in an oxygen-deficient environment. Hence the importance of a dominantly alkali-forming diet as protection against cancer, since this diet promotes better oxygenation of the body. The recommendations of an expert panel of academics, that did a meta-analysis of 7,000 publications about cancer, included the importance of exercise and a diet which is dominantly alkali-forming. (See my March 2008 newsletter Prevention of Cancer. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer.)
*Copyright 2011: The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material in the huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.
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