Just like you and I need to take in oxygen and ingest food to survive, your cells also need to resperate and require nutrients from the food you eat to endure. Normal cellular respiration is a metabolic process that takes place mostly in the Mitochondria. The mitochondria are the powerhouses or “furnaces” of the cell, where energy is produced, using ATP (adenosine triphosphate) as its currency.
ATP is necessitated to carry out all cellular biological processes. In order for the mitochondria to maximize ATP production, oxygen, enzymes, and other nutrient complexes are required. A fire needs oxygen to thrive, something to burn, like kinder, and something to ignite the kinder. Think of ATP as the kinder. In order to ignite the kinder, not only do you need oxygen, you also need sparks to ignite it! So just like a fire needs wood and oxygen to keep burning, ATP needs certain nutrients as well as oxygen to be manufactured at peak levels, to maximize cellular energy production. A fire with limited oxygen and wood will starve and smolder, just as mitochondria deficient in oxygen and ATP will burn slowly and produce much less energy.
With that being said, there are two cycles or pathways in the body that work together to produce energy from the oxidation of nutrients from the food you consume.
Glycolysis is the first pathway, and runs via anaerobic metabolism, meaning it requires no oxygen. Glycolysis occurs in the cytoplasm outside the mitochondria.
The second energy pathway, the cells preferred and most abundant energy source, is generated through the Krebs or citric acid cycle, and works in cooperation with the electron transport chain. This process occurs in the mitochondria of the cell and requires oxygen to function via aerobic metabolism.
Glycolysis can only utilize glucose as its fuel source, whereas the Krebs cycle can use fat which is in ample supply to generate energy. Glycolysis is necessary for only the initial 20% of cellular respiration in normally functioning cells. This glycolysistic process splits glucose into pyruvate, a metabolic compound, and does not require oxygen to produce ATP. However, the 20% of energy manufactured through glycolysis is just not enough for adequate, effective cellular metabolism. This system alone is not sufficient enough to preserve human existence, at least not for very long without disease gaining a foot hold.
Oxygen is indispensable for human life and is the reason why the Krebs cycle is responsible for providing about 80% of the body’s energy. A lack of oxygen initiates a huge pileup of electrons in the electron transport chain which stops the Krebs cycle from working and cells have no choice but to breathe anaerobically to generate ATP. This FAR from ideal situation initiates oxidative stress increasing damaging free radical production and acidic waste!
When oxygen is present, pyruvate enters the mitochondria of the cell and activates the Krebs cycle to produce pure energy. However, in the absence of oxygen, energy is forced to be produced continually through glycolysis, as the citric acid cycle cannot function in these conditions. This glucose fermentation process that occurs in the cytoplasm of the cell is very inefficient and provides the body with a lot less energy. On top of that, the energy that is produced through fermentation breaks pyruvate down into lactic acid, which can then build up in fluids and tissues as the bodies recycling process can’t keep up with its overproduction.
Glycolysis is required during resistance workouts as glucose fuels type 2 muscle fibers to lift heavy loads for brief periods of time. Under normal circumstances, like when you’re doing a set of shoulder presses, lactic acid will build up in the muscle tissue. This in turn creates a burning sensation warning you to cease lifting so the cells can re-oxygenate, and so the body can recycle or eliminate the lactic acid so it doesn’t destroy the tissues. Overtime, especially when over-training with intense resistance, tight muscles can build up and store lactate due to the absence of oxygen which can be quite painful.
You can see how damaging it can be for the body to be running on glycolysis for any extended period of time. This is why individuals with fibromyalgia can’t do any weight bearing exercises without being in extreme pain. They are so full of lactic acid from running on glycolysis that their bodies can’t handle anymore acid waste at all until they balance pH levels and correct the metabolic dysfunction.
As a matter of fact, cancer cells survive and grow via glycolysis. According to Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P) acupuncturist, doctor of oriental and pastoral medicine, and author, “It is reported that cancer cells can produce 40 times more lactic acid than normal cells. Their metabolism is dirty and poisons the cells around them with increasing acidity so the body becomes starved of bicarbonates and carbon dioxide in addition to oxygen.”
The citric acid cycle runs effortlessly under normal conditions, with full enzyme capacity, and without the interruption of harmful bi-products. With that being said, protein synthesis is imperative for the production of enzyme proteins, and one of the most important demands of ATP. Enzymes are necessary for life and incite activity for a diverse range of functions in the body, from assisting digestion to the production of neurotransmitters and hormones, DNA and tissue repair. They basically spark every cellular metabolic function. Without the enzyme spark, ATP will not ignite efficiently. When pH levels are on the acidic side that enzymatic spark is hampered.
In many individuals, especially with disease, a deficiency in the enzyme activity of the Krebs cycle may occur as Krebs’ cycle enzymes are tied up or inactivated by various cellular debris, environmental toxins, and lactic acid accumulation, resulting from various lifestyle and dietary stressors, and the onset of illness.
The enzyme controlled Krebs’ Cycle intermediates also requires co-factors like niacin, thiamin, lipoic acid, Co-enzyme-A, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid, many of which are not being absorbed due to intestinal dysbiosis, and or the inability to penetrate weak cell walls. The end result is pyruvic acids inability to enter into the mitochondria for aerobic energy production, shunting the Krebs’ cycle with the potential for more lactic acid buildup. As acidification increases, tissue oxygenation decreases.
This low oxygen, toxic, inflamed condition alters Krebs’ cycle biology, suppressing normal energy production, and augmenting oxidative stress and menacing free radicals. Ultimately, impaired cellular energy production can be seen as the primary malfunction that underlies ALL chronic disease!
Initially, the majority of people may experience fatigue and weight gain when the citric acid cycle is not running properly, as the ATP needed to produce energy for mitochondrial function is limited. This low oxygen, pH imbalanced situation allows for many opportunistic molds, infectious bacteria, and virus’s to gain a foot hold in any area of the body, especially the weaker areas. This compromises overall immune function allowing for degenerative diseases like arthritis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, cancer or just about any disease condition in stagnating, oxygen deprived, low pH, inflamed tissues.