Body processes

Cellular Respiration – Function, Task & Diseases

Cellular respiration

Cellular respiration ( internal respiration or aerobic respiration ) refers to all metabolic processes through which energy is generated in the cells . Molecular oxygen is used as the oxidizing agent . This is reduced and in this way water is formed from oxygen and hydrogen.

What is cellular respiration?

Cells absorb glucose ( grape sugar ) to supply them with energy. The glucose is subsequently broken down into water or carbon dioxide in the mitochondria or in the cytoplasm . As a result, the cells gain the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a universal energy source that is extremely important for many metabolic processes. Overall, cellular respiration is divided into three steps:

  • Glycolysis : Here, one molecule of glucose is broken down into two molecules of acetic acid. Two C3 molecules are obtained from each molecule of glucose, which are transported into the mitochondria, where the next step in degradation occurs.
  • Citric acid cycle : The activated acetic acid enters the citric acid cycle and is broken down in several steps. This releases hydrogen, which is bound to so-called hydrogen transport molecules. CO2 is produced as a by-product, which is then emitted by the cell and excreted through respiration .
  • The final oxidation is also known as the respiratory chain , whereby the hydrogen obtained is burned to form water and ATP is formed.

A very large part of the energy can be used through this gradual process. A total of 36 ATP molecules are obtained from one molecule of glucose, which corresponds to an efficiency of over 40 percent.

function & task

Every cell in the body has a nucleus in which the genetic information can be found. The cell is separated from the outside world by the cell membrane . This consists of tunnel proteins, glycoproteins, cholesterol, lecithin and fatty acids. An intact cell membrane is very important because, for example, the disposal of waste products or nutrition depends on it. 

The vegetable fatty acids in the cell membrane also improve the exchange of substances. An excess of cholesterol or animal fat and protein solidifies the membranes and the cell structure as well as the boundary layers between the different tissues. This makes the exchange of substances more difficult and only an insufficient amount of oxygen and nutrients is brought to the cells.

Inside the cells are the mitochondria , which have their own genetic information and can also multiply. Body heat and body energy are gained in the membranes of the mitochondria . If energy production is disrupted, diseases such as cancer can occur.

Oxygen atoms or hydrogen ions can get into the cells via the air we breathe or the food chain. Due to various oxidation and reduction processes of oxygen and hydrogen, energy is generated. Electrons are brought to a low energy level with the help of co-enzymes, which releases energy. With the help of this energy, the protons can be pumped from inside the mitochondria into their intermembrane space and then flow back inside again.

This creates ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a molecule that plays a central role in storing body heat and body energy. Adenosine triphosphate can be called the center of energy metabolism. A cell has more than a billion ATP molecules, which are hydrolyzed or phosphorylated thousands of times a day. The energy that is released is needed for various metabolic reactions.

If the co-enzymes are destroyed within the respiratory chain, energy production breaks down and an acidic environment occurs. As a result, the mitochondria leave the cell or can die off and energy production stagnates, i.e. insufficient heat production takes place. This can be seen, for example, in the run-up to cancer, since a lower body temperature can be detected in cancer patients.

Diseases & Ailments

Our body has an unimaginably large number of cells in which energy is produced. The exchange of energy, matter and information takes place via the cell membrane. Due to environmental toxins, proteins, animal fats, free radicals and acids, a normal supply of nutrients and oxygen is prevented, and the toxins cannot be properly disposed of. As a result, the energy production of the cells is disturbed and the genetic information is damaged, which can lead to numerous diseases. 

Improper diet, cigarette consumption , heavy metals , acidosis , mental stress or chronic diseases lead to increased formation of free radicals. These damage the body structures and lead to premature aging . Molecules that either have too few or too many electrons are called free radicals. Therefore, they try to bring about a balance by snatching electrons from other molecules in a very radical way. As a result, a chain reaction occurs in which molecules are destroyed or damaged.

Very often, free radicals are so-called oxygen radicals, which trigger an oxidation process and destroy fats and enzymes . In addition, free radicals cause mutations in the mitochondrial or cell nucleus DNA and damage the connective tissue . They cause numerous chronic diseases such as high blood pressure , immune deficiency , Alzheimer’s , Parkinson’s , allergies , diabetes , rheumatism or arteriosclerosis .

Since the waste products are deposited, the transport of nutrients between the cell and blood vessels is made more difficult, because the free radicals cross-link sugar proteins, proteins and all basic substances. This creates an environment for pathogens and promotes the immune system. Since the body cannot cope with an excess of radicals, it needs help in the form of enzymes, Q10, various vitamins or selenium , which render the free radicals harmless and protect the body.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.