zig
0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

Metabolism & the Respiratory System

by
author image Kirstin Hendrickson
Kirstin Hendrickson is a writer, teacher, coach, athlete and author of the textbook "Chemistry In The World." She's been teaching and writing about health, wellness and nutrition for more than 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Science in zoology, a Bachelor of Science in psychology, a Master of Science in chemistry and a doctoral degree in bioorganic chemistry.
Metabolism & the Respiratory System
Metabolism requires oxygen, which the respiratory system provides. Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Your metabolism is tied inextricably to your respiratory system, because the respiratory system is responsible for bringing in the oxygen you need to burn nutrients for energy, and for clearing out certain metabolic waste products. You can't affect your metabolic rate through your respiratory system, however; rather, the former affects the latter.

Human Metabolism

Colloquially, metabolism refers to the production of energy by burning nutrient molecules -- and the expenditure of that energy through a variety of processes, including cell maintenance. However, from a biochemical perspective, your metabolism is the sum of all chemical reactions taking place in your body, not all of which relate to energy production and expenditure. Still, it's the energy production portion of metabolism that's most intricately tied to the respiratory system.

Oxygen

You need oxygen to burn most nutrient molecules, explain Drs. Reginald Garrett and Charles Grisham in their book "Biochemistry." Technically, it's possible to burn sugar to produce very small amounts of energy without using oxygen -- this is called anaerobic metabolism, and it's what your cells do when you engage in a very hard effort -- but for the most part, you rely upon aerobic metabolism. This process requires oxygen, which the lungs provide.

Respiration

When you inhale, you bring in air, which contains oxygen. The oxygen diffuses across the thin cell membranes of the lung tissue into the bloodstream, where proteins called hemoglobin in red blood cells pick it up and deliver it to the tissues. Respiration serves a second purpose, however, explains Dr. Lauralee Sherwood in her book "Human Physiology"; it helps you rid your blood of carbon dioxide, which is what you produce when you burn nutrients in oxygen.

Respiration Rate

When your cells burn more nutrients for energy -- as they do when you're working out, for instance -- you require more oxygen, and produce more carbon dioxide, which you must get rid of. This causes you to breathe faster. Conversely, when you're burning fewer nutrients for energy -- as when you're sleeping, for instance -- you don't need as much oxygen, and are producing less carbon dioxide. The lungs respond by working more slowly.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

CURRENTLY TRENDING

Demand Media

Our Privacy Policy has been updated. Please take a moment and read it here.