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The Relationship Between Proper Nutrition and the Krebs Cycle

by
author image Sylvie Tremblay, MSc
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.
The Relationship Between Proper Nutrition and the Krebs Cycle
Chicken breast on a white plate. Photo Credit margouillatphotos/iStock/Getty Images

Your cells' metabolism involves a number of chemical processes that transform nutrients from the foods you eat into usable energy for your cells. One such process is the Krebs cycle -- also called the citric acid cycle -- a series of chemical reactions that make up one phase of cellular respiration, the major pathway by which your cells produce usable energy. The foods you eat contribute to your cells' ability to perform Krebs cycle chemical reactions, and proper nutrition helps your cells produce energy via cellular respiration.

Role of Carbohydrates

The carbohydrates in your diet contribute to driving the Krebs cycle in your cells. After you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks the carb molecules into glucose, a simple sugar. From here, your body modifies glucose to form pyruvate, a molecule needed to begin the Krebs cycle. As a result, consuming carbohydrates helps your cells harness chemical energy, helping to drive your metabolism. A healthy diet includes a range of carbohydrate-rich foods, including fruits, whole grains and vegetables.

Proteins

Proteins and fats from your diet can also help drive your metabolism by contributing to the Krebs cycle. Some amino acids -- the building blocks that make up protein -- contribute directly to stages in the citric acid cycle, while other amino acids help your body form pyruvate or acetyl CoA, two compounds required for your cells to begin the Krebs cycle. Fatty acids obtained from your diet also contribute to the Krebs cycle by acting as precursors to acetyl CoA. A healthy diet, rich in protein and fat, provides your body with enough to both maintain protein-rich tissues -- such as muscles -- as well as serve as a source of energy for your cells.

Vitamins

A proper diet, rich in vitamins, also has an effect on the Krebs cycle. One of the chemicals involved in the citric acid cycle is flavin adenine dinucleotide, or FAD. Your cells require FAD to carry out the Krebs cycle, relying on the chemical to perform the eighth chemical reaction in the cycle. To generate enough FAD to maintain Krebs cycle functioning, your body requires riboflavin, or vitamin B-2. Other B-vitamins, including vitamin B-1, play a role in the Krebs cycle, and a diet that provides enough of these vitamins proves essential to maintaining your metabolism.

Considerations

Failure to consume a healthy diet can potentially affect the Kreb's cycle. Deficiencies in certain vitamins might hinder your body's ability to perform all the chemical reactions in the Kreb's cycle, ultimately reducing energy production within your cells. You can help prevent these deficiencies by consuming a varied diet rich in fresh produce, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and legumes. Not only will these foods provide sources of essential vitamins and minerals, but they also provide the carbohydrates, fats and proteins needed for the Krebs cycle.

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