Exploring the Importance of Photosynthesis and the Krebs Cycle

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
4 min read

I want to be healthy and optimize my lifestyle for longevity and healthspan. You might be interested in this too.

I have focused on exercise, nutrition, sleep, hydration, meditation, etc.

These are all essential attributes of health and wellness. Still, I want to go back to first principles and think about what and who we are at the most fundamental levels: how the ontological imperative manifests in us.

Our existence is all about energy transformation and chemical reactions.

Solar radiation is transformed into long-chain carbon molecules in the process of photosynthesis. We ingest these as fruits, vegetables, and grains or secondarily consume them as animal protein from animals that eat plants.

Humans transform this material into energy to power our cells in the Krebs cycle.

Photosynthesis and the Krebs cycle are two essential processes that allow plants to convert energy from the sun into usable forms that we transform into energy to power our cells.

These processes are central to the functioning of ecosystems, the overall health of our planet, and our existence.

These essential processes create our world, blow my mind, and I hope yours too. Yet, if we stopped to think about this, we would be prostrate on the floor with amazement, incapable of functioning.

Here is an overview to ponder.

Photosynthesis is a multi-step sequence of chemical reactions that combines atmospheric carbon dioxide and water.

Photo by Kent Pilcher on Unsplash

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants, algae, and some bacteria convert sunlight into chemical energy. This process occurs in the chloroplasts of plant cells, where pigments called chlorophyll absorb light energy and convert it into chemical energy. This chemical energy is stored in the form of glucose, a simple sugar that the plant uses as fuel.

Glucose is what we use as fuel.

Photosynthesis relies on the blue and red parts of the visible spectrum of sunlight. Chlorophylls and carotenoids, light-sensitive molecules in plant cells, absorb light at these wavelengths and use it to power photosynthesis.

The products of photosynthesis are the feedstock of the Krebs cycle.

The Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle, is a series of chemical reactions in plants’ and animals’ cells.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

It is the process by which cells produce energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which powers cellular processes.

ATP is created in the mitochondria — ancient protocells embedded in our cells.

Mitochondria are the cell’s powerhouses responsible for generating most of the cell’s energy. These organelles are found in the cells of all plants and animals.

The process by which mitochondria produce energy, called cellular respiration, involves the breakdown of glucose and other molecules to release energy. In addition to their role in energy production, mitochondria are involved in many other critical cellular processes, including calcium regulation and signaling. Understanding the role of mitochondria in the cell is crucial for researchers and scientists working to improve human health and treat diseases.

The Krebs cycle begins when glucose is broken down into pyruvate, which is then converted into a compound called acetyl-CoA. This compound enters the Krebs cycle, where it is broken down into smaller molecules and used to produce ATP.

Photosynthesis and the Krebs cycle are closely interconnected, as the energy produced by photosynthesis is used to power the Krebs cycle. The glucose produced by photosynthesis is used as a fuel source for the Krebs cycle, and the ATP produced by the Krebs cycle is used to power the various processes that allow plants and animals to grow and thrive.

These processes are essential for ecosystems’ health and our planet’s overall health.

Plants are the primary producers in most ecosystems, and their ability to convert sunlight into usable energy is what drives the entire food chain. In addition, the oxygen produced and emitted during photosynthesis is essential for the survival of animals’ respiration.

These two processes are fundamental and ubiquitous in all plants and animals, including an animal near and dear to me: humans.

I will make the case that there is no real difference between a living planet and a living cell. There isn’t a distinct line separating the two. Biochemistry naturally develops from geochemistry.

From this perspective, it makes sense that we can’t tell ancient rocks apart from biological life. A living planet produces life on Earth, and separating the two would require breaking a continuity.

One starts to question whether biology is now home to all of the most intriguing physics questions.

Now I am getting back on the floor to contemplate them in stunned silence. Maybe I’ll do some Pilates while I’m down there.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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