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Why You Want More Carbon Dioxide

Understanding the importance of CO to human physiology was one of the things that made me realize that being a good carb burner is necessary to achieve optimal health.

Why You Want More Carbon Dioxide

CO is health supporting. And the proper oxidation of carbohydrates produces 50% more carbon dioxide than fat oxidation (in other words, you produce 50% more CO when you properly burn carbs). Many understand how important oxygen is — we have to breathe, right? Oxygen is vital for energy metabolism. It is the final electron acceptor in the electron transport chain.

And when O isn't available in the cell, our cells then use the inefficient glycolytic pathway (fermentation) for energy production more than necessary. What is not commonly understood is HOW oxygen gets to our cells, and that process relies on CO ! CO is often labeled a “byproduct” of energy metabolism, but it is not given the credit it deserves. More CO means more oxygen is delivered to our cells, improving our energy production. It is a feedforward cycle since we are able to produce more energy and thus more CO . This is because the delivery of O requires an exchange of gases (CO and O ) at the cellular level. Hemoglobin, a protein in our blood responsible for carrying CO and oxygen, releases the oxygen bound to it in the presence of higher CO concentrations. And releases CO in the presence of higher O concentrations. The relationship between O and CO in the body is explained by the Bohr and Haldane effect: Bohr — High concentration of CO in the cells causes a low pH (acidic environment), causing hemoglobin to unload more O in the cells and take up CO Haldane — High concentration of O in the lungs means hemoglobin will unload CO and take up oxygen The higher the concentration of CO , the more effectively oxygen can be utilized and the better we will make energy. But improving oxygen delivery is just one benefit of CO . Here are eight more.

Eight Benefits of CO

1. CO increases the metabolic rate — Since CO promotes delivery of O to cells, we can produce more energy per molecule of glucose (~36 ATP relative to 2 ATP) using full oxidative phosphorylation (proper carb burning). “The presence of carbon dioxide is an indicator of proper mitochondrial respiratory functioning.” ~ Ray Peat, Ph.D.



2. CO improves function of Vitamin K since CO concentrations determine the rate of Vit K dependent carboxylation reactions — CO activates the Vit K dependent proteins & thus assists fat soluble vitamins in fulfilling their physiological functions. “The greater the supply of carbon dioxide, the better vitamin K can do its job.” ~ Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D. “[V]itamin K uses [CO ] to activate proteins that protect our heart valves and blood vessels from calcification.” ~ Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D. CO is thus important for the following Vit K functions: blood clotting, preventing soft tissue calcification, mineralizing bones and teeth, utilizing energy, and hormonal health. 3. CO improves vasodilation by relaxing smooth muscles around blood vessels — A vasodilator is a substance that causes smooth muscle to relax thus dilating the tubular passages it lines. 4. CO improves gut health — You want HIGH CO levels in your gut, and many people, unfortunately, have LOW CO levels and HIGH O levels (not what we want!) The colonic microflora is extremely complex. And while it is near impossible to define what the ideal microbiome should look like (resident microbes are highly diverse, vary between individuals, and change with diet), recent evidence supports that colonic bacteria should be dominated by obligate anaerobic bacteria (meaning they cannot survive in high oxygen environments) that are able to benefit us by breaking down non-usable fibers. Balanced gut microbiomes are characterized by the dominance of obligate organisms, while an expansion of facultative organisms (bacteria that can survive in high O environments) is a common marker of gut dysbiosis. Thus, the inside of the colon should be a low oxygen and high CO environment to ensure we have dominance of obligate anaerobes that can breakdown complex carbs and provide our cells with short chain fatty acids, and lower levels of


facultative organisms since these facultative anaerobic bacteria do not specialize in consuming fiber and might even interfere with host nutrition.

So, maintaining a low oxygen and high CO environment helps keep the microbiome in check. The internal environment of our body impacts how our body functions. 5. CO improves calcium utilization — When CO exits the cell, it brings with it free water and calcium, lowering cellular bulk water. It is toxic to have persistent intracellular calcium, and you want as little free water as possible inside cells. In fact, some machines use the intracellular water level when looking for cancer.


“The carbon dioxide can be changed into carbonic acid, by chemically combining with water. Carbonic acid is hydrophilic, and so it quickly leaves the cell, taking with it some of the oppositely charged ions, such as calcium and sodium.” 6. CO protects the cell and mitochondria structure from damage, acting like an antioxidant and cell stabilizer — Since it improves oxygen delivery, it reduces free radical damage. It also protects against hypoxia and the negative effects of intracellular calcium and inflammation. Abundant CO inside and outside the cell protects lipids and proteins susceptible to oxidation. In fact, CO is part of our antioxidant defense system. “The suppression of mitochondrial respiration increases the production of toxic free radicals, and the decreased carbon dioxide makes the proteins more susceptible to attack by free radicals.” ~ Ray Peat, Ph.D. “The failure to oxidize glucose to CO is oxidative stress.” ~ Ray Peat, Ph.D. 7. CO prevents accumulation of lactic acid in the cell, which we see in cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions — Lactic acid is a byproduct of inefficient carb metabolism that suppresses efficient oxidation of glucose and burdens the liver's energy supply. Elevated lactic acid levels have a hypoxic effect and signals to the cell that it is under stress. “The presence of lactic acid, which indicates stress or defective respiration, interferes with energy metabolism in ways that tend to be self-promoting. Harry Rubin's experiments demonstrated that cells become cancerous before genetic changes appear. The mere presence of lactic acid can make cells more susceptible to the transformation into cancer cells. (Mothersill, et al., 1983.) Diabetics typically have elevated lactate, which shows that glucose doesn't have a problem getting into their cells, just getting oxidized.” ~ Ray Peat, Ph.D.


More CO improves oxidation and thus prevents accumulation of lactic acid since full oxidative phosphorylation (proper carb metabolism) can occur. “Lactic acid and carbon dioxide have opposing effects.” ~ Ray Peat, Ph.D. 8. CO improves longevity — The higher you live in altitude (and thus the higher CO levels), the lower the cancer, heart disease and overall better health. Moreover, maximum lifespan of mammals is positively correlated with blood CO . “People who live at very high altitudes live significantly longer; they have a lower incidence of cancer (Weinberg, et al., 1987) and heart disease (Mortimer, et al., 1977), and other degenerative conditions, than people who live near sea level.” ~ Ray Peat, Ph.D.

How Do We Achieve Higher CO Levels?

How we eat and breathe impacts how much CO we have in our body. You can increase the endogenous production (with proper carb burning), or reduce the outflow (with proper breathing). CO is formed intracellularly during energy metabolism inside the mitochondria. Since carbs are richer in oxygen than fat, they consume less water in their metabolism and release 50% more CO (if we use them properly). The more carbs we efficiently burn for energy, the more CO we make. “Higher CO has benefits, and a higher ratio of carbohydrates to fat being oxidized for fuel yields greater CO .” The body's primary source of CO is cellular metabolism — so properly burning carbs is the primary source of CO . In fact, the Keto diet significantly reduces carbon dioxide stores. Even Dr. Lustig admits that ketosis reduces the amount of CO produced by the body in relation to the amount of oxygen it consumes.

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How we breathe also impacts the CO levels inside of our body, as we blow off a ton of CO with mouth breathing! Mouth breathing is, in a sense, self-suffocation and hyperventilation when taken to the extreme because we're driving down CO levels to the point that we decrease oxygen availability to the cells. Overtime this can lead to degeneration, and a lot of mouth breathing is a sign of a stressed and lowered metabolism. Nose breathing is a MUST, and utilizing mouth tape can help reduce levels of mouth breathing while sleeping. For extra CO work, try nose bag breathing with a brown paper bag to increase CO levels. This is very powerful to do before bed! In summary, there are a number of health advantages of having elevated cellular CO levels. Proper breathing is very important for blood CO levels, but it does not change cellular CO levels — what you eat does! And being a good carb burner is one of the best ways to achieve elevated levels.

Transform Your Health — One Step at a Time

Ashley and her sister Sarah have put together a truly groundbreaking step-by-step course called “Rooted in Resilience.” They have compiled what clearly is the best application of Dr. Ray Peat's work on Bioenergetic Medicine that I have ever seen. It is so good that I am using the core of their program to teach the many Health Coaches that I am in the process of training for the new Mercola Health Clinics I am opening this fall. It took these women working nearly full-time on this project for a year to create it. This has to be one of the absolute best values for health education I have ever seen. If you want to understand why you struggle with health problems and then have a clear program on how to reverse those challenges then this is the course for you. It is precisely the type of program I wish I would have had access to when I got out of medical school. I fumbled around for decades before I reached the conclusion they discuss in the course and share with you so you can restore your cellular energy production and recover your health. Select and eat the right foods to heal your metabolism and improve glucose utilization Balance your hormones to help reduce anxiety, weight gain and sleep disturbances Use reverse dieting to increase your calories without gaining weight and tanking your metabolism, all while improving your energy levels Heal your gut for proper immune function, mood and weight management Tweak your diet and lifestyle habits to improve your mindset and mental health Crush your fitness goals with ease and get your life back on track Master the most essential habits for health with bonus guides, including over 100 meal plans to take the stress out of meal time planning and shopping, and so much more! Learn more about Rooted in Resilience here.

About the Author

Ashley Armstrong is the cofounder of Angel Acres Egg Co., which specializes in low- PUFA (polyunsaturated fat) eggs that are shipped to all 50 states ( join waitlist here ), and Nourish Cooperative , which ships low-PUFA pork, beef, cheese, A2 dairy and traditional sourdough to all 50 states. Waitlists will reopen shortly.

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