Friday, July 25, 2008

Hydrogen: The Missing Link

Everyone knows that the body needs oxygen in order to live. Recently, a lot of attention has been focused on "oxygen therapies." What many do not know is that hydrogen is really the source of our energy. The role of oxygen is to burn hydrogen in the living system. This process releases the energy that powers our bodies. If we do not have enough free hydrogen, too much oxygen can cause the formation of free radicals that can destroy tissues.

Albert Szent-Gyorgi, the Nobel laureate who discovered vitamin C, found that the tissues of the animal body store hydrogen in vast quantities. Different organ tissues "pool" hydrogen in different amounts. For example, he found that the order of hydrogen pooling is the following:

liver > intestine > kidney > heart > lung >spleen.

Liver tissues store the most hydrogen while the spleen stores the least. This is interesting in view of the fact that the liver is the body's first line of defense and needs a supply of the most antioxidants in order to do its work of detoxification.

Loss of hydrogen stores may be a missing factor in the search for the cause of the aging process. As we grow older, our cells become dehydrated and our "hydrogen pool" may become depleted. The "hydrogen pool" may help protect our cells from free radical damage. Virtually all longevity researchers agree that free radicals are responsible for the aging process.

There has long been an unsolved paradox in medicine, which is the fact that oxygen is the source of all life and is also the major cause of aging. A tremendous effort is being extended to find a combination of powerful antioxidants that may control or reverse cell damage by oxidative free radicals. The single factor that is common to all antioxidants is that they are sources of hydrogen.

Hydrogen is the ultimate antioxidant.

As we age, hydrogen depletion may lead to many of the symptoms of the aging process. This may cause subclinical dehydration, since it appears that hydrogen may play a role in hydrating our cells. Symptoms of hydrogen depletion may include chronic fatigue, depression, hormone imbalances, and indigestion.

As our tissues are depleted of hydrogen, they become stiff and lose flexibility. Dehydrated tendons and muscles tear more easily and dehydrated bones become brittle. Loss of lung flexibility leads to loss of oxygen. By replenishing our hydrogen stores, we may be able to relieve many of these conditions if they are brought about by hydrogen depletion.

Hydrogen makes up 90% of the matter in the known universe, while helium makes up 9%. All the other elements in the universe are found in the remaining 1%. Since hydrogen is so abundant, you would think that we know all there is to know about it, but we are just now learning about its importance in the living system.

The word hydrogen comes from the Greek language, and it means "water former." Indeed, we all know that water, the matrix or mother of all life, is made up from hydrogen and oxygen. In fact, water is formed when hydrogen is burned by oxygen. We create pure water every day as a product of our metabolism.

The carbon cycle could actually be renamed the "hydrogen cycle." Sunlight is used by vegetation to break water down into hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen is exhaled into the atmosphere. The hydrogen is combined with carbon to make carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids.

Carbohydrates contain an equal amount of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. When we eat carbohydrates, enzymes known as dehydrogenases release the hydrogen so that it can be burned in the body as a source of energy. All the foods that nourish us are primary sources of hydrogen. We can see that the life cycle is really a hydrogen cycle. The burning of the hydrogen is a secret of life.

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