We take about 20.000 breaths every day, almost all of them without even noticing or thinking about it. Let's change that & start to explore the many fascinating aspects of this life-giving process of breathing within a series of posts.
Did you know that our breathing cycle actually involves far more than just our body?
Very simply spoken what we inhale, trees exhale and what we exhale trees inhale. To find out more about this connection we can take a closer look at the biochemistry of breathing on both sides. But no worries we will just take a tiny dip into 7th grade science here. 😊
Plants take in water through their roots and carbon dioxide from the air. With the light energy they get from the sun they can perform photosynthesis1 to make glucose (sugars) and oxygen. While the plant uses the glucose as food to grow, the oxygen is a by-product.
Chemically speaking this is: Carbon dioxide + Water → Glucose + Oxygen (6CO2 + 6H2O → C6H12O6+ 6O2)
Interesting fact: While forests are responsible for about one third of the oxygen in our atmosphere, almost all the rest is produced by marine plants like phytoplankton who perform photosynthesis by removing carbon dioxide from the water.2
Humans on the other hand perform cellular respiration, also called aerobic respiration3. To function our cells need energy. As we can't use the sun like the plants do, we are using the next best sun-powered thing: food. Whether it is carbs, proteins or fats, they are all combinations of the three elements carbon, hydrogen & oxygen. Food provides our body with the building blocks to grow and store energy through complex metabolic processes. When we breathe in, the oxygen that is needed in these processes enters our body. The carbon dioxide we exhale as a result of all this can then be absorbed by the plants to continue the cycle.
Chemically speaking this is: Oxygen + Glucose → Carbon dioxide + Water (6O2 + C6H12O6 → 6CO2 + 6H2O)
So next time you are close to a tree, pause, take a deep breath and appreciate this wonderful thing called life.