Respiration is an important process in our bodies, but many people often confuse respiration and breathing. It is important to note that they are two very different things!
Breathing is simply the process of getting oxygen into our bodies and removing waste carbon dioxide.
So what is respiration?
Every single cell in your body needs energy in order to do its job. Respiration is the process that our bodies use to get the energy they need from our digested food.
It can be easily explained using the following word equation:
|Glucose comes from digestion||Oxygen comes from the lungs||
|Waste product exhaled||
So how do the glucose and oxygen get into our cells?
Well the answer is quite simple... through our blood.
When we digest our food, the small molecules are absorbed through the small intestine and pass into the bloodstream.
When we breathe, the oxygen molecules are absorbed through the alveoli in our lungs and also pass into the bloodstream.
The blood, now full of oxygen and food, then travels through our body until it reaches cells that need energy.
Respiration and Combustion
Have another look at the respiration word equation above, does it look familiar?
It is in fact very similar to the equation for combustion:
Fuel + Oxygen --> Carbon dioxide + water + energy
There is however one big difference here - the cells in your body do not burn the glucose! No need to worry, you do not have thousands of tiny fires being set in your body.
Respiration is a controlled reaction unlike combustion. During respiration the energy from food molecules is released into the cells slowly.
Let's see how much of that we can remember by trying the questions that follow!