I USED TO KNOW THAT
Lessons from our school days, long since forgotten
First up: respiration is not the same as breathing (that’s technically ventilation), although they are linked. It’s a chemical reaction that happens in all living cells, and the way that energy is released from glucose. It’s when glucose and oxygen react together in cells to produce carbon dioxide and water, and release energy. Because it uses oxygen, it’s all aerobic respiration. There’s also anaerobic respiration. So, when you’re working very hard (trying to get your head around biological terms doesn’t count), the heart can’t get enough oxygen around the body. Anaerobic respiration gives you energy, but a lot less, from glucose, but also produces lactic acid as a waste product, which in turn leads to cramp (ouch). There is, however, a sort of anaerobic respiration that we do like. Yeast performs an anaerobic process – it’s called fermentation and brings us beer and bread. Respiration and refreshment. Brilliant.