Blood is Thicker than Water
by Jon Barron
In the last issue of the newsletter, we discussed the three primary functions of blood in the human body: transportation, protection, and balance. In this issue, we're going to examine the composition of blood and how that determines its functionality. Why is this important? Two reasons:
So let's begin. In simple terms, blood is 55% plasma and 45% formed elements (red cells, white cells, and platelets). Ah! But in that simplicity is a world of complexity. (Note: don't get lost in the details. Just follow the basic principles. In the next newsletter, we'll refocus on the important parts.) For now, let's just explore .
Plasma is the clear yellow liquid that serves as the transportation agent in blood. It is mostly water, some 91.5%, in fact. The rest is 7% protein and 1.5% other solutes.
The proteins in blood function primarily as clotting agents and antibodies. Abnormal levels are indicitive of everything from autominnune disorders to cancer to heart disease. The key ones are:
The non-proteins dissolved in blood plasma make up about 1.5% of the plasma and include things such as:
As we said earlier, plasma comprises 55% of blood. The other 45% is made up of the non-soluble "formed elements." Specifically, we're talking about:
This is a scanning electron microscope image from normal circulating human blood.
One can see , several white blood cells including lymphocytes,
a monocyte, a neutrophil, and many small disc-shaped platelets.
Although platelets are often classed as blood cells, they are actually fragments of large bone marrow cells called megakaryocytes. As fragments, they are generally disc-like, but irregular in shape. In effect, they look like broken plates—thus their name. In normal blood there will be between 250,000—400,000 per ml of blood. The role of platelets is to assist in blood clotting. During normal blood clotting, the platelets clump together, or aggregate at the site of an injury.
Essentially, they are part of the body's initial blood clotting response. When there is external or internal trauma, or there is damage to endothelia cells (such as those that line the inside of the blood vessels) or collagen has been exposed in internal tissue, the body rushes platelets to the site of the injury, where they clump together to form the initial plug to seal up the wound.
This all sounds simple enough, but the control mechanisms are, in fact, remarkably elegant.
When collagen is damaged it releases ADP (Adenosine diphosphate). ADP is what is known as an agonist, a substance that binds to a specific receptor and triggers a response in a specific cell. By itself, ADP is a strong agonist, but its effect is greatly amplified in the presence of adequate levels of serotonin. (If levels of either ADP or serotonin are low, the clotting effect is significantly lessened.) ADP works by triggering platelets to change shape, release granule contents, and clump together. Upon exposure to activating agonists, such as ADP and serotonin, platelets break down arachidonic acid in the blood to form thromboxane A2, which plays a major role in the activation and recruitment of more platelets to add to the plug. ADP also causes adhesion of platelets to atherosclerotic plaques and to the walls of the injured arteries.
But we're not done yet.
Once the leak is plugged and the "emergency" is over, the blood then works to form a more permanent clot. In fact, it is the formation of the original clot that triggers the humoral coagulation system, leading to the creation of a more permanent clot. Or to put it another way: clotting begets clotting. Even as platelets plug the injury site (a process called primary hemostasis), secondary hemostasis is already kicking in. In secondary homeostasis, proteins in the blood, called coagulation factors (fibrinogen, prothrombin, etc.), respond in a complex cascade to form fibrin strands which strengthen the platelet plug. The coagulation cascade of secondary hemostasis is very complex and actually follows two separate pathways. It is beyond the scope of this newsletter, but for those who are interested in learning more, check it out here.
The key things to remember about the clotting process are:
It should be noted that hemophiliacs have platelets. What they're missing is one or more of the "follow up factors" ( usually Factor VIII) that are necessary to produce more stable clots. Whereas, severe hemophilia was at one time pretty much an eventual death sentence, not so much any more. Doctors simply replace the missing clotting factors with clotting factors extracted from human blood donated to blood banks. (Incidentally, obtaining clotting factors is not a problem since they are removed from all blood used for transfusions so that the blood does not clot prematurely.) There are no natural treatments that are as effective. This is one place where doctors definitely trump natural healers.
All blood cells, both red and white, begin as stem cells in your bone marrow. These undifferentiated cells begin to assume individual characteristics and become either red cells (the oxygen carriers) or white cells (the cells of the immune system). Incidentally, the literal translation of the word leukocyte is "white cell." White cells make up about 1% of your blood and number about 5-10 thousand per ml.
Since white cells really are the cornerstone of your immune system, we'll save a detailed discussion of their function for a later newsletter when we explore that system in detail. For now, we'll just take a quick look. Further differentiation divides the leukocytes into four main types of cells:
Note: in leukemia, the number of white cells climbs from 5-10 thousand per ml to as much as 100-400 thousand malignant cells per ml.
When people think of blood, it's really the erythrocytes they're thinking of. It's the erythrocytes that give blood its red color. In fact, the name erythrocyte means "red cell." The erythrocytes also perform the function most people equate with blood—carrying oxygen to the cells and carbon dioxide out of the body. anemic —with levels below 30% considered severely anemic. Another term that's important when talking about is "hemoglobin." Hemoglobin is the iron-based metalloprotein molecule inside the that actually carries the oxygen and carbon dioxide. The name hemoglobin comes from the joining of the two words heme and globin, reflecting the fact that hemoglobin is made from a globular protein with an embedded heme group. Each heme group, or cofactor, contains an iron atom, which is responsible for the binding of oxygen. There are approximately some 250-300 million hemoglobin molecules in each blood cell, and they comprise about 1/3 the total hematocrit volume—weighing in at 13-14 grams.make up about 45% of blood's total volume and number about 4.8 - 5.4 million cells per ml. This volume is expressed by doctors as the "hematocrit level." A level of 45% is obviously cool; less than that is
The design of a healthy red blood cell is important. It's very, very small, about 6-8 microns (.00025 inches) in diameter, and its shape is that of a bi-concave disc. Both its size and shape are optimized for carrying and easily exchanging gases.can also easily fold to facilitate their movement through tight spaces in tiny capillaries. One other interesting fact about erythrocytes is that they have no nuclei. They don't need it since they have only one function: to transport and exchange gases. In fact, fact are designed to have a high affinity for oxygen and a moderate affinity for carbon dioxide. This affinity is further augmented (and regulated) by body and blood pH. pH is geared for the release of carbon dioxide and the uptake of oxygen in the lungs, but a slight adjustment in pH regears the blood cells for release of oxygen and the uptake of carbon dioxide at the tissue level. It's brilliant!
Note: in the last newsletter we talked about hemoglobin's preference for carbon monoxide, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. In fact, hemoglobin prefers carbon monoxide over oxygen by a factor of 200 times!! It refuses to let go of the carbon monoxide, keeping it in circulation for quite some time. You literally have to force oxygen into the blood to dislodge it.
It should be noted thathave a very short life cycle of about 120 days. That means that every four months you replace every single red blood cell in your body. This means that the production rate of is phenomenal—around 2.5 million new cells per second, or a mind boggling 200 billion new cells each and every day of your life. To accomplish this feat, your body needs several key nutrients...all present 24/7:
Again, all blood cells, both red and white, begin as stem cells in your bone marrow. As stem cells mature, they undergo changes in their gene expression. This limits the cell types they can become and moves them closer to a specific cell type. Each successive change moves the cell closer to its final choice of cell type and further limits its potential cell type until it is fully differentiated. This is really an incredibly cool subject, and we could spend days on it—not very practical at this time. So let me focus on some of the highlights, to give you an idea of how brilliantly it all works.
Human bone marrow stem cell
Under the influence of various bio-chemicals in the body, the human bone marrow stem cell becomes one of two different cells:
Again, under the influence of various bio-chemicals, these two types of cells are transformed. After undergoing several intermediary stages, the common lymphoid progenitor evolves into T-cells, B-cells, NK-cells, and dendritic cells. The common myeloid progenitor follows a more complex evolution. It first evolves into four entirely different types of cells:
These four types of cells then follow straight line evolution through several intermediary stages as follows:
The important thing to understand here is that this is an incredibly complex process that requires everything to be in place and proper balance to be maintained in order to function correctly. With this in mind, it's not hard to see why you can't build the same blood cells out of pepperoni, pizza, beer, and Ding Dongs that you can out of real food that's packed with real nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals. If you're light just one component at a critical juncture in the process, the resultant cells will be compromised. If you have some extra hormone-like chemical (from the 100,000 plus that have been released into the environment over the last hundred years) intervene in the process, you can send the cell evolution off into uncharted waters.
Proper nutrition matters. Toxicity matters. And yes, genetics matters.
Sickle cell anemia occurs when a person inherits two abnormal genes (one from each parent) that cause theirto change shape. Instead of being flexible and disc-shaped as described above, sickle cells are more stiff and curved—in the shape of a sickle, which is where the disease gets its name. Sickle cells are also stickier than normal, which makes them tend to stick together causing the blood cells to clump and clog blood vessels. Also, unlike normal red cells that last 120 days, sickle cells are fragile and tend to last only 10-20 days, which usually leads to anemia.
At the present time, there is little that doctors can do to treat sickle cell anemia other than try and manage the complications as they arise. And there is little that alternative health can do to change the underlying condition. However, that does not mean that there is nothing that you can do. It means that it is more imperative than ever that someone with sickle cell anemia do everything they can to optimize the functionality of the blood cells that they have since they have so little margin for error.
In the end, it's not just individual cells we're talking about here. Blood is not just the sum of its parts. It's an integrated whole—an organ, as we discussed in the last newsletter. All the parts interrelate and function as one unit. Each part affects the other.
Again, it comes down to the Baseline of Health. You need to clean out everything that's toxic and antagonistic to your body, and you need to provide your body with all the nutrients and building blocks it needs in the forms that can be utilized by the body's cells. You need to detox regularly. Your exposure to toxic metals, chemicals and xenoestrogens is non-stop. And taking isolated vitamin supplements that are unusable by your body's cells, does not make up for a bad diet.
All of the steps that we discussed last newsletter about how to optimize the function of blood, apply yet again when it comes to optimizing the composition of blood.
That's it for now. In the next issue of the newsletter, we'll explore blood types and how they relate to health—and yes, diet. And we'll also look at some of the blood tests your doctor runs on you and what they mean.
1.891 sec, (15)