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Myth of the Sodium Potassium Pump

24 April, 2008 | Founder's Blog

Last newsletter we put in some links to Ray Peat's website raypeat.com on fats and oils which if you have not been there yet, is mighty good reading.

Following that theme, a recent question was asked about anabolic and catabolic states. Fats and oils are a significant factor where these states are concerned, and these states are directly related to membrane issues.

The question was really about these states in relationship to the sodium potassium pump, and I thought it might be good to share another website (and book reference) that sheds light on this "pump" theory from an entirely new perspective.

Q. Can you explain what would cause a person to be anabolic VS catabolic and how this affects the potassium pump?

A. Think membranes, and the cell as a gel.

First, it is important to make note that we are diphasic beings that shift through a yin/yang cycle every 24 hours - or at least we should.

The night time sleep and rebuild state is anabolic. The day time get up and go and break that body down state is catabolic.

Think of the flux of these states as causing shifts in anionic/cationic balances which will shift charge potentials which will alter membrane charges of polar fats which causes diffusion/permeability changes - all to an extent that you can equate what you see in nature with what goes on with the cell membrane. At night time the sun goes down and flowers close up to go to sleep. When day breaks, the flower opens up to meet the day.

Our cells do the same thing. Night time comes and our cells/gel chemistry changes and in a manner of speaking they close up, when day time comes our cells open for business.

This shift of closing at night (anabolic) and opening at day break (catabolic) is the yin/yang of our daily diphasic existence.

Now what this means for the cell and how it functions regarding anionic and cationic charge characteristics becomes important for we are dealing with 2 major cations - sodium and potassium.

It is far more than I want to write at the moment on the topic of the sodium potassium pump suffice to say I will reiterate what is mentioned in class - there is no sodium potassium pump per se.

The pump idea was a theory that attempted to explain what was being seen when no other explanation was put forth. The association-induction hypothesis of Gilbert Ling [discussed at gilbertling.org] essentially puts the pump theory to rest, and for a most illustrative review of this work see the book "Cells, Gels, and the Engines of Life" by Gerald Pollack. 

Now we don't need to tear apart this work to get an idea of what happens at a basic level in the two diphasic anabolic and catabolic states. (And I will clarify here if needed that anabolic/catabolic relate to homeostatic states whereas anionic/cationic relate to negative and positive charges and when related to the work of Carey Reams it's about rotational spin).

Anabolic states see the cells close up, potassium hangs inside, subtle pH shifts occur whereby interstitial oxygen decreases and blood oxygen tends to increase - you can see this anabolic shift at night time with urine pH increasing (Revici's work shows the urine pH reflects the titrametric alkalinity of the blood stream) and we go to sleep.

When day time comes, the cells open up, potassium shifts a bit to the outside, this gives a slight increase in interstitial pH and oxygen moves offering the ability for aerobic metabolism waking us up to meet the days activities with vigor and zest.

Now suppose through poor dietary choices and selection of fats counter to our biological individuality, we present our cells with a chemistry that shuts down to a degree the ability to cycle in the yin/yang anabolic/catabolic capacity which it was designed.

When this happens, an overly anabolic state can lock the cell down where the interstitial space stays with a lower pH and anaerobic metabolism becomes a key method of energy production of the cell. A person that has gone anabolic-anaerobic is one tired person that sees a lot of chemistry alterations and physiological manifestations which are covered well enough in class.

The individual whose cells stay open, can go catabolic/dysaerobic whereby their interstitial compartment is too alkaline and oxygen utilization is out of control - they go go go until they burn out and hit the wall. Again a host of manifestations relate here often opposite of the anaerobically locked person.

What is key to the state of the cell/gel? LIPIDS! Further broken down as fatty acids and sterols.

Think of a fatty acid as a string of carbon atoms with a FA- (negative) end and sterols with a + (poistive) end, and they arrange themselves in perpendicular and parallel orientation respectively - this orientation and the quantitative and qualitative considerations, along with the charge characteristics of the intra and extra cellular colloidal structure give a cell/gel the characteristics of its permeability.

So, it all comes down to what is the make up of the elemental "dirt" in a person which next stepping off from the periodic table of the elements is anions, cations, zwitter ions, fats, and sugars. What typically leads a person to get locked in a predominantly anaerobic or dysaerobic state is always based on their biological individuality and what they diet-wise consume - and this is always different for any given person which is why we like to measure every different person in order to be able to manage their given situation.

Diet can and will alter charged colloidal exchange potential between compartments, and if we think of the body as three fluid compartments separated by membranes, we will see that depending upon any given personal situation, you can have any given compartment leaning either too much in an alkaline or an acid direction.

As pH is the tail of the dog that tells us what is going on, we know that pH shifts are always related to anionic and cationic mineral shifts, and getting hold of this engenders the understanding that the statements spoken in pop nutrition circles today that says everyone is too acid is simply a myth.

What causes a person to be (to the extreme) anabolic or catabolic is diet, and it does not effect the sodium potassium pump because there is no sodium potassium pump - but in saying that, we sure as heck know that there is movement of these ions and your best guess of where and how they are moving is through quantitative physiological biofeedback - aka Flow System Auditing. Next to that, what do you "see" going on with your client through your filtered observation.

When you see the tendencies of these states, think of where the ions are moving, and what that is doing to pH and to biochemical and physiological response. Only in pondering this will it start to become clear of what is transpiring with the movement of these ions.

That's it for now.

Steve