Many people struggle with low energy. This is the number one complaint I hear from my patients. More than often conventional labs testing comes back normal, failing to address the root cause of the problem, mitochondrial dysfunction. Patients are left on their own or in some cases even misdiagnosed as depressed and given an option to manage their symptoms with antidepressants. Sounds familiar?
What are mitochondria?
Mitochondria are tiny engines inside your cells that produce energy that gets burned by cells in your muscles, heart, brain, kidney, liver and more. Some cells are working harder than others. For example, red blood cells have no mitochondria. Your heart, liver and kidney, on the other hand, work hard and have the highest mitochondrial density. Your muscles and brain consume a lot of energy but have the lowest levels of mitochondrial density. As you can imagine your muscles and brain mitochondria have to work really hard, in fact five times harder than the heart mitochondria. So, energy production in your muscles and brain is going to be affected to a greater degree even with low levels of mitochondrial dysfunction producing symptoms of peripheral and brain fatigue.
What is Mitochondria dysfunction?
Mitochondrial dysfunction is a term for “I’m feeling tired all the time”
Energy cannot be destroyed or created; it can only change forms. The energy comes from the food you eat. The food must be digested and absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. Fats, proteins and carbohydrates enter into your tiny little engines inside your cells (mitochondria) where energy is converted and produced in the form of ATP.
Think of the food you eat like filling up your gas tank. In order for the engine (mitochondria) to work it needs both gasoline (food) and spark plugs (nutrients) that work. Each depends on the other for normal function. In the absence of adequate nutrients, the mitochondria (engine) begins to fail.
Mitochondria also are quite sensitive, and they are very easily damaged by high levels of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress could be coming from the gut, food you eat, water you drink, environmental toxins including heavy metals. A new pattern that was observed recently and described by Dr. Richard Lord is called hypometabolic state or mitochondrial retraction. It’s a lack of having sufficient mitochondria in numbers to even produce energy or ATP.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is caused by a failure at a cellular level and affects virtually every cell and system in your body, leading to widespread symptoms of peripheral fatigue, muscle pain, brain fog, depression, cognitive decline, memory issues, headaches.
7 simple Steps to improve mitochondrial function
1) Eat whole organic plant-based food rich in antioxidants and healthy fat, such as broccoli, blueberries, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, salmon, nuts and seeds.
2) Optimize your digestion and practice healthy eating habits for proper assimilation of nutrients
3) Establish a healthy sleeping pattern.
4) Make breathing exercise a ritual to make sure you’re heavily oxygenating yourself. ( I’m still working on it myself). Mitochondria consume about 90% of the oxygen produced in the body for energy production.
5) Implement intermittent fasting. Eat three times a day instead of snacking all day.
6) High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) has been shown to increase mitochondria density.
7) Drink plenty of clean water during the day
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