Mitochondria. Not exactly dinner table conversation.
“Could you pass the butter and oh-by-the-way; what have you done for your mitochondria today?”
Not a household word yet. Perhaps though, soon we will be chatting with friends about how we enhance our mitochondria in the same way we talk about what workouts we are doing for our best fitness.
What exactly is at the heart of mitochondrial function, and why is it so integral to our health and longevity?
How The Energy Crisis Begins.
You start your day jumping in the shower, grabbing breakfast and heading off to work. On the way, you may catch a cup of coffee. Or two. By mid-morning most feel that they need just a little “pick me up” in the form of a sweet snack. For those whose jobs demand that they keep a feverish pace, you may even grab an energy drink or a soda. A quick” bite.”
We are all seeking energy from a source that will pick us up quickly, right? We feel we need it. Done repetitively, this becomes a habit that actually “feeds” your energy crisis. It’s a cruel trick our body plays on us. And, then there are these tiny little mitochondria. Poor, hungry little mitochondria.
What Goes in IS Important.
Furthermore, these little energy-producing factories are feverishly trying to gather the raw materials to produce endogenous (made inside the body) energy. But you have provided no such materials. Why? Because you have given these little powerhouses nothing more than sugar, caffeine, and stimulants. The result? Feelings of fatigue and run down.
We cannot seem ever to have enough energy. Now our adrenals and our nervous system are overtaxed. What do we do? Reach for more caffeine, sugar and, stimulants, in a vicious cycle that leaves us feeling burned out and stressed out. Why? Because pure, lasting energy eludes us.
So what makes these little dynamos tick and how do we harness the power they are capable of producing? What slows down their feverish energy making pace or worse, what causes their burnout?
A Tale of Two Organelles.
“Mitochondria and chloroplasts are two organelles that have striking similarities to bacterial cells. They have their own DNA, which is separate from the DNA found in the nucleus of our cells. And both organelles use their DNA to produce many proteins and enzymes required for their function.” This is according to http://www.learn.genetics.utah.edu./ That is of course, if they have the raw materials to do so.
It is believed that mitochondria once lived in the ocean. Separate organisms from our own human form. In the same way a bacterium can live inside a human host, mitochondria have merged with our own human cells and we came to have a symbiotic relationship with them. They somehow, over the evolutionary process became PART OF US.
When they cease to exist so do we. Mitochondria dysfunction is at the heart of all major diseases today. Take for example MS which is a perfect example.
A Doctor Reverses Her Own Multiple Sclerosis.
Dr. Terry Wahls, assistant Chief of Staff at Iowa City VA Health Care and clinical professor at the University of Iowa, suffered from MS. After years of research, she devised a diet that addresses explicitly mitochondrial deficiency and sought to correct her own. She recovered from MS even though it’s latter stages she was confined to her wheelchair. She now rides her bike to work.
How did she make such a miraculous recovery after being afflicted by a disease that has no cure? Dr. Wahls MINDED her mitochondria and uncovered what dictates the health of one of the most critical parts of the human body aside from the brain.
A diet was then devised as a dietary regimen to address the deficiencies we all face. Dr. Wahls repaired her damaged mitochondria and reversed her symptoms so dramatically.
Mitochondrial deficiency is at the heart of most diseases that affect muscles and strength or energy and fatigue.
Watch the TED talk here With Dr. Terry Wahls
You Are Only as Healthy As your Mitochondria.
We now know that the health of our mitochondria determines our longevity. Our “energy and life force” reside in these tiny cells. We are electrical and complicated beings. But to discover what “makes us tick,” we need to go back to the barest of basics.
We know that light, water, and, magnetism play a massive role in the communication of one cell to another. LIGHT is the way our cells communicate. The work of Professor Fritz Albert Popp details how our bodies have millions of biophotons are the great communicators of our bodies and to our bodies.
You see, your cells speak LIGHT language. We are electrical beings. Water is the substance in which all of our cells bathe. Water intake and the adequate intake of minerals help these little biophotons to communicate with one another.
Feeding the machine.
Mitochondria derive their “raw materials” in the form of carbohydrate, protein, and fatty acids. Those will convert these into ATP (energy) via a process that is known as “oxidative phosphorylation. ”
The mitochondria have a process whereby they take glucose and convert it into pyruvate. Pyruvate gets oxidized into CO2 via the citric acid cycle. Oxidation of fatty acids yields a substance named acetyl CO A.
This pathway is at the center of oxidative metabolism. You may know it as the KREBS CYCLE (see below) Special thanks to the authors (see logo’s on their work in the pictures below of Sulfur- Rich Foods).
Our Native Fuel.
In the womb, we derive nutrition from our mother. When we are born, we are born in a state of “ketosis,” which is our native state. Mitochondria thrive on ketones as fuel. If they did not, a fetus would have no chance for survival
. Ketones turn on our survival genes. Let’s look at how the presence of this energy source can affect inflammation, oxidative stress, and the disease process.
Ketones are potent signaling molecules that also tell our bodies that food is scarce. Our mitochondria can make about 30% more ATP when fueled from ketones than they can from using glucose as the primary fuel source.
Sulfur- Rich Foods.
Sulfur rich foods are a necessity for adequately functioning mitochondria and can be found in eggs, onions, arugula, coconut milk (and coconut oil). Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower are also fantastic sources. Greens like mustard, radish, kale, and turnip contribute sulfur as well.
Nature intended us to get this valuable nutrient through our foods. Note in the Krebs cycle diagram below that you can see the sulfur molecule in YELLOW.
The Krebs Cycle-Your Energy Factory.
Thanks to wiki (dinghy) for this colorful example
Sulfur would be at the top of the list of key compounds for mitochondrial health. An end-product in this cycle that is worth mentioning is something called NADH.
NADH is scarce in those with mitochondrial disorders. AND in some with autoimmune challenges. The benefits of NADH are on the lips of scientists as we speak. Let’s look at a few practical tips to keep your mitochondria humming and yielding bountiful energy.
From Dr. Susanne Bennett’s Book
Finally, Dr. Bennet recommends these nutrients for optimal mitochondrial function
- You should take a quality multi-vitamin and mineral formula – To ensure you are getting essential minerals, antioxidants, Vitamin C (studies have shown protection to the mitochondria against oxidative stress)
- Add the B complex nutrients as well.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – Co Q 10 is a cofactor/ antioxidant that has been studied for its ability to reduce mitochondrial DNA mutations that contribute to degenerative diseases and aging.
- Magnesium –Magnesium is linked to over 400 reactions in the human body and has been linked to the reduction of mitochondrial DNA mutation, and about 50% of us are deficient. It provides many other health benefits, such as maintaining a healthy heart and muscles, hormone metabolism, and a healthy immune system.
- Carnitine – Carnitine helps transport functional lipids (fatty acids) to the mitochondria. Contributes to metabolic support and, may also help remove toxins.
- D-Ribose – A vital function of Ribose is to boost muscle strength. Marked improvement in symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome in studies.
- Resveratrol – A phytonutrient found abundantly in grapes and red wine. Shown to increase the number of mitochondria in mice.
- Amino acids – Many of us are protein deficient. There are eight essential amino acids for optimal energy, muscle, and, immune health. They must be ingested. We do not make them.
Lack of exercise and poor health habits can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction. Some of the symptoms to look for are:
Fatigue, lack of energy, feeling burnt out
• Excessive pain and soreness after work-outs
• Memory loss
• Brain fog
• Mood changes
• Decreased mobility and joint stiffness
• Tingling and/or numbness
• Decreased immune function (longer healing time, infections)
The symptoms mentioned above could indicate that you may be at risk for the onset of challenges of the mitochondria. Soon, minding our mitochondria will become as much of a ritual as brushing your teeth or showering, and you will revel in all your newfound energy.