Mitochondria.  Not exactly dinner table conversation.

Could you pass the butter and oh-by-the-way; what have you done for your mitochondria today? Apparently, mitochondria are not yet a household name.  But, perhaps 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. So, it’s an excellent time to discuss 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. Grande, of course!  So, by mid-morning, most feel that they need just a little “pick me up” in the form of a sweet snack.

In other words, now blood sugar has bottomed out. Therefore, for those whose jobs demand that they keep a feverish pace, you may even grab an energy drink or a soda.  A quick” bite.”  But, unfortunately, that is where it all goes downhill.

So how do we increase our energy?

We are all seeking energy from a source that will pick us up quickly, right?  Many of us 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. Of course,  then there are these tiny little mitochondria. Poor, hungry little mitochondria. Understandably, they want to eat too. Furthermore, these little energy-producing factories are feverishly trying to gather the raw materials to produce endogenous (made inside the body) energy.

But alas, you have provided no such materials.  Why? Because you have given these little powerhouses nothing more than sugar, caffeine, and stimulants. So, as a result, you suffer from feelings of fatigue and run down. Ultimately, you begin seeking the next energy fix.

What Goes in IS Important.

Low energy is arguably the most common of complaints that I hear about. Once the process begins of sugar and caffeine, and caffeine and sugar; now our adrenals and our nervous system are overtaxed. So, 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?  Could understanding what slows down their feverish energy making pace be the answer?  Above all, could we prevent our energy crisis in the first place?

A Tale of Two Organelles.

“Mitochondria and chloroplasts are two organelles that have striking similarities to bacterial cells. They have their DNA, which is separate from the DNA found in the nucleus of our cells. Interestingly, bacteria are the same in the sense that they also have their own DNA. And both organelles use their DNA to produce many proteins and enzymes required for their function according to http://www.learn.genetics.utah.edu./  Understandably, of course, if they have the raw materials to do so.

Science shows that mitochondria once lived in the ocean—separate organisms from our human form. Similarly, in the same manner that bacteria live inside a human host, mitochondria have merged with our human cells. As a result, we came to have a symbiotic relationship with them.   Interestingly, 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 significant diseases today.  Take, for example, MS - Multiple Sclerosis.

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 addressed explicitly mitochondrial deficiency and sought to correct her own. Terry recovered from MS even though it reached its latter stages. She became wheelchair-bound for many years. Imagine the joy of now riding her bike to work daily.

Consequently, she learned how to fuel her mitochondria. How did she make such a miraculous recovery after being afflicted by a disease that has no cure?  In her own words, 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.

The WAHL’S Protocol is born.

So, what do you do when you are a physician but cannot find a cure in medicine? Perhaps you experiment that which may not be mainstream. Therefore determined to find a cure, Terry did what many do. She radically changed her diet.

As a result, a diet was then devised as a special regimen to address the deficiencies we all face with our mitochondria—specifically, MS. Dr. Wahls repaired her damaged mitochondria and reversed her symptoms so dramatically; her protocol is now used by many who suffer autoimmune conditions of all sorts.

You see, a mitochondrial deficiency is at the heart of most diseases that affect muscles and strength or energy and fatigue.

So, even our own energy crisis stems from not taking care of these little guys. However, she did not embrace veganism, as one might guess.

Watch the TED talk here With Dr. Terry Wahls

You Are Only as Healthy As your Mitochondria.

Healthy Mito’s determine our longevity as well.  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.

Above all, light, water, and magnetism play the central role in the communication of one cell to another. LIGHT is the way our cells communicate with one another as well as the environment. Similarly, the work of Professor Fritz Albert Popp details how our bodies have millions of biophotons (units of light), which are the great communicators of our bodies and to our bodies.

You see, your cells speak the language of light. We are electrical beings.  Water is the substance in which all of our cells bathe and water in itself, carries information.

Additionally, minerals help these little biophotons to communicate with one another. It is water and minerals that move electrons. However, it was increasing electrons donor status through a special diet that got Terry well. Ultimately, health always boils down to how well the body can move electricity.

Therefore, the little mitochondria needed food that provides enough electrons to make the energy required to create new cells. However, it would take a whole lot of electrons to fix the energy crisis of MS.

Feeding the machine.

Mitochondria derive their “raw materials” from carbohydrate, protein, and fatty acids. Secondly, those macros will convert these into ATP (energy) via a process that is known as “oxidative phosphorylation.” The mighty Mito’s convert glucose to a substrate called pyruvate.  Pyruvate gets oxidized into CO2 via the citric acid cycle.  Oxidation of fatty acids yields a substance named acetyl CO A. ultimately; it is this pathway at the center of oxidative metabolism.  You may know it as the KREBS CYCLE.

If you paid attention in science class, you might remember this energy making pathway. However, if you are an exercise fan, you may know that creatine gives you more energy for “the pump.”  Ultimately it is the Krebs cycle you are feeding to create the energy. Glucose gets used up quickly and burns dirty. However, if you want to sustain energy, having fats in a meal or snack is the secret.

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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. For instance, it is ketones that turn on our survival genes. So, if you want to learn more about the presence of these ketones as a fuel source, can affect inflammation, oxidative stress, and the disease process overall, you can read more here.

Ketones are potent signaling molecules that also tell our bodies that food is scarce. Our Mito’s can make about 30% more ATP when fueled from ketones than they can from using glucose as the primary fuel source. In other words, carbohydrates by design, are not the most efficient fuel for us or the Mito’s. For instance, think about running a low-grade fuel in a high-performance vehicle.

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.

 

mitochondria, krebs cycle, oxidative phosphorylation,

 

Thanks to Wikipedia (dinghy) for this colorful example

Sulfur would be at the top of the list of critical 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 abundant energy.

 From Dr. Susanne Bennett’s Book

 

Might Mito

 

 Dr. Bennett recommends these nutrients for optimal mitochondrial function.

Omega 3s (healthy fats) – Helps to build up your mitochondrial membranes. Taking a quality multivitamin and mineral formula to ensure you are getting essential minerals, antioxidants, Also, Vitamin C (studies have shown protection to the mitochondria against oxidative stress). Additionally, don’t forget the B vitamins as well. Also, don’t forget the Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Co Q 10 is a cofactor/ antioxidant.  Additionally, Co Q 10 is studied for its ability to reduce mitochondrial DNA mutations that contribute to degenerative diseases and aging!

Here are some other energy igniters:

  • Magnesium –Magnesium is linked to over 400 reactions in the human body and has been linked to the reduction of mitochondrial DNA mutation.
  • Carnitine –  Carnitine helps transport functional lipids (fatty acids) to the mitochondria. It 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.
  • Amino acids – Many of us are protein deficient. There are eight essential amino acids for optimal energy, muscle, and immune health.  And, we must ingest them as our bodies 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, and feeling burnt out. You might experience excessive pain and soreness after workouts. Consequently, our brain function suffers. Ultimately, you may experience memory loss, brain fog, mood changes, or headaches. And, since we are speaking of energy, you might experience decreased mobility of stiffness in joints, numbness or tingling of limbs, and decrease immune function and healing time.

Consequently, 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.