Ever wonder why you feel like you just don’t have any energy? Or maybe you just feel old, with aches and pains, and a foggy brain. Maybe your doctor has suggested that you just need to exercise more to get rid of that belly fat, but it still hasn’t come off!
So what’s the deal? Well, it’s likely a decrease in your metabolism causing your burnout.
In all of our body’s cells there are tiny little energy factories that turn the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe into energy. In the most energy intensive cells such as the brain, retina, heart and muscles, there are literally thousands of these little powerhouses, called mitochondria.
Mitochondria take food and oxygen and produce a chemical called ATP, which is like fuel for your body’s functioning. This is where your metabolism occurs. We have trillions of mitochondria throughout our body; they use over ninety percent of the oxygen we breathe to do their vital work.
To give you some examples of why this energy is so important, think about your brain. Your brain cells need to communicate with parts of the body that are far away from it; in order to do this communication needs to be transported from cell to cell, which requires a lot of energy. Another example is your muscles.
Your muscles need a lot of energy to keep you moving, as well as to help you lift objects and perform routine muscle movements such as bending over to pick up your child.
When our mitochondria become deficient, it impedes our metabolism and you will experience a variety of symptoms including fatigue. Scientists believe that many of the major diseases (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, for example) which occur in “high cell energy areas” (brain, muscles) are a result of issues in the mitochondria.
Symptoms of poorly functioning mitochondria or mitochondria deficiency:
0 Fatigue, lack of energy, feeling burnt out
0 Pain and soreness, especially after working out
0 Memory loss
0 Brain fog
o Mood changes 0 Headaches
o Decreased mobility and joint stiffness
o Tingling and/or numbness
o Decreased immune function (longer healing time, infections)
What factors cause problems with our mitochondria?
When we eat, along with the mitochondria creating energy, waste is produced. This waste is generated in the form of free radicals (free radicals age us and cause disease). Another source of free radicals is environmental toxins and unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking or too much sun. When we eat healthy vegetables and other foods rich in antioxidants, we can offset the free radicals that routinely destroy our mitochondria, keeping the mitochondria level strong. When we eat poorly (white, processed foods and sugar!) or make poor lifestyle choices (are sedentary, stressed, consume alcohol, smoke, etc.), the free radicals get the upper hand, and mitochondria levels are reduced.
Free radicals cause electrochemical reactions that result in something called oxidative stress, as less energy can be made by the cell. Oxidative stress is thought to be the root of most disease.
In particular, mitochondrial DNA (yes, mitochondria have their own strands of DNA, but that’s outside the scope of this document) can be heavily attacked by free radicals called reactive oxygen species (ROSS), causing DNA mutations. These mutations have been suggested as contributing to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as to the aging process. More mutations are seen in mitochondrial DNA in people over 65.
Who’s most likely to suffer from mitochondria deficiency?
Most of us! People consuming nutrient-poor diets (not getting enough antioxidants).
People who do not eat enough protein or healthy fats (needed for strong mitochondrial function and for strong muscles).
People who consume any of the top key food allergens and sensitivities (gluten, dairy, sugars, alcohol, fungi — molds and yeasts).
Those who live a sedentary lifestyle (couch potatoes).
People who are obese, or have high blood pressure, diabetes or abnormal blood sugar. These all cause oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage.
– Those who had surgery, cancer treatments, or are suffering from a chronic illness.
Those exposed to toxins, especially heavy metals or pesticides. Unfortunately, nowadays, so many of our personal care products contain significant toxins as well, so must of us are exposed to them.
What can you do to keep your mighty mitochondria healthy?
None of what I’m going to tell you should surprise you. You need to eat healthier foods, getting the bulk of your antioxidants naturally, if possible. You should avoid eating sugars and all empty calorie foods.
I recommend trying a modified elimination diet, removing the top key food allergens (noted above) to test for food sensitivities. If you have sensitivities to these foods, you are causing inflammation to your body. That, in turn, is going to decrease the healthy functioning of your mitochondria.
You need to eat healthy protein with every meal; in particular, a healthy organic breakfast.
Consider reviewing your medications with your doctor. Some are more toxic to your body than others and some are more toxic in combination with others. Please do not stop taking any medications without your doctor’s approval.
In addition, here is a list of nutrients you might want to consider discussing with your doctor as potential supplements to your whole foods diet:
Mighty Mito Nutrients:
Omega 35 (healthy fats) — Helps to build up your mitochondrial membranes.
Quality multi-vitamin and mineral formula — In order to ensure you are getting essential minerals, antioxidants, Vitamin C (studies have shown it can protect the mitochondria against oxidative stress) and the B complex nutrients.
Coenzyme Q10 (C0010) — An antioxidant that has been studied for its ability to reduce mitochondrial DNA mutations that contribute to degenerative diseases and aging.
Magnesium — Has been linked to the reduction of mitochondrial DNA mutation and about 50% of us are deficient. Provides many other health benefits such as maintaining a healthy heart and muscles, hormone metabolism and a healthy immune system.
Carnitine — Helps transport functional lipids (fatty acids) to the mitochondria contributing to metabolic support; may also help remove toxins.
D-Ribose — Used to boost muscle strength. Has been shown to reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome in studies.
Resveratrol – A phytonutrient which has been shown to increase the number of mitochondria in mice. Has a well-researched link to anti—aging benefits.
Amino acids — Most of us are protein deficient. This formulation contains 8 essential amino acids for optimal energy, muscle and immune health.
Shilajit — It recharges the adrenal glands and a substance in shilajit called fulvic acid provides potent antioxidant properties, helpful to recharge the mitochondria. I use a powdered form of nutritious superfoods and herbs — including shilajit and ho shou wu — as part of my Jing Jing tonic.
Other things you want to do to keep your mitochondria happy:
1. Exercise: I love burst or interval training, which is when you alternate short burst of high intensity exercise with periods of rest or lower intensity exercise. It is great for your mitochondria! And it is good to get rid of belly fat, as well as being protective of heart and lung health.
There are lots of ways to customize your intervals. I typically suggest beginners start out with something slow and easy/ fun to do, such as using a stationary bike. Don’t forget to always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program!
Do a 30 second, “all out” exercise (your choice of what you want to do) and then rest (this should be something like walking or very gentle jogging) for 90 seconds, and then repeat that for 10 reps. As you progress you can increase the “all out” time to 60 seconds, and do fewer reps.
Interval training is supposed to take a half an hour or so to complete. You can do this training anywhere by making up “burst” activities depending on what is available and it truly maximizes your time and effort.
This method of exercise is the most efficient approach to building muscle, improving your cardiovascular health and losing fat. Exercise will keep your mitochondria healthy too.
2. Remove environmental toxins: l’ve written an entire book on this, so it is hard to boil it down to a few paragraphs, but you need to just try and remove a few things at a time. You can grab my book, “The 7-Day Allergy Makeover”, and check out common household and kitchen products that may be poisoning you, body hygiene products and chemicals that contain harmful hormone disrupting chemicals and a whole lot more. It may overwhelm you at first, but like I said, just focus on removing a few unhealthy things at a time. It can really add up for the health of your family.
So take care of your mighty mitochondria today and keep your metabolism humming! It will boost your energy level, reduce your pain, keep you more trim and help your body fight inflammation and disease!