We need energy to function; to move, keep warm and ultimately to stay alive. Our energy is provided by the foods we eat and the drinks we consume, in the form of carbohydrate, protein and fat. But in order to make the most of this energy, our bodies need to convert this into a form that we can use (ATP), via a process called oxidative phosphorylation. And that job is performed by a remarkable organelle, often known as the powerhouse of our cells; The mitochondria.
Our mitochondria are indeed remarkable, and work constantly to provide us with an incredible amount of energy every day. But there’s a problem. Unfortunately, as we grow older our mitochondria begin to dysfunction, and they change in two crucial ways, both of which can have dramatic effects upon our health; They provide us with less energy, and they become damaged. As a result of this, we experience ageing and acquire all of the not so pleasant things that we associate with getting older, such as less energy, more aches and pains, and increased likelihood of disease.
What is Mitochondrial Dysfunction?
Mitochondrial dysfunction is a characteristic of ageing, and pretty much all chronic diseases. It is essentially a loss of efficiency of the mitochondria to produce energy in the form of ATP and there are multiple effects of this which include chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment, premature ageing, metabolic syndromes such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, cardiovascular disease, fibromyalgia, and many more.
But it’s not all bad… In fact, just as we are learning more about what can go wrong as a result of mitochondrial dysfunction, we are also discovering many ways to restore their function, which can have potentially life changing effects.
What are the Benefits of Enhanced Mitochondrial Function?
The list of possible benefits associated with improving mitochondrial function is impressive to say the least. Who wouldn’t want even a couple of these below?
- Improved Metabolic Function
- Increased Energy Levels
- Improved Exercise Performance
- Reduced body fat, and increased Lean Muscle Mass
- Reduced Age-Related Deterioration
- Cancer Suppression
A quick note about oxidative stress and free radicals
Oxidative stress occurs as a result of the imbalance between the number of free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Free radicals are moloecules that contain oxygen, and possess an uneven number of electrons. This results in free radicals being able to react very easily with other molecules, which is called oxidation. Whilst these reactions can be beneficial, they also be particularly harmful to our bodies. Antioxidants are molecules that can stabilise free radicals by donating an electron, without making themselves unstable. This means antioxidants can be very beneficial to our health.
Mitochondria, in summary:
If we don’t support our mitochondria to produce energy we can potentially:
- Look older
- Have less energy
- Forget things
- Gain weight
- Be more prone to disease
And if we do support our mitochondria to produce energy we can potentially:
- Look and feel younger
- Have more energy
- Protect our memory
- Remain in good shape
- Be less prone to disease
Are you now thinking you should do something to support your mitochondria? But what? I hear you ask. The good news is that there is a great deal you can do. And, there are even simple things you can start doing right now.
How to easily support your Mitochondrial Function
- Eat a diet rich in phytonutrients (such as carotenoids in kale, resveratrol in grapes, and flavonoids in green tea)
- Eat and drink antioxidant rich foods and beverages (such as blueberries, broccoli, curry, spinach and walnuts).
- Limit toxin exposure as much as possible, such as in foods, home cleaning and personal care products.
- Consider the benefits of calorie restriction and intermittent fasting.
- Challenge your brain and body with regular aerobic physical exercise & cognitive stimulation.
- Supplement with daily CoQ10.
- Add PQQ 20mg daily.
Supporting your mitochondrial function might just be the most important long term health decision you make. To learn more about how Functional Medicine could help you, please do not hesitate to contact me. Alternatively, you can arrange your free 15 minute introductory call today.