Minding your Mitochondria

Mitochondria is a hot topic these days. As naturopathic physicians, we are thought to look at not just the big picture but the processes that cause ageing- good ageing and poor ageing. The health of our organs and other systems in the body keep us functioning optimally. But, what keeps these organs and other systems going efficiently is the energy or battery of the cells- The ‘MITOCHONDRIA’- that produce ATP.  Like a under filled battery on a cell phone that will not work long or efficiently , so is the case with our cells that aren’t charged enough or drained for various reasons.  Preserving and growing functional mitochondria is a key strategy to prevent and delay many of the chronic diseases that we face including dementia/Alzheimer, heart disease, and diabetes, chronic fatigue and autoimmune diseases.

Here is an interesting fact-

The mitochondria live inside each of our cells. Each cell has the regular DNA which is derived from half mom and half dad. Then, there is the mitochondrial DNA which is 99+ % only from the mother’s lineage. It goes even further from Mom to grandma.   Maternal inheritance also gave rise to the idea that there exists a “Mitochondrial Eve,” a woman from whom all living humans inherited their mitochondrial DNA.

When I do an Intake for a patient, it is not just important to ask the parents history but I also want to know the energetic lineage from the mother’s side. If the women in your mom’s lineage were happy energetic, sluggish or even sloth like because that will provide a clue to your mitochondrial potential.

How do you know if your mitochondria need support? There are many levels to this but if you find yourself with these symptoms, it might be a clue that your mitochondria may need support.  These symptoms can be results of other underlying issues too, so check with a naturopathic doctor.

– Surviving on stimulants

– Having poor exercise recovery

– Addicted to sugar

– Not able to go long periods without food

– Overall fatigue

Lab tests: There are few lab tests that might indicate mitochondrial dysfunction

-COQ10 levels

– OAT tests

-Leptin levels.

– Insulin levels.

Anyone who is insulin resistant is likely dealing with a mitochondrial issue.

How do we nourish the Mitochondria?

Luckily there are many strategies that can be supported starting with diet, quality sleep, lifestyle, and natural nutrient supplementation. If we care anything about living well as we age we should care about anything that supports the function of these key areas.

Gut health and Diet:  The gut microbiome is an important key piece in healthy mitochondria and vice versa. There are ample studies that show the correlation both ways. Improving gut microbiota and epithelial lining of the gut is prime essential.

In addition to working out, eating polyphenol rich foods, healthy fats rich in omega 3,  eating to caloric balance, are all great strategies in minding your mitochondria. Here is a fun database of polyphenol rich foods.

Nutrient Supplementation: In addition to the above strategies, I recommend my patients supplement with a few foundational supplements including coenzyme Q10, creatine monohydrate, and alpha-lipoic acid. Resveratrol can also be added to this regimen.

Avoid un necessary use of medications: All classes of psychotropic drugs have been documented to damage mitochondria, as have stain medications, analgesics such as acetaminophen, and many others.

Avoid Environmental toxins: Reduce exposure to phthalates, parabens, styrene’s and other man-made, human-made chemicals.

If you notice symptoms of fatigue or not sure if you suffer from functional mitochondrial related symptoms , give us a call. We can help.


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