Feeling low on energy?
You will all have a different reason for wanting to improve your health and wellbeing and one of the first steps is deciding on what your most important goal is.
Energy is one of the most frequently mentioned areas of health that I hear about, with clients wishing to optimise their energy levels as this plays such an important part in how we effectively navigate our daily lives.
We need energy to wake up, to get going and to keep functioning throughout the day and let’s face it, it is our energy levels or lack of, that influence how we feel throughout the day.
Energy is defined as:
‘the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity’.
Given how important energy is, are you aware of what your mitochondria are and how they generate your energy.
Almost every cell in the body contains tiny organelles called mitochondria and some cells such as your heart, have multiple mitochondria as more energy is required to make it work. It is within these mighty organelles that cellular respiration takes place inorder to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Two main aerobic pathways that create ATP are the citric acid cycle (or Krebs cycle) and oxidative phosphorylation (also known as the electron transport chain).
It is no wonder then that these mighty mitochondria are often referred to as the ‘powerhouses’ of our cell.
However, whenever mitochondria produce ATP they also produce a by product called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which is a type of free radical.
Having some ROS is normal, but as we age, mitochondria produce less ATP and more ROS, which leads to inflammation throughout the body. In addition to the natural ageing process, stress, smoking, lack of sleep, environmental pollution, and a SAD (standard American diet) high in refined sugar and carbs can be damaging to mitochondrial health.
What is Mitochondrial Dysfunction?
An impairment in the mitochondria’s ability to convert food and oxygen into energy leading to a possible trigger in the development of disease.
When mitochondria dysfunction occurs, energy production is disrupted which can lead to a range of symptoms and potential development of disease.
(mitochondria disease rather than mitochondrial dysfunction, refers specifically to a genetic mutation in the DNA)
Signs of Mitochondrial Dysfunction:
- Brain fog
- Poor immune system
- Ageing skin
- Weight gain
- Low metabolism
- Joint pain
Restoring Mitochondrial Function with a Nutrient-Rich Diet
I have already mentioned that a diet high of refined sugars, processed food and other inflammatory foods can lead to mitochondrial problems, oxidative stress and disease and therefore eating a nutrient-rich diet which can lower inflammation and decrease oxidative stress, thus reducing the risk of chronic health problems is vital for the mitochondria and for you.
Nutrients to Support Mitochondrial Health:
There are several nutrients that are vital in the production of ATP and these include
- B vitamins
- Alpha-lipoic acid
In other words eating a diet which includes plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables, healthy fats such as organic pasture-raised eggs, coconut oil, avocados, MCT oils, wild salmon, chicken, pulses, nuts and seeds will all support the health of your mitochondria.
Lifestyle Factors to support Mitochondrial Health include:
- Intermittent fasting
- Ketogenic diet
- Reduced exposure to environmental toxins
- Lowered stress levels
Intermittent Fasting to improve Mitochondrial Health:
When you fast, damaged mitochondria go through a process called autophagy – a natural process the body goes through to clean out damaged cells, in order to regenerate new and healthy cells. Calorie restriction and fasting may improve mitochondrial function and support better health and longevity.
What to do:
As you fix your mitochondria, your body will begin to heal by regulating its inflammatory response thus cellular production will increase – leading to:
- Increased energy – say goodbye to those afternoon slumps
- No more brain fog
- Improved sleep
- Healthy weight
- Stress levels improve – less anxiety and depression
Healthy mitochondria are pivotal for cellular survival, overall vitality and graceful ageing. When the mitochondria are working well, they help to reduce fatigue, pain and cognitive problems while supporting muscle mass and burning excess fat.