The Connection between Low Energy and Mitochondrial Function
Few people are as familiar with the workings of the mitochondria as they should be. For fatigue patients, the connection between these cellular energy factories and chronic low energy is something that can be of vital concern.
For fatigue sufferers, it is easy to point to the adrenal glands as the source of all their problems. After all, there are so many things that can wrong with the body’s stress response that the adrenals often do suffer varying levels of overload and even damage. In reality, however, the body is an amazingly complex machine with many different systems – and of which can malfunction for a seemingly endless variety of reasons. In many instances, the problem of fatigue can actually be traced to the cellular level.
Mitochondria: Your Body’s Energy Factories
When you’re feeling low on energy, chances are that you don’t give much thought to your cells. You probably just assume that you didn’t eat enough of the right kinds of food, trained too hard in the gym, or failed to get enough sleep. But what excuse do you have when your diet, exercise, and sleep needs are all being faithfully met? Perhaps it’s time to not just focus on the adrenals, but on the actual source of your energy.
To do that, you have to turn your attention away from your glands and look toward the cells – and specifically, the mitochondria within your cells that work day and night to convert the food you eat and the oxygen you breathe into the energy that empowers your very life.
Did You Know?
Your body has more than 100 quadrillion mitochondria located throughout your cells. Within each of these mitochondria, there are around 17,000 individual conversion centers that turn oxygen and food into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – the fuel your body uses to power all of its systems. All together, those mitochondria are so active that they utilize all but ten percent of the oxygen we take in each day, just to keep their factories running at peak performance!
These mitochondria are responsible for what we call metabolism. As you might imagine, those factories within the mitochondria are so critical to the maintenance of human energy levels that even slight deviations in production capabilities can have far-reaching consequences. Unfortunately, the mitochondria are extremely sensitive to a whole host of external and internal factors that can damage them and disrupt their ability to provide you with the energy you need.
Factors that Can Damage Your Mitochondria
The mitochondria lack the type of protection needed to resist many of the most common threats that can damage them and thus destroy their usefulness. Toxins, including allergens, can damage them and cripple their energy-production capacity. So too can infections and the ravages of stress. Poor dietary choices that focus on sugars and other empty calories can also have a negative impact.
Prescription and non-prescription drugs also play a role in damaging the mitochondria. Worse, once these factories start shutting down, their loss increases the pressure for other mitochondria to pick up the slack. That increases the stress on all of the remaining mitochondria, leading to more damage, more mitochondrial failures, and a continuing degeneration in health and energy levels.
What You Can Do To Help Your Mitochondria
The good news is that this damage can usually be either prevented or reversed. For prevention, researchers suggest focusing on removing processed foods and sugars from your diet. At the same time, work to ensure that you are eating the type of well-balanced meals that can help to restore hormonal balance, since raging cortisol and other hormonal imbalances can add stress to the body that directly affects the mitochondria. Also be sure to remove any toxins, including cigarettes, chemicals, and other harmful substances.
If your mitochondria already show signs of damage, then a recovery effort is needed. This should include regular exercise that includes strength training and interval training, as well as the same type of balanced, whole food diet needed for prevention. Add omega-3 fatty acids to your supplementation regimen, since those fats can strengthen the membranes of the mitochondria. Finally, incorporate the following supplements into your daily regimen as well, to better protect these critical energy producers: B vitamins, cetyl-L-carnitine, NADH, D-ribose, alpha lipoic acid, creatine, and magnesium.
While your mitochondria may not be the only source of your fatigue and low energy, it is a certainty that they are at least suffering the effects caused by the real source. So, as you work to recover from your adrenal fatigue, you should also work to repair your mitochondria so that they can aid you as you try to provide your body with the energy it needs. That comprehensive approach can dramatically hasten your recovery.
You might also be interested in:
- UltraWellness Lesson 6: Energy, Mitochondria, and Oxidative Stress. http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/04/28/ultrawellness-lesson-6-energy-mitochondria-oxidative-stress/#close
- CFS - The Central Cause: Mitochondrial Failure. http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/CFS_-_The_Central_Cause:_Mitochondrial_Failure
- What is Mitochondrial Disease? http://www.umdf.org/site/c.8qKOJ0MvF7LUG/b.7934627/k.3711/What_is_Mitochondrial_Disease.htm
- When Cells Face an Energy Crisis. http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2010/April/feature1.htm
- The Body’s Fuel Sources. http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/the-bodyrsquos-fuel-sources