Are your energy powerhouses zapped?
Mitochondria, which are tiny organelles found in every cell in the body, create 90% of the energy we need!
They do this by taking the nutrients from the food you eat, break the nutrients down, and transform the byproducts into ATP (energy!).
Fast facts about mitochondria
Did you know that mitochondria have their own DNA and it’s more similar to bacterial DNA?! While most of our DNA is stored in the nucleus of the cell, mitochondria also have their own and a child typically receives their mitochondrial DNA from their mother!
The highest concentrations of mitochondria are in high-energy demanding places within the body such as the brain, liver, muscles, heart
When the energy demands of the body exceeds the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy, this can lead to chronic disease.
However, your mitochondria do more than just produce the body’s energy! They also play a role in:
- Storing calcium in the bones
- Heat production
- Immune support
- Gut health
- Cell death
- Stem cell regulation
Signs & Symptoms of Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Common signs of distressed mitochondria include:
- Skin looks “old”
- You’re more forgetful than usual
- Your body just hurts.
- It feels like you’re a lot older than your biological age
- You feel like you don’t have energy for life
- You’re gaining weight despite not changing anything.
- You struggle to recover from exercise
- You’re appetite has changed
- Get sick frequently
- Have one or several autoimmune conditions
- Dull skin and/or hair
- You feel more forgetful than usual
Hmmm, you might be thinking that all those signs and symptoms could possibly be due to other things as well…and you’re right!
Poorly functioning mitochondria have many overlapping symptoms with other conditions such as:
- Neurological disorders
- Blood sugar dysregulation
- Gut imbalance
- + more
Even if you have any other of those conditions, supporting your mitochondria regardless can be beneficial!
When your mitochondria are happy and working properly in the body!
The benefits of supporting your mitochondria
When your mitochondria are functioning well, this can lead to:
- An increase in metabolism
- An increase in energy levels
- An increase in lean muscle mass an a decrease in body fat
- A decrease in risk of many types of cancers
- An increase in exercise performance
- More youthful looking skin
- Better memory
- A decrease in risk for many chronic diseases such as Alzheimers, autoimmunity, diabetes, etc
Mitochondrial dysfunction can be due to both:
❌A decrease in efficiency of the mitochondria
❌A reduction in the overall number of mitochondria
Things that impact mitochondrial function negatively include:
Lack of sleep
Many studies have found that disrupted sleep can have a negative impact on mitochondria function. If you consistently get less than seven hours of sleep can impact your mitochondria.
Research is finding that there seems to be bi-direcational communication between the microbiome and mitochondria. By-products of digestion such as short chain fatty acids help support energy production and mitochondria help support the integrity of the intestinal wall. When the microbiome is disrupted, this can impact mitochondrial function.
Chronic mental/emotional stress can impact mitochondria by making the cell membranes swell and become distended. In addition, the chemical byproducts of the stress response in the body can also impact the structural integrity of mitochondria, which then impacts overall function.
When the body produces an inflammatory response, macrophages (immune cells that “respond” to an “invasion” or inflammation in the body) switches the mitochondria function from producing energy to producing reactive oxygen species (ROS) — which further increases inflammation levels. While this is a necessary AND beneficial response to acute sources of inflammation, when chronic inflammation is present, the excess ROS can damage cells.
A diet full of processed foods full of carbohydrates can put a strain on mitochondria.
The largest amount of mitochondria are found in muscle cells. If there is low muscle mass, the amount of energy being produced by the mitochondria is smaller.
More and more research is finding that toxins, everything from environmental pollutants to certain pharmaceuticals impact mitochondrial function.
Insulin resistance and mitochondria dysfunction is thought to have a bi-directional relationship meaning that insulin resistance can lead to mitochondrial damage and mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to insulin resistance.
How to test for mitochondrial dysfunction
How do you know if you have mitochondrial dysfunction or something else?
When you read about the “signs of mitochondrial dysfunction” and the root causes of mitochondrial dysfunction you might be left wondering…
“Well… if it mimics the symptoms of so many other conditions, how do I know if it’s my mitochondria or not?”
One of the best tests to identify mitochondrial dysfunction is the NutrEval test from Genova Diagnostics.
They have a specific section called “Need for Mitochondrial Support” where they test for key nutrients and enzymes that are essential for healthy mitochondria.
- Formiminoglutamic Acid
- Methylmalonic Acid
- Glutaric Acid
- Lactic Acid
- Pyruvic Acid
- Citric Acid
- cis-Aconitic Acid
- Isocitric Acid
- a-Ketoglutaric Acid
- Succinic Acid
- Malic Acid
- Adipic Acid
- Suberic Acid
For each one of those substances, it gives if a score of:
- Minimal need for support
- Moderate need for support
- High need for support
In addition, it gives an overall score for whether or not your body needs more mitochondrial support or if things are functioning properly!
If you feel like you may need support to get your mitochondria healthy, schedule a free introductory call with me!