Mastering Mitochondrial Fatigue

By Dr Ernst
November 26, 2022

   During 2010-11, 15.3 percent of American women and 10.1 percent of men reported feeling very tired or exhausted in the past three months. These numbers have increased since then. Different polls and surveys have gotten responses that show many Americans do not get enough sleep.

   One-fifth of primary care visits involve fatigue as a symptom. It is one of the most frustrating symptoms for both patients and providers. Fatigue is mitochondrial dysfunction and is a frequent symptom.

   Low levels of cellular energy currency adenosine triphosphate (ATP) lead to having weak metabolism and feeling slow. More ATP allows us to experience life with more energy and vitality.

   Mitochondria are specialized structures found in every cell of the human body with the exception of red blood cells. Mitochondria contain their own DNA and are basically the powerhouse of your cells that serve as batteries to power a variety of functions in your body. They are responsible for generating 90 percent of cellular energy in the form of ATP and for assisting metabolic functions. Mitochondria are located in differing concentrations in various tissues throughout the body and are designed to serve the purpose of those specific tissues.

   The two main functions of mitochondria include cellular respiration and energy production. They require both oxygen from air and glucose and fat from food in order to generate energy in the form of ATP. The mitochondria play a role in other functions, including calcium homeostasis, cell growth and cell death.

   Major functions of the mitochondria include: Cellular energy production, calcium homeostasis, promote cell growth and multiplication, responsible for cell death, generate oxidative radicals, support nervous system function, heat production and organs of metabolism.

   Metabolic diseases, including Type2 diabetes, insulin resistance and prediabetes, are common causes of fatigue in patients. When mitochondria become dysfunctional, they can affect the pancreatic beta cells, which have been implicated in the pathology of chronic metabolic disease.

   The following are some causes of mitochondria fatigue.

   Chronic Inflammation: This is a problem for mitochondrial function and overall health because it causes the body to break down. It’s largely caused by free radicals which target and damage healthy cells. When it comes to mitochondrial protection, CoO10 is the antioxidant enzyme superhero. The vast majority of CoO10 is produced within the body. It not only protects the mitochondria and their cells from free radical damage, it also plays an essential structural role in the production of ATP.

   Toxin Exposure: Environmental toxins are an increasingly recognized cause of a variety of health issues, including inflammation, autoimmune conditions and cancer. Exposure to environmental toxins can contribute to chronic oxidative stress and increase your risk of mitochondrial health problems. Our world, including our homes, is full of toxins. Exposure to mold, smoking, toxic candles and air pollution also increases your risk of disease. Consuming non-organic food may increase your risk of chemical exposure as can pesticides, artificial ingredients, additives and GMOs.

   Chronic Infections: Infections are invasions of pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites that lead to damage in the body. Chronic infections are not resolved by your immune system and stick around for several months, even years, causing a variety of health problems. They can lead to oxidative stress and a compromised immune system.

   Poor Lifestyle Habits: If your diet is filled with inflammatory food and empty calories from refined sugar or processed foods or low in antioxidant-rich greens, vegetables and fruits, then too many free radicals are produced which in turn results in inflammation, cellular and tissue damage and mitochondrial problems. Other lifestyle choices such as poor sleeping habits, a lack of exercise and chronic stress can increase your risk of inflammation, oxidative damage and mitochondrial problems.

   Using some simple and natural strategies can improve your mitochondrial health and reduce the risk of mitochondrial problems and symptoms.

   Nutrient-Rich Nutrition Plan: Eliminate inflammatory foods such as refined sugar and carbs, bad fats, gluten, casein and artificial ingredients. Eat plenty of greens, vegetables, herbs and fruits rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Consume healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, coconut butter, grass-fed butter and ghee, MCT oils and organic pasture-raised eggs. Eat lean proteins such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, pasture-raised poultry, wild game and organ meats, like liver, heart, tongue, kidney, brain, intestines, bones and tendons.

   The ketogenic or keto diet can be an excellent choice with very powerful health benefits. This is a high fat and low carb plan that uses ketones as an alternative energy source instead of glucose.

   Regular Exercise: We are meant to move our bodies for optimal health and well-being. Regular exercise can improve mitochondrial health, maintain your muscle tone, improve your sleep, boost your immune system, better your cognitive abilities and increase your lifespan.

   Reduce Stress and Improve Sleeping Habits: Reducing stress and improving your sleeping habits becomes particularly important if you are experiencing symptoms related to mitochondrial issues. Regular meditation, breathing exercises, mindset strategies and therapy can help. Journaling, coloring, yoga, exercise, time in nature and uplifting activities can help you lower your stress levels and uplift your mood.

   Intermittent and Extended Fasting: This can be incredibly beneficial to improve your mitochondrial health. While extended fasting can be beneficial, intermittent fasting is also a fantastic option.

   Supplements & Lifestyle-Based Interventions: Mitochondrial integrity is essential to maintain an adequate immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection. The following are some supplements and lifestyle-based interventions that can help: Antioxidant supplementation (vitamins C and E, as well as selenium); plant-based diets; CoO10 supplementation; N-acetylcysteine supplementation; Acetyl-L-carnitine; a-Lipoic acid; curcumin; nicotinamide riboside; and resveratrol.

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