Welcome to the modern energy crisis. No, we’re not having a flashback to the 70’s energy crisis involving fossil fuels. This is YOUR own personal energy crisis. The one caused by mitochondrial dysfunction- the inability of your own cellular power plants to keep you fired up and going.
Our fast paced lifestyles, nutrient deficiencies, and body burden of toxicants are producing a bedraggled tribe of exhausted human beings running on empty. There is a reason why there are more Starbucks locations than gas stations, beguiling the fatigued with their sugar and caffeine laden drinks, personalized to make you feel special, instead of just spoiled, spurring on productivity in the workplace and in the home.
The function of our mitochondria is to produce cellular energy in the form of ATP. They are our energy powerhouses and their numbers in each cell varies with the type of cell. The liver, an active metabolic tissue, for example, has about 1,000 to 2,000 mitochondria per cell. Our muscle tissue is another high density mitochondrial location, for obvious reasons- our muscles need energy to move!
Exposure to drugs, prescribed and over the counter, environmental toxicants, and lifestyle are damaging your mitochondria and making you tired.
The mitochondria, it turns out, are very sensitive to damage, and do not have the usual DNA repair mechanisms that our other cells have. When your mitochondria are damaged, you will experience fatigue, memory problems, neurological problems, accelerating aging, and muscle aches. The main reason people lose their energy and develop chronic degenerative diseases as they age is, you guessed it, mitochondrial decay.
Statins are some of the worst mitochondrial poisons out there, and mitochondrial dysfunction is why many people on statins complain of being tired, having muscle aches, and poor memory. Antibiotics similarly have an adverse effect on mitochondria. Some chemotherapy drugs are notorious for their mitochondrial induced fatigue.
Environmental toxicants such as Bisphenol A (BPA) have also been shown to act as mitochondrial toxins, even below the no observed adverse effect level, by causing liver damage and mitochondrial dysfunction. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polychorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and many pesticides, in addition to air pollution damage mitochondria as well. PCBs are found primarily in dairy products, meat, and farmed Salmon, which contains the highest levels of PCBs found in food today. Mercury, cadmium, and arsenic, common heavy metals found in most people today, also are mitochondrial disruptors, contributing to our general sense of malaise and fatigue.
The brain is another mitochondria dense tissue due to its high energy demands. Knowing the role that mitochondrial play in brain health as regards Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, it is perhaps not surprising that recent research has uncovered a connection between mitochondrial dysfunction and autism. Mitochondrial damage may be the mechanism of action that explains why mercury exposure is often associated with the development of autism, as mercury is a mitochondrial poison and many austistic children have been shown to have single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPS) in the mercury detoxification pathways. When we look at the toxicants implicated in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD): pesticides, phthalates, PCBs, solvents, living near toxic dumps, air pollutants and heavy metals, we see that most of them are mitochondrial toxins.
But there is an insight here for us as well- mitochondria is the new buzzword in anti-aging! As in, mitochondrial dysfunction is making your skin old and wrinkled- providing a new target for skin care formulations that we will soon see in the marketplace. The Mitochondrial Theory of Aging states that the mitochondria’s production of free radicals is THE driving force behind aging and virtually ALL disease, including cancer. So anything that we can do to preserve our mitochondria will not only make you feel more alive and vibrant, but it will make you more youthful and healthy. Preserving our mitochondria is how you can maintain a younger biological age than your chronological age, and reap the benefits of feeling good, fit, and energetic.
Maximizing our Mitochondria
For practical nutritional tips watch the following powerful TEDx talk on Minding Your Mitochondria by Dr. Terry Wahls, who got herself out of her wheelchair, as she suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, by eating for her mitochondria.
Our standard approaches to promote robust health, energy production, and preserve brain function with aging should benefit from a bioenergetic perspective of how our mitochondria function and dynamically responds to its environment.
Originally published at conta.cc.