Mitochondrial health is taking center stage as a common thread for all chronic disease, such as depression, cardiac and Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic disease are now being recognized as defects in cellular energetics.
I so often hear from my patients that they are fatigued and have little energy, and so often there is little recourse from a “conventional” standpoint. As physicians we have collectively forgotten how energy is created and stored in our bodies. How can we address a patient who feels tired and drained, if we have forgotten the basics of biochemistry? It only makes sense. If you cannot understand why your rocket lacks the lift to get it up into orbit, perhaps you should consider the strength of the engines.
All energy in eukaryotes, multi-celled animals that use oxygen, is created in a cellular organelle known as a mitochondria. It is in the mitochondria that our fats, proteins and carbohydrates (F/C/P) are broken down, and turned into energy for our cells. You may remember mitochondria with the high-school epithet of the “energy producers of the cell.” A biochemist might know of the multiple pathways required for our bodies to harness this energy into usable (storable) energy as the currency of our cells. All we need to know is that mitochondrial function is essential, easily damaged, and fixable.
There are three basic tenants that drive successful mitochondrial function. The first is the availability of food and nutritional sources. Foods we easily think of as F/C/P, must first be taken in the diet, digested into smaller, molecular parts, and then successfully absorbed. At this point they can be entered into the mitochondria, where they are disassembled further and fed into an energetic conveyor belt. This chugs along with appropriate vitamins and minerals; it grinds to a halt with toxins, heavy metals and inflammation.
The second essential component of energetics is the elimination of free radicals. These are activated oxygen molecules, with an added electron for an additional “kick.” Necessary byproducts of mitochondrial function, they can become the wrench in the machine if overly produced-- or inefficiently removed. Both production and removal can be influenced and optimized with nutrients, supplements and diet.
The final pathway, the final Occam’s razor upon which mitochondrial success or failure hinges, is the simple process of taking oxygen in, and breathing out of carbon dioxide.
Eat, digest, metabolize, purify and breathe. Love and care for your mitochondria. What could be simpler?
Dr. Scott Resnick
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