Words by Dr Elen ApThomas
Most of us get fatigued at times but for some of us even when we rest our energy levels remain low. This could be due to your mitochondria not working properly. In every one of our cells we have other smaller cell-like structures that produce the electrical energy that fuels every one of our functions. If you compare our body to a car which has an engine providing the power for movement these mitochondria are like the engine power houses of our cells.

Our body is made up of trillions of cells that have different purposes, our brain, heart, muscles etc and they all need energy to perform their different jobs. When the mitochondria can’t supply enough energy then these cells can’t perform their job efficiently which effects the functioning of the whole organ and we get symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, aching muscles etc.

The mitochondria are made up of lots of cell membranes and this is where they perform their chemical reaction of producing energy. In order for this to happen efficiently you need the nutrients to make the energy as well as the cell membranes to be healthy. Mitochondria can be damaged by stress, high sugar intake, inflammation by any cause such as infections and by the build up of toxins in our bodies.
When our mitochondria don’t work properly we can develop secondary health problems such as immune imbalances like allergies and auto immune disorders, poor digestive function such as irritable bowel syndrome and hormonal imbalances.

In order to improve your mitochondrial function nutritional support is crucial. A diet high in nutrient rich food based antioxidants from vegetables and fruit is crucial and I have found the use of molecular hydrogen a powerful antioxidant to greatly assist in reducing inflammation and helping to assist the functioning of the cell membranes in the mitochondria. Adequate and well absorbed protein can greatly assist energy production (I find good quality organic rice protein powders one of the best sources), also reducing high glycaemic index foods and adequate magnesium replacement is essential. Other nutritional support that has shown to improve mitochondrial function are Co-enzyme Q10, Vit B3 and acetyl L-carnitine. A good piece of news for coffee lovers is that the enzyme that helps recycle the ATP compound for energy production in the mitochondria is activated by caffeine. But keep it to only 1-3 cups a day.

It is important to have a check up and blood tests with your health practitioner to ensure that there isn’t another cause to your fatigue but supporting your mitochondria can assist in your body functioning more efficiently.

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