Mitochondria are the powerhouses inside your cells.
They covert the energy from food into ATP to fuel every process and movement in your body, but this energy production requires a complex series of chemical reactions, cofactors, enzymes, oxygen supply, and finely- tuned electrochemical gradients across cell membranes to work properly.
This complexity is why mitochondria are so susceptible to damage from MANY types of insults and nutritional deficiencies. Fatigue is a hallmark symptom of mitochondrial dysfunction and this dysfunction is present in many chronic illnesses that are now so common.
Free radicals, if left unchecked, float in and around your cells and do damage to DNA, cell membranes, proteins, and other molecules and negatively impact tissue & organ function. When mitochondria and cells become damaged, this in turn creates even more free radicals = self-feeding cycle.
So what can you do about it? Free radicals are neutralized by antioxidants! :) One of the many reasons why an antioxidant-rich, plant-based diet is so important.
Energy production is required by every organ system in the body, so symptoms of mitochondrial damage and insufficiency can be widespread across multiple areas of the body, which is why it is associated with so many chronic illnesses.
For this reason, supporting mitochondrial function with diet, lifestyle, and supplements is one of the first recommendations a functional medicine practitioner will make.
Without correcting mitochondrial function, it will be very challenging for your body to heal.
Symptoms of Mitochondrial Damage & Insufficiency
Chronic & intermittent fatigue is a hallmark symptom, but dysfunction is also seen in:
Brain function (brain fog, memory, mood)
Nerve function (loss of coordination, chronic pain, poor eyesight)
Muscle tissue (rigidity & weakness - including the heart)
GI system (pain, nutrient malabsorption, motility issues)
Hormone production (cholesterol is processed in mitochondria to form the building blocks for estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and aldosterone)
All other tissues & organs
All of your mitochondrial DNA is inherited from your mother, so look at your mother’s health status & health history as an indication of how you might be predisposed for mitochondrial-related illness.
How to support healthy mitochondria & energy production:
Adopt an antioxidant-rich, low glycemic, whole foods diet to neutralize free radical production and provide the key nutrients and cofactors necessary for optimal mitochondrial function - nature has your back! :))
Physical activity increases both the size and number of your mitochondria! Yay!
Reduce your environmental toxin exposure in your food, water, and home environment to reduce free radical production. (See ‘Wild Reset’ Program for (re)Wilding Your Meals, Your Kitchen, and Your Home for inspiration).
Support your liver in detoxification of current or past toxic exposures. (See ‘Wild Reset’ Program on Supporting Detoxification for inspiration).
Benefits of working with a functional nutritionist or functional medicine practitioner:
Comprehensive lifestyle evaluation and health history to identify contributing factors, a personalized nutrition & lifestyle plan, coaching support, address nutrient deficiencies, start a detoxification protocol
Supplements to support mitochondria recovery & function: e.g., B vitamins, magnesium, coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid, L-carnitine, Vitamin C, and mixed tocopherols
Primary Functional Labs: an Organic Acids Test can identify cellular health status and how well your mitochondria are functioning.
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I look forward to supporting you with the right program, service, or referral on your healing journey. We'll stop and smell the wildflowers. Smile a lot. And wander down the road less-traveled. Let's walk together for awhile...
Angela Juhl, MS, CHWC, CYT
Master of Science in Human Nutrition & Functional Medicine
Certified Health and Wellness Coach
Wild Woman Project Circle Leader
Certified Yoga Teacher
Wild at Heart Consulting was founded on the mission: to take a stand against our unsustainable cultural norms by empowering & supporting others to realign their nutrition, lifestyles, & mindset with nature for healing mind.body.heart & soul (im)balances and (re)kindling a soulful relationship to the natural world...for themselves, their loved ones, our communities, and our beautiful planet.