The Powerhouse of the cell, obesity and anti-ageing.
This isn’t a post about the core or Pilates powerhouse, but it does involve useful advice if you feel like you lack energy or are interested in anti-ageing. It is about the mitochondria, which are key for energy production in the body. Damaged mitochondria increase inflammation and promote disease and obesity. This blog is also about how we are more of a bag of bacteria than we ever believed and how not being aware of this can be making us slow, tired and fat.
What is the powerhouse of the cell?
Lets go back in time…..
A long long time ago as in billions of years when there was more oxygen in the atmosphere than there is today and was poisonous to many life forms. Some species of bacteria, including purple bacteria were able to take oxygen and create a substance which is the universal energy currency of the cell known as adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. We can live for at least three weeks without food, for about two to three days without water. But without ATP, we would die in seconds.
To cut a very long story, short relics of this ancient bacterium is still living within us and continues to create ATP, the energy that our cells need in order to function – it is called the mitochondria and is The power house of the cell. The most important thing our mitochondria do is extract energy from the food we eat, combine it with oxygen, and make ATP. Without them we couldn’t live and in turn we are their home, but who is in charge us or them? Or are we a team? New research shows that, these bacteria are in charge of what we do, way more than scientists ever expected.
On average our cells contains between nine hundred and two thousand two hundred mitochondria. The cells in body that require the most energy are the brain, eyes (retina), and heart. These cells have about ten thousand mitochondria each. We have more mitochondria than the number of bacteria living in our gut!
Not only do our mitochondria keep us alive they determine how our body reacts to the world around use. When our mitochondria become more efficient, our mental and physical performance increases. The better your mitochondria are at making energy, the better your body and mind will perform, the more you can do, and the better you will feel while doing it and the faster you will recover.
Mitochondria also in charge of other essential tasks such as transmitting signals between cells, cellular differentiation (a means one type of cell transforms into another), and maintaining the cycle of cell growth and cell death cycles. So to sum it up mitochondria create all the power, control communication, and decide what lives and dies (and when). These little bacteria are actually way more in charge of our biology than we thought.
Therefore, it is sensible to conclude that anything designed to kill bacteria is also going to hurt or harm our mitochondria. It has already been shown that tetracycline (an antibiotic) is a harmful to mitochondria. Fungi and mould have been the at constant war with each other long before we came on this earth, sort of microbial warfare. That means moulds, fungi, yeast etc have all kinds of weapons and toxins designed to kill bacteria of course mitochondria. In fact many antibiotics such as penicillin, streptomycin are made by fungi. If its in your food or in your house, mold can negatively impact your brain.
Many mold toxins are direct mitochondrial toxins. This is a huge problem, but few people know about this or talk about it. About the 25 percent of the population are very sensitive to mould toxin these people get extra inflammation and sickness from exposure to mold. The rest of us just pass it off as a ‘bad day’. In fact, in a study about 85% of people with chronic fatigue tested positive to mold toxins compared to 0% in the healthy group.
What happens to our cells when the mitochondria are sick?
- If neurons and nerve cells have energy problems, you get cognitive issues and brain fog.
- If heart cells have mitochondrial defects, you get heart problems and feel tired.
- If myocytes (muscle cells) can’t or don’t make energy, you see symptoms of the dreaded fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
- If intestinal cells have energy problems, you see leaky gut and autoimmune diseases.
- Damaged mitochondria are inefficient and trigger inflammatory pathways in the body
Poor mitochondrial function lead our body to create molecules that cause inflammation, and these molecules then damage our mitochondrial function even more. And that leads to sugar cravings! Eating sugar causes insulin levels to spike, which triggers the release of inflammatory cytokines, which lead to weight gain, which leads to insulin sensitivity so it’s a vicious cycle. Omega-6s oils (usually vegetable oils) are the building blocks of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids which also add to this inflammation bomb and we haven’t even started to talk about the environmental factors.
When you take into consideration all of the ways that inflammation affects the body, it becomes clear that many chronic diseases start out looking very similar on a cellular and biochemical level. Diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, osteoporosis Fibromyalgia and other degenerative diseases are all the result of mitochondria problems.
It is pretty clear now that nearly every cause of lowered energy production in our body lays the foundations for progressive declines in appearance, performance, stamina, strength, mental abilities and the development of chronic diseases.
What can we do ?
In Part 2 of this blog I will give you more tools to help you protect your mitochondria but here is the start.
- Check your home and office for water leaks and address any potential mold issues right away.
- Keep track of how you feel in different environments—you might discover that one or more of the places you spend a lot of time in contain toxins.
- Mitochondria and gut bacteria love polyphenols. There are many different kinds found in coffee, dark chocolate, green tea, tart cherry anthocyanins, pomegranate, grape skin, grape seed, green banana flour. You can buy polyphenol supplements with a blend of different types.
- Mold toxins, heavy metals, and some pharmaceutical drugs are directly toxic to your mitochondria.
- Activated charcoal or activated coconut charcoal (best version) is a cheap and easy supplement to mop up poisons in your body. The charcoal binds to toxins in the gut and then you poo them out, just don’t take it at the same time as medications or supplements as the charcoal will bind them too.
- COENZYME Q 10 (COQ 10 ) this antioxidant is made in our mitochondrial membranes. It carries electrons into the mitochondrial inner membrane, as there is something called the electron transport chain which is key to energy production, so briefly COQ-10 helps your mitochondria produce energy more efficiently. Statins affect the cell membranes so you should take COQ-10 if you take statins.
- Your body stores toxins in fat, so anything you do to break up the fat in your body will help you detox. Using an infra red sauna and exercise will help you sweat out some toxins, I will talk more about light in Part 2.
- We all know inflammation is health and mitochondria risk. You can have inflammation levels checked by a functional medicine doctor. Levels of substances such as homocysteine, CRP (C-reactive protein) and Lp-PLA2 (lipoprotein-associated phospholipase) are good tests for inflammation.
Thank you for reading ! More in Part 2 next week
To find out more about mitochondria, toxins and what to do you can check out Dave Asprey’s new book ‘Headstrong’.