Solving Your Energy Crisis

Solving Your Energy Crisis

Tired, fatigued? Seems as if you efforts are costing you more energy? Your cellular powerhouses are slowing down considerably. How can you recharge your energy.

Your Powerhouses

Inside all cells are power generators called mitochondria. Usually rod-shaped, and surrounded by a double membrane, these power plants generate energy. They take the glucose we get from eating carbohydrates or the fatty acids we obtain from eating fats, and very economically produce ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate), the major energy currency molecule in the body. Each cell contains approximately one billion ATP molecules. These ATP molecules provide the energy for the thousands of chemical reactions occurring in the body. This process also provides electrical energy to run our nervous system, thermal energy to either warm or cool the body, and mechanical energy so that we can do actual physical work. When its last phosphate is unhooked and the remaining molecule is converted into ADP (adenosine di-phosphate), ATP is then “spent”. Fortunately, ADP is recycled and becomes ATP when another phosphate is hooked to it again.

Powerhouses Affected by Disease

The malfunction of mitochondria in different cells of the body plays an important role in the disease process of many chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s,1 Parkinson’s,2 bipolar disorders,3 schizophrenia,4 non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,5 cancer, autoimmune disorders, congestive heart failure, obesity,6 metabolic syndrome,7 diabetes,8 and aging.9 For example, in hypertensive patients there is mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain, kidneys, liver, and heart. In the case of type 2 diabetics, the mitochondria in the skeletal muscles are smaller than they should be. Damage to these mitochondria impairs the ability of cells to dispose of glucose and fats effectively, resulting in further elevated blood glucose levels.

Mitochondria, especially in the skeletal muscles, heart muscle, brain, and liver, are very susceptible to lifestyle influences. Obesity may contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction in the heart and skeletal muscles, for example, because it reduces the ability of the mitochondria to burn fat in the skeletal muscles.1011 Amazingly, physical activity determines the relative number and volume (size) of mitochondria in the skeletal muscles on a day-to-day basis. For instance, two days of bed rest will decrease the number of mitochondria in your skeletal muscles by 10%. Fourteen weeks of vigorous exercise, however, doubles the number of mitochondria in the skeletal muscles.12

Lifestyle Factors that Damage Mitochondria

The mitochondria are different from any other organelle in that they contain their own DNA (mtDNA). Even so, the mtDNA can be damaged by the promotion of unhealthy lifestyle factors. Any diet high in sugar and/or fat will eventually lead to an impaired function of the mitochondria.1314151617 The frequent consumption of fried foods, for example, results in damage to the double membrane of the mitochondria in brain cells. When this occurs, free radicals, which are so important in energy production inside the mitochondria, leak out and damage the brain nerve cells! Studies show that prenatal vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency also adversely affects the mitochondrial protein in brain cells.18

Chronic alcohol consumption damages the DNA in the mitochondria and in addition inhibits the ability of special enzymes to repair this nucleic acid.19 Smoking also damages the mitochondria in the heart.20 Dehydration decreases the efficiency of mitochondria in the brain.21 It should also be mentioned that statin drugs that are designed to lower cholesterol levels, such as Lipitor and Zocor, can damage the mitochondria in the skeletal muscles.2223

Lifestyle Factors that Improve the Efficiency of Mitochondria

Just as harmful lifestyle practices prove detrimental to mitochondria, healthful lifestyle habits improve their performance. As mentioned before, regular, vigorous aerobic exercise increases the relative number and volume of these powerhouses both in the skeletal muscle and the heart muscle.24252627 In other words, the number of mitochondria you have in your skeletal muscle depends upon the physical activity you get during the day—and the more power plants that you have, the more energy your body can produce, and the better you feel. Note, though, that the mitochondria receive more of a boost if you exercise in the sunlight. For this reason, exercising in the fresh air is more beneficial than exercising in a gym.

Animal studies suggest that exercise training can also reduce oxidative stress in the livers of emotionally disturbed rodents. In this case, oxidative stress means that the liver generates more damaging free radicals than it has antioxidant capacity to handle. This is important to know because free radicals can damage the double membrane of the mitochondria!

Wise calorie restriction improves mitochondrial performance in brown adipose tissue and brain, muscle, and kidney cells. It also increases mitochondrial biogenesis, while decreasing oxidative stress in the mitochondria.28 A steady supply of glucose from high complex carbohydrates (whole grains, whole fruits, and vegetables) is essential fuel to generate energy from the mitochondria in the brain. These foods are also rich in B-vitamins that help to drive the mitochondrial machinery. Fatty acids from nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados furnish fatty acids, which the powerhouses transform into the energy-releasing chemical ATP. The phytochemical resveratrol also increases the number of mitochondria.2930 Resveratrol is found in red grapes, blueberries, and peanuts.

Deep breathing is a vital lifestyle practice because the power plants need oxygen to release most of the energy from ATP. Sound sleep also affects the mitochondria because during this period the pituitary gland releases more growth hormone. This hormone improves the synthesis of mitochondria in the heart muscle and skeletal muscles.

Soul Energy

Faith, hope, and love are the best energy generators within the human soul. Like our physical powerhouses, they, too, are susceptible to lifestyle influences. First, without healthy mitochondria within the brain, the mind cannot accurately perceive all the promises, providences, and principles of eternity. Of course, God understands our frailties, but how much better it would be for our communities and for ourselves if we would cooperate with His laws of health and life.


References

  1. Beal, M.F., Mitochondria take center stage in aging and neurodegeneration. Ann Neurol, 58(4):495-505, 2005.

  2. Ibid.

  3. Rollins, B., et al, Mitochondrial variants in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. PLoS ONE, 4(3):e4913, epub, 2009.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Mantena, S.K. et al, Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of alcohol- and obesity-induced fatty liver diseases. Free Radic Biol Med, 44(7):1259-72, review, epub Jan 3, 2008.

  6. Boudina, S., Reduced mitochondrial oxidative capacity and increased mitochondrial uncoupling impair myocardial energetics in obesity. Circulation, 112(17):2686-2695, 2005.

  7. De Ferranti, S., et al, The perfect storm: obesity, adipocyte dysfunction, and metabolic consequences. Clin Chem, 54(6):945-55, 2008.

  8. Schrauwen-Hinderling, V.B., Muscular mitochondrial dysfunction and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 10(6):698-703, 2007.

  9. Nisoli, E., Cozzi, V., and Carruba, M.O., Amino acids and mitochondrial biogenesis. Am J Cardiol, 101(11A):22E-25E, 2008.

  10. Holloway, G.P., et al, Regulation of skeletal muscle mitochondrial fatty acid metabolism in lean and obese individuals. Am J Clin Nutr, 89(1):455S-62S, 2009.

  11. Rogge, M.M., The role of impaired mitochondrial lipid oxidation in obesity. Biol Res Nurs, 10(4):356-73, 2009.

  12. Baldwin, B., Applied Physiology Lecture on Mitochondria, Wildwood College of Medical Ministry, 2007.

  13. Bonnard, C., et al, Mitochondrial dysfunction results from oxidative stress in the skeletal muscle of diet-induced insulin-resistant mice. J Clin Invest, 118(2):789-800, 2008.

  14. Picklo Sr., M.J. and Montine, T.J., Mitochondrial effects of lipid-derived neurotoxins. J Alzheimers Dis, 12(2):185-193, 2007, review.

  15. Sen,T., Lipid peroxidation associated cardiolipin loss and membrane depolarization in rat brain mitochondria. Neurochem Int, 49(1):20-27, 2006, epub Feb 28, 2006.

  16. Mantena, S.K., et al, High fat diet induces dysregulation of hepatic oxygen gradients and mitochondrial function in vivo. Biochem J, 417(1):183-93, 2009.

  17. Civitarese, A.E., et al, Diet, energy metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 10(6):679-87, 2007.

  18. Eyles, D., et al, Developmental vitamin D deficiency alters the expression of genes encoding mitochondrial, cytoskeletal and synaptic proteins in the adult rat brain. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 103(3-5):538-45, 2007.

  19. Farfán Labonne, B.E., et al, Acetaldehyde-induced mitochondrial dysfunction sensitizes hepatocytes to oxidative damage. Cell Biol Toxicol, Jan 1, 2009.

  20. Armani, C., et al, Molecular and biochemical changes of the cardiovascular system due to smoking exposure. Curr Pharm Des, 15(10):1038-53, 2009.

  21. Hamberger, A., et al, The effect of brain dehydration on the activity of respiratory enzymes in isolated neurons, neuroglial cells, and in brain mitochondria. J Neurochem, 11:687-94, 1964.

  22. Marcoff, L., et al, The role of coenzyme Q10 in statin-associated myopathy: a systematic review. J Am Coll Cardiol, 49(23):2231-7, 2007, review.

  23. Schick, B.A., Decreased skeletal muscle mitochondrial DNA in patients treated with high-dose simvastatin. Clin Pharmacol Ther, 81(5):650-3, 2007.

  24. Lumini, J.A., et al, Beneficial effects of exercise on muscle mitochondrial function in diabetes mellitus. Sports Med, 38(9):735-50, 2008, review.

  25. Freyssenet, D., et al, Mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle in response to endurance exercises. Arch Physiol Biochem, 104(2):129-41, 1996.

  26. Hoppeler, H. and Fluck, M., Plasticity of skeletal muscle mitochondria: structure and function. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 35(1):95-104, 2003, review.

  27. Menshikova, E.V., Effects of weight loss and physical activity on skeletal muscle mitochondrial function in obesity. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 288(4):E818-825, 2005, epub Dec 7, 2004.

  28. Hepple, R.T., Why eating less keeps mitochondria working in aged skeletal muscle. Exerc Sport Sci Rev, 37(1):23-8, 2009.

  29. Lagouge M., et al, Resveratrol improves mitochondrial function and protects against metabolic disease by activating SIRT1 and PGC-1alpha. Cell, 127(6):1109-22, epub Nov 16, 2006..

  30. Lopez-Llunch G., et al, Mitochondrial biogenesis and healthy aging. Exp Gerontol, 43(9):813-9, 2008

Comments ( 1 ) Leave a Comment
  1. 1 Lewis Apr 2, 2013, 7:08 AM PDT

    This was very informative and would like more on the non acholoc faty liver problem as I have that.

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