Fatigue is one of the top problems I see in clinic. With never-ending to-do lists, chores to stay on top of, kids to look after, work/family/friend commitments, errors to run (sound familiar), I see many clients rely on caffeine, caffeinated drinks or sugar to get them through the day.
Instead when it comes to energy production the health of your mitochondria should be considered.
What are mitochondria?
The mitochondria are microscopic components present in every cell of your body, they turn your food and oxygen into energy known as ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. These little energy producing factories power all the biochemical reactions in your cells, so need a lot of TLC.
Why it is important to look after your mitochondria?
When the mitochondria are unhealthy and aren’t producing enough ATP it can affect numerous processes in the body. The cells in the brain and heart contains tens of thousands of mitochondria each, this means you’re going to get less from your brain and body if you aren’t giving them the nutrients they need to thrive on a daily basis, and more than likely you’re going to feel tired more often.
Here are 6 ways you can support your mitochondria and boost energy production:
Antioxidants are needed to fight free radical damage in the body which can damage mitochondrial function. One specific antioxidant which is vital for mitochondrial function is Coenzyme Q10. Our bodies produce this naturally, but our ability to make Coenzyme Q10 decrease as we age. It’s important to consume a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables to ensure you’re getting a wide range of antioxidants, in particular leafy green vegetables and dark purple fruits and vegetables.
An important mineral which many of us are low in. Magnesium is needed in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body and it’s essential for ATP energy production. Stress, businesses, exercise, frequent alcohol intake, poor dietary choices can all deplete magnesium levels. It could be worth supplementing with this mineral (I recommend talking to a health professional about the best form of magnesium for you), as well as eating magnesium rich foods such as dark green vegetables, organic or free-range meat and nuts.
B complex vitamins also play a very important role in ATP energy production. B vitamins are water soluble, they cannot be stored in the body, therefore they must be consumed daily. Foods rich in B vitamins include organic or free-range meats, eggs, whole grains such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, legumes, beans, nuts, cheese and green leafy vegetables.
Mitochondria are sensitive to toxins, and some research suggests some medication taken regularly can damage mitochondria, as well as some chemicals. This is why cleaning up the diet and opting for a natural, whole and unprocessed diet is beneficial, along with reducing exposure to toxins. This can be done by swapping lunch containers and drink bottles to glass instead of plastic, chose organic and toxin free cleaning and skin products and choosing organic fruits and vegetables when possible.
Sleep is very important for many reasons. We have a waste removal system in the brain that only works when we are sleeping called glymphatic system, if you’re not sleeping well it’s not working, this means you’ll build up more toxins, which can inhibit mitochondrial function. Aim for 7-8 hours every night, no excuses!
Mitochondria like exercise, so getting up and moving your body daily for 30 minutes is a great way to support mitochondrial health. One study found that exercise caused cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria. Walking, yoga, pilates or weight bearing exercises are good options.