Do you ever have times throughout your day when you just feel like you can’t keep your eyes open?
And, does it seem like those feelings of fatigue become more common with each passing year?
You know the scene: you utter some phrase about how you just can’t keep going for as long as you did when you were younger, you reach for a cup of tea or coffee, and you use that caffeine to boost your dwindling energy and pull your brain out of a fog.
As a society, we’re reaching for those energy boosters more and more all of the time.
Between aging, busy schedules, stresses, and worse yet, chronic diseases that are more and more prevalent, we’re left searching for ways to make it through each day.
We’re looking for needed “extra” energy. (Which is why we’ve all, at some point, been envious of young children who seemingly have the stamina of the energizer bunny.)
The thing is, there’s a tiny structure within the cells in our bodies that produce the energy that we need to get through each day.
Those tiny structures are called mitochondria, and giving them a boost may serve you far better than that extra cup of caffeine in the afternoon.
What Are Mitochondria?
Our bodies require energy to function. Everything from voluntary actions, like kicking a ball, to involuntary actions, like your heart pumping blood, requires energy.
Your very cells need energy to function.
I’m sure you’ve learned from a young age that we get energy from the foods we eat. I mean, what mother hasn’t told her child to eat his or her fruits and vegetables so that they can grow “big and strong.”
Essentially, she is telling her children that they need food and thus energy to grow and function.
While this is true, technically we can’t use food as energy until it is converted into a form that can be used by our cells.
So, within the majority of the cells in your body are the tiny structures responsible for making that energy. These structures are called mitochondria.
Mitochondria take the oxygen present within a cell and use it to convert glucose into energy that our cells can use.
They are often referred to as the “powerhouse” of the cell due to their energy providing qualities that power the cell.
Without mitochondria, our cells would die from a lack of sufficient energy.
If you have a teenage boy at home, this is kind of like removing the batteries from the Xbox controller.
Removing the source of energy not only affects the function of the Xbox controller, but it also affects the one using the controller as he is no longer able to play.
This then seems to affect his mood and ability to function in other aspects of his life at that time.
Thankfully a little time outdoors helps quell that in my teenager, but as for the mitochondria…
The mitochondria act as batteries within our cells, providing the energy needed to power them, without mitochondria the cell cannot function and therefore our entire body is affected and ultimately loses function.
We especially notice these effects as we age.
What Happens To Mitochondria As We Age?
The interesting thing about mitochondria is that while they produce energy crucial for cell function, the process by which they produce this energy also produces something called free radicals.
While free radicals are natural by-products of basic functions within our bodies, they can also be produced as a negative effect on the body from things like pollution and smoking.
Our mitochondria generally can combat the damage caused by free radicals with the help of things like antioxidants.
But, as we age, the amount of antioxidants available to aid in combating free radical damage diminishes.
Because of this, free radicals begin to damage our cells at a faster rate contributing to both the decline in total number of mitochondria and in the function of remaining mitochondria.
Decline in mitochondrial function means a decline in energy conversion for the cell. Decline in energy conversion or production for the cell causes cell damage and the entire process of the cell’s performance is affected.
This, obviously, then causes a ripple effect of deteriorating function throughout the body’s tissues and organs. We feel these effects as we age.
Decline In Mitochondrial Function And General Fatigue
Minus a chronic condition, most of us have felt fatigue, even lamenting over the feeling of, frankly, just being tired throughout our daily routines.
Perhaps we can link this to our situation at the time:
- Lack of sleep (due to everything from your spouse snoring, the neighbor’s dog barking, or your new baby waking up to feed)
- Abundance of stress wearing on you physically (job deadlines, family drama, distressing world or national events)
- Poor diet (too many refined sugars, carbohydrates, processed and fried foods, and not enough healthy fats, leafy greens, fresh fruits, and lean meats)
- Sedentary lifestyle (not enough exercise or movement)
When any of these listed above become abundant in our day, week, or month, you can almost be certain that we will have regular or common feelings of fatigue. (again minus the presence of actual chronic fatigue syndrome)
And, these things are all exacerbated with age.
That lost hour or two of sleep, that desk job, financial stress or worry, they all seem to take a more noticeable toll with each passing year.
The thing is, it’s these exact things that also damage and diminish mitochondrial function. So, in a sense, it’s a double whammy.
Mitochondrial function decreases with age, and certain lifestyle habits and situations can cause a decrease in mitochondrial function.
Here are a few easy ways to improve mitochondrial function and lessen the frequency of those “dog tired” days:
- Regular exercise
- Reduction in caloric intake
- Quality sleep
- Relaxation/stress relief
- Sunlight exposure
Decline In Mitochondrial Function And Chronic Fatigue
So, what if fatigue goes past just general feelings of tiredness?
Perhaps you’ve experienced the following symptoms:
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of memory
- Unrestful sleep
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Fatigue and or extreme exhaustion
- Enlarged lymph nodes
The above symptoms are those of Chronic fatigue syndrome. This is a condition where an individual experiences excessive fatigue without a known root cause.
Individuals suffering from chronic fatigue do not see an improvement in symptoms with rest, but may see a worsening in such fatigue with activity.
When energy production is decreased within a cell, as happens with aging, evidence suggests this can lead to chronic disease.
While it is unclear if it is indeed the main cause, mitochondrial dysfunction has been found to be an immediate source of chronic fatigue symptoms.
Another link to the loss of mitochondrial energy production is found in reduced levels of a coenzyme called NAD.
The normal process of aging is deemed the main factor in the reduction of these levels.
And, it is believed that boosting levels of NAD, which can be done through supplementation and proper nutrition, can slow the effects of aging, improve mitochondrial function, and thus reduce symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (as well as other chronic illnesses).
While grabbing an extra cup of caffeine may temporarily seem to boost our energy and resolve situational fatigue, optimizing mitochondrial function boosts the very source of energy for the cells, tissues, and organ systems throughout our body.
Improving mitochondrial health means improving your health as a whole.
So, if you’re feeling the effects of loss in mitochondrial function remember to:
- Carve out some in your day for exercise (even better outdoors where you can benefit from vitamin D as well (sun exposure)
- Get quality sleep
- Reduce calorie intake (and load up on nutritious foods)
- Find some ways to relax and reduce stress
- Consider mitochondrial boosting supplementation
Do This 60-second “Energy Trick” FIRST Thing Every Morning
Top Cardiologist, Dr Gundry says: It’s Like Giving Your Body A New “Battery”… And thousands of Americans report feeling half their age after trying it.
One commented: “This is amazing! I’m 63 and have more gusto than I know what to do with. I’ve even started dancing again. This is so easy, it almost feels like cheating.”
Oh–and NO–this morning ritual does NOT include meditation or exercise…
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- https ://www. ifm. org/news-insights/reduce-fatigue-by-addressing-mitochondrial-dysfunction/
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