Do you wish you had more energy? Did you drag yourself out of bed this morning only to feel fatigued and foggy–headed?
In this blog we’ll look at how your body produces energy, as well as the substances your energy factories need to perform at their best. We’ll also provide you with some solutions to recharge your batteries and restore your energy.
Energy is vital for life, but do you know where your energy comes from?
Inside every single cell of your body are thousands of tiny structures called mitochondria. These are the batteries of your cells, miniature factories providing you with energy by breaking down sugar, fat and protein. They generate a fuel called ATP, known as the body’s energy currency. You produce your own body weight in ATP per day.
Not surprisingly there are far more mitochondria in cells of active organs and tissues like muscles, especially your heart, and your brain. Mitochondria are so important they can comprise up to 40% of a cell’s volume.
It’s not an easy job balancing the amount of energy produced with variable demands. ATP can’t be stored, so your mitochondria must function at their optimal level every second of the day.
If your mitochondria aren’t working well, you’ll feel fatigued. Over time, you may experience muscle pain, memory problems, brain fog and depression. Eventually, chronic fatigue may develop. This is so much more than ordinary tiredness, being debilitating fatigue lasting for months or even years, so severe normal life and work is difficult if not impossible.
Problems with mitochondrial function are also associated with chronic diseases such as MS; cardiovascular disease; and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s’ disease, dementia and Parkinson’s.
Many aspects can affect how efficiently your cellular batteries perform. What comes out of a factory is only as good as the raw materials going in.
Let’s have a look at what your mitochondria need to function well.
Nutrients – the Raw Materials for Energy Production
Your batteries need certain nutrients. If these are in short supply, energy production will be affected.
One of the many functions of Co-Enzyme Q10 is to help produce ATP, so deficiency leads to decreased energy production. It’s also an antioxidant, protecting mitochondria from damage. Humans naturally produce Co-Enzyme Q10, but less is made with age, meaning many older people are deficient. This nutrient is available as a supplement.
Healthy fats are crucial for cell membranes, and this includes the membrane surrounding your mitochondria. These membranes are incredibly fragile and are essential for the mitochondria to work properly.
Enjoy wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout, as well as flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and organic eggs.
Other nutrients important for your mitochondria include Vitamins C and E, crucial to protect mitochondria from damage, and B Vitamins and Magnesium, involved in energy production. Certain antioxidants also play a role, including alpha–lipoic acid, found in research to increase ATP production following age-related decline, and resveratrol, rich in grape skins and therefore red wine.
To feed your batteries, cover half your plate with colourful plant food, crammed with antioxidants.
Mitochondria are dependent on oxygen to produce energy from food. One stressful situation after another encourages the habit of breathing shallowly. Breathing deeply into your belly stokes the fires of your mitochondria.
Take time each day to focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose, feeling your belly rise, to the count of four, hold your breath for seven counts, then exhale through your mouth to the count of eight.
Exercise, especially bursts of activity, improves the function and efficiency of your batteries. Strength training increases the number of muscle fibres and therefore mitochondria.
Do you ever try to ignore tiredness, struggling on in the face of demands from time, others and your to-do list? Fatigue is your body telling you there’s something wrong, so it shouldn’t be ignored. A vital part of self–care is to listen to these messages and if necessary take time out when fatigue strikes.
With so many factors affecting the function of your energy factories, one food, nutrient or lifestyle choice isn’t the answer. An approach considering all aspects of how your nutrition and lifestyle affect the functioning of your organs and systems is best for restoring energy to its optimal level. Functional tests can pinpoint malfunctions in your battery cells, enabling treatment to be geared towards putting right imbalances causing your symptoms.
If you suffer from low energy it can seem daunting making changes, even positive ones, on your own. One to one support, advice and motivation from a professional who understands what it’s like to be affected by poor energy can be incredibly helpful. Contact me or book an appointment to start your journey to improved energy and vitality.
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