Energy production is our body’s currency that determines the quality of our daily function and ultimate disease risk if it breaks down. In general terms we use oxygen, H20, fat or sugars to create ATP molecules which are the “coins” of this currency to drive the reactions that keep our systems functioning and restoring us for growth and development.
So maintaining proper hydration is a fundamental easy step as 5% to 10% dehydration can lead to 20% to 30% reduced measured physiologic functioning. Additionally, impaired oxygen delivery can challenge efficient energy production as the body switches to more anaerobic metabolism. Maintaining clean air with nostril breathing with a healthy cardio-respiratory system is paramount. Augmentation with oxygen at critical junctions (high-performance events, illness and cognitive challenges, recovery enhancement) can be helpful but maintaining a steady flow via baseline nostril or relaxation breaths is the natural step not to overlook.
Food Substrate Discussion
The next variable is the food substrate discussion. We all have been led to believe that “the brain needs sugar or glucose to survive” and sugar is therefore critical to our diet. Yes, there is always some level of glucose in our blood as the body produces it in the liver and elsewhere such that even during prolonged fasting (Harvard Study by Cahill), the glucose levels remained lower but stable. The most efficient production of energy occurs through the burning of fat, which breaks down to ketone bodies. Ketone metabolism produces ATP with about 30 % less oxygen demands and reduced reactive oxygen species generation that needs to be neutralized. Try to measure your maximum breath hold time while in ketosis and you may find greater ease in getting to 2-3 minutes. Although we have been sold the concept of “carbo-loading” before an athletic event, modern informed athletes are switching to clean fat burning strategies for games baselines.
I love the example metaphor that energy production through carbohydrate metabolism is akin to burning kindling in a fireplace while fat metabolism is similar to putting a large oak log in the furnace that burns steady and long and does not need attention at short intervals. Humans spent most of their evolution as “fat-burners” as we might have a successful hunt/find and then go 12-24 hours without eating at which time we need to maintain cognitive and motor functioning. Had our ancestors been only carbohydrate utilizers, we may have died out or become vulnerable between successful hunts as our energy production faltered. The carbohydrates in our diet may have only been some bitter fruits in season and root vegetables. It wasn’t till agriculture arrived on the scene and grain productions started and then fading of the hunter-gatherer population. Truth is we have spent 97% of our evolution as fat burning, and our systems work best with this fuel input. So to most efficiently create fuel, we need to dial in our contributions of oxygen, H20, and clean fats maximally along with vital minerals that impact the enzymes to stay healthy.
As I am sure, you realize by now in your self-inquiry that all these systems are integrated and enhance or detract from efficient functioning. Key determinants are the main coaching topics such as Sleep, Nutrition, Cognition, Supplements, Exercise, and Detoxification. All of these categories impact mitochondrial health. The tenants discussed in these areas work because they in some small way impact mitochondrial efficiency. The main features from above include:
The growth hormone from healthy deep sleep drives mitochondrial biogenesis, the hermetic impact of a hard High-Intensity Training (HIT) pops growth hormone as well.
The effective removal of toxic metabolic by-products enables our mitochondria to thrive.
The deliberate setting of intentions can set the internal environment for mitochondrial health and maintenance.
Critical substrate availability by diet and supplements aid the smooth running of our energy organelles or mitochondria.
Some of the main inputs are magnesium, vitamin B3 or niacin, Co-Enzyme Q 10, N-Acetyl Cystine (NAC), Carnitine, Creatine, and more.
Newer strategies such as supplemental NR or Nicotinamide Ribonucleotide have been shown to elevate intracellular NAD+ after some first-pass effect by the liver and bolster mitochondrial electron chain function. A good primer on this topic is the book Headstrong by Dave Asprey.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is believed to be the cause of all our chronic diseases but with a different target organ acting up first. General estimates are that about half of the Americans over 50 have mitochondrial dysfunction suggesting only 50% of normal function. A great testimony to this root cause understanding is the life story of Terry Wahls and her course with Multiple Sclerosis and recovery by addressing mitochondrial health (Wahls Diet Book). Some of the emerging concerns for mitochondrial health are the insults caused by the increasing carbohydrate diets, societal gluten and grain sensitivities, chronic hard to diagnose infections (Limes like Diseases), increasing EMF exposure that creates the peroxy-nitrate radical and drains our PARP recovery pathways requiring copious ATP. The onset of 5G internet will consume us further so use best practices to limit EMF exposure (Joe Mercola on EMF Utube).
Remember to address the simple, accessible fundamental opportunities to serve and heal your energy systems in keeping with the theme of this website. At this time, we don’t have an easy to administer test of mitochondrial function. Frank Shallenberger of Carson City has worked in Alternative Medicine and energy measurements for 20 plus years and has an excellent functional essay that measures CO2 output and Oxygen uptake during exercise and suggests mitochondrial heath compared to age-matched controls. Hopefully, more opportunities for mitochondrial testing will be vetted and evolve in the next few years so we can test theories of intervention to support our energy production tools.
Here are a few exercises you can do to help with Energy: