Mitochondria - the barometer of our balance

at 29.12.2021
Psychosomatics and lifestyle
How easy it would be to get rid of diseases by swallowing pills at specific intervals! It is a thousand times easier to take supplements than to eat sparingly, varied, and healthy. It is easier to give injections than sleep on time and weigh our workaholic tendencies. It is more likely to resort to psychiatric therapies than cultivating a robust psyche, investing in healthy relationships with those around us, or exercising outdoors. Whether we like it or not, our health depends on biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors that are constantly interdependent, and mitochondria are both the barometer of this balance of health and its regulatory levers.
The mitochondria are the energy generators of each cell, converting nutrients and oxygen into energy, accumulated as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The ATP is the "fuel" of the cells, without which the intracellular processes could not take place. As a result, mitochondria provide more than 90% of our body's energy needs. Still, they are not just the "power plants" of the cell, as was previously thought, when mitochondrial disorders were blamed solely on energy shortages. Recent research has found that they also have non-energetic roles in sensing environmental stimuli, communicating, and signaling them. For this reason, mitochondria are sensitive to stress mediators and respond to these factors, creating specialized inter-mitochondrial junctions that resemble synapses in the brain.
Mitochondria are sensitive to stressors. Therefore, they transmit biochemical signals to the cell, influencing the epigenome (the set of genetic changes in the cell caused by environmental factors) and driving reprogramming or even altering mitochondrial DNA. The last one not only affects human health but may also have consequences for future generations, particularly in the maternal line [1].
As a result, the proper functioning of mitochondria is critical to the life of the cell and our entire body. It is not surprising that disorders in this functioning are at the root of most diseases, as they are involved in controlling inflammation and oxidative stress. As a result, mitochondria immediately impact systemic metabolic regulation, brain function, immune activation, and even aging and lifespan. They have enormous potential in preventing or treating cancer, with the optimization of mitochondrial metabolism at the heart of an effective oncological therapy [2]. Indeed, mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the characteristics of cancer cells, with the body gradually losing the number of functional mitochondria.

The secret of health, in a few simple rules
What do we need to do to improve and maintain the health of mitochondria?

Eat healthily and in moderation!
It is critical to eat a diet rich in antioxidants and avoid industrial chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals in processed and refined foods, cigarette and stove smoke, and airborne particles that cause mitochondrial toxicity [3]. In addition, some pharmaceuticals cause mitochondrial toxicity, such as antibiotics, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), aspirin, or SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which reduce mitochondrial ATP production and have long-term adverse effects.
According to Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, known for his longevity research, reducing your caloric intake by up to 50% of what your regular modern diet provides contributes significantly to the health of mitochondria and slows down the aging process. In this regard, Dr. Clive McCay of Cornell University conducted a study [4] on guinea pigs, which revealed that halving food intake doubled guinea pig life! Calorie-restricted guinea pigs not only lived longer but were also healthier and more rejuvenated than control guinea pigs, who eventually became numb and powerless. Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting improve mitochondrial health by forcing cells to use stored lipids and fats for energy, putting the mitochondria to work producing more power.
It is imperative to avoid eating before bedtime because the metabolism is deficient during sleep. Otherwise, we will provide our bodies with too much fuel, which will result in the production of too many free radicals, which will damage tissues, accelerate aging, and promote the occurrence of chronic diseases. We must also reduce our glycemic intake because when the amount of sugar in the body increases, the mitochondria of some neurons change shape and function, which can lead to metabolic diseases such as type two diabetes. In addition, recent guinea pig research has shown that a mother's excessively high diet in fat and sugar can lead to mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction up to the second and third generations, who do not have these health problems despite eating a regular diet [5].
Vitamin B complex, vitamin C, iron, selenium, magnesium, omega-3, coenzyme Q10, acetyl L-carnitine, D-ribose, and alpha-lipoic acid are excellent supplements for mitochondrial health. However, they will never produce the expected results if the mitochondria are not placed in the proper context if we do not adopt a lifestyle that promotes their adequate functioning. 

Work during the day and take a nap at night!
There is much discussion about the importance of food in maintaining mitochondrial health. Still, these organisms use food to produce energy and oxygen, so we must exercise and live in a less polluted environment that is appropriate for our psycho structure. -physiological. Thus, living in harmony with the natural environment is essential for mitochondrial health, so regulating our activities according to the circadian rhythm, night-day is critical. For example, white nights spent in front of a computer, phone, or other electronic device decreases mitochondrial ATP production. On the contrary, waking up in the morning and seeing sunlight is an effective stimulant in increasing the number of mitochondria in the cell and ATP production.
So, at night, we must turn off the lights and unplug our devices to allow the melatonin level to rise and enable us to sleep soundly. During the day, we must go outside and enjoy the sun and weather changes. Let's go outside and feel the cold. Let's go out and enjoy the summer heat if it's hot. Research in the field of mitochondrial biology confirms that living in harmony with the nature of the human body is all that is required to be healthy.

Get outside and move!
Man is created to live in nature and receive full-spectrum light from the sun, touch the earth and trees, climb rocks and boulders, work outside, and go hiking. However, scientific studies have shown that "grounding" [6] (barefoot walking on earth) is beneficial because it makes contact with the earth's electromagnetic field, which promotes ATP production in mitochondria.
Because it forces the mitochondria to produce more energy, exercise helps to maintain mitochondrial health and the gut microbiome. Aerobic exercise, for example, stimulates the functional cells of the liver to produce enzymes that convert fat into glucose, which is afterward burned by mitochondria. However, movement in nature is far more beneficial than movement in our inwards dance, aerobics, or spin classes. Training outwards is supported, for example, by Katie Bowman's [7] research, which shows that moderate exercise in nature increases ATP production and the number of mitochondria in cells and multiplies the beneficial strains in the intestinal microbiome while decreasing the harmful ones.

Stay away from stress!
One may say that mitochondria are the "portal" through which the cell allows the environment - whether physical or psychosocial - to act on it. As a result, these organs respond to various genetic, metabolic, and neuroendocrine signals and intervene to help the body adapt to changing environmental conditions [8]. Mitochondria are the cells that "translate" psychosocial experiences into biologically relevant changes [9].
To deal with a stressful situation, we require more energy, which the body obtains from the mitochondria. They mobilize their forces, increase ATP production, regulate intracellular calcium levels and temperature, and generate reactive oxygen species, which play an essential role in oxidative stress. When stress becomes chronic, and the body is constantly alert, structural, and functional disorders in the mitochondria occur, leading to serious illness. For example, mitochondrial dysfunction causes various neurological symptoms since mitochondrial disorders determine most mental disorders. Even neurological developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, and neurodegenerative disorders associated with aging, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease, are linked to mitochondrial dysfunction. According to research [10] from the last two decades, a significant increase in ATP production can play a crucial role in preventing such conditions and recommends the administration of antioxidants (such as vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene). Much more important is a balanced lifestyle so that the elderly spend as much time as possible outside, exercise, and enjoy the presence of loved ones, thereby avoiding psychosocial stress. Of course, it would be ideal to begin these changes as soon as possible to consolidate our health and live a long life free of significant organic and mental problems.
Mitochondria give us the energy we need to deal with life's stressful events, protect us from environmental toxins and oxidative stress, and aid in healing the gastrointestinal tract. They are the interfaces between the immune system, the neuroendocrine system, and psychosocial factors, and they play an essential role in our health and longevity. The good news is that we can keep them in top working order by living soberly and according to our "human program," that is, eating what God has left us and living in harmony with nature and our peers.
Ana Gheorghiu






[6] See the article „Cu picioarele pe pământ”, „Familia Ortodoxă” (No 139/August 2020).


[8] Picard, M., Wallace, D.C., & Burelle, Y. (2016). The rise of mitochondria in medicine. Mitochondrion, 30, 105–116. doi:10.1016/j.mito.2016.07.003

[9] Picard, M., & McEwen, B.S. (2018a). Psychological stress and mitochon[1]dria: A conceptual framework. Psychosomatic Medicine, 80, 126–140. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000544:  Picard, M., & McEwen, B.S. (2018b). Psychological stress and mitochondria: A systematic review. Psychosomatic Medicine, 80, 141–153. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000545



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