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Functional Medicine

Article Abstracts
Mar 02, 2023

Functional Medicine

Mitochondrial Support for Better Adrenal Health and Energy

Article Abstracts
May 29, 2024

Is it hard to remember the last time you had energy? You may need to support your adrenal health.

Fatigue is often caused, at least in part, by dysfunction in the adrenal glands, which leads to impaired stress hormone (cortisol) production and other hormonal imbalances. Adrenal fatigue does not emerge alone, so it is important to discover the underlying cause(s) and not cover up the symptoms with medication or supplements. One factor that is widely overlooked is mitochondrial function. 

What Are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are subcellular structures that reside in cell membranes that generate a majority of the chemical energy needed for a cell to properly function. Without proper energy, a cell cannot survive, so healthy mitochondria are critical for good health, energy, and the aging process.

Damaged mitochondria are linked with many conditions including fatigue, “normal” aging (e.g., skin changes or lower energy levels), Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, heart failure, and cancer. However, there are many ways to support mitochondrial function and avoid disease.

What Causes Mitochondrial Damage?

Many factors can contribute to damaged mitochondria, including inflammation through poor diet, which leads to nutrient deficiencies. Stress can also lead to nutrient deficiencies as the body uses up resources just to survive. When mitochondria do not have the nutrients they need, they can’t produce the energy required by the body. Lyme disease, co-infections, and other viruses can also cause mitochondrial damage, as can digestive problems such as leaky gut.

Support Mitochondria for Adrenal Health

Supporting the mitochondria can help support energy levels and keep your body healthy over the long term.

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: Choosing protein, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and foods high in essential fatty acids (such as wild caught fish) all support mitochondria. Also make sure to avoid refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks, which deplete the system.
  • Heal the gut: Addressing any gut imbalances is vital to restoring mitochondrial health. Prebiotic and probiotic foods can help, as can a high-quality probiotic supplement.  
  • De-stress: Examine what is absolutely necessary to accomplish, and what is a result of your own expectations (which are maybe too high). Devote at least a few minutes a day to doing something you want to do. Make sure you are emotionally supported by friends and family. Use forced waiting times (in traffic, or in lines) to practice deep breathing.
  • Consider intermittent fasting: Studies have shown that a shorter window of time for eating (8 to10 hours per day) can help mitochondrial function.
  • Move your body: Exercise boosts oxygen intake, which benefits mitochondrial health. For those with adrenal fatigue, it is important not to overdo it while the body is healing. Thirty minutes a day of a low-impact aerobic exercise, strength training, stretching, core work, or balance exercises can make a big difference.
  • Rest: The body needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night to detoxify and rejuvenate. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it, even on weekends, as much as possible.
  • Supplement wisely: An essential fatty acid supplement, high-quality multivitamin, adaptogenic herbs, and adrenal or thyroid supplements can be useful as the body heals.

Just a few small habits may help give your body the support it needs for better health, energy, and vitality.

REFERENCES

Pick, M. (n.d.). Supporting mitochondrial function for adrenal health. https://marcellepick.com/mitochondrial-function-for-adrenal-health

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