Crestone and Beyond wishes to advance some expanded thoughts about our obesity problem, and associated metabolic concerns. This Journal is a biochemical follow-on to the prior health editorial Journal, and will delve into the subject of mitochondrial chemistry, and how to enhance this important life chemistry.
These thoughts are substantiated by my direct experience and clinical study of the issue ever since I performed a series of gastric bypass surgeries during my surgical residency training in Baltimore in the early 1980’s, a time period when morbid obesity was just beginning to hold sway in consumer consciousness and population epidemiological trending. Since those days, I never again performed gastric bypass surgery, now known as bariatric surgery. I have tried to interest patients in metabolic accountability practices instead.
This Journal writing explains the cellular organelle known as the mitochondrion. More than one mitochondrion is referred to in the plural, or, mitochondria. We shall use this latter terminology.
The mitochondria are the organelles in the cellular cytosol (cytoplasm) where oxygen, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are metabolized via the Kreb’s cycle and the electron transport chain to produce the energy molecule of life known as adenosine triphosphate, or, ATP. These 2 biochemical pathways are complicated, but very important, and have resulted in the awarding of a few Nobel prizes.
Think of the mitochondria as the energy factories of cellular life. Every biochemical process in our cells, and in our lives, is dependent on healthy and robust production of ATP. ATP is the central molecule of life energy at the cellular level.
Here is a collection of images of mitochondria.
If all of the correct intracellular chemicals are present to assist the Kreb’s cycle and electron transport chain in the production of ATP we can garner a maximum theoretical yield of 38 molecules of ATP per pass through the pathways. This number is customarily reduced (in the literature) to 30 molecules of ATP per chain reaction due to mitigating and neutralizing factors at work in the cellular dynamics.
As it turns out, 30 molecules of ATP per cycle reaction is ample energy for cellular vitality and intelligent cell expression. If the production of ATP drops off due to insufficient cellular biochemistry, then we have varieties of mitochondropathy; a subject now gaining in traction and recognition in the biochemical and nutritional circles of research and clinical application. It is likely that a great many more clinical disorders will be connected to mitochondriopathy causality, if not all of them.
The chemicals which are essential co-factors for mitochondrial production of ATP are: B vitamins, magnesium, carnitine, Co-enzyme Q10, lipoic acid, omega fatty acids, and D-ribose.
Critical to the production of ATP in the mitochondria and also to the production of DNA and RNA, ribose is a 5 carbon sugar which is essential for our healthy and energetic lives. You can see some technical information on this sugar here, as well as in the nice writing appended to the end of this Journal posting.
There are several other chemicals which are also very important in assisting mitochondrial health.
A non essential, but very helpful co-factor utilized in ATP production is creatine. Both carnitine and creatine are present only in meat, or in nutritional supplements; an important consideration for vegetarians and vegans.
Another very important molecule which protects mitochondria from oxidative stress and assists in mitochondrial biogenesis (creation of new mitochondria) is pyroquinoline quinone (PQQ). By supporting mitochondrial biogenesis, PQQ is critical for the promotion of healthy aging and optimal energy production by the mitochondria. This molecule is very important in brain and heart health, as well as recovery from stroke and heart attack events. PQQ also helps recycle glutathione, which is the body’s most powerful antioxidant.
Resveratrol also assists in mitochondrial biogenesis. The molecular basis of mitochondrial biogenesis resides in the fact that mitochondria are the only organelles which contain their own DNA. This DNA is of maternal origin. Think on your mother’s energy dynamics for clues to your own mitochondrial health and bio-energy dynamics.
The most metabolically active organs in the body are the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys. These organs have the highest number of mitochondria per cell. The heart comes in with 2000-2500 mitochondria per cell, for instance. In contrast, fat cells only have about 10 mitochondria per cell. Interestingly, red blood cells have no mitochondria; a fact which may be related to their normal life span of only 120 days.
If a person has a morbidly obese amount of adipose tissue to carry, the sheer number of fat cells present will create a differential skewing of the usage of the essential mitochondrial co-factors by the excess fat cell mitochondria. In the ensuing numbers game fallout, there may not be ample mitochondrial co-factor biochemistry to supply and run the more life critical high metabolizing organ cells, which have greater numbers of mitochondria, at full energy capacity.
The SpectraCell Laboratories intracellular nutrient profile study is helpful in discovering co-factor deficiency for it analyzes for all of the 6 essential co-factors listed above, plus other very important cellular micronutrients.
A deficiency of mitochondrial function due to either nutritional co-factor insufficiency, or due to concomitant disease state toxicities, will effect optimal production of ATP. The ability to burn fat for energy will fall off due any kind of mitochondrial dysfunction. Likewise, I suspect that most disease conditions could be improved by improving mitochondrial efficiency.
I have recommended supplementation of individual mitochondrial substrates as part of my anti-aging practice for the past 10 years. The only nutritional supplement line I recommend for clients is Designs for Health. This company has formulated the best compounds based on biochemical science, nutrient purity, absorption, and assimilation.
Examples of quality mitochondrial nutritional supplements from Designs for Health are as follows:
A separate composite product from Designs for Health contains of the above, plus resveratrol. Please see the description of Mitochondrial NRG. This supplement is good for daily maintenance of healthy mitochondrial function.
The effectiveness of mitochondrial function is enhanced by the following co-factors which assist in enhanced ATP production and generation of new mitochondria:
The product descriptions of each of these supplements, which can be seen in the links, will assist further understanding.
Mitochondrial health is a vastly important consideration in every cellular process; from DNA replication and repair, to telomere health, to protein synthesis in the ribosome, to cell membrane integrity…and just everything else in the life of a cell.
Our cells divide at the rate of about 10 million cells per second. This means that 10 million cells are coming on-line as 10 million cells are going off-line. We become a new cellular specimen about every 5-6 months, with the exception of the more slowly metabolically active bone matrix, which take a few years. One can think of a 5-6 month period as a time to deeply nourish the cellular matrix.
This metabolic turnover is assisted by the normal and important cellular process known as apoptosis. This is the term for programmed cell death. If programmed cell death does not occur in a timely fashion, or if the cell does not apoptose should it become abnormal in its DNA repair, replication, and cellular expression, then abnormal or chaotic cell growth can be initiated and promoted. An example of chaotic cell growth and expression which everyone is affected by in some manner is cancer cell growth.
Please consider that cancer cells are obligate sugar feeders, and so they will thrive in a sugar (carbohydrate) biochemistry. Cancer cells can be starved by taking away their sugar sources. You can look up the ketogenic diet as an example of such an approach.
The editors over at Southern Living (see the prior Journal) may consider running a special edition on such health thinking to make up for the kinds of consumerist toxicities they are currently promoting. This just seems like a balanced thing to do, but consumerist trends currently do not support such an expression of equipoise.
The initiation and promotion of chaotic cell expression is likely assisted in some part by mitochondrial dysfunction due to insufficient mitochondrial co-factors. This hypothesis is a reasonable and logical one, and currently relates to apoptosis chemistry, but it remains to be more fully elucidated in regards to other aspects of mitochondrial biochemistry. In addition to healthy mitochondrial function, vitamin D and melatonin are also important supporters of healthy apoptosis.
Mitochondria also support the important cellular process known as autophagy. This process involves the breakdown and recycling of old and excessive cellular components. Both apoptosis and autophagy are very important processes to insure ongoing health of cell lines. The role of inadequate apoptosis and autophagy in the generation of cancer is an active area of research.
As one can learn to wean from the addiction carbohydrate over-consumption, one can also begin the health practice of assisting robust mitochondrial production of ATP. This will insure for maximum vitality, health, fat cell burning, weight loss, and detoxification.
I should state something which is accepted in functional nutrition and paleo lifestyle circles: fat consumption is not the main culprit in weight gain. Carbohydrate consumption is the problem to consider. Biscuits are almost pure carbs, and so biscuits and “biscuit poisoning” took the hit in the previous Journal iteration.
Please visit this site, and see the excellent documentary “The Perfect Human Diet.” This is one dietary approach I recommend as the antidote for biscuit poisoning.
It is very helpful to request a proper thyroid panel (TSH, free T4, free T3, and a T3 Uptake), a fasting insulin, a fasting leptin, and an adrenal stress index (ASI) from your practitioner to make sure that these parameters of metabolism are normal. The ASI should be a salivary study, not a blood study. Holistic functional medicine types of practitioners understand such.
Last, but not least, please consider this simple visualization: Imagine that you are a very tiny submicroscopic person and you get to take a tour inside of one of your cells. Or imagine that you can project your consciousness inside of a cell. When you are inside of your cell, you would be able to see the entire workings of the cell.
You would be able to see it because all of the biochemical reactions of energy exchange would create and spin off an enormous amount of electromagnetic light energy to illuminate your viewing of the amazing intricacies and beauty of cellular life. All of the adjacent cells would also be teeming with Light. This cellular Light is a manifestation of a divinely intelligent Consciousness…That which is who we are.
Signing off from Crestone and Beyond.
You are full of Light…
Other Helpful References:
- CoQ10–A Nutritional Powerhouse for Mitochondrial Health
- Exploring D-Ribose
- Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster