Fatigue and lack of energy are marked on nearly all of our client’s questionnaires. We all want more energy as we push harder and longer.
Lifestyle changes, to take the proverbial foot off the pedal, are often part of the discussion that we have in clinic. But even with that, how can what we eat help to fuel our body?
How can we improve our body’s energy production?
You may be surprised to read that what we eat plays an essential role. Many of the recommendations to address adrenal dysfunction and stress are applicable to improving energy. You may also have read under the Exercise section that movement can also improve energy levels. It is all linked. But there are specific nutritional strategies, which can improve the body’s production of energy.
How does our body produce energy?
Energy is created by the breakdown of the macronutrients in our diet – carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This happens in the powerhouses of the cells called the mitochondria. In addition to the fuel substrate the creation of energy also requires enzyme function, which need micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, for efficient production.
Conventional wisdom has been that carbohydrates (glucose) are the
primary source of energy. However, fatty acids (ketones), and amino acids (from dietary protein) can also be readily utilized by mitochondria.
Organic acids are the body’s metabolites in the energy production cycle and we can measure them in a urinary assay to give us valuable information of any blockages in the energy pathway. This provides insight of nutrient needs or possible heavy metal obstruction.
Reasons that can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction
Mitochondrial dysfunction can occur as a result of:
- Oxidative Stress
- Caloric overload
- Glucotoxicity – high levels of dietary sugar (and alcohol)
- Lipotoxicity – high levels of dietary fat, especially trans fat
- Environmental toxins e.g. mercury, lead and arsenic (and some drugs)
- Micronutrient deficiencies e.g. B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, iron, etc.
Key tips to support mitochondrial function to increase energy
- A calorie appropriate diet with balanced intake of complex carbohydrates, lean, (organic where possible) protein and essential fats provides the substrate for optimum energy production.
- Dietary phytonutrients from a varied and colourful diet can help provide the antioxidants necessary to mop up levels of oxidative stress. Eat and drink them!
- Avoid toxins in foods, personal care products, gardening chemicals, home cleaning chemicals and medications.
- Challenge your brain and body with moderate physical & cognitive exercise.