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Mitochondria

The powerhouses of our cells

Lifestyle has a significant impact on mitochondrial health. An unhealthy lifestyle damages mitochondria, causing them to work less efficiently and disrupt the energy supply of the cell as a whole.

Mitochondria are essential for the body's functioning as they act as the power plants of our cells.

Chronic stress, lack of sleep and/or exercise, an unhealthy diet, smoking, processed food, and more, harm the health of our mitochondria.

We delve deeper into this topic to learn more about mitochondria and how we can provide our body with the energy it needs to function properly.

mitochondria

A mitochondrion is oval in shape & enclosed by two membranes.

According to Professor Enzo Nisoli, an adult human possesses more than 10 trillion mitochondria, accounting for 10% of his total body weight.

Mitochondria are responsible for making energy. They are our energy factories and determine the fate of a cell. So they choose whether a cell will continue to live or will die. 

It is crucial to view mitochondria as more than a simple cell component responsible for converting fuel into energy. They play a critical role in life and death.

What are mitochondria?

Mitochondria are bacteria that have formed a synergistic partnership with our bodies through evolution. We provide them with nutrition, and they provide us with energy.

They are the power plants of our cells, determining the fate of a cell and choosing whether it will continue to live or die. 

Mitochondria conduct the genetic orchestra that influences the rate at which cells divide, age, and die. They also regulate gene expression in cells and provide fuel for the formation of new neural networks. 

In summary, properly functioning mitochondria supply energy to billions of cells and support various essential functions in the body.

DNA of mitochondria

The DNA in mitochondria is inherited exclusively from the mother's birth lineage, meaning the energy sustaining your life comes from the women in your family tree. 

mitochondria

Boosting mitochondrial health can be achieved through intermittent living interventions.

In our cold or heat workshops, we combine six acute stress stimuli that trigger a "reset" of the mitochondria and the body.

During these workshops, participants are asked to fast the night before, enhancing function by reducing the production of free radicals.

By incorporating intermittent living interventions into your lifestyle, you not only improve mitochondrial health but also enhance your body's strength and resilience.

mitochondria

Where are mitochondria located in a cell?

Mitochondria resemble elongated grains, hence the name. Mitos & chondrin come from the Greek word for 'thread' and 'grain'.

They are found in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells (i.e. in all cells of our body).

What is the fuel of mitochondria

Mitochondria can use oxygen, glucose, amino acids, and free fatty acids as fuel and convert them into ATP (energy) through oxidative phosphorylation. This process releases water, heat, carbon dioxide, and 36 ATP. It is also referred to as oxidative metabolism because it requires oxygen, similar to combustion.

In the mitochondria, sugars and fatty acids are broken down step by step, releasing energy. Sugars are split by enzymes (proteins) into the smallest version of sugar, the fuel glucose. With the help of oxygen, energy is made from burning glucose.

In the case of disease, an unhealthy lifestyle, or malfunctioning mitochondria and oxygen supply, the mitochondrion switches to aerobic glycolysis (Warburg effect), where it can only burn glucose and glutamine without oxygen. This results in the release of 2 ATP, lactate, and biomass. Briefly, this is not a problem, but if it becomes chronic, it leads to the breakdown and destruction of mitochondria and cells, contributing to illness.

The energy or life force produced by the mitochondria is stored in a chemical 'battery' called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The energy-rich ATP can be transported to all parts of the cell, and with the help of specific enzymes, the energy can be released again.

In addition to providing fuel, mitochondria also generate reactive oxygen species, commonly known as free radicals.

The functions of mitochondria

Apoptosis

Hippocrates was the first to use the term 'Apoptosis.' Its literal meaning is 'the falling of leaves from the tree.'

Apoptosis is the process by which cells self-destruct. The death of a cell is not solely negative; it serves as an essential function. This process enables an organism to grow and heal itself. 

Mitochondria play a crucial role in determining whether a cell will continue to live or die. 

Here's an example to explain it further:

Apoptosis begins as early as in the womb. During embryonic development, a human's hands initially resemble the legs of a frog, with membranes between the fingers. The death of the cells in these membranes triggers a change in the limbs, resulting in the formation of individual fingers. After birth, apoptosis becomes the body's standard procedure to eliminate unnecessary cells and make space for new and healthier ones.

Free Radicals

Free radicals have important and beneficial effects on human physiology. They play a vital role in regulating apoptosis. 

While the self-destruction of cells, as described above, is generally beneficial, it becomes detrimental when it impairs the function of the mitochondria themselves and instructs faulty cells to die.

This is a fundamental malfunction of the mitochondrial mechanism that leads to the death of brain cells in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, MS, Parkinson's, and ALS. 

Free radicals are chemicals that cause oxidative damage to tissues, leading them to "rust," similar to the effect of weathering on a piece of iron. They can also damage proteins, fats, and even DNA. 

Thermogenesis

Thermogenesis is the process by which the body generates and utilizes heat to regulate body temperature. Mitochondria play a significant role in thermogenesis. Heat is a by-product of oxidative phosphorylation and serves as the primary source of heat production in the body.

Brown adipose tissue contains a remarkable number of mitochondria. These fat cells possess mitochondria specialized in converting stored fat into heat. This process is activated by cold temperatures, intermittent fasting, sober exercise, among other factors. Thermogenesis allows the body to regulate body temperature and maintain a healthy metabolism. 

mitochondrial dNA

Mitochondrial DNA governs the production and utilization of life energy. Mitochondria house circular DNA (mtDNA) within their structure. The mtDNA determines the destiny of all cells, tissues, and organs in the body, thereby shaping the energetic fate of an individual as a living being. 

Circular DNA refers to the arrangement of the DNA molecule in mitochondria, forming a closed loop structure. This circular DNA configuration offers several advantages for mitochondria. It facilitates efficient replication and translation processes, which are crucial for energy production. Furthermore, mtDNA is less susceptible to degradation and mutations compared to linear DNA.

Mitochondrial dna

Mitochondria, it's all about energy

Dr. Leo Pruimboom, the founder of kPNI, co-authored a publication on mitochondria in 2023. In recent years, mitochondria have become a significant topic in scientific research due to their connection with lifestyle-related diseases such as multiple sclerosis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

The article also explores the relationship between mitochondria and intermittent living, as hormetic stress (short-term stress) has been found to enhance the quality and quantity of mitochondria. (Refer to the image on page 18 of the article for more details.)

To delve deeper into this subject, please read the article via the button below.

Mitochondria repair

How can we restore our mitochondria to optimal condition?

To restore our mitochondria to optimal condition, it is important to provide them with the right nutrients. Glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids play a crucial role in this process and can be obtained through dietary sources.

Glucose: derived from carbohydrates, serves as a significant energy source for the mitochondria. It facilitates efficient ATP production and supports proper cellular functioning.
Fatty acids: obtained from healthy sources like fish, nuts, and avocados, can serve as an alternative fuel for the mitochondria. 
Amino acids: the building blocks of proteins, are essential for maintaining healthy mitochondria. They are involved in the production of enzymes and proteins that are necessary for energy production and other mitochondrial functions.

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The two membranes

The presence of the two membranes enables mitochondria to carry out various chemical reactions and efficiently produce energy. They play a crucial role in numerous processes in the body, including cellular respiration, metabolism, and the synthesis of important molecules.

 

outer membrane

The outer membrane forms the outer layer of the mitochondria and provides protection to the internal structure.

It contains pores that regulate the exchange of molecules and ions between the cell's cytoplasm and the inner compartments of the mitochondria.

inner membrane

The inner membrane is highly folded, forming numerous folds called cristae, which increase the surface area of the inner compartment of the mitochondria. This membrane is essential for energy production because it contains several proteins involved in the electron transport chain and the production of ATP, which is the cell's main energy source.

Questions and answers

Mitochondria utilize a range of nutrients as fuel, including glucose, amino acids, and free fatty acids. Glucose serves as a crucial energy source in the mitochondria and undergoes a process called glycolysis. It is subsequently converted into acetyl-CoA, which fuels the citric acid cycle, also known as the Krebs cycle. In addition to glucose, other nutrients such as fatty acids can be utilized as fuel by the mitochondria.

Mitochondria play a vital role in generating ATP, which is one of the primary forms of energy in our cells. This energy is utilized for a wide range of functions, including maintaining cell health, supporting cell growth and division, regulating apoptosis, and maintaining body temperature.

Disorders arising from mitochondrial dysfunction or defects can result in a wide range of diseases. These conditions may be caused by genetic mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) or genes involved in mitochondrial function and regulation.

The diseases manifest themselves in different ways and have a wide range of symptoms. Because mitochondria are present in almost all cells of the body, the effects of the diseases are diverse. They affect different systems such as the nervous system, muscles, heart, liver and kidneys, for example.

Common symptoms associated with mitochondrial diseases include:

  • Severe fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • Coordination problems
  • epileptic seizures
  • Impaired vision
  • hearing loss
  • Heart and liver complications
  • delayed growth and development in children
 

Diagnosing mitochondrial diseases is a complex process due to the diverse array of symptoms and the involvement of multiple organs. Confirming the diagnosis often entails identifying specific mutations in mt-DNA or other relevant genes.

Although all body cells contain mitochondria, cells such as muscles, heart and brain, have large numbers of mitochondria because of their high energy requirements. These organelles are essential for the energy supply and proper functioning of these tissues.

A properly functioning mitochondrion is vital for the health of cells and the entire body. When mitochondria malfunction, it can lead to oxidative stress, which produces free radicals that cause damage to cell components such as proteins, fats, and even DNA. 

Oxidative stress is a significant cause of mitochondrial dysfunction and is associated with several diseases.

The mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA) differs from the DNA in the cell nucleus. The mt-DNA has a circular shape and contains genes that are crucial for mitochondrial function. It is inherited exclusively through the maternal line, which means that the energy source sustaining our lives comes from our ancestors through the women in our family tree.

To function optimally and maintain good health, mitochondria rely on specific nutrients that are obtained through our diet. Coenzymes, antioxidants, and other essential molecules are crucial for energy production and the proper functioning of mitochondria. These nutrients play a vital role in supporting mitochondrial function and ensuring their optimal performance.

The number of mitochondria can vary significantly from person to person. On average, an adult human is estimated to have over 10 trillion mitochondria in their body. However, it's important to note that this number can vary depending on factors such as age, overall health, and specific tissue types.