Whenever we talk about our fitness level we often refer to how fast we can run, how often we go to the gym, and how deep our asanas are. But our fitness level is way deeper than that. In fact, our fitness level goes as deep as our cells –down to the organelles called mitochondria. In the past 10 years, studies have found associations of these organelles to a various neurodegenerative and autoimmune disorders.

Mitochondria are the master regulators and executioners of almost all aspects of cellular metabolism as they contain all that is needed for the body to utilize carbohydrates, proteins, and fat – all metabolized by multiple intricate systems within our bodies to break down these macronutrients into the essential micronutrients the body needs for function. Every cell of the body contain mitochondria but cells that have higher metabolic activity, such as the muscles, heart, and brain, have many, many more of these vital organelles.

There are five enzyme complexes of the electron transport chain. These complexes contain subunits and require co-factors for efficient activity. But they can also be affected by toxins such as medications, drugs, and environmental exposures. Indeed, mitochondrial function, in particularly complex I, has been shown to decrease during normal ageing and in neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinson’s disease but in other neurodegenerative disorders that may have associated Parkinsonism. Complex II, succinate dehydrogenase, has an important role in cell transformation and can be associated with adrenal dysfunction and tumor formation. Complex III, CoQ 10 cytochrome c reductase, has an important role in the liver’s function of metabolism and detoxification as well as muscle health. Complex IV, cytochrome oxidase, is a critical complex that can result in dysfunction of other complexes of the chain and has been implicated in encephalopathies. And complex V, the ATP synthase, which is ubiquitous to all organisms and maintains control of cell death, has been shown, when deficient, to affect muscle strength, cardiac function, balance, and cognition.

But these complexes are part of a chain. And yes, one dysfunctional complex is the proverbial weak link in the chain but, importantly, these enzyme supercomplexes do not work in isolation and it is their coordinated work together that keeps our homeostatic mechanisms strong.

Mitochondria decrease in number and function as we age and this alone increases our risk of disease as our immune surveillance is less robust. But they decrease at a faster rate when they are burdened with extra work to make more energy for the body to metabolize medications and toxins, or to mount an immune response against invading organisms, or when we don’t sleep, or when we don’t handle stress, or when we choose to eat foods that provoke inflammation and do not provide the body with the substrates it needs to be healthy and well. All of this make the mitochondria work harder. The harder they work, the more burned out they become, and the greater the chance for transformation of proteins leading to disease.

Optimal health as we age requires we maintain mitochondrial health for full body health and fitness. Our mitochondrial program includes an intense look at your mitochondria and focuses on the weak link in the chain to personalize your approach to be as fit as you can – from the inside to the outside. Call us today.

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