In the West we associate human energy with activity. We jackrabbit through the day with 5.5 hours of sleep, junk foods and soda; multitasking family, work, relationships, hobbies, poodles and aunts; collecting toys and memorabilia until they jam the garage. We brag about how much stuff we can get done with so little rest. We counter the energy dips with coffee, sugar, processed foods, nuked carbs, energy drinks, pharmacopeia. The brain shakes its own cocktail, dropping dopamine for a bit of buzz, adrenaline for a bit of push, and a dozen other substances –some of which would fetch a decade in the slammer if caught in Compton –to maintain the illusion of zest.
No wonder we're still high by midnight, doomed to repeat the cycle of deprivation and buzz. During the day, our body stays locked while the mind races, analyzing the past, brooding over the future and glazing over the present –a stream of silent cacophony we mistake for thinking.
The biochemical miracle is that we’re able to speed this way, like a Formula-1 engine doing 200 mph on first gear, up to three to four decades, before we hit the wall. The crash is not an exception for this lifestyle –it’s a given. We slide to the bottom of a bathtub with ruptured arteries, observe the progression of a xenomorph on an X-ray, or forget our last and first names while our brain slowly dissolves into camembert, all in a cumulative demonstration of cellular wear and tear.
We seek help, late, from a doctor who tags our complication with a Latin acronym and prescribes pharma. He might as well cover the tip of an iceberg with face powder.
The symptomology may carry a hundred different chronic disease tags, but the only diagnosis that can cure us lies in the simplest and most accurate assessment possible.
Although the crash comes as a surprise, it is a logical continuation of decades of fatigue.
The silver lining is that the crash can nudge us to reassess life’s priorities and ask questions that have a new center of gravity, such as “How can I get more energy to do the things I love?”
We already know the answer on a gut level.
We avoid taking action because the implications could disrupt our current comfort zone, forgetting that it’s the same zone we are trying to disrupt.
If 95 percent of our energy is provided by a single partnership, we should probably pay more attention to the partnership.
We signed an irreversible contract with the early precursors to mitochondria about two billion years ago, under the alias of a prokaryote that smelled like rotten eggs. Methanogens produced marsh gas from hydrogen. Oxygen was toxic to the marsh creatures. When another form of cyanobacteria, the early precursors to algae, learned how to use photosynthesis to build organic compounds with oxygen as a byproduct, they tipped the scales for survival in favor of oxygen guzzling creatures over hydrogen guzzling ones.
According to Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane, a British biochemist, the deal between these two ancestors was this: “I swallow you, but I promise I won’t digest you.”
The prokaryote swallowed a microbe that could use oxygen for energy (mitochondria) thereby becoming the first eukaryote, a multi-organelle cell with a membrane, nucleus and power generator, that together held the key to the evolution of complexity.
Think about the aftermath from swallowing something so tiny. We begin to see multicellular creatures with fins, tails, wings, and legs after a two-billion year old, dreary mud bath. Some of those creatures would build and destroy empires and shine with the energy of a thousand lightning bolts.
The potential energy within each human cell is about 0.2 volts. That’s two trillion volts total for every individual, as each day a single human cell containing an average of 400 mitochondria produces roughly 80kg or 176 lbs of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), acellular fuel.
A lightning bolt has only a billion volts.
Both the sun and the human are in the energy generation and maintenance business. Comparing the two systems for efficiency, humans win. Gram per gram, we are 10,000 times more efficient in generating energy than the sun, producing about 2 milliwatts per gram to the sun’s 0.0002 milliwatts, calculates Dr. Lane.
Mitochondria, that is energy, define how we age, perform, think, grow and die. Which is odd, because modern medicine pays little attention to the little creatures.
If our car engine fails to start, the first place we usually check is the battery. When our health fails, doctors address the symptoms, which equates to the car's inability to move forward. It’s like a mechanic using drugs to get the car back on the road.
What's wrong with this picture?
Judging by our energy capacity, we’re a miracle human combustion engine. If there is a problem, the first question should be "Where, how and why is the juice missing?"
Modern medicine may be excused for overlooking the question due to expert myopia.
“All the clinical subspecialties are based primarily around anatomy, and so you have neurologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, nephrologists, dermatologists and so on, but that model doesn't take into account mitochondria,” says Doug Wallace, director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, and the 2017 winner of the Dr. Paul Janssen Award, in a Scientific American interview.
“Since different organs rely on mitochondrial energy to different extents, partial mitochondrial defects result in organ-specific symptoms,” says Dr. Wallace. “Anything that produces that much energy, can’t be trivial.”
Mitochondria take the front row brunt of what we take in and give out. The reason chronic disease is multifactorial and cumulative is because the damage to mitochondria is multifactorial and cumulative. There is almost always a gang of culprits, never a single culprit, when it comes to chronic disease.
Mitochondrial dysfunction can be influenced by pollution, stress, poor nutrition, compromised air, lack of exercise, dehydration, trauma, strained relationships, lack of purpose and crazy aunts –but the real issue arises when all these factors gang up. Anything that undermines the Krebs cycle, the proton engine that oxidizes foods into cellular energy, undermines us.
Now imagine the gang demanding more ATP, like the Russian guests who demand more vodka to sing and dance through the night. The mitochondria need to pummel protons down the Krebs hatch to fulfill our every demand, however fractional and unpredictable, to keep the guests happy.
The wear and tear accumulates as respiratory damage. The damage becomes a block. A single blockade in the Krebs cycle can obstruct a chain of events, just like a bad spark plug can stop an engine.
In chronic disease, the cycle can have several blockades, bringing us down to a fraction of our potential. Over years and decades, the deficit manifests as a chronic disease. It’s a fate that the increasing majority of us are going to experience in our lifetime, and then mistake it for normal.
We can also decide to change. But first we have to stop blaming the patsy. We blame heritage more than lifestyle, because blaming the lifestyle implies responsibility.
Take the century’s biggest killer, cancer, which modern medicine states is a genetic disease. Nobel laureate Otto Warburg showed in 1924 that cancer was due tolow cellular oxygenation of mitochondria, i.e. it’s a metabolic disease.
In Warburg’s model, toxins, pollution or lack of vital nutrients degrade the respiratory enzymes in the mitochondria, thereby compromising their ability to produce energy with oxygen. The damaged mitochondria send out emergency signals to the cell’s nucleus, telling it to activate backup generators, which run on fermentation and produce less than 1/15th of the cell’s normal energy. The nucleus is forced to shut down principal functions, with the exception of survival and replication. The result is an uncontrollable growth of mutant cells that feed on sugar.
Ergo, cancer. A metabolic disease that avoids capture, because medical science ignores the battery, when the battery is where it’s at.
When we don't burn more than we charge, when we charge from multiple, rich and varied sources, we reach a rare condition that is unheard of in the medical textbooks: permanent health. Our normal, forgotten state.
It’s also the state where external circumstances cease to stress us, however hectic or chaotic they might be. If we have enough energy, we can change our perception of events, and let the events happen. Stress is just another word for our failure to separate event from perception, because we’re low on energy.
The highest form of human energy is peaceful, centered, focused and aware. It heightens the senses and encourages us to rest and digest, between cycles of peak performance. It aligns us with our individual drive. It makes us see through the group think. It feeds bacteria, which Oompa Loompa our brain chemicals.
Think about your diet, if you're depressed. Depression doesn’t come from a job or a marriage. It comes from unbalanced gut bacteria, which in turn fail to feed our brain chemistry. Sign of low energy.
Nutrition is a safe place to start, because it’s where we mess up most. But nutrition covers only a part of our energy needs. We gobble foods up to 3,000 kcal worth per day, but according to Dr. Siegfried Kiontke who specializes in cellular field measurements, the kilocalories that we expel from our surface area range between 6,000 and 9,000 kcal.
What explains the difference?
The difference is that we are not just a combustion engine but also a transceiver, a compendium of cells that receive and transmit information through electromagnetic frequencies. Underneath our biochemical exterior, the lightspeed communication between micro-organisms and cells, our thoughts and emotions are all electromagnetic. Every microbe, cell, organ and emotion has its own fingerprint frequency. The full spectrum forms the human resonance field.
Standing five feet away from a happy person can give more energy than a box of blueberries. A hug or a hike can beat a week of broccoli. A sweetheart can wipe out a tumor. A childhood trauma can leak more juice than a year of green smoothies. Worrying about nonsense we have no control over can mutate legions of cells in real-time.
Both a smile and a broccoli will manifest itself through the currency of life, or ATP.
We’re not just all individual, we’re also similar. Start with adjustments that have a good track record with mitochondria. The more energy we gain from the fundamentals, the more we become self-guiding. The sensors with which we measure what’s good and bad for us energetically, grow only when we use them. Integrate one that you haven’t tried already.
See what happens.
All forms of exercise belong to mitochondrial green zone. Intensity has the biggest effect on mitochondrial respiration. Marathon wears and tears. High-intensity interval training cleans and boosts.
Warm up for three minutes on a bike, treadmill or jogging trail. Then rip it apart (max performance) for 30 seconds. Slow down for 90 seconds. Repeat the cycle eight times. Cool down for two minutes. The 20 minutes you spend on this protocol increases your HGH(human growth hormone) sevenfold, improves mitochondrial function, and lowers risk of heart disease. Start with once a week, then twice.
Take a long walk in nature. Does the same thing.
Processing food into cellular fuel is heavy work for mitochondria. The more we eat, the more we cause mitochondrial labor. Less food means more time and energy for other tasks, like cleaning out mitochondrion corpses (mitophagy).
Leave a slight craving before you finish eating. The burn that stays through the day is not from hunger, but from cellular regeneration.
Mitochondrial duties are further reduced with intermittent fasting, which gives the critters a chance to fight oxidative and nitrosative damage. Intermittent fasting is habitual, relatively effortless, yet as efficient as long-term fasting, sans the extended suffering.
Fast one day a week, drinking plenty of water (3-4 liters).
Eat within a 4-5 hour window, for example between 2pm and 6pm only.
A ketogenic diet is high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates, which helps the liver produce so-called ketone bodies, a superior fuel to the body and brain. Mitochondria love ketosis, because ketones burn cleaner, causing less wear and tear in their ranks.
Limit simple carbohydrates like sugar, wheat, pasta, rice and processed foods to the minimum. Take your carbs from whole foods, organic vegetables, local organic farms. Answer carb and sugar craving with healthy fats from coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish and grass fed meats. Cheat once a week, if you need to.
We can’t eliminate all the toxins from modern environment (80,000 or so in the immediate vicinity), but we can eliminate the obvious.
Use only pure consumer care products. Exclude additives and preservatives. Drink clean water. Breathe clean air. Avoid industrial, processed, packaged, canned foods. Sweat a lot. Poo at least once a day.
Fifty years ago we didn’t have supplements, so why do we need them today? Because 50 years ago a piece of broccoli had 10 times the nutrients. Soil erosion has caused food erosion which has caused health erosion. Supplementation has become vital. With one caveat: the type of supplements we need are also highly individual.
Take a free, 10-minute metabolomic evaluationof your primary metabolic challenge to see if and what supplements are relevant for you. You can also enquire about full molecular tests to pinpoint your nutritional type and possible metabolic deficiencies here.
We’re touch deficient, by default. Mitochondria prosper with caring touch. A deep tissue massage also leads to mitochondrial biogenesis, the division of mitochondria. Touching, whether it is through affection or play, is one of the highest energy sources available. Respect the force. The force can be energy giving or energy draining. We know which one is which.
The Earth’s negatively charged electrons wipe out free radicals, which happen to be missing an electron. Nature is not just a sight, it’s a sight to digest.
Play with electrons and dirt. Hike, trek or run deep and far, as often as you can, in the nature. Any exposure to nature is regenerative, and one reason for this is Schumann Resonances.
The evidence against manmade EMF (electromagnetic fields) is solid, but unrecognized. Microwaves hit mitochondria where it hurts most, at frequency level. EMF pollution has been linked to brain tumors, cancer, Alzheimer’s, migraines, Parkinson’s, osteoporosis, skin problems, behavioral problems in children, and DNA damage, with little media exposure. Cellphone radiation also disrupts the blood-brain barrier, allowing heavy metals and other toxins to enter the brain.
Cut down man-made radiation from your living environment, especially at night. Put a kill-timer on the wifi. Auto-shutdown or flightsafe the cellphone. Avoid extended proximity to cellular stations or power lines. For select articles and research on electromagnetic field (EMF), see the annex at the end of this article.
We’re sunlight deficient, by default. Sunlight should cover two-thirds of our daily vitamin D needs. Natural light has a healing spectrum, which we need to greet during the day. Mitochondria love natural light. Man-made light, especially the one from our phones and screens, tells the amygdala that we’re ok with not sleeping.
Take your shirt off for 20 minutes of sunlight per day. Put blue light filters on your phone and desktop screen, or kill them altogether after 8pm.
Seventy percent of the population is dehydrated, a condition that wreaks havoc on mitochondria. Mitochondria guzzle water.
Drink three to four liters (up to a gallon) of water a day. Start the day with a litre (a quarter), which will also jumpstart the colon. The real challenge is finding clean and natural water, preferably spring water. If filtered water is the only source, re-mineralize with a pinch of Himalayan salt. Or use molecular hydrogento improve hydration.
Work, relationships, hobbies and other activities that we enjoy and find purposeful correlate with longer telomeres. Telomeres are the aiglets at the end of shoelaces, except that the shoelace is made of DNA. When the lace unfolds, we age. Telomeres are extremely measurable, and thereby a practical yardstick of mitochondrial health. According to a major telomere study, the bad guys that wreak most havoc on telomeres/mitochondia are chronic stress, negative thoughts, hidden trauma, strained relationships and bad neighborhoods –factors that we don’t necessarily even notice, but need to acknowledge, before we can address them.
Come back to basic questions like “What do I love and what’s keeping me from it?”
Mitochondria love that question.
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” - Lao Tzu
Founder & Energy Coach
Energy For Living
Twelve lifestyle tweaks to re-empower mind, body and spirit for optimal energy and health, based on extensive mitochondrial research.