Always Tired? It's Not All In Your Head: It Could Be Your Mitochondria
It’s one thing to feel tired after a long day. It’s even normal to feel exhausted after days of pushing yourself to the max.
But what if you’re just going about your daily life and feel tired all the time? There’s a term for this, and it’s called feeling chronically fatigued.
Is it all in your head? Maybe not. It might actually be your mitochondria. Studies are coming out on how this small system affects how much energy your body produces, playing a role in how tired you might feel throughout the day.
So if you’re concerned about how often you find yourself feeling worn out, you’re in the right place. Here we’ll discuss what your mitochondria is, how it affects your energy levels, and things you can do to promote a healthy and happy metabolism.
What Does the Mitochondria Do?
Inside each of your cells, there is a team of organelles bound by a membrane. This system takes the food you eat and turns it into energy through the process of oxidative phosphorylation (1).
All the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that make up our food are broken down into small elements and become part of what’s known as the Citric Acid Cycle, or Krebs (2). This cycle produces chemical energy, also known as ATP, which then is used to power nearly every function in your body, including growing, moving, and maintaining homeostasis.
In other words, the mitochondria are the powerhouse for your entire body. And if this powerhouse gets disrupted or begins to malfunction, it can affect the surrounding tissues and organs. This can lead to feeling tired all the time, brain fog, or something more serious: mitochondrial disease.
What is Mitochondrial Disease?
Feeling tired is one thing; having a chronic genetic disorder is another. Such is the case with about 1 in every 5,000 people (2).
Mitochondrial disease is something the scientific community has been studying more recently. This type of disorder seems to be passed down genetically, and can affect almost every part of your body, including:
People with mitochondrial diseases typically experience symptoms such as slowed growth, movement, or neurological disorders, learning difficulties, and increased risks for infection.
Does feeling tired all the time mean you have a genetic disorder? Not necessarily. It could be an issue of how to allocate your energy more efficiently. Check with a doctor if you have any concerns.
Effects of Fatigue
Feeling tired all the time can affect many areas of your life. Dealing with chronic fatigue can make it hard to complete daily tasks, take care of yourself, your mood, memory, and ability to concentrate (6).
What You Can Do
If you’re curious as to whether you have mitochondrial disease, naturopathic or integrative doctors may have specific tests that can help address your concerns.
Testing used to be invasive, but now a simple cheek swab can give your doctor clues as to what is triggering your fatigue.
And if your mitochondria is in bad shape? The good news is that there are things you can do. Reducing oxidative stress by focusing on anti-inflammatory foods. Make sure to always consult your medical professional to determine the right course of action for you.
Taking a hard look at your diet may help you discover foods that aren’t nourishing your cells. Cleaning out your pantry and going on a temporary elimination diet may also help reset your metabolism. Talk with your functional medicine physician to establish a proper game plan.
If you choose to try the Elimination Diet, you’ll want to stay away from foods that contain:
- Processed flour or rice
- Refined, bleached white sugar
- Heavily processed meats like sausage or burger
On that same note, make sure to add in quality, fresh fruits, and vegetables to each meal. These will give your body fiber, antioxidants, and minerals to help fight off free radicals. This can bring your body to a more alkaline state, reducing inflammation and protecting your mitochondria (3).
Not only can leaving certain foods out of your diet make a difference, adding specific nutrients back in can help repair and replenish your mitochondria.
The best nutrients that support energy production and metabolism (7, 8) include:
- Vitamin C + E
- Omega 3 oil
- Green tea
Another great herbal supplement is KaraMD Pure Nature. This powerful blend of superfoods helps people of all ages enjoy better energy and more vibrant health! See what others are saying about it here (9).
Ditch Bad Habits
An occasional glass of wine has its health benefits (4), but excess alcohol consumption has been linked to oxidative stress. Fully eliminating alcohol for a period can help reset your body
Smoking, on the other hand, has no health benefits whatsoever. Not only does it increase your risks for heart disease and cancer, but studies also found it has a direct impact on your mitochondria (5).
Part of a healthy life means having the energy to do the things you want. But it can be hard when you feel like your energy reserves are always empty.
You may have told friends how tired you are, only to hear comments that “it’s just in your head.” After a while, you might start to question how true that is.
We weren’t built for the 21st century, which is why finding balance in your life is more important than ever. Learning to do less, sleep more, and eat better can all help keep your body, cells, and mitochondria in the best shape possible.
Are you looking forward to a more restful, intentional year? Check out this article on why rest matters, and how to get more of it (10).
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author