Posted on

What You Need to Know About Mitochondrial Disease

New to the world of mitochondrial disease (“mito” for short)? Continue reading for key facts and figures about what this disease is, its symptoms, and how it works.  

  • It is estimated that one in every 5,000 individuals have mitochondrial disease — a chronic, and typically genetic disorder that occurs when the mitochondria cannot produce enough energy (ATP) to keep the cell alive and healthy (NCBI).   
  • Mitochondrial disease is classified as both rare and progressive. 
  • It is also considered a metabolic disorder – meaning that the body cannot effectively turn food into energy and get rid of waste. 
  • Iarguably isn’t a single disease but more like a collection of conditions that can negatively impact a person’s perception, motor skills, organ function, and energy over time. 
  • Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases depend on which cells of the body are affected. They can range from mild to severe, involve one or more organs, and can occur at any age. Even patients within the same family who have the same mitochondrial disease can have differences in symptoms, severity, and age of onset (Cleveland Clinic) 
  • Symptoms may include:  
    • Muscle weakness or muscle pain 
    • Movement disorders 
    • Neurological problems
    • Vision and/or hearing problems 
    • Learning disabilities 
    • Unexplained vomiting, cramping, reflux 
    • Increased risk of infection 
    • Thyroid problems 
    • Respiratory (breathing) problems 
    • Dementia
  • With the number and type of symptoms and organ systems involved, mitochondrial diseases are often mistaken for other, more common, diseases (Cleveland Clinic). 
  • Here is a list of symptoms that are associated with specific organs that are affected by mito. 
  • Mitochondrial Disease should be suspected when three or more organ systems are involved (UMDF). 
  • Having mito can be like having a cell phone that is very close to running out of battery. Some apps may run for just a short amount of time before the phone turns off completely. 
  • Mitochondrial disorders are typically caused by mutations (acquired or inherited) in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Mitochondrial dysfunction may also be acquired as a result of drug use, infections, or other environmental causes (NIH). 
  • The first pathogenic mutation in mitochondrial DNA was identified in 1988. There have since been 275 other disease-causing mutations identified (National Academy of Sciences). 
  • Mito is very difficult to diagnose because it’s often invisible. It can take over 7 years to reach a proper diagnosis (Mito Action). 
  • Mitochondria are known as the “powerhouse of the cell”, and they are responsible for producing about 90% of cellular energy. 
  • When a cell requires more energy, the mitochondria inside of that cell can reproduce by growing larger, and then dividing themselves. When cells require less energy, mitochondria can become dormant and inactive. Mitochondria can also die due to lack of use. 
  • There are secondary illnesses that have been linked to mitochondrial diseases, including: 
    • Diabetes 
    • Autism 
    • Parkinson’s disease 
    • Alzheimer’s disease 
    • Heart, liver, or kidney diseases 
  • Your mitochondria become weaker and decline in number as you age. Ultimately, all the things we associate with aging – fatigue, excess fat, and a decrease in muscle mass and cognitive ability – are all symptoms of weakening mitochondria (Bulletproof). 
  • There are currently no known cures for mitochondrial disease. 
  • Supportive therapy is one treatment option that can be used to help delay the progression of mitochondrial dysfunction. This therapy may include nutritional management, exercise and/or vitamin or amino acid supplements. 
Posted on

What are Mitochondria, and Why Do They Matter?

Every living thing is comprised of cells, which are the building blocks of life. Inside of these cells are a series of organelles – sub-compartment-like entities that perform various but specific functions. Different cells throughout your body notably have different shapes and sizes, and thus, different purposes.  Similar cells (ones that do the same job) form body tissues, such as muscle, skin, or bone tissue. Groups of different types of cells make up the organs in your body, such as your heart, liver, or lungs. Collectively, all organs work together as a system to keep you alive and healthy (Science NetLinks). 

 

What are mitochondria? 

“The powerhouse of the cell”that’s how most people think of and remember the mitochondrion (plural: mitochondria) from their high school biology class. They are organelles that function like microscopic, yet super complex factories, producing energy and disposing of waste that is detrimental to the body. Mitochondria are critical for cell survival, and ATP (energy) that your mitrochondria help produce is vital for metabolic processes and keeping you healthy. 

 

The Structure of Mitochondria 

Mitochondria are designed to maximize their productivity. They contain two membranes – the outer membrane functions like a skin, and the inner membrane makes it possible for more reactions to occur. This means that your cells can get more work done.

Illustration by Alyssa Garwood

Outer membrane: This is a phospholipid bilayer that includes protein-based structures called porins, which enable molecules (ions, ATP, ADP, etc.) to cross.  

 

Inner membrane: This membrane is highly complex and it is where most ATP is created. It includes all the complexes of the electron transport system, the ATP synthetase complex, and transport proteins. The inner membrane does not have porins like the outer membrane, so it is impermeable to most molecules. 

 

Cristae: These are the folds of the inner membrane, which increase the surface area and the space available for chemical reactions to occur. This is also where the electron transport chain and enzymes are located.  The number of cristae in the mitochondria correlates with the given cell’s demand for ATP. For example, heart muscle cells contain up to three times more cristae than other cells due to the greater need for ATP (Biology Dictionary).  

 

Matrix: This is the space within the inner membrane where the citric acid cycle, or Krebs cycle, takes place. This is an important part of cellular respiration and ATP production.  Mitochondrial DNA is also housed here. 

 

How the Mighty Mitochondria Work 

Mitochondria are found in the cells of animals, humans, plants and fungi. While they are primarily known for converting energy from food to energy for biological processes, mitochondria are deeply involved in several other activities that enable cells to function efficiently to help you keep your body healthy. Here are the five key roles that mitochondria play in cellular health, and what can happen when these functions are disturbed: 

  1.  Production of ATPMitochondria produce 90% of the energy our body needs to function by converting chemical energy from nutrients to ATP. During cellular respiration, another chemical called NADH is produced, which is then used by enzymes to generate ATP in the form of chemical bonds.The production of ATP is essential to help the body function properly. Without energy, your cells and your body suffer. Dysfunction from lack of ATP can contribute to a variety of health concerns, including but not limited to: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and several types of mitochondrial disease.
  2.  Calcium Homeostasis This is the flow of calcium in and out of a cell’s mitochondria. This process is an important part of metabolic regulation and killing off unhealthy cells.  When mitochondrial calcium homeostasis is compromised, different pathological conditions can occur, depending on the cell type involved (NCBI).
  3. Cell MigrationThis refers to the orchestrated movement of cells to specific locations in response to chemical signals.  Regulation of cell migration can help terminate unhealthy cells and speed up wound-healing; conversely, if this process is not well-managed, there may be serious health consequences, including but not limited to: tumor formation and cancer formation, vascular disease, tumor formation and metastasis.
  4. Apoptosis – This is essentially programmed cell death which involves maintaining the health of the body by eliminating old cells, unnecessary cells, and unhealthy cells. Without appropriate apoptosis (either too little or too much), there is a greater risk of experiencing health conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases, ischemic damage, autoimmune disorders and many types of cancer (NCBI).
  5. Innate Immunity This refers to nonspecific defense mechanisms – such as skin, chemicals in the blood, and cells within your immune system that attack foreign cells — that basically come to the rescue immediately or within hours of an antigen’s appearance in the body. In addition to regulating antiviral signaling, mitochondria also contribute to innate immune activation following cellular damage and stress (NCBI).  
Illustration by Alyssa Garwood

To recap, ATP is energy currency for your cells, and your mitochondria are the primary sources for producing more of it to help keep you alive and healthy. These organelles are also responsible for surveilling and eliminating the growth of unhealthy cells. If any deficiency in your mitochondria are present, then you are more likely to experience health issues 

 

Posted on

Healthy Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Get Mom something that will make her feel appreciated, and healthy too!

Moms sacrifice a lot — sleep, time, money, and clean carpets. What’s the best way to say thanks? Give her a gift that lets her know that her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and that you care about her well-being.

Here are some of our top picks for Mother’s Day gifts that we think your mom will love:

Midnight Shift Overnight Facial Oil
By Moonlit Skincare

This facial oil uses powerful ingredients — including ginseng and jojoba — to moisturize, plump, soften, and smoothen uneven skin tones. It also has a calming lavender scent that helps induce calming and rejuvenating beauty sleep!

 

How it works:

  • Ginseng: tones and brightens
  • Papaya: maximizes cell turnover
  • Green Tea: neutralizes free radicals
  • Jojoba: antibacterial, moisturizing, softens skin
  • Lavender: calms the nervous system

Why Mom will love it: The lavender helps induce a calming effect before bedtime. And who doesn’t want to wake up with smoother, moisturized skin in the morning?!


Sleep Crown Over-The-Head Pillow, Pillow Mist

By Sleep Crown

This is the world’s first over-the-head relaxation pillow, designed to block light and disruptive ambient noise while sleeping. This pillow is handmade with premium Bamboo Jersey and Vegan Down. It gently hugs the face with just the right amount of pressure, making you feel super cozy in bed.

The Pillow Mist that pairs with the Over-The-Head Pillow is comprised of Lavender, Sandalwood, Roman Chamomile and Lime. Ther aromatherapy blend will cue your systems to prepare for sleep.

How it Works:

  • Bamboo jersey knit is a super-soft, natural, sustainable fabric with wicking and cooling capabilities
  • Hypo-allergenic and Vegan
  • Aromatherapy promotes a sense of calm

Why Mom will love it: The Over-The-Head Sleep Crown Pillow is made out of premium ingredients that are sourced in the United States. Better rest at night means a better, more refreshed mood during the day.


Blue Light-Blocking and Sleep-Hacking Glasses

By TrueDark

Overexposure to artificial blue light can seriously disrupt your mom’s circadian rhythm. By blocking the proper amount of “junk” light at different times of day, your mom will be able to prevent eye strain, improve sleep, and maintain peak energy levels.

How they work:

TrueDark Daywalkers come in two flavors: clear or yellow lenses. The clear lenses block 40% of blue light, and the yellow lenses block 75% of blue light. These glasses are intended to be worn while using digital devices and, or while exposed to artificial light (think: fluorescents and LEDs) for extended periods of time during the day. If your mom works in an office setting and sits in front of the computer for 8-10 hours a day, help her protect her eyes, mind and body!


TrueDark Sleep-Hacking Glasses have red lenses and comparatively block 98-100% of blue, green and violet light, depending on which style you get. They are designed to help induce deep sleep quickly at night — even if you are staring at screens on digital devices in bed 🙂

Why Mom will love it: By taking more control over the light in her environment, your mom will be able to better align her natural body clock to the rise and fall of the sun, and subsequently live healthier. Better sleep at night will help her feel better and have a more productive day tomorrow!


Instant Radiant Package

By Alitura

Not enough time to schedule a spa day? Bring the spa to Mom! Alitura offers a full line of natural skincare products that help nourish and rejuvenate skin.

 

The Instant Radiant Package includes a Derma Roller,  Gold Serum, and a Clay Mask.

How It Works:

  • The Alitura Derma Roller helps:
    • boost collagen production
    • reduce the visibility of scarring & premature skin aging
    • combat stretch marks & cellulite
    • reduce the appearance of large pores
    • minimize the appearance of bags & dark circles under eyes
  • The Alitura Gold serum includes:
    • Vitanol to combat fine lines and wrinkles
    • Copper Tripeptide-1 to improve skin elasticity and density
    • Astaxanthin (an antioxidant) to reduce inflammation and wrinkles
    • Marine Collagen to reduce fine lines
    • Co Q10 to improve the health of your skin at a cellular level
  • The Alitura Clay Mask includes:
    • Freshwater Pearl Powder to reduce redness and irritation
    • 6-hour Grass-fed Colostrum to help regenerate skin cells
    • American Ginseng to eliminate blood impurities
    • 10% L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) to brighten the appearance of skin
    • Rhassoul Clay to detoxify the skin
    • Calcium Bentonite Clay (Green Desert Clay) to extract acne-producing toxins and metals
    • Kaolin Clay to help purify, nourish and heal the skin
    • Organic Kelp Powder to promote a radiant complexion

Why Mom will love it: This ‘all-in-one’ spa-day treatment can be used in the comfort of her own home and for a fraction of the cost of going to a real spa!  Visit them at alituranaturals.com and use code BIOHACKED20 at checkout!


TrueLight Energy Square

By TrueDark

There is scientific evidence that shows Yellow, Red, and Near-Infrared light spectrums have a biological impact on our bodies.  The red and near-infrared spectrums have a much deeper penetration level than other light spectrums, which allows them to reach the hypodermis and have benefits that are so far-reaching.

The TrueLight Energy Square uses a patent-pending combination of light, including deep red, red, near-infrared and yellow light to help the skin and body heal better and faster.

How it works:

  • Red 660nm and 630nm wavelengths can:
    • enhance blood circulation
    • have anti-inflammatory effects
    • quick muscle recovery
    • increased collagen production
    • Improve the appearance of skin
    • reduces scars, wrinkles, & fine lines
    • Speed up wound healing
    • decreases pain
  • NIR 850nm wavelength can:
    • penetrate all the way through skin and bone
    • helps prompt tissue and deep wound healing
  • Yellow 580nm wavelength can:
    • be a drug-free alternative for skin redness and flushing
    • reduce skin irritation and rosacea
    • heal UV damage
    • help flush waste from the skin
    • boost lymphatic flow
    • reduce the appearance of tiny blood vessels on the nose/face
  • Steady or Pulsating modes can be used:
    • Steady for help reducing pain
    • Pulsating to assist with cellular healing

Why Mom will love it: The TrueLight product line is designed with cost, size, and transportability in mind. Compared to most light therapy products on the market, TrueLight is extremely affordable, and the Energy Square, in particular, is a great solution for targeted healing (e.g. the face, shoulder, knee, etc.)

From our family to yours, Happy Mother’s Day!

    –  Your Biohacked Team