Lifestyle and Longevity
Table of Contents
Mitochondria, Are They The Powerhouse of the Cell or The Fountain of Youth?
The National Safety Council performed a study that showed that close to 43% of Americans feel too tired at their work in order to function at high levels, and 97% of those Americans surveyed reported having several lifestyle risks that are highly associated with chronic daytime fatigue. (12) Ask anyone today if they feel tired more than they should and I bet almost every person raises their hand.
If you have made it this far on this page or in this article, then you are probably a coach that either themselves deal with high levels of fatigue, or you most likely have clients who have low energy levels and outside some of the basics you really don’t know what to do in order to fix low energy levels of fatigue with many of your clients.
Now don’t get me wrong, chronic fatigue and other diseased states are fairly common these days, however having low energy levels should NOT be considered normal, and in addition to that people should never accept the fact that it is ok not feel their best. Now, if that is in fact happening, let’s explain how it can be fixed.
Mitochondria are often referred to as the “cellular powerhouses or power plants of the cell” because they generate the cell’s chemical energy supply, through the creation of adenosine triphosphate or ATP for short. As powerful and important as the mitochondria are to the cell, they are also one of the very first parts of the cell that can become dysfunctional at the first sign of stress or toxicity. When that happens, the first negative symptom that a person will pick up on is usually higher levels of fatigue as it should be understood that every cell in the body, except red blood cells (RBC), do contain and require healthy mitochondria in order to create their energy supply which allows that cell to function, and many of the body’s tissues require exorbitant amounts of that cellular energy such as the brain, the heart and the muscles. Muscle cells contain around 1000-2000 mitochondria per cell, whereas a female ovary cell can have more than 100,000 mitochondria. (13,14)
Now that you know the primary role of mitochondria in the body, let’s now go a little deeper as to what the mitochondria really are.
Mitochondria are specialized cell structures that look like beans with squiggly lines inside of them, and those squiggly lines are called cristae. Besides their primary function of creating the body’s primary cellular energy source, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the mitochondria also have several other vital roles in the cell that include:
- Regulating calcium levels in the cell. (15)
- Inducing thermogenesis or the generation of heat that takes place in a person’s brown fat. (16)
- They play a large role in immunity and inflammation in the body. (17,18)
- They impact what is called the cell danger response, which is the cell’s internal alarm system or one of the primary means of identifying threats both inside and outside of the body. (19, 20)
- They influence the cell death pathways called apoptosis. (20)
- And quite a few more.
As stated above, a single cell can have hundreds to thousands of mitochondria that all work together and play the largest role in maintaining cellular health and with that strong mitochondria are going to be required for anyone searching for healthy aging. With that in mind, let me show you how this applies to working with your clients who want to have higher levels of health and energy.
When the mitochondria create cellular energy in the form of ATP, the natural by-products of that process are called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), also known as free radicals. It is the excessive buildup and unhealthy balance of those ROS that are considered the primary component of the free-radical theory of aging, the primary means by which increased aging takes place in a person. This is obviously not what we want for our clients, but it is also the free-radical theory of aging that advises the use of certain compounds that deactivate or neutralize those ROS called antioxidants. If the excessive buildup of the ROS in a person are neutralized, in theory it should lead to a reduction of oxidative stress, and the result is an increase in lifespan. (22) Although that is not really how it works, as the free radical theory of aging has actually been disproven. And to flip things around even more it actually has been proven that ROS are actually beneficial for a person, however, that is presuming that they don’t reach too high of levels. (23) It is amazing how science can change its views in such a short period of time.
Bear with me for a second as I am going to go down a small rabbit hole. It has now been shown that ROS perform several essential and potentially lifespan-promoting roles, and all those life-extending benefits of the ROS all begin in mitochondria. (24, 25) Through the increased formation of those ROS within the mitochondria, it then results in the mitochondria having to adapt, and through that adaptation, it only increases the mitochondria’s resilience level, and through that it results in an overall lower level of oxidative stress that is being produced. Now, taking a minute to think for a second, does this sound like anything l that we may have already discussed? Well, I hope so as it is the ROS that serves as a hormetic stressor for the mitochondria and when that takes place in the mitochondria it is called mitohormesis. I know, I know, we have lots of big words coming out here, but the take-home point is that mitohormesis has been hypothesized to be responsible for many of lifespan-extending and health-promoting abilities that are seen from such endeavors such as caloric restriction, hot and cold therapy and physical exercise. (24, 26)
Another benefit of inducing the creation of ROS and mitohormesis is that it increases the rates of autophagy that take place in the mitochondria, a process that was “Oh So” cleverly named mitophagy. (27) Autophagy, or in this case mitophagy, literally means “self-eating” but a better way to think about it is to think of autophagy in the cell as the cell is just recycling old and worn out parts or that the cell is just performing some cellular maintenance. Another one of the longest and largest held theories of aging, the mitochondrial theory of aging states that they primary reason for a person aging is the result of the accumulation of damaged parts in the cell and/or in the mitochondria. (29, 30) Thereby helping to clean up the cellular debris in the mitochondria from accumulating through the increased rates of autophagy and mitophagy, will only help ensure that a person’s mitochondria and cells keep performing at higher levels as higher performing cells that have less waste and or build up in them equates to more years of life on this planet and increased healthspans.
“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire
Mitochondrial Problems Create Symptoms in Everybody! Find Out Where to Look First!
Whether these concepts apply to humans still remains to be seen as we have not been able to fully test these theories out as many of the concepts are rather new, and an entire lifetime for a person is quite a long time when it comes to counting years and possible scientific study time. However, we have seen the extension of lifespan in experiments with animal models through the process of mitohormesis. (31)
Then if we want to add in another layer of complication, there is also strong data that suggests that the use of antioxidant supplements, will actually counteract the body’s ability to utilize many of the hormetic stressors that they come in contact with and that their used can actually increase the rates of disease formation in humans. (28) And here we have been brainwashed that antioxidant supplements are good for us.
In short, the role of mitochondria in preventing fatigue, reducing human disease and aging and lengthening lifespan is a concept that very few understand or know about. This is even true for most doctors out there as well as 95 % of the health and nutrition coaches. But even though it is a topic that is still not well understood, it should not be underestimated and or brushed under the rug as so many things tend to these days such as toxicity and EMFs. Specifically, when mitochondria have a mild dose of stressors that are placed upon them, lifespan can be lengthened, and that is literally only the tip of the iceberg. By helping clients realize the fact that by maintaining healthy and vibrant mitochondria, that they live longer and healthier lives as they age is an important fact and where all of you as health coaches can come into the equation!
Final Thoughts on Coaching Longevity with Clients
One of the saddest and scariest facts as to how the current health of the population is trending can be seen by the recent stats that over 60% of adults and 30% of children and teenagers in the United States have at least one variation of a chronic disease. (13) These numbers don’t even include the many more people who are battling some form of a life-derailing symptom like chronic fatigue, IBS, chronic aches and pains, depression, digestive issues and many more. It’s obvious that what most of the population is currently doing is just not working.
The other main reason as to why I am stressing this concept to all of you as health coaches is that the projections from the U.S. Department of Health indicate that by the year 2030, 19% of the population will be 65 years and older.
That’s 1 in 5 people that will be over 65 years old and I bet that every one of them will either be looking down a path of either being chronically sick, sedentary, taking several prescription medications and overall living a miserable life, or they may have the option of looking down a totally different path that involves having vibrant energy levels, being free of any possible disease and being physical and mentally active until their end of days.
I think we all know that the means that most people are using in order to achieve higher levels of health is this world is currently not working, as well as the explosion of the older clientele that is coming soon, the realization needs to be made that health and nutrition coaches are going to be vital in directing both the aging and even the younger population in correcting many of their errors so that they can get back on a better path that will help them find a higher quality of life.
Case Study: Rachel
So, based on all of the information on this page, let’s now attempt to put some of what was learned into action through looking at a specific case study example of a person who would like to make lifestyle changes that would help improve her healthspan.
With That…Meet Rachel
In the following information, let’s assume that you are Rachel’s new coach and that she needs some help in regaining her health and reaching her newfound goals.
Included in her intake form, Rachel informs you….
- She is at the tail end of a difficult health battle of which she has been dealing with for several years now. She says that the worst is over and it should be in her past, but she still has some ways to go in terms of lifestyle-improvements but that she has been fully cleared by her doctor to do so.
- During her most recent struggles she claims to have found a renewed life purpose.
- Most of her life she has only focused on wanting to lose weight and claims to have jumped from one fad diet to the next for many years.
- She claims to have had a difficult time staying compliant when on any strict dietary plan as she blamed that lack of compliance on the fact that there was no real true motivation in being strict but after her most recent health battles that has now changed after realizing just how fragile life seems to be.
- Because of her new health goals she has made a drastic shift towards wanting to achieve a higher level of health and live as long as humanly possible so that she can see her children age and so that she can become a healthy and vibrant grandmother.
- But she tells you that she needs some help in getting her health in order first.
During the First Phone Conversation with Rachel, She Also Tells You….
- She is a stay at home mom of two girls and one boy ages, 7, 9 and 10. They are in mostly in school and in day camps during the entire year so during the day she does have a good amount of free time.
- Her main health complaints revolve around high levels of fatigue, midsection weight gain, hormonal imbalances and poor digestive health.
- She has been diagnosed as hypothyroid although she does not know if she has the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or not?
- Conventional medical care has been the only means in which she has utilized in terms of managing her care and conditions up until this point and she makes the statement that she is very new and inexperienced when it comes to healthy eating and or taking any type of health supplements.
- She is currently taking blood pressure and thyroid medications.
- She does not formally exercise but she does walk two large dogs, twice a day for at least 20 minutes, during each walk.
- For most of her life, she has followed eating the Standard American Diet. But over the past month or so she tells you that she has moved to following more of what she calls a Paleo style diet. She is not under-eating or overeating calorie-wise according to her food logs.
- Besides her overall health steadily declining over the past several years, she reports no other major stressful events in her life or large amounts of daily stress.
- She does mention that she had previously tested positive for H. pylori, a bacteria in the stomach, and candida a few months ago that she took a round of antibiotics for it but that she did not retest to make sure that the infections were gone.
Considering Rachel’s New Longevity Goals, How Would You Help and Coach Her?
Now playing the role of a health and now a longevity detective in addition to being her health coach, it is safe to say that there are quite a few red flags that appear to be contributing to Rachel’s many problems that may be holding her back from living a long and healthy life. However, even with all of that there are several things that can easily be put in play that will help her eliminate those red flags and at the same time help move her in the right direction, health wise. Based on the information that was provided how would you coach and guide Rachel so that she does not feel so lost when it comes to her new health journey?
- Ristow, M; Zarse, K (2010). “How increased oxidative stress promotes longevity and metabolic health: The concept of mitochondrial hormesis (mitohormesis)”. Experimental Gerontology. 45 (6): 410–8. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2010.03.014. PMID 20350594.
- Bjelakovic, Goran; Nikolova, D; Gluud, LL; Simonetti, RG; Gluud, C (2007). “Mortality in Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplements for Primary and Secondary Prevention: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis”. JAMA. 297(8): 842–57. doi:10.1001/jama.297.8.842. PMID 17327526.
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