Curebiome Naturopathic

Mitochondria, Heart Disease and Diabetes

Mitochondria, Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease

Mitochondria are a part of many diseases but very rarely are they the main component. They play an important role, but they are not always the number one problem – more like they are a side effect of everything going on. In diabetes and cardiovascular disease we see this clearly, the leading cause of these two epidemics are diet and lifestyle but a major way they manifest is through dysfunction of the mitochondria.

Mitochondria are crucial organelles within our cell that produce high amounts of energy for our cells through a process called cellular respiration, which functions through the electron transport chain. We also know that mitochondria are present in high concentrations in all muscle and nerve tissue, because these tissues are in high demand of lots of energy to function.

When we look at type 2 diabetes – one of the major problems we see is the inability of cells to take in glucose from the blood due to insulin resistance. The cell receptors have become damaged, and the cell can literally starve in conditions of excess sugar – nutrient deficiencies abound in this environment due to the excess sugar and lack of balance with minerals and vitamins. Oxidative damage is rampant, quickly using up any antioxidant nutrients present – specifically those antioxidants the support mitochondrial function. Eventually nerve cells start to die, leading to lack of feeling in fingers and toes- because the mitochondria within these cells are so lacking they cannot support the nerve cells.

In the heart – our main muscle which must pump all day everyday to keep our body alive we lose mitochondrial function as well. When the mitochondria can’t support this important muscle, it starts to fail and problems abound left and right. This is what we’re fighting, and this is where knowing about and supporting mitochondria make a major difference.

Some common and seemingly benign signs and symptoms of poor mitochondrial health are fatigue and weakness. Everyday things, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. We mentioned that mitochondria are found in high levels within the muscles, so if too few mitochondria are present or just aren’t working quite right you feel tired and weak. If the problem is more severe it can impact the brain and nervous system, which is experienced as brain fog, trouble concentrating, clumsiness and memory problems or worse.

In diabetes we commonly see that mitochondria are both smaller than normal and that there are just less of them. This might be because of the sedentary lifestyle that leads to diabetes, or possibly environmental toxins. Another important problem is the difficulty diabetic individuals have in making new mitochondria. All of this comes together to further aggravate a system that is already under heavy stress.
So what can we do? The main places to start, as we’ve mentioned before are diet and lifestyle. In this situation intermittent fasting and a plant heavy ketogenic diet can dramatically improve the situation by restoring deficient nutrients, removing excess glucose levels and restoring mitochondrial function. This approach, when implemented properly can correct blood sugar levels many times, and dramatically decrease reliance on insulin. Depending on the situation it has to potential to correct insulin resistance and restore cardiovascular and nerve function. Other therapies that we often include are reduction of environmental toxins, oral and intravenous mitochondrial supportive nutrients, sleep and hormone support.