Food is medicine
How do I know my nutritional levels?
Sometimes, guesswork is not enough.
There is always the time consuming method of taking photo of every meal and logging it, getting an estimate of the nutritional breakdown. Combine this with symptoms, maybe I can find out which deficiencies I have.
The issues I’m facing are strong anti-biotics over 9mths and chronic diarrhoea. Which might mean I’m not digesting and absorbing what I eat properly.
My next step is to do lab test blood work to figure my deficiecies.
Mitochondria Food plan
Fighting my health battle with the mighty fork!
Creation of energy in the mitochondria is dependent on adequate supply of the right macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates), along with a generous supply of B vitamins, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), and antioxidants. Phytonutrient-rich vegetables and fruits supply many of these nutrients, yet few people eat enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to get adequate levels. Adequate consumption of dietary fats and oils can influence the function and performance of the mitochondria; these fats impact the quality of the inner membrane of the mitochondria, which is where the final steps of cellular energy production involving the coenzyme adenosine triphosphate (ATP) occur. A complete list of the recommended Therapeutic Foods, along with suggestions for how best prepare them, is provided in the “Therapeutic Foods for Healthy Mitochondrial Function” section of this guide.
Some key mitochondrial nutrients, such as CoQ10 and carnitine, are more difficult to obtain through diet alone, especially in a vegetarian diet. A Functional Medicine practitioner will instruct patients on supplementing the dietary plan with additional targeted nutrients
Metabolism of food in the mitochondria is dependent on oxygen, but oxygen can also cause oxidation or “rusting” in the cells. The body needs oxygen, but the steps associated with metabolism and detoxification can often lead to risky byproducts known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can cause damage to tissues. Oxidation in excess of healthily managed levels (oxidative stress) from free radicals can accelerate the development of chronic disease, pain, and loss of energy. Damage from oxidation can be reduced by eating nutrient-dense foods containing protective enzymes and vitamins, also known as antioxidants. Glutathione is one of the most important cellular antioxidants produced by the body. It is also involved in the process of detoxification. Certain vegetables, spices, and quality proteins in the diet enable the body to produce and utilize important antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine. The wider the variety of spices and phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) in the diet, the more enhanced the production of glutathione and other antioxidants critical for cell protection from destructive free radicals.
Maximum phytonutrient density can be achieved by eating a diversity of anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables. Eating 8–12 servings daily of colorful vegetables and fruits will guarantee a generous supply of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins, without added sugars. Vegetables should be the primary focus, especially the bitter foods in the cruciferous family (such as broccoli, watercress and arugula) that have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Polyphenols in many of the therapeutic foods, especially blueberries, strawberries, and walnuts, have been shown in both human and animal studies to increase cognitive function and decrease inflammation. They may even help to increase lifespan.
These foods have also been shown to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The incidence of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease has been observed to be lower in populations where anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods are consumed on a regular basis. For example, the spice turmeric contains the powerful anti-inflammatory substance curcumin. People who eat curry, which contains turmeric, score better on cognitive tests!
Specifically Lactose and Casein A1c
clean and organic
Eating “clean” food helps to reduce toxin exposure. Our food supply has become compromised by the addition of artificial colorings, flavorings, additives, and preservatives. Pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides are also found in conventionally-grown (non-organic) produce, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. One of the biggest nutritional problems is the amount of synthetic sweeteners in highly processed foods. Eating a “clean” diet—avoiding non-organic, processed foods—can increase the liver’s ability to eliminate toxins and lower the toxic burden in the body. For these reasons, the CFP promotes eating organic foods.
High-Quality Dietary Fats
A healthy brain thrives when quality fats such as DHA, found in seaweed, egg yolks, and cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, cod, and sardines, are eaten. Consuming adequate omega-3 fats, critical to the support of the brain’s mitochondria, helps in burning fat to produce cellular energy. DHA also assists with communication between neurons and decreases inflammation, necessary for optimal brain health. It is important to remember diversity when considering oils for cooking and dressing salads or vegetables. Coconut oil, a brain-healthy saturated fat that contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), supports mitochondrial function and may help to improve cognition and modulate inflammation. All organic and unprocessed coconut-based foods (oil, milk, water, grated coconut, flour) have benefits, but caution should be used with sweetened versions. The oil in particular has more of the high quality fats we are striving for.
Low Glycemic Impact
Maintaining a lower and consistent insulin level is key to optimal mitochondrial health. A heavily processed, high-glycemic load diet of too many grains and added sugars can lead to elevated insulin and increased inflammation with associated and accelerated mitochondrial dysfunction. Minimizing grains, especially highly processed ones, and using lowglycemic vegetables and fruits as the main source of carbohydrates helps to stabilize blood sugar and protect mitochondria. This way of eating also minimizes fat accumulation. Reducing glucose metabolism by limiting the ingestion of dietary carbohydrates may also have profound effects in preventing or slowing down the trajectory toward Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research has suggested that even mild elevations of blood sugar may increase the risk of dementia. “Type 3 diabetes” is a new term used to describe insulin resistance in the brain. It is thought that continuous high blood sugar levels lead to changes in the brain, resulting in the altered learning and memory that are consistent with Alzheimer’s disease. This is one example of how sensitive mitochondria are to inflammation from excess sugars, antioxidant-poor processed foods, and environmental toxins.
Reduced Carbohydrates with Ketogenic Option
A ketogenic diet is characterized by fewer carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein, and higher amounts of fat. This shift in macronutrients causes the body to switch to utilizing ketones (produced by burning fats) instead of glucose as its primary source of fuel. Ketones (e.g., acetoacetate, s-hydroxybutyric acid, and acetone) are produced in the liver when fat is burned instead of glucose. This results in more sustained energy throughout the day. Ketones are efficiently used for the generation of ATP (energy) in mitochondria and may help protect vulnerable neurons from free radical damage while increasing the number of new mitochondria. A ketogenic diet mimics the fasting state and has the same benefits for the brain. This option is especially helpful in reducing the risk of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), ALS, and brain tumors.
Intermittent Fasting and Caloric Restriction
Research suggests that people can optimize brain function, longevity, and healthy aging by restricting calories and fasting for intermittent periods. Memory and cognition are thought to be enhanced by eating fewer calories overall. Fasting turns on genes that help cells survive by reducing inflammation. Calorie restriction may also be healthy for one’s nerves and support memory and cognition. Eating fewer calories than required by the basal metabolic rate (BMR) allows the brain to make new neurons by decreasing free radicals, enhancing the ability to generate ATP for energy, and increasing the number of mitochondria present. What could be better? Animal studies have shown a decreased incidence of both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease associated with calorie restriction.
Instead of restricting calories every day, intermittent fasting is another way to trigger these changes. It means reducing the intake of foods over a 24-hour period. This can be done by eating 600 calories worth of only vegetables in one day. Another way is to avoid food altogether for a day, while drinking adequate amounts of water. A 12-hour fast daily from dinner to breakfast is another very efficient way of fasting that involves little preparation! Experts suggest doing this for one day every 1–3 weeks, but patients should check with their Functional Medicine practitioners, who may have specific recommendations regarding a fast
Low-Grain and Gluten-Free
Gluten, a protein found in many different grains such as wheat, barley and rye, is avoided on the Mito Food Plan because of the increased inflammation caused by modern gluten-containing grains. This inflammation destroys the integrity of the lining of the intestine, where nutrient absorption takes place. It also may have a negative effect on brain tissue, affecting memory and cognition. Research has supported the emerging concept of a gut-brain connection that connects the immune system in the gut and the brain in a two-way communication driven by inflammation.
All grains are minimized or avoided on the Mito Food Plan in order to achieve the desired goals of mild ketosis and low glycemic impact. Grains can easily be replaced by more nutritious foods, such as phytonutrient-dense and fibrous vegetables. A Functional Medicine practitioner may emphasize the gluten-free or grain-free aspects of this food plan, especially if patients are experiencing inflammation, pain, fatigue, and cognitive decline.
The way we clarify our thinking is by debating ideas and presenting evidence which conflict with each other. If you have nutritional question, do bounce it off me!