Mitochondrial Malfunction: The Role of the Cellular Powerhouse in Fibromyalgia

Multiple studies suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction could play a significant role in fibromyalgia. Muscle biopsies have found patterns of mitochondrial dysfunction (abnormal mitochondria, mitochondrial defects, and muscle fiber abnormalities) similar to those typically found in mitochondrial disorders.

Just about every single symptom of fibromyalgia can be explained by mitochondrial dysfunction. Pain, fatigue, headaches and migraine, IBS, heat and cold intolerance, sweating, mottling of the skin, heart rate and blood pressure problems, dizziness and balance problems, blurry vision, trouble sleeping and so on.

Mitochondrial dysfunction can affect any organ or organ system in the body.  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, mitochondria are not well protected and easily damaged by toxins, infections, allergens, and stress. But one of the biggest insults over time is the standard American diet.

Another major cause of mitochondrial damage is medications. All classes of psychotropic drugs (which includes antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds) have been documented to damage mitochondria, as well as statin medications, analgesics such as acetaminophen, and many others. Here is the link to the list of reported drugs with mitochondrial toxicity.

Mitochondrial dysfunction makes sense to me because it explains why we have so many different symptoms. Most important is that we can improve our overall mitochondrial function.

Caring for your mitochondria is one of the best ways to take care of your health and enjoy better energy in the process.

1. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Being dehydrated can worsen fatigue. It can also contribute to foggy thinking, decreased alertness and frequent headaches. The best way to make sure you stay hydrated is to always carry a water bottle filled with spring water, your favorite tea or organic juice. A reasonable goal is to drink between 1-2 liters of fluid per day depending on your activity level.

2. Eat A Healthy Diet

You’ve heard it said many times before…you are what you eat! Consuming a natural foods diet high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is enormously important to supporting the health of your mitochondria. Organic foods are advantageous since pesticides and other chemicals in the environment have been shown to directly promote mitochondrial damage.

3. Supplement Your Intake of Fruits and Vegetables

Most people lead busy lives with little time available to prioritize balanced nutrition. Do you actually consume the six servings per day of fruits and vegetables generally recommended for good health? A fruit and vegetable supplement produced from organic berries and greens can provide extra nutrients to help build antioxidant reserves and minimize free radical damage.

4. Increase your Omega-3-fatty acid intake

Avocados, nuts, seeds, and low-mercury, wild-caught fish contain plentiful amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Taking a daily omega-3 rich fish-oil supplement can boost your intake of this important nutrient to support healthy nerve, skin, joint and connective tissue function. This can also protect mitochondria’s membranes from oxidative damage.

5. Take Protective, Energy Boosting Micronutrients

K-PAX Pharmaceuticals has been exploring which micronutrients can best support the mitochondria for the past 15 years.

The K-PAX Energy Support Program provides all the micronutrients and antioxidants shown in clinical trials to lessen fatigue, improve cognitive functioning, and strengthen immune function. This nutrient combination has published studies showing it to improve fatigue and other symptoms commonly associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. 

6. Avoid Toxins In Your Environment

Mitochondria need pure oxygen, clean water, and a steady supply of healthy nutrients to function properly. Synthetic chemicals stress the mitochondria of the lungs, GI tract, and liver. While some environmental exposure to chemicals may be unavoidable, doing everything possible to breathe clean air, eat natural food, and keep your environment free of synthetic chemicals is very important to maintaining optimal mitochondrial health.

7. Adaptive Pacing/Stress Reduction

People who’ve recovered from fatigue almost always describe scaling back their activities and stress level, at least temporarily, as having made a positive contribution to their recovery. A useful analogy is to treat the amount of energy you have each day as “your energy bank account”. Over-expending energy to the point where your account becomes overdrawn can precipitate “energy crashes”. These crashes are not good for your long-term health. Becoming skillful at pacing can ensure you have an adequate supply of energy available when you need it most!

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