Energy is commonly defined as: power that may be translated into motion, overcoming resistance or causing a physical change. While this conceptual definition may not be that revealing, I think we can agree that every human being can easily say if they feel energetic or fatigued.
But, where does this human power come from?
If you recall from high school biology, inside our cells we have tiny organelles called mitochondria. These mitochondria are famously known for being the cells’ powerhouse. They use the glucose, fatty acids, and certain amino acids from our diet. And through different metabolic processes, they end up producing adenosine triphosphate (aka: ATP). While there are other energy-carrying molecules, ATP serves as the primary energy currency of the cell.
ATP can be considered our main biological measure of energy. The more ATP we produce, the better our systems will work and the more energy we feel.
Organs that require more energy usually comprise cells with an increased concentration of mitochondria. This stacking of mitochondria is the way our bodies ensure that enough ATP is being produced to fulfill energy needs. Take the example of the heart. Mitochondria represent about 40% of the total volume of the cardiac cells.
Mitochondria are so important that they are estimated to represent about 10% of our total weight.
Human mitochondria are aerobic (meaning they need oxygen to produce ATP). Just like a fire needs oxygen to burn, our mitochondria need oxygen to make ATP. The more oxygen that circulates in the body, the more energy it can create for us. That is why increasing oxygenation has been used as a hack to increase cognitive and physical performance.
Some of these hacks are legal, some are not (especially in the world of sports). There is even a term created to describe the practice of hacking our blood in order to increase the number of circulating red blood cells. And thus, optimize oxygen delivery to muscles with the aim to increase performance in sports. This practice is called Blood Doping.
Please note that while EPO can give a short-term physical edge, it carries many long-term risks. EPO administration has been associated with increasing risk of arterial hypertension; cerebral convulsion/hypertensive encephalopathy; thrombo-embolism; iron deficiency; and influenza-like syndrome
However, there are legal and safer ways to naturally increase EPO in the body. Athletes (especially runners, cyclists, cross-country skiers, and swimmers) have used high altitude training to boost their EPO levels; and thus improve their performance during their competitions. While training at 7,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level, there is less oxygen in the air. As a result, our bodies naturally produce more EPO to enhance oxygen delivery to the cells. This adaptation stays present for a short period, and so it’s often used to get an oxygen advantage at sea level competitions.
EPO is not the only way to improve oxygenation and consequently mitochondrial ATP production. There are other, more efficient, and more comfortable ways to do so.
You have probably already heard about hyperbaric oxygen chambers. A few years ago, these were difficult to find; and were exclusive to the hospital setting. Now, most top performers have access to them in clinics or even in their house.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (aka:HBOT) consists of being inside of a sealed chamber that puts the user at 1.5 to 3 times more pressure than the normal atmospheric pressure. On top of that, the chamber is filled with oxygen-rich air (many times,100 percent oxygen). The combination of the high pressure, and the increased oxygen, is estimated to increase the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the body’s cells by up to 20 times.
Not only does HBOT improve energy production, but it also helps our immune cells to kill off harmful bacteria; reduces inflammation; and allows for collateral circulation (the growth of new blood vessels). which provides higher levels of oxygen into our body in order to aid with healing and repair.
We associate mitochondrial performance with energy. But in fact, these tiny powerhouses are essential for the health of our entire body. Our stomach cells need energy to break down the food we eat. Our organs need energy to produce hormones. Our nerves need energy to repair themselves. Our immune cells need energy to fight invaders. You get the point. Every system needs energy. Without these high-energy organelles, life comes to a halt.
There is no question about how important it is to optimize mitochondrial health in order to live a life of abundance. And, while you already know about increasing tissue oxygenation as a strategy to improve their function. There are many other aspects to consider when aiming to improve mitochondrial health.
Probably the most important thing we can do is to clean up our diet. Pesticides and mold found in some foods can substantially impair the mitochondrial function.      Contaminants and heavy metals in non-filtered water can also disrupt our mitochondria.   Furthermore, sugary foods can induce hyperglycemia (which increases oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage). 
Besides cleaning up our diet, we also need to be aware of environmental toxins, pathogens, medications (i.e. antibiotics, painkillers, statins and antidepressants), hormonal imbalances, and stress levels. All of these can compromise our mitochondrial health.        
If we remove all these aggressors, we are already more than halfway through our mitochondrial and energy optimization journey. Now, we just need to give the body all it needs to function at its peak ability.
More importantly than focusing on macronutrients, we should focus on ensuring we are getting all the micronutrients. What’s the point of increasing the delivery of fatty acids, glucose and ketones to the mitochondria if they don’t have the micronutrients (such as coenzyme Q10, zinc, copper, selenium and iron) which are needed to turn these energy substrates into ATP?
If you are not waking up filled with energy or you can’t sustain it during the day, please ask yourself: Are you staying away from all these toxins that can poison your powerhouses? Are you fueling your body with all the micronutrients it needs?
For more information, please watch Dr. De’s video lecture on Energy Optimization..
And, If you are unsure about how to elevate your energy levels. The best way is to do a comprehensive evaluation to assess toxin buildup, hormonal levels and micronutrient deficiencies (among other things). Only then can a functional medical professional come up with a proper detox and micronutrient optimization game plan (which can include diet, lifestyle adjustments, supplements, peptides, etc).
This is what we do best.
If you want our help, please contact us. We would love to boost your energy levels and help take your health and performance to the next level.
Marcos de Andrade MD, MBA
Chief Executive Officer