Mitochondria word cloudI’m sorry you haven’t heard from me for a while! I have been working hard on an exciting new project that I can’t wait to share with you in the next few months! So stay tuned!

In the meantime, I thought you would like to learn about some recently published research in the field of osteoporosis. A study led by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania school of Veterinary Medicine have found a link between mitochondrial damage and osteoporosis. This link lays out a possible mechanism by which lifestyle choices, toxins and medications can lead to weaker bones and fractures. But you may be wondering, what are mitochondria and how are they linked to bone loss?

What are mitochondria and why are they important?

Mitochondria are organelles in our cells that are best known for converting the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe into energy, biologically known as ATP. This energy is used to support every function your cell performs. They are also very important for detoxification and fighting free-radicals that can damage our cells. When your mitochondria are damaged it can lead to fatigue, memory loss, pain, and age-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and, as this latest research suggests, osteoporosis.

According to the researchers at Penn Vet, damage to the mitochondria not only affects the production of ATP in the cell but also triggers a surge in the production of osteoclasts, the cells that are responsible for breaking down bone.

How do our mitochondria get damaged?

Your mitochondria are very sensitive and very easily damaged. The main way that mitochondria are damaged is through oxidative stress. You can think of oxidative stress as rusting. For instance, if you leave an iron gate out in the weather, it will rust, or if you cut into an apple and leave it exposed to air, it will turn brown. Oxidative stress occurs as a result of free radicals. Although the cell produces free radicals as part of our own metabolism, free radicals can also be generated by outside sources. When there are more free radicals than the cell can clean up, the result is oxidative stress and damage to the mitochondria. Chronic inflammation, exposure to toxins and infections, stress, sedentary lifestyle, and poor-quality, nutrient-deficient food can all lead to excess free radical production, oxidative stress and mitochondria damage.

Even though we have known for a while that excessive alcohol intake, smoking, stress, environmental toxins and certain medications can damage our bones, this study suggests that the reason may be directly linked to the damage these influences cause to the mitochondria.

It shouldn’t surprise you that the diet, exercise and lifestyle that is widely recommended for good health also nourishes, heals and protects your mitochondria as well.

How to Care for Your Mitochondria

  • Eat real, whole, organic foods that are free of chemical preservatives, additives, and pesticides that increase your toxic load.
  • Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables that supply antioxidants to help combat free radicals and oxidation.
  • Avoid toxins in your personal care products. Toxins can come in through food and water but also our beauty and personal care products like toothpaste, moisturizers, deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, perfumes and makeup.
  • Squelch inflammation by loading up on anti-inflammatory foods, controlling blood sugars, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
  • Exercise is one of the most powerful mitochondria boosters you can do! Strength training and high intensity interval training both increases the efficacy and function of mitochondria. However, overly strenuous or exhaustive exercise can actually contribute to free radical production and mitochondrial damage.
  • Stress reduction. Stress hormones can cause inflammation as well as create oxidative damage.

There are also several supplements that can aid in protecting our mitochondria, however, supplementation should be based on your nutritional status and should not be taken without seeking further advice.

Biggest takeaway: safeguarding your mitochondrial function could protect you against osteoporosis.

Need more guidance, give me a call and we can schedule a time to talk about all the ways you can protect your mitochondria and your bones!

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by Susan Brady

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