Mitochondrial damage, aging and Alzheimer’s: nutrition is important!
Since the 1960s scientists have begun to unravel some of the mysteries that appear to link failure of a structure inside our cells, with aging, major illnesses ranging from bipolar to fibromyalgia, and even Alzheimer’s.
The structure is called a mitochondrion (MY-TOW-CON-DREE-UN). Inside our cells, it is responsible for supplying energy, for sending signals, and helps trigger cell growth and cell death.
Now there is growing evidence that medications may be a major cause of mitochondrial damage and lead to cellular death, according to current research published in the July 14, 2008 issue of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. Indeed, scientists say that all classes of psychotropic drugs, statin medications, analgesics such as acetaminophen, and other pharmaceuticals have now been documented to trigger mitochondrial damage and lead to disease.
Writing for the science journal Gene, in July 18, 2005, a Geneticist at the University of California, Irvine, wrote that mutations to memory (or, to the genetic code) within mitochondria may be responsible for a wide range of age-related diseases including Alzheimer’s, enlarged heart, diabetes, and various cancers.
Some scientists believe the most rationale approach to stopping premature cell death associated with damage to the mitochondria may lie in nutritional therapies, especially if specific and targeted interventions can be developed.
An Apple A Day
Antioxidant therapies (i.e., vitamins like A, C and E, and other phytonutrients found in fresh vegetables and fruits) hold promise for improving mitochondrial performance, according to scientists that wrote in the journal, Experimental and Molecular Pathology, in August of 2007. These scientists reviewed decades of literature and concluded that damage to the memory of mitochondria was found in a variety of serious diseases from Parkinson’s to billiary cirrhosis, and suggested that in the future physicians will be testing urinary organic acids to more specifically target antioxidant therapy that may be most effective.
Regardless of whether the connection between these serious diseases and the mitochondrion is one day firmly established, chiropractic patients should know that there is stronger and growing support for the importance of eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
They say confession is good for the soul. All this news is tough for me because I need meat on the table daily to feel like I’ve eaten! I’m confident there are more than a few guys—and perhaps a few gals—out there reading this that understand where I’m coming from on this. While I have found that dressing up a salad really helps, (Greek salads actually have some punch to ‘em, and a little meat, raisins and/or nuts definitely helps a good salad go down better for me), its important to use extra virgin olive oil or a light vinaigrette, and try to avoid, “eating a little salad with your salad dressingJ” -RL
All this research seems to fit well with studies suggesting that stress plays a major role in the mutations to the memory found inside our cells, leading to premature cellular death. Patients should understand that eating well, regular exercise, and regular chiropractic adjustments to relieve spasms, tension and pain in the spinal structures, may prove to be important ways to counter the influences of stress, as well as the unwanted side effects of some medications (the reader is referred to the July and August 2007 newsletters for ideas on cognitive and behavioral approaches to relieving stress).
It just makes sense that what we eat is going to influence our health in much the same way that using quality fuel and quality lubricants affect how our car performs. We offer a quality antioxidant formula at our office developed by Phytopharmica, and you can read about the products I personally use online, by using the link below. However, we simply don’t know enough yet about nutrition to tell you exactly what you need. That is why scientists say that to obtain the antioxidants you need to prevent degenerative diseases it is best to consume a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, and then take antioxidant formulas like we offer at Leach Chiropractic, merely to provide extra insurance that our aging will not be premature.