The simple answer: your cells.
Imagine a major city with half its power plants shut down. At least, such conditions would produce a “brown out” with large sections of the city working far below optimum efficiency. Now imagine your body working with one-half of its energy-producing facilities shut down.
Mitochondrial disease is a relatively newly diagnosed disease – first recognized in an adult in the 1960s and in the 1980s for pediatric onset cases. It is greatly under diagnosed and the true prevalence is difficult to determine.
Research has consistently shown that mitochondrial dysfunction is at the core of many very common illnesses and chronic conditions of adulthood. These include: Alzheimer’s Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and even the aging process itself. Furthermore, autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis appear to have a mitochondria basis to illness.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is at the core of a surprising range of very common illnesses and conditions, and represents a promising new avenue for their treatment. As the mitochondria are responsible for producing energy, any illness that has an energy problem could be related to the mitochondria. Diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction have been implicated include:
- Alzheimer’s Dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), mental retardation, deafness and blindness, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Over 50 million people in the US suffer from these chronic degenerative disorders. While it cannot yet be said that mitochondrial defects cause these problems, it is clear that mitochondria are involved because their function is measurably disturbed.
- Cancers are also associated with defects in the mitochondria. Within the cell, signaling must occur between the mitochondria and the nucleus. When the signaling malfunctions, the defect can cause cancer.
- There is increasing interest in the possibility that mitochondrial dysfunction might play an important role in the etiology of autism. A subset of autistic children have already been shown to manifest biochemical alterations that are commonly associated with mitochondrial disorders, and a few have been linked to specific alterations in the mitochondrial genes.
Editor’s note: This post is part of The Energy Experiment - it is based on personal experience and shouldn’t be taken as professional or medical advice. Talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any medication or dietary changes. One of the deeper reasons I am doing this experiment is that I have been affected with a mitochondrial disorder and I wanted to see what if any effects the ketogenic diet would have on my symptoms.