When we are weak, there is often a physical cause: the mitochondria are not doing well. Sometimes you just can’t get out of bed. Too tired! Maybe you played Bet22 too long the night before. Everything that lies ahead of you seems to be one big effort. And then there are those long, overcrowded days. Someone constantly wants something from you. Always hectic, tense – and exhausted. A stupid combination that takes a lot of energy.
Many of us explain being limp with stress. And there’s certainly some truth in that, because stress has been proven to make us tired, sick and dull. But this is probably only part of the explanation, because our body literally lacks energy. At least when it sends such clear signals.
Of course, depending on the time of year, you may also be suffering from spring fatigue, the autumn blues or winter depression, but it may be that the answer to your fatigue is not so much in your psyche as in every fiber of your body. “In an average human cell, there are about 1,000 mitochondria. In the cells that are most important for your survival (egg cell, heart muscle cell, nerve cell), even up to several hundred thousand mitochondria,” writes biochemist Martin Auerswald in his current book*.
And, “Whenever you struggle with fatigue, exhaustion, listlessness, metabolic problems, and concentration issues, your mitochondria aren’t feeling well and are missing something.” The recommendation is clear: “Give your mitochondria what they need and, if possible, leave out what’s hurting your mitochondria.”
The idea is to implement as many things as possible in your daily life that are really good for your mitochondria (and therefore good for you). This will be easier if you implement this with others and, for example, motivate each other or remind each other to snack on some vegetables again.
Part of the game is also to acknowledge that you (can) win every day. By realizing that you are investing in your energy balance with every mitochondria-friendly deed, that you are getting a little fitter every day, this will spur you on even more and make you happier.
Why we lack energy?
Our energy, as described above, is produced in the mitochondria. These are our cell power plants. They make sure that there is enough power. Without the mitochondria, we would not be able to live. In the meantime, there is even a separate subject, mitochondrial medicine, which deals with cellular energy production.
Every cell is a complex structure that – metaphorically speaking – functions like a cogwheel. The authors Auerswald and Krowicki compare a cell with a city in which the cell nucleus is the city hall and the mitochondria are the power plants. The entirety of a person’s mitochondria produces about as much energy per day as the person weighs, i.e. a good 80 kilograms of energy for a person weighing 80 kilograms. The energy substance is called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
In addition to energy, mitochondria also produce heat. On average, they take up a quarter of the space in a human cell; they are about a hundred times thinner than one of our hairs. If necessary, mitochondria can also multiply within the cell, or they die when they are no longer needed. They thus even have the power to cause the cell to die altogether. This is called apoptosis, controlled cell suicide. This is necessary in many places in the body, because a large part of our cells must be regularly renewed, for example the skin cells.
How to get more energy?
Be a child again. We have become far too removed from our needs, but that is exactly what our mitochondria need. Go outside, explore the woods or a park, walk barefoot across a meadow for a change, climb over rocks and branches, balance.
Exercise is good for our muscles and immune system. The fresh air stimulates cellular activity. Oxygen is essential for our cells! That’s why you always feel so fresh after a walk. Oxygen and exercise cause the blood to circulate better, the lymph to work more effectively, nutrients to enter the cell and toxins to be removed.
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