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Ask the Experts

Detox for improved mitochondrial function



Q: I’ve been hearing a lot about mitochondria related to health. Can a detox improve mitochondrial function?

A: While people routinely use detox for overall health, the jury is still out on whether it can improve mitochondrial function. What we can theorize, however, from emerging research, is that avoiding certain toxins may help preserve mitochondrial function and slow their demise.

Mitochondria, if you remember from biology class, are responsible for creating over 90 percent of the energy our cells need—and since life is energy, healthy mitochondria are central to optimal health. Emerging research is seeking to determine if the deterioration of mitochondrial function is implicated as a major factor in many serious degenerative diseases, cancer, and even aging.

While the purpose of a detox is typically thought to remove toxins from the body, the other side of the equation is making a conscious effort to avoid possible toxins in the first place. As such, making an effort to avoid compounds that may be potential “mitochondrial toxins” would seem to be a sound approach to preserving mitochondrial health.

Potential challenges to mito-chondrial health may be caused by some pharmaceutical drugs (such as statins used to lower cholesterol—linked to disruptions in muscle mitochondria function; some beta-blockers to treat hypertension—linked to skeletal muscle mitochondrial synthesis; and particular antibiotics for bacterial infections) as well as some artificial food colours, possibly some forms of aluminum, and even air pollution.

A detox may remove some of these toxins from the body, but it would be unlikely to improve mitochondrial function without other therapeutic interventions. Of course, some potential mitochondrial toxins are easier to avoid than others, but try to be mindful of what toxins enter your body.

As research continues to reveal the importance of these microscopic cellular powerhouses, we’re learning why it’s so critical to keep mitochondria healthy and toxin free.



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