Whey Everyday

Given the right product, 100% Whey Protein Shakes are an easy way to add protein and vital amino acids to your diet.  When you make it with full fat milk, you add important Phospholipids that boost cell and Mito membrane health.  To really boost your daily nutrition, combine your Whey Protein Shake with Nucleotide-rich foods such as eggs, or a Nucleotide-rich supplement like Brewer’s Yeast.  As a post-workout recovery shake, drink a Whey Protein Shake as soon after your workout as possible.  You can also use it as a quick and nutritious breakfast-on-the-go.

Whey Protein Shake

HEATHER’S 100% WHEY PROTEIN BREAKFAST (or Post-Workout) SHAKE:

This is the whole kit and caboodle… Get out the blender, then add:
1 heaping spoon of Full Fat Greek Yogurt (brands I’ve found with full-fat option: Cabot’s, Fage)
Whole milk to the 1 cup line
1 scoop CytoSport Muscle Milk 100% Whey powder (vanilla)
2 tsp cocoa (you can buy the chocolate Muscle Milk powder; however, it adds a lot more than just cocoa to make it chocolate)
1 heaping TBSP peanut butter powder (or as natural as possible peanut butter, no high fructose corn syrup)
1 tsp D-Ribose
1 Tbsp Arthred Collagen powder
Medium banana

Directions: Blend it until smooth, throw it in a shaker cup and run out the door.

*Note: The addition of D-Ribose and the Adenine found in bananas allows the building blocks for the formation of new ATP. The addition of Arthred Collagen Powder adds additional protein and amino acids to the shake content.

VARIATIONS:

If you buy the vanilla Muscle Milk powder, this allows more flexibility to switch things up. For a fruit flavored shake, add your favorite fruits and/or berries. Stronger flavored fruits such as peaches and berries have a better chance at flavoring your shake.

In a hurry? Don’t have time to (or don’t want to) get out the blender?

When I’m rushing, I grab my shaker cup which I’ve pre-marked with a permanent marker to where the 1 cup level is, then add:

1 heaping spoon of Cabot 10% milk fat Greek yogurt
Whole milk to my 1-cup line
1 scoop CytoSport Muscle Milk 100% Whey powder (vanilla)
2 tsp cocoa (if the powder is the vanilla flavored)
1 heaping Tbsp peanut butter powder (this is where the powdered peanut butter is real handy)
1 tsp D-Ribose

Directions:  Secure the shaker cup lid. Shake vigorously and drink it while running out the door with a banana in tow.
Recommendation:  Pre-mix your Whey protein powder with the cocoa before adding it to your milk.

PRODUCT SELECTION:

100% Whey Protein Powder:  I personally use CytoSport Muscle Milk and the cheapest I’ve found it is at my local Costco (and when they run sales I stock up). Deciding factors for this product included price (particularly at Costco), protein content in relation to overall product content (subtract grams of protein in a serving from total grams of product in a serving; the difference is MOSTLY filler product), and processing method (see “Whey Protein Basics” info below).

Pre-made Whey Protein Shakes: I do NOT use pre-made shakes unless I am traveling and it is not conducive to make my own. Pre-made shakes are both more expensive and also contain many unnecessary additives including Carrageenan (now found in a LOT of dairy products, so watch your labels).  Carrageenan is a thickener and is now thought to be cancer promoting in large quantities.

D-Ribose:  Please note that if you have a corn allergy, the majority of D-Ribose on the market is sourced from corn.  There are alternatives but they are more expensive and more difficult to find.

Arthred Collagen Powder:  Arthred is a trademarked and patented formula of Collagen that contains 19 of the 20 amino acids required by humans.  This collagen powder dissolves quickly in any liquid and has little to no taste, allowing for ease of use in drinks, shakes and smoothies.  It is sold under several different brands, Nutricology and Source Naturals being two of them.  Source Naturals is generally less expensive.

Greek Yogurt:  The trend for the last generation or so has been that of low or no-fat products.  The yogurt industry has been consumed by this notion of fat being unhealthy.  Contrary to popular belief, eating healthy fats do not contribute to weight gain.  Healthy fats are important to overall health and energy production and milk fat also contains Phospholipids.  Moderate healthy fat intake should be a part of your diet (unless you have a fatty acid oxidation issue unable to be mediated).  It took me a long time to find a brand of yogurt that was not low or no-fat.  Cabot’s and Fage both carry a plain, full-fat Greek yogurt that are available in my area with no sugar added, and it also DOES NOT contain Carrageenan.

Peanut Butter Powder: Please read the ingredients. Several sources contain corn syrup solids. Look for brands that contain as few ingredients as possible.

SOME WHEY PROTEIN BASICS:

Whey protein is a very popular way of delivering both high protein that is easily digestible (absent dairy or protein digestive issues and some products even contain dairy digestive enzymes) and a comprehensive amino acid profile important to cells, tissue, muscle and bone health and energy production.

“Whey concentrate” has undergone less filtration and contains more fat, lactose and other components.

“Whey isolate” has had additional filtration that removes more of these components and you get a more “isolated” form of protein and amino acids.

Tip: If you are looking at the nutritional facts on a particular product, look at the serving size (in grams) and compare that figure with the total grams of protein. There will always be some difference between these two numbers. However, the wider the difference, the more filler ingredients are being used in the product.

The filtration process is also important. Processing should always be under low heat and low acid conditions so the protein is not denatured. This allows the Whey to remain biologically active (a fancy way of saying it will actually have an effect).

Additionally, there are several other filtration methods advocated for by their manufacturer, such as cross-flow micro filtration. Each company seems to boast that their filtration process is the better product. It is hard to find specifics on exactly what these many methods entail. However, there is one process that should be of concern, Ion Exchange. As the name would imply, it has the potential of changing the charges associated with the different nutrients in the Whey and can also work to destroy key components of it, which one could speculate would change the effectiveness or even usefulness of what remains. Ion Exchange also utilizes hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide. So if you are interested in avoiding as many chemicals as possible, you would want to avoid products processed in this way.

There is also the discussion of Whey verses Casein protein. They are both derived from milk. Here is the quick and easy on this:

Whey:  Whey breaks down quicker and is more easily absorbed. If it is processed appropriately, Whey should contain all the major amino acids required by humans, including the “essential” branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that can’t be produced by the body and thus must be derived from food sources. Whey stimulates muscle synthesis (growth), which contributes more stem cells that facilitate that growth. Used in conjunction with quick-burst, weight bearing exercise, this muscle gain should increase both the total number of Mito and improve their overall functional capacity, as opposed to simple cell turnover.

Casein:  Casein is higher in overall protein, but unless you are truly body building this could mean too much protein consumption. Casein is slower to digest and includes a slower release of the amino acids it contains. The biggest benefit to Casein would be its ability to inhibit protein breakdown (where as Whey stimulates building muscle). So if muscle wasting (protein cannibalism) is an issue, adding Casein to your Whey protein intake may be of some benefit. But it would likely be more beneficial to add some Casein to your intake verses substituting it in place of Whey because Whey provides more benefits in regards to recovery from physical activity and in feeding energy production through amino acid delivery.

Homemade Flavored Aloe Water (Amino Acid Rich Hydration)

Looking for an easy way to add additional Amino Acids to your overall daily intake while hydrating with something as good as water, but only better? This Homemade Flavored Aloe Water is just the thing.

2 c “Real Aloe Gel” (see NOTE 1)
3 Tbsp 100% Juice Concentrate – more or less to taste (see NOTE 2)
Blend well until smooth. Pour into a 1 gallon container.

Add enough water to the 1 gallon container to fill it. Shake to mix. Keep refrigerated.

If you need a little sweetness, you can add a scoop of D-ribose to each serving as you use it.  D-ribose will add a light sweetness AND also provide an extra nutrient your cells need to function properly.

NOTE 1: The brand “Real Aloe Gel” is hand filleted and not processed in any manner that would diminish its nutrient health properties. It contains a comprehensive Amino Acid profile, along with many other nutrients. You can use any Aloe gel, just check the labels to ensure you are getting a quality product.
NOTE 2: You can mix and match flavors like Tart Cherry, Pomegranate, Blueberry, etc. Just look for 100% concentrates that are naturally lower in sugar.

NOTE: Consumer Labs has distributed information on an aloe recall for products that contain the naturally occurring latex-containing portions of the aloe plant. These products now have to be labeled in the state of California with a Prop 65 warning. When contacted about this information, Real Aloe Solutions (the manufacturer of Real Aloe Gel products) responded with the following statement:

“Our aloe vera products are hand filleted. We do not process the ‘whole leaf’ and the California law does not pertain to us or our products. Further questions can be directed to support@realaloesolutions.com”

DON’T WANT TO MAKE A GALLON? Blend the Real Aloe Gel in a blender until it is a smooth consistency. Pour it back in the original bottle and keep it refrigerated. Any time you are thirsty, put 2 Tbsp per 1 cup of any liquid of your choice. Key #1 is to add your aloe to a hydrating liquid like water, herbal tea, etc. Key #2 is that the liquid is low glycemic. If you need a little sweetness, you can add a scoop of D-ribose.  D-ribose will add a light sweetness AND also provide an extra nutrient your cells need to function properly.

 

Resources:

Aloe Vera: A Short Review (includes nutritional profile)

Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis

Effect of Aloe vera preparations on the human bioavailability of vitamins C and E

Tart Cherry & Ginger Digestive Tonic

This tonic can be used for a vast number of digestive issues.  Help digest a heavy meal (high in meat protein or high in carbs).  Increased digestion aids in regular bowel movements.  Both the Tart Cherry and Ginger can help regulate blood sugar.  Ginger contains Zingibain, known to boost immunity against viruses and bacteria and can cleanse the gut by dissolving both parasites and their eggs.  Ginger is also useful in settling the stomach after eating something less than agreeable; or to assist with nausea or vomiting.
NOTE:  Softer stools are normal but some people are more sensitive to high doses of ginger and may need to work up to higher or more frequent doses to avoid diarrhea.  (Diabetics need to monitor blood sugar level when using this tonic.)

In a microwavable cup, mix the following:
2 tsp Tart Cherry Concentrate
6 oz Water (more or less to taste)

Warm mixture slightly in the microwave.  (If adding Collagen Powder or other amino acids, it should be no more than luke warm; otherwise, the heat will destroy certain amino acids such as glutamine).  Then add:

1 mL Zingiber Officinate (liquid Ginger Extract), preferably alcohol free

Optional but highly recommended:
1 tsp D-Ribose (Adenine from Ginger and D-Ribose combine to form Adenosine, the nucleoside precursor to ATP)
1/2 to 1 tsp TwinLab Super C, multisourced vitamin C powder (helps boost immune system and acts as a powerful antioxidant, supports collagen utilization; can also increase absorption of iron if taken together)
1 serving Arthred Collagen Powder [available via several sources such as NutriCology or Source Naturals] (This is an excellent way to add another serving of collagen protein and this trademarked product also contains a comprehensive amino complex.)

Resources:

Positive Effects of Tart Cherry on Metabolic Syndrome: Reduced Cholesterol, Triglyceride, Glucose and Insulin Levels and Increased Antioxidant Capacity

The Effects of Ginger on Fasting Blood Sugar, Hemoglobin A1C, Apolipoprotein B, Apolipoprotein A-I and Malondialdehyde in Type 2 Diabetic Patients

Ginger Assists in Digestion

Ginger Supports Immune System

Protective Effect of Ginger Extract Against ROS Generation During Mitochondrial Stress in Selected Tissues Under Ethanol Withdrawl Condition

Neuroprotective evaluation of extract of ginger (Zingiber officinale) root in monosodium glutamate-induced toxicity in different brain areas male albino rats

Nephro-protective effects of a ginger extract on cytosolic and mitochondrial enzymes against streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic complications in rats

Efficiency of ginger (Zingbar officinale) against Schistosoma mansoni infection during host-parasite association

 

GI Tonic (Calming GI upset and IBS)

This simple tonic can be used to help sooth the GI and allow for healing.  It can assist in normalizing bowel movements (whether the problem is loose or hard stools) and reduce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  By normalizing the GI, it also may help with certain types of indigestion. Depending on the quality of the Aloe product used, it can improve nutrient absorption up to 200%.  The chlorophyll provides vital yet easily digestible nutrients that take advantage of this increased absorption, assisting in improved overall digestive health.

1/2 cup Unfiltered Organic Apple Juice (should appear cloudy due to pulp content)
2 Tbsp 100% Aloe Vera Juice
2 Tbsp food-grade Chlorophyll
*2 Tsp Psyllium Hulls (husk)
*Mix the hulls in last and immediately consume it, as the hulls will start to expand when added to the fluid.

Consume at least once per day, but it has been safely tolerated when consumed as needed, up to twice a day (morning and night).

NOTE:  Psyllium is a type of soluble fiber. If you have issues with consumption of fiber, this should be considered.

*When considering something new, always evaluate it in regards to your individual circumstances and needs. You should always discuss ideas and options with a trusted and knowledgeable healthcare provider before starting something new.

Resources:

Psyllium as Therapeutic and Drug Delivery Agent

Composition and Applications of Aloe Vera Leaf Gel

Effect of Aloe Vera Preparations on the Human Bioavailability of Vitamins C and E

Micronutrient Information Center: Chlorophyll and Chlorophyllin

Mitochondria: Biologic In-depth Overview

The Mito Comprehensive Discussion page is dedicated to helping those of you truly intrigued individuals have a broader, biological understanding of Mitochondria and the other related pre- and post- energy activities associated with metabolism and ATP-energy production.  The following concepts are complex and it is assumed that you have already familiarized yourself with the introductory information on the page “What Are Mitochondria.”

EUKARYOTIC CELL PHYSIOLOGY:

Eukaryotic cells contain a true membrane-bound nucleus that surrounds chromatin (nuclear DNA)/chromosomes and the nucleolus.  The cell has an outer plasma membrane that provides a barrier for the cell and contains transport and signaling systems (lipid, protein, carbohydrate complex).  Cytoplasm is the fluid or gel filled portion of the cell. All Eukaryotic cells contain double membrane, bacteria-like organelles called Mitochondria (plural form of Mitochondrion and Mito for short).  Mito membranes contain folds called Cristae.  Mito contain their own DNA, often referred to as MtDNA, that is separate from nuclear DNA.  Endoplasmic Reticulum provide two networks of interconnected membranes; one covered in Ribosomes which contain protein and RNA complexes for protein synthesis, the other for synthesis and metabolism of lipids and also utilizes enzymes to perform detoxifying functions.  Lysosomes are also membrane-bound organelles that act to degrade proteins, membranes and ingested materials within the cell.

HOW THE NUTRIENTS WE CONSUME ULTIMATELY BECOME ATP:

DIET:  Dietary needs continue to be a fiercely debated issue.  What is universally true is the need for a variety of high nutrient foods that can be converted into chemical compounds that cells can recognize and use.  If one or more necessary components are missing, the body will struggle to provide the energy necessary to survive.  Some components can be derived from others as the body shifts to “work-arounds.”  Other nutrients are considered “essential” because the body cannot synthesize the compounds on its own, or not in adequate amounts, and therefore must be provided as a part of a “balanced diet.”

POTENTIAL FAILURES:  Obviously, providing a lack of adequate nutritional requirements is the first  weak link that can lead to impaired Mito / metabolic function.

DIGESTION:  The nutrition provided (through both food and quality supplements) must be converted to a form that can be recognized and utilized by cells.  The process of digestion alters consumed nutrients by breaking them down into their chemical components.

POTENTIAL FAILURES:  Despite providing adequate nutritional requirements, issues with digestion can impair the absorption and utilization of nutrients being provided.

DELIVERY OF NUTRIENT CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS:  In order for the extracted carbohydrates, fats, proteins and other molecules to be utilized, they must be transported by the bloodstream to the cells.  These nutrients, now in the form of chemical compounds, leave the bloodstream through capillary walls and enter cells.  Once inside the cell, the process of utilizing these nutrients begins.

POTENTIAL FAILURES:  Delivery via bloodstream, transfer through capillary walls and cellular uptake can all play a role in whether essential compounds reach the cell to take part in the process of Cellular Respiration.

CELLULAR RESPIRATION:  How Nutrient Compounds are Utilized to Create ATP-energy

Step 1:  Glycolysis:

Glycolysis literally means “splitting sugars.”  This process is anaerobic (occurring without the presence of oxygen) and takes place in the cytoplasm of the cell.  It consists of two distinct phases; an energy investment phase and an energy harvesting phase.

Phase 1 – Energy-Investment Phase of Glycolysis:

A 6-carbon glucose molecule binds with 2 ATP molecules.  During the binding process, a Phosphate is lost from each ATP, resulting in conversion to 2 ADP.  The combination of the glucose and ADP form a 6-carbon sugar diphosphate molecule.  This molecule splits into two 3-carbon sugar diphosphate molecules known as 2-Phosphoglyceraldehyde (2PGAL), beginning the energy-harvesting phase.

Phase 2 – Energy-Harvesting Phase of Glycolysis:

2PGAL are converted.  This process takes 4 ADP, adds an additional phosphate to each, creating 4 ATP.  Also, 2 NAD+ molecules each pick up an extra electron and become 2 NADH molecules.  And the end product also includes the formation of 2 molecules of Pyruvic Acid.

Glycolysis is a ten-step reaction that involves the activity of multiple enzymes and enzyme assistants.  In the process, for each 6-carbon glucose molecule, the following are produced:

2 net ATP (a total of 4 ATP are produced, but it requires 2 ATP in the process)

2 NADH (high-energy electron carrying molecules produced through H electron donation to NAD+)

2 H+ (released as protons)

2 Pyruvate (Pyruvic Acid)

Step 2:  Intermediate / Preparatory or Linked Reaction Stage (Pyruvate Oxidation):

Following Glycolysis, when sufficient oxygen is present in the cell, Aerobic Cellular Respiration continues and the Pyruvic Acid and NADH move into the Mitochondria where the Pyruvic Acid undergoes oxidation.  During the series of chemical reactions, each Pyruvic Acid molecule loses one CO2 molecule.  It then combines with CoEnzyme A to produce a compound called Acetyl CoEnzyme A (Acetyl-CoA).

For each Pyruvate (2 Pyruvate molecules for each glucose molecule broken down through Glycolysis), the following is produced:

1 Acetyl-CoA (1 carbon is stripped from each Pyruvate, leaving the 2-carbon compound that is joined by CoEnzyme A, creating Acetyl-CoA) (2 total per glucose molecule)

1 NADH (1 H is donated to NAD+ to create NADH) (2 total per glucose molecule)

1 carbon (2 oxygen join the carbon to form 1 molecule of CO2, which is expelled) (2 total CO2 per glucose)

POTENTIAL FAILURES:  The catabolism of glucose in the cytosol produces 2 molecules of pyruvate.  These 2 pyruvate molecules are enzymatically converted into 2 molecules of acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl CoA).  This conversion requires:

1. Coenzyme A (CoA), which is derived from pyruvic acid, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and cysteine

2. NAD+, which contains niacin (vitamin B3)

3. FAD+, which contains riboflavin (vitamin B2)

4. Lipoic acid

5. Thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP), which contains thiamine (vitamin B1)

Step 3:  Citric Acid Cycle (Krebs Cycle):  The next stage is the citric acid cycle, also called the Krebs cycle.  ALL PROCESSES IN THE KREBS CYCLE ARE ENZYME CATALYZED REACTIONS.

During the Krebs Cycle, the Acetyl-CoA is broken down to ultimately form high energy electron carriers, NADH and FADH2, that will now enter the Electron Transport Chain where the majority of energy is produced.  1 ATP molecule is produced for each completed Krebs Cycle, again, minimal ATP production.

For each turn of the Krebs cycle (1 turn for each Pyruvate, which is 2 Pyruvate per glucose molecule):

1 ATP (2 total, 1 for each of the 2 pyruvate molecules produced from each glucose molecule)

3 NADH (6 total, 3 for each of the 2 pyruvate molecules produced from each glucose molecule)

1 FADH2 (2 total, 1 for each of the 2 pyruvate molecules produced from each glucose molecule)

CO2 is a by-product of the Krebs Cycle

(This process is similar to the Calvin cycle phase in plants)

Acetyle-CoA will bind with a starting compound called Oxaloacatate, and through a series of enzymatic redox reactions, all carbons, hydrogens, and oxygens in Pyruvate ultimately end up as carbon dioxide and water.  The pathway is called a cycle because Oxaloacetate is the starting and ending compound of the pathway.  For every glucose that enters Glycolysis, the cycle completes twice, once for each molecule of Pyruvate that entered the Mitochondria.

In order to understand how the majority of the energy is produced by aerobic respiration, we need to follow the NADH and FADH2 molecules to the next stage, the Electron Transport Chain.  Each NADH will produce 3 ATP in the ETC, for a total of 30 ATP.  Each FADH2 will produce 2 ATP in the ETC, for a total of 4 ATP.  (This is assuming the most efficient function of cellular respiration.  Average ATP production is 32 to 36 ATP.)

In-depth breakdown of the 8-steps in the Krebs Cycle:

Step 1:  2-carbon Acetyl-CoA binds with the 4-carbon Oxaloacetate to form Citrate, and CO2 is released.

Step 2 and 3:  Citrate rearranges to form Isocitrate (the hydroxal group is moved to a new position from Citrate to Isocitrate.

Step 4:  In this reaction, Isocitrate is converted to alpha-Ketoglutarate.  NAD+ picks up one Hydrogen (H), effectively capturing energy (by receiving an electron) and forms NADH.  Another H+ is released as a proton.  The carbon and 2 oxygen molecules are released as CO2. The remaining molecular structure is alpha-Ketoglutarate.

Step 5:  alpha-Ketoglutarate is converted into succinyl CoA by the addition of CoEnzyme A.  The enzyme from this reaction adds a high energy thyoestrabond to CoA, releasing the carbon and 2 oxygen atoms and converting NAD+ to NADH and releases another CO2 molecule.

Step 6:  Succinyl CoA is converted to Succinate (a symmetrical molecule).  During this reaction, the CoA group is released and generates enough energy to convert GDP, an inorganic phosphate, to GTP, an energy carrying molecule related to ATP.

Step 7:  Succinate is converted to Fumarate.  H2 are stripped off and donated to FAD to produce a molecule of FADH2.  FADH2, like NADH, is a high-energy carrier that feeds high-energy electrons into the ETC.

Step 8:  Fumarate combines with H2O to produce Malate.

Step 9:  Malate is converted back to Oxaloacetate.  Two H molecules are released, one combining to NAD+ to create the final NADH molecule produced in the cycle.  The other, H+, is released as a proton.  The remaining molecular structure is Oxaloacetate.  The replenished Oxaloacetate can now take part in another cycle, returning to step 1 in the cycle.

POTENTIAL FAILURES:  Acetyl CoA then passes through the Mitochondria’s double membrane to enter the Kreb’s cycle.  The Kreb’s cycle has 9 steps, and its completion requires the following cofactors:

è cysteine, iron, niacin, magnesium, manganese, thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and lipoic acid.

In the Kreb’s cycle, each acetyl-CoA produces 3 molecules of NADH and 2 molecules of FADH, for a total of 6 NADH and 4 FADH per one molecule of pyruvate.  Acetyl-CoA can be produced by oxidation of fatty acids, which then requires the nutrient l-carnitine to shuttle the acetyl-CoA into the Mitochondria to enter the Kreb’s cycle.

Step 4:  Electron Transport Chain (ETC):

All the high energy electron carriers from the previous stages of cellular respiration bring their electrons into the chain.  (NADH and FADH2 are both created by the acceptance of an electron).  As NADH and FADH2 enter into the ETC, this is how electrons are “carried” into the ETC.  As the NADH and FADH2 molecules pass through a series of proteins embedded in the Mitochondrial membrane (membrane-bound carriers in the Mitochondria), electrons are transferred between the membrane proteins and the cell is able to capture energy and use it to produce ATP molecules.  Oxygen (O2) acts as the terminal or final electron acceptor.  By accepting these electrons, oxygen binds to Hydrogen (H) and forms H2O/water, a byproduct of the ETC.  Out of the entire process of cellular respiration, the ETC produces the bulk of ATP; on average, a net of 32 to 36 ATP.

STEPS IN THE ETC:

Oxidation of NADH, breaking it down:

NAD+ (which is recycled back in future glycolysis and Krebs Cycle functions)

H+ (a proton)

2 electrons (oxidation is loosing electrons)

Electrons that are released from oxidation are in a high energy state.  They are pumped across transition molecules:

CoQ

Cytochrome C

Every time an electron goes from a high energy state, crossing the transition molecules.  As the electrons bind with each transition molecule, it releases energy.  The energy being released is used to pump protons across the Crista or inter membrane of the Mitochondria into the outer membrane where the outer membrane becomes more acidic (and positive) than the inter membrane or Matrix of the cell (and more negative).  The cellular Crista is impermeable to H+.  Past the Crista, inside the Matrix, there is ATP Synthase.  H+ can cross the ATP Synthase to drive the membrane axle inside the Matrix.  An ADP molecule will attach to the Matrix along with a free phosphate.  As the ATP Synthase axle rotates and spins, the ADP and phosphate are pushed together to form ATP.  (This form of ATP production is called Oxidative Phosphorylation.  The transfer of H+ through the ATP Synthase to cause the axle to spin and combine ADP with the phosphate to create the ATP is called Chemiosmosis.)  (When ATP is produced without Chemiosmosis, via alternative enzyme driven processes, it is called Substrate Phosphorylation.)

Last step of the ETC, reduction of oxygen to water (oxygen is the final electron acceptor):

2 electrons

2 H+

1 O

Otherwise known as H2O

POTENTIAL FAILURES:  The electron transport chain (ETC) is embedded in the inner Mitochondrial membrane and consists of a series of five enzyme complexes, designated I–V.

– NADH and FADH carry electrons to the ETC.

– Electrons donated from NADH and FADH flow through the ETC complexes, passing down an electrochemical gradient to be delivered to oxygen (O2).

– Electron transport complexes I–IV require ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10).

– Electron transport complex IV is a cytochrome (cytochrome c) enzyme.

– Electron transport complexes I–IV contain flavins, which contain riboflavin, iron, sulfur, and copper.

– CoQ10 shuttles electrons from complexes I and II to complex III.

– Cytochrome c, an iron-containing heme protein that transfers electrons from electron transport complex III to IV.

– “During this process, protons are pumped through the inner Mitochondrial membrane to the intermembrane space to establish a proton motive force, which is used by complex V to Phosphorylate Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) by ATP synthase, thereby creating ATP.”

ANAEROBIC RESPIRATION – Alternate ATP Production in the Absence of Oxygen:  Most people are familiar with the concept of Lactic Acid, the source of muscle soreness following an intense workout.  The generation of Lactic Acid is through the process of Fermentation.

Following Step 1 of Glycolysis, if oxygen in the cell is scarce, the preferred and most efficient cellular respiration process capable of producing an average of 36 ATP cannot take place.  However, the energy demands of the body persist.  If ATP fails to be provided at a level greater than the demand, cellular death and eventual organism death will occur.  In fact, the very process of creating ATP is essential to survival.  Imagine the heart simply not having sufficient ATP-energy to sustain an adequate heart rate.  Therefore, in an effort to preserve homeostasis (survival of the cell and/or organism) the body will bypass the second, third and fourth steps of Cellular Respiration and shift to the process of Lactic Acid Fermentation.

Following Glycolysis, each molecule of NADH donates its high energy Hydrogen electron which bonds to a molecule of Pyruvic Acid forming a Lactic Acid molecule.  No ATP is generated during the process of Fermentation.  It merely replenishes the available NAD+ “Hydrogen carriers” to ensure future Glycolysis can occur (which produces a net gain of 2 ATP verses 36 ATP through Aerobic Cellular Respiration).  However, Fermentation cannot occur indefinitely.  As Lactic Acid builds up in the cytoplasm of the cell, a point of saturation is reached and the process of Fermentation will cease.  Therefore, the NADH Hydrogen carriers are not converted back to NAD+, and eventually, the Glycolysis reaction, which produces the ATP, will stop.

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Personal Account of the Six Pillars of Health

EDITORIAL:
MY PATH TO RECOVERY – IMPLEMENTING THE SIX PILLARS OF MITOCHONDRIAL HEALTH:

At the time of writing this, it had taken me three years to get to where I am now. (I started “MY” treatment protocols in support of my Mitochondria in June 2012.) I do not consider myself cured, but well managed. I still have hiccups along the way; however, I have come a long way. I was practically bedridden for a year and as I progressively got worse, I honestly thought I was going to die before anyone could even figure out what was wrong with me. Now I feel like I’m finally getting my life back. When I started to turn the corner, it was hard not to get too excited too soon and overdo things. But the more I understood my limits and assisted my body in reducing the load with a focus on doing as much as I could within my limits, the more improvements I saw in my functional state.

The Six Pillars of Mito Health were crucial to my recovery process and are the basis of why I pursued creation of this site:

The FIRST corner was turned through MAJOR energy conservation techniques. Physically (do only what is absolutely necessary), emotionally (stress really does kill and drama will suck the life force right out of you), and mentally (your brain uses more energy than most everything else in the body absent the heart). Basically, I was a workaholic having to learn to be what I considered “lazy,” but I could only afford to do the bare minimum everyday.

SECOND, dietary changes, supplementation and proper hydration. I have had great improvements limiting gluten, simple sugars, high carb foods/meals and processed foods. Dr. Lonsdale said, “We are the most overfed, malnourished society on earth.” Our food, whatever isn’t fake, chemicalized garbage, is high in carbohydrates and calories and has little to no true nutritional value. And inaccurate dietary information perpetuated dietary blunders such as low fat diets, which also denied us of essential healthy fats that are necessary for proper heart, brain and liver function. So although a majority of the population is overweight, they don’t have the simple nutrients necessary to sustain a disease-free existence. Sufficient nutrients are essential to proper function; therefore, supplementation is appropriate to fill in nutritional gaps not able to be addressed through diet alone. I have done my research on what to take, when to take it, what to take it with and what to avoid when taking it. As part of energy conservation, I also did research in regards to the better form of supplements that don’t require the body to work to convert the substance before use. Some of this can’t be avoided, but I did so where I could. For the most part, I have had to make educated guesses on how much to take. I have been fortunate enough to have a Primary Care Manager that has been more than willing to do frequent labs so I can tweak my personal requirements and keep an eye on things.

THIRD, detoxification can help to remove toxins that impair proper function and can actually hinder recovery efforts.

FORTH, sufficient sleep, resting between activities and even one or more naps during the day may be necessary to give the body time to adequately rejuvenate. Sleep is when the body heals the most, helps regulate hormones and strengthens the immune system.

FIFTH, exercise as much as possible without overdoing it. Mito experts now advocate for physical therapy to be part of any treatment program, regardless of the form of Mito dysfunction; as much physical activity as can be tolerated. Not just to fight progressive deconditioning that works to accelerate dysfunction, but because skeletal muscle is capable of complete regeneration, not from dividing cells, but from muscle and non-muscle stem cells that are more likely to contain healthier functioning Mitos.

SIXTH, utilization of complementary therapy options to address other issues. I specifically used chiropractic care, massage therapy, InterX neurostimulation and HBOT to aid in achieving an ever improving level of my personal optimal best. In regard to adding HBOT, read both the HBOT page and the HBOT editorial for more information.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Before beginning any new exercise, nutrition or dietary supplement program you should first consult with a licensed health care professional. The information presented herein is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or to provide the reader with medical advice. If you are seeking specific medical advice, you should consult with a licensed health care professional.

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Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Oxygen?

In addressing the title of this website, “Oxygen Oasis,” one reader posed a concern, “Too much oxygen causes rust –ever hear of antioxidants?”  Improperly administration of oxygen can produce a condition called oxygen toxicity.  However, absent this extremely rare and easily avoidable scenario, an excess presence of oxygen is not of issue.

It is important to understand that unused oxygen is free floating oxygen that has not reacted in a chemical process.  Oxidation occurs when oxygen is “utilized” to create ATP-energy.  This oxidation is a natural and necessary by-product of aerobic metabolism.  In proper balance, ROS actually serve the beneficial role of both intra- and intercellular messengers.

Definitions:  Oxidation is the process that causes Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) or free radicals.  Oxidative stress refers to the impact ROS has in the body.  Oxidation is sometimes analogized to the creation of rust via chemical reactions that oxidize substances.

The body has mechanisms to overcome oxidation.  Antioxidants.  Though certain nutrients and supplements can contribute to antioxidant action, the body is capable of producing our most powerful antioxidants called Superoxide Dismutase (SOD).  As we age, the body begins to produce fewer SOD resulting in a buildup of reactive oxygen species.  However, research has found that a protein referred to as Nrf2 stimulates the gene responsible for producing SOD.  Using Nrf2 activating products to increase SOD is currently the source of major research focused on ameliorating a great majority of disease processes including Mito, MS, Cancer… and the list goes on.

When it comes to oxidation, It’s all about support and balance.  Without oxygen spent (oxidation), we would not generate sufficient ATP.  Poor ATP production is the core of an ever increasing list of disorders being linked as Mito related illnesses.  Without sufficient ATP, the body can’t function properly, including compensating for oxidative load which leads to further negative consequences.

This is where doctor’s jump the gun and get it wrong.  They say, “too much oxygen is bad; it causes oxidative damage.  We must limit the occurrence of oxidation.”  This is ignoring the fact that anything limiting the process of oxidation also limits ATP production, the vital energy required to support proper function.  The goal MUST BE to support the natural mechanisms that create energy and simultaneously compensate for the oxidation that naturally occurs.

When you burn fuel, you will have exhaust (oxidation).  But you can effect how much exhaust by burning more efficient fuel (healthier food options), by providing essential nutrients (supplementation), by avoiding toxins and by other means of supporting optimal function.

It works.  I’m living it, along with several others.  And the doctors keep scratching their heads wondering why I’m getting better results than they are.

The “What are Mitochondria” page explains the process of cellular respiration and the end process that results in both the most effective creation of ATP and where oxidation occurs.  The “Supplementation” page addresses antioxidants and the Editorial on Hyperbarics also covers the necessity of addressing oxidation.

Furthermore, Nrf2 activators that stimulate the NFE2L2 gene to produce more SOD are becoming a viable treatment option to address diseases associated with excessive oxidative stress and to protect against oxidative damage triggered by injury and inflammation.  The most studied, non-prescription form is Protandim.

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Hyperbarics: What is the True Danger

Editorial:

You should have seen the doctor presenting the “Treatments” section at the St. Petersburg, FL, Mito Symposium in December 2014, when I asked about research regarding HBOT. You’d think I shot someone. She was very immediately opposed and said, “I know patients that have gone into a hyperbaric chamber and died!” Yes, she was pretty much exclaiming it into the microphone. That comment was followed by her insistence that she was sure there wasn’t a single doctor on the panel that would advocate for its use. Having attended the entire day of Continuing Medical Education seminars that day, these are the issues I have regarding her stance.

First, I wasn’t just asking about HBOT because I was curious. I was pressing the issue because I am a Mito patient that went into a hyperbaric chamber and not only survived it, but survived it over 200 times over the course of several years. I also know that, at least for me, HBOT has been an integral part of my overall condition improvement and my positive response has been reproduced multiple times, having returned to the chamber for what we fondly started to refer to as “tune ups” if my condition became worse again. So in posing the question to the experts, I wasn’t perpetuating some theory. I have and continue to live the benefits of hyperbarics.

Second, during an earlier session the experts were discussing “some” of the precursors (vitamins, minerals, amino acids & essential fatty acids and other precursors our body creates from these substances) necessary for proper Mito function (during the respiratory chain / Krebs cycle / Electron Transport Chain). But at the end of this session, this same doctor stressed how irresponsible it would be for doctors to encourage their patients to supplement and that they HIGHLY DISCOURAGED such practices because there is “NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE to support that supplementation is beneficial.” I’m glad a doctor got up to ask about this position because it made me feel a little better that I wasn’t the only one absolutely baffled that they actually wanted to DISCOURAGE supplementation. The doctor’s question: “If it won’t hurt (which is the key), then why not provide the things we know SCIENTIFICALLY the body needs for these processes?” At a minimum, they DO know scientifically that if these substances are not present in sufficient amounts, these vitally important processes simply cannot occur.

Third, in the Research session, they discussed several logistical issues that hinder further research and clinical trials including:

1. Limited research centers performing necessary studies
2. The shear number of different forms of Mito and issues with accurate testing to identify / confirm specific forms of Mito disorders for proper patient grouping
3. Until the Mito Patient Database was launched, there was no way to identify patients that met the criteria for individual studies to assist in populating studies
4. There was significant concern about patients using supplements because of a “PERCEIVED BENEFIT” that is so strong, patients are not willing to give up taking the supplements in order to participate in a study; even a study regarding supplements, because of the risk of being selected to be in the placebo group and have to go without their supplements due to their “PERCEIVED BENEFITS.”

So if perceived benefit of one or more supplements is such a major issue, shouldn’t that count for something? Perceived benefit is solely and directly attributed to an immeasurable and subjective aspect of what a patient reports. However, if functional ability is improved, this is something that can objectively be measured by the patient’s medical team. I know this type of information doesn’t rise to the level of “research” necessary to make claims, but it is certainly circumstantial evidence that we, as struggling patients, are basically being told to ignore. Actually, even worse, we are never told of these potential benefits so we don’t even know we have options unless we find it own our own. Then we face being chastised by doctors for our “desperation” to try unproven “so-called remedies.” Unfortunately for them, their bias does not go unnoticed; they have clinical trials of future pharmaceuticals to populate. I understand a balance must be struck. After all, who wouldn’t want a cure for their disease? But as the questioning doctor put it, “If it won’t hurt, what is wrong with saying we don’t know definitively if this will work, but there is a chance it could help.”

This is the actual quote from a presenting physician at that symposium (video below):
“One of the problems is, how… who’s going to fund these studies? If we are actually going to go back and do a randomized, controlled trial using vitamins, who is going to fund that? This is not big industry, right; these aren’t drug companies, so it’s going to be a little challenging to do this. Someone asked about Peter Stacpoole’s trial with CoQ10 and I don’t know where that stands right now. There was a pending [inaudible] trial [inaudible] patients with Mitochondrial disease, looking at CoQ10, and it was placebo controlled trial. And they had a lot of trouble recruiting for that trial because a lot of patients were on CoQ10 and they did not want to come off and risk being put in the placebo group. Right, this is just a challenge in general trying to get patients in clinical trials. No one wants to be on placebo. Why would you do that if you can, you know, keep buying the drug from your Walgreens, right, if you’re on CoQ.”

 

Fourth, as for the patients that died in hyperbarics, HBOT is generally safe for most anyone; absent someone doing something significantly wrong during the administration of the dive (like failing to determine a patient had one of only a few rare disorders in which HBOT is contraindicated, or diabetics not being closely monitored to prevent blood glucose from falling too low, etc.).

Specifically relating to the Mito patients who died during administration of HBOT, I asked on the next break regarding autopsy findings. I was told it was “a couple of patients” but that they were not her patients and thus she did not know any particulars regarding their cases. Applying what I know about Mitochondrial Dysfunction and how HBOT effects the body, and including what I learned are standard practices with Mito patients, I have my theory on potentially what went wrong in the “couple” of Mito/HBOT deaths:

(1) they were not having these patients supplement (because the doctors are not encouraging it, and especially not to the level that I take…. See the “Supplementation.”
(2) The other totally necessary element would have to be that these patients were likely in a full energy crisis. You have to understand the full circle of ATP/energy production and what happens when that process fails. Check out: The Medical Insider: Mitochondrial / Metabolic Dysfunction and scroll down to the section: “Inefficient Recycling of ADP back to ATP, and AMP Production.” You will see that when you get to the point of running mostly off AMP (an energy crisis state), the body has to make more ATP “from scratch” requiring all those supplements that these doctors fully acknowledge are necessary to proper Mito function, but yet they don’t encourage their patients to use.

In regards to supplementation, this is where I get frustrated with what they require as “scientific evidence sufficient to substantiate use” and circumstantial evidence that is more than sufficient to build a very solid case based on facts. At a minimum, scientifically they know we each need all of these different substances (supplements) in order for the body to function. So in that regard, there IS scientific evidence to substantiate that the body needs these nutrients. We might not yet comprehend the full extent of how the body uses these nutrients or understand in what amounts, etc.; but then again, no one is really looking into that because, as the doctor referenced, there is no money in supplements to effectuate the necessary research.

One must also keep in mind the nature of HBOT; it speeds metabolism and, even though only researched in mostly dog models, substantially increases the production of ATP. Dogs aside, this is why my HBOT doctors theorized how my condition was improving when I was finally diagnosed with a Mitochondrial / metabolic disorder. (It is only a theory because there is no human research to confirm it… only research using dogs. But then again, there was me… Woof! All joking aside, they duplicated results time and again over the course of 136 dives during my first year of treatment at that facility. They talked of writing a case study paper regarding their observations, but as far as I know it never occurred.)

THE TRUE DANGER FOR MITO

Consider your body is a car capable of producing your own fuel simply by running your engine; having provided all the necessary raw materials (nutrients). In effect, that is exactly what we do every moment we are alive. Here is the dangerous part. If you are in a full fledge energy crisis, running mostly on the AMP process, you are basically digging yourself a hole because in that state you are using more ATP than is being produced. With no raw materials necessary to generate new ATP as is required in an AMP-energy crisis state, eventually you run out of ATP. If you run out of ATP, you die. So to put someone who is in an energy crisis into a hyperbaric chamber is like putting their car on a racetrack with no resources to generate more fuel and then telling them to go as fast as they can. As they are revving their engine, they will inevitably run out of gas because the raw materials necessary to make more fuel are simply unavailable. So my best, self-educated GUESS is that they put their patients in the chamber in a highly impaired state with no resources to overcome the situation and then increased their energy demand to the point of complete exhaustion of ATP… to the point of death. In effect, they were relying on one thing, hyperbarics, that in theory was supposed to improve the patient’s condition. However, they failed to ensure they were addressing everything involved in the process (level of energy crisis, proper supplementation, reactive oxygen species mediation, etc.).

You can’t live without producing and using ATP. So if hyperbarics, IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL NECESSARY RESOURCES, increases the production of ATP, then it would logically follow that hyperbarics would improve a patient’s functional state, not diminish it. If there were a link broken that prevented ATP production at all, frankly those “couple of patients” the doctor referred to already had one foot in the grave before they ever stepped their other foot inside a hyperbaric chamber.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Reactive Oxygen Species / Free Radicals / Oxidative Stress

As with everything having to do with our beautifully complex bodies, there is nothing simple about how they work. The very process of creating ATP utilizes oxygen and the bi-product of this essential function creates Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). At the symposium, the experts discussed that steps had to be taken to reduce the production of ROS because ROS were capable of causing further damage to Mito function. This is one case where addressing the source of the problem is a bad idea. Although ROS can be damaging to Mitos, the problem can’t be addressed through limiting the burning of oxygen because that would decrease ATP production; and ATP production is cyclic, it takes ATP to make ATP. This is simply how the body works in order to supply the necessary energy to stay alive and there is no way of altering this process. However, the body does have its own way of addressing these ROS through the use of both externally consumed and internally generated antioxidants. Therefore, antioxidant therapy, capable of scavenging and mediating the potential negative effects of ROS is the natural and intended way of addressing free radicals.

HBOT delivers more oxygen to cells and the Mitos increase the utilization of this oxygen; which naturally increases ROS, or in other words, oxidative stress. But if this effect is balanced through antioxidant therapy, the net gain is less oxidative stress on Mitos and more ATP-energy that can be used to help repair and heal. Think of ROS as smoke or exhaust coming from the car’s engine. The worse Mitos function, the more ROS (or exhaust) is produced in the process. The more efficient Mitos work, the less ROS are generated.

This also implicates diet as certain foods are known to “burn” cleaner and result in less ROS. But just as pouring sugar in your car’s gas tank can lead to impaired performance and black exhaust from your tailpipe, processed foods, simple sugars and high glycemic carbohydrates also bog down Mito function and generate more ROS when used in metabolic processes.

Antibiotic Effect of HBOT

HBOT also kills bacteria, which, like antibiotics, can include the good bacteria in your gut. This also has to be balanced through supplementation. This is easily accomplished through consumption of probiotic rich foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented vegetables; yogurt, kefir, poi, miso soup, and microalgae powder. If diving frequently, and especially if GI upset occurs, use of a potent, high quantity, multi-strain, refrigerated form of probiotic should be considered. As the effects of HBOT can persist up to two hours after each dive, consumption of probiotics should done immediately after this two-hour window, when oxygen levels have normalized.

ANOTHER HYPOTHESIS

Now onto the cutting edge stuff…. Mitochondrial DNA Repair Rate. Until the summer of 2013, I didn’t even know this existed. I stumbled upon it while looking up the closest Mito doctor to where I was moving to… my hometown of Mobile, AL. Also home to the University of South Alabama, this is where “in collaboration with Dr. Glenn Wilson, Dr. LeDoux’s laboratory was the first to discover that base excision DNA repair occurs within mitochondria.” Can you imagine my amazement that in my little old hometown, they were on the cutting edge of THIS? After failing to find useful contact info for the department, one day I walked into the office of the Dept Head of Cellular Biology and ended up spending two hours with the very gracious and patient Dr. Wilson. This is where I learned about all of their research and, unfortunately, it wasn’t any dealing with my specific issue. However, he told me of studies looking specifically at ways to increase Mito DNA Repair Rate or Repair Capacity. One of which was amazingly simple…. Vitamin B3. I can’t find the article I located back then (kicking myself, it was specifically referring to a study on a synthetic form of B3 being used to increase Mito DNA repair rate), but check out this medical journal: Role of Nicotinamide in DNA Damage, Mutagenesis, and DNA Repair, especially from Section 5 and below. It is very technical, but it starts explaining how B3 (Niacin) reduces DNA damage and increases NAD+ levels in the cell stimulating DNA repair.

More of my theories… HBOT increases all metabolic processes. So, again, giving your body all the raw materials needed, it is possible that HBOT could also increase Mito DNA repair rate; both from the very nature of increased metabolism, but also that I am sending in much more B3 to become NAD+ that can find damaged DNA and initiate repair of that damage. It’s just a theory, but you have to start somewhere.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON HBOT

Nothing is “easy,” but balance can be achieved if you educate yourself on all the aspects involved. The goal should always be to get the body functioning well enough that balance returns on as many levels as possible. Over time and by utilizing the two-hour window of full oxygenation, HBOT also allowed me enough energy to start working out again and overcoming the massive deconditioning I had acquired. I feel that HBOT was an excellent complementary therapy to the other Pillars of Mito Health that I implemented in order to achieve my personal results. The better we are functioning, the more balance we will gain, the better we will feel, and the more results we will eventually be able to achieve.

Bottomline: I want to reiterate that HBOT is generally safe for most everyone. Absent a specific contraindication, if administered appropriately, HBOT should pose little to no risk of harm. Though HBOT is not without risk for Mito patients, that risk can be minimized to practically non-existent if HBOT is administered appropriately and by using a complete approach that deals with all aspects of the patient’s condition and the effects of the treatment itself.

Diabetes (also a form of Mito dysfunction) is a perfect example. If you put a diabetic in the chamber, the effect of speeding metabolic rate can cause an unsafe drop in blood glucose levels capable of causing death, even two hours after the treatment because the metabolic effects persist that long. However, monitored properly and providing those things necessary to mediate this effect, HBOT is not only safe for diabetics, a large majority of “on-label” uses of HBOT include treating complications of the condition of diabetes.

MY PERSONAL HYPERBARIC EXPERIENCE:

I acknowledge that I am obviously biased on this subject, having had such a positive experience that I consider nothing short of a miracle. However, I am not so blinded by my own experience to think that hyperbarics is a cure-all or that it is right for everyone in every situation. I tell my story to educate and to inspire. Each person needs to do their own research and decide for themselves the benefits and/or risks of any potential treatment option. Hyperbarics is no different.

Although one doctor heavily advocated for high-dose, non-caloric nutritional IVs and HBOT during my first year of symptoms when I was diagnosed merely as multiple forms of autonomic dysfunction (dysautonomia), no one supported his recommendation. As a matter of fact, he was dismissed from my case after making that recommendation. I found no research supporting the use of HBOT for dysautonomia. A year later, when the UC Davis doctor said my dysautonmia was due to a Mitochondrial and/or metabolic issue, I did find generalized information about how HBOT increases oxygen utilization and thus cellular/metabolic function. My military base had a HYPObaric unit, for U2 pilot training and I was friends with the commander (who had previously worked at a HYPERbaric unit). I met and discussed with him my theories on my reduced oxygen utilization and lactic acidosis and how HBOT worked in general. He was intrigued by my research and thought there was a possibility that HBOT could help me. In attempting to pursue HBOT treatment, my issue was that I had no approved condition to request even a referral for evaluation.

At this point, I truly believe God stepped in and answered my prayers. I fell and ripped a tendon in my left wrist. Following surgery, I developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS); yet another form of dysautonomia. I could not tolerate the medication they prescribed and nerve blocks failed to provide any lasting effects. Desperate to alleviate the pain, I found research on successful clinical trials using HBOT for CRPS, specifically of the wrist. It took me two months and three of my doctors before my puImonologist agreed to write me a referral. His reasoning, he had a diabetic patient that went for HBOT of an approved use and came back with unexplained improvements of a variety of other health issues. I was sent to a military HBOT unit to undergo initial evaluation. The HBOT doctors were willing to accept me as their first research patient for CRPS, if I was willing to take the risk; they didn’t know whether it would make my dysautonomia better or worse.

But on day ONE, I walked out of the chamber feeling normal for the first time in many years. I was thinking clearly, I wasn’t dizzy or disoriented, I wasn’t feeling like I was going to pass out while standing up…. I just felt great. One of the doctors checked me out and my heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature had all stabilized. I got excited; I can’t tell you how excited. I thought I had just experienced a straight up miracle. One doctor had to break the news…. it wasn’t going to last. I was told if it happened that quickly, it was simply an effect of full oxygenation of my system and the effects would completely dissipate over the next two hours and I would likely return to my destabilized condition. I remember, jokingly of course, sticking my fingers in my ears and saying, “la, la, la, la, la, la.” Who wants to hear their miraculous recovery was only temporary?

But the doctor was accurate in his assessment. I ran out of energy again, just as he had predicted, in about 2 hours. But the more consecutive dives that I did, the better my baseline improved. I had lost most of my nerve response to heat and cold (causing severe heat and cold intolerance to even minor changes in temperature) and was unable to sweat and had issues maintaining body temperature. The first improvements I noticed in this area were between 35 to 40 dives when I began to sweat ever so slightly. I realized while in occupational therapy for my wrist, that I was able to accomplish more therapy with less pain during appointments immediately following my dives (in the two hour window of full oxygenation). I started using this “window of opportunity” to start doing other physical activities to fight deconditioning and build muscle tone back that I had significantly lost over the last several years of being so sick and weak. By the time I left the Air Force, I had received 136 dives over the course of a year. I had been able to use those HBOT treatments as adjunct therapy that vastly improved my immediate functional capacity which equated to more sustained functional capacity over time.

Nearly 8 months after leaving the military and returning to Alabama, I hit a wall and slipped big time. Looking back, it was a combination of attempting to do too much at one time and being hit with a stomach virus that totally wiped me out. I attempted to rest as much as I could, but I was not overcoming the symptoms of my energy crisis. I knew I needed HBOT so I took to the internet in search of a HBOT facility. To my surprise, a doctor in town had just opened two HBOT chambers. With my mother threatening to take me to the ER, I walked into his office, (more like stumbled in because I could barely stand), and handed him my medical records. He was intrigued and agreed to dive me because he said otherwise I just needed to go to the hospital; and frankly he wanted to know what would happen. They were rolling me around in a wheelchair for me to get changed and ready for the dive. They had to have two people lift me to the bed to get me into the chamber. 90 minutes later at 100% oxygen at 2.0 atmospheric pressures, they pulled me out and I hopped down and started across the room to get my clothes to change. The doctor and the safety director were looking at me with sheer astonishment on their faces, their jaws dropped and their eyes wide. One of them asked the other, “Is that the same person we just put in the tube?” I did approximately 30 dives at that time to assist in my recovery from that energy crisis. I continue to receive HBOT treatments on an as needed basis, which thankfully are few and far between.

I CAN NOT say HBOT is for everyone. That would require all that research the medical community requires and unfortunately, that will never happen… there’s no money in doing so. I CAN say I consider myself truly blessed that I fell and ripped my tendon and developed a nerve condition that led to my opportunity to do HBOT. Otherwise, I would have never qualified to walk into that chamber, ever. I WANT realistic information to be available so that other people can do their own research and determine for themselves what their particular benefits and/or risks may be. But AGAIN, it is a total package… I KNOW you have to take a total approach to give your body the best fighting chance to function optimally. I also BELIEVE that HBOT may be an excellent way to supplement those efforts.

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Symptom Overload

EDITORIAL:

More Symptoms Than Doctors Know What To Do With…
A Theory About Unexplained Symptoms and Mitochondrial Dysfunction

I sent an email to Walter Reed trying to make the case that my UC Davis doctor’s theory of a Mitochondrial and/or Metabolic Disorder was causing all of my symptoms, from my major diagnoses of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyagia, Impaired Sweat Response, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and my high urine volume and low Aldosterone… even my sensitivity to light, sounds and smells… all those pesky little symptoms no one seemed to care about.

This intro paragraph is full of analogies. Maybe one day I’ll get it sorted out better, but bear with me; I think you will get the jest. I was originally diagnosed with autonomic dysfunction; then several forms of it, and then some more. I joked I was collecting symptoms and disorders like a kid would collect stamps. From what I was being told, my concept of the Autonomic Nervous System was that of a huge switch board with thousands of little switches; more like fuses that could get tripped. If one switch got flipped “off” then you developed a symptom. But as the body tried to work around that symptom and to mediate the dysfunction, other switches (or systems) would get overloaded, triggering those switches to get flipped too. As a broader view, the whole body acts as a series of connected circuits all interdependent on sufficient energy being pushed down the line. Some short-circuits occur because there simply isn’t enough energy to go as far (or do as much) as needs to be done, so a switch gets flipped (like redirecting train tracks) to avoid less necessary functions so energy can be conserved for more critical functions (sometimes to the point of just trying to stay alive). Less train tracks, less resistance, less energy being sucked up by non-critical functions along the way, more energy to attempt to recuperate. Ultimately, everything happening is the body’s way of trying to reduce load, improve function, heal and return to a neutral point (homeostasis). This email really became my overall theory that after many more years of study, for the most part, I am pretty sure I was right on the money.

Obviously this is a simplistic view of a very complex system (really a complex system of many different complex systems). But I think it can help explain a lot for folks suffering with so many things going wrong all at once or consecutively over time. Once you can recognize the cycle of your disease (knowledge), you can start to see places where you can interrupt the cycle and help your body as it tries to give you the best health that it can offer you. After all, balancing out huge swings that can send you into energy crises is so much easier that trying to recover from the day to day struggles of Mito.

The following is an excerpt from an email I am writing to one of my doctors. I do reference some personal stuff (tests, ect.). But it was this email that led to them finally seeing how all of “MY DOTS” really did fit together under one disease process, verses an otherwise very healthy person suddenly having more diagnoses than any one person could possibly live with… and to see that giving me a prescription for each symptom was ultimately not addressing the underlying issue and was only going to work to make things worse.
So with that being said, here is my theory:

My various conditions have significantly limited definitive testing and most testing I have already undergone has either turned out “normal” or with inconclusive or unexplained results. My high lactic acid, low aldosterone, high urine output and through the roof norepinephrine levels being only some of those. But based on what we do know, I have a theory:

If there were an end-process metabolic dysfunction impairing proper ATP production(either through a lack of oxygenation or, for me, what appears to be lack of ATP production despite proper oxygenation,as suggested by UC Davis Sports Medicine), this could decrease the metabolic acidosis threshold, even with mild activity (as seen on the ABG from the Cardio-Pulmonary Stress Test from February 2011). This could indicate impaired aerobic functioning, causing a quicker-than-normal shift to the anaerobic process which would decrease pH levels as metabolic acidosis persists. The body should respond to mediate the high acid level. Since 75% of acid-base buffering occurs through renal function, this could explain the isolated low Aldosterone, as the body works to flush the excess hydrogen ions through the urine to contribute to increased alkalinity. Since anaerobic functioning is far less efficient, any increased demand on cellular activity could trigger the symptoms associated with extreme exercise intolerance (fatigue, muscle cramps,tremors/multiple muscular shaking, breathlessness/air gasping, brain fog and activity induced syncope), by further reducing appropriate oxygen utilization and taxing an already compromised ATP process.

In this regard, low Aldosterone would be the mechanism of mediation of increased acidity verses a disorder. Unfortunately, along with the hydrogen ions, the body also flushes salts and fluid which can lower blood volume and either cause or exacerbate the presentation of POTS symptoms. Furthermore, water soluble vitamins / minerals / electrolytes are also excreted which can negatively affect multiple body systems dependent on such substances and cause additional impairment of the ATP process through absent or ineffective coenzymes. This would compound the problem of diminished available energy required for proper functioning, including the biggest consumer of energy, the brain; hence, the Autonomic Dysfunctions.

Over time, the effect can appear degenerative as the multiple systems struggle to find work-arounds in an effort to maintain homeostasis. The work-arounds, though fixing an immediate problem, end up, in effect, short circuiting other systems, triggering other symptoms that appear to be completely unrelated and otherwise have no clinical explanation (e.g. tests appear normal so there is no explanation for why that symptom exists).

The natural response of“Fight or Flight” that occurs when the body senses danger can also account for a number of less critical, yet still annoying symptoms that appear to be unrelated. As blood flow and energy are redirected to “essential” body functions, other less critical systems decline in function or can practically shut down. Other systems achieve a heightened state. Absent true “danger” that can be escaped through fight or flight, the person is left with an energy drain from the soaring hormones and the physiologic response to them, decreased function in some body systems (GI, small-task brain function and memory, body temperature control, etc.), while other body systems are in overload (sensitivity to light, sound, smells,etc. – the increased alertness/awareness). These symptoms triggered by fight or flight, absent an emergency that can be cognitively/consciously recognized (you can’t really “tell” what your body knows is wrong), can also appear as anxiety and/or panic attacks.

That ends the excerpt from the email. I am including the following as an overview of fight or flight… because I determined that a lot of my “symptoms” were being triggered due to existing in a near constant state of fight or flight. When the UC Davis doctor explained this to me, it was a very big “AH HA” moment that helped to put me a little more at ease; that is, to know that there really wasn’t that much wrong with me. I was merely experiences several symptoms of fight or flight.

Triggering the sympathetic nervous system causes the sudden flood of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dozens of other hormones that cause changes in the body that include:

  • heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible (light sensitivity)
  • increased sensitivity to sounds and smells (overall increased alertness)
  • veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the “chill” sometimes associated with fear — less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
  • blood-glucose level increases
  • muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps — when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them)
  • smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs
  • nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
  • trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)

­All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either fight for your life or run for your life (hence the term “fight or flight”).

If you are experience symptoms that could be associated with fight or flight, it is important to evaluate what could potentially be triggering such an effect. For Mito patients, it could be a sign that an energy crisis is near.

CALMING SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH FIGHT OR FLIGHT

If you are in the midst of an energy crisis, resolving the associated symptoms won’t be quick or easy. However, those symptoms can be perpetuated as you expend more energy stressing over the impact those symptoms are having on your life. One way to help interrupt symptoms associated with fight or flight is to trigger the the parasympathetic nervous system, (the one in control when your sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system isn’t kicked into overdrive).

Exercise and meditation are excellent ways to reduce stress, but aren’t always readily possible. The technique of slow, focused, deep/relaxing breathing (in through the nose, hold, then out through the mouth in a 4-7-8 ratio) can be done anywhere at anytime and has been shown to calm the sympathetic nervous system. It also works to improve oxygenation of the body and reduce stress. So when symptoms begin to spiral out of control, don’t forget to breath.

Click here to watch Dr. Andrew Weil demonstrate the proper technique for the 4-7-8 relaxing breath and discuss its many benefits (3 min, 18 sec).

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Welcome To Oxygen Oasis Health

Regardless of whether you are facing a devastating illness or just wanting to be as healthy as you can be, there are core aspects to the very act of being alive, that we all share.  Learning how best to support these vital functions can help improve overall health, regardless of your individual starting point.

We will be introducing you to the microscopic starting point of health, your Mitochondria, and showing you how being your healthy best starts at the cellular level.

What is “Oxygen Oasis Health”?  In atmospheric science, an Oxygen Oasis is a restricted environment with an abundance of oxygen capable of sustaining aerobic metabolism.  Mitochondria in our cells require the same abundance of oxygen, in conjunction with vital nutrients, as the driving force behind the metabolic pathways responsible for creating the life-giving energy that drives every living process in the human body.  Failure of Mitochondrial function is being researched as a common link in a growing list of disease processes, including the very act of aging.  Finding ways to create our own Oxygen Oasis within ourselves is being thrust into the forefront of medical research as the best way to prevent and combat a multitude of diseases and to help realize your full potential in achieving optimal health.

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