My Personal Experience with Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Mitochondrial dysfunction occurs when the mitochondria in our cells don’t work as well as they should. This dysfunction can be due to another disease, condition, exposure to environmental toxins, a poor diet, etc. When our mitochondria are not functioning well, and when there is a decrease in the number of mitochondria in the body, mitohondrial aging occurs. Read more about mitochondrial aging here.

After I completed Ironman Boulder in June 2019, my work stress hit an all-time high. I was teaching a spin class twice a week while working full-time and raising 2 boys in elementary school. My athletic performance was deteriorating, and I was gaining weight. My diet was raw vegan by day but by the time my kiddos got home, I was drinking wine and not so healthy foods.

In April of 2020, I decided to do an extensive metabolic performance panel on myself. And, just as I predicted, I was a mess. I had a massive amount of oxidative stress depicted by an elevated 8OHDG – a marker of poor DNA methylation and damage. I had elevated lactic acid, ammonia, and nitrogen levels caused by excess muscle degradation and insufficient alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG). I had excess cortisol and my inflammation rendered me incapable of utilizing my fat for energy. As if this was not enough, I began to feel both anxious and depressed, signs of poor neurotransmitter physiology. In short, I was low voltage, fermenting sugar, accelerating my aging process, and stunting my metabolic regenerative capacity.

These results jolted me into an extended 4-day fast to induce autophagy and clear out the senescent cells that were inducing all of the inflammation in my body.

The cellular process of aging is called senescence. Senescent cells are those cells that have reached their capacity for replication. When we are young and healthy, senescent cells are removed from the body in a process called autophagy. This is the process by which the body actually eats the proteins and organelles from these damaged cells to produce additional healthy cells.

When we age, autophagy decreases, mitochondrial dysfunction increases, inflammation increases, and tissues are destroyed within the body. This can lead to disease, mental decline, cancer, and eventually death. Read more about mitochondrial dysfunction here.

I had fasted in the past a few times and knew intuitively that it was what I needed. I also knew that I needed to help reboot my mitochondria by adjusting the foods I took into my body. I bought a “Lumen” breathable device which helped me stay in a fat burning zone throughout the day as well as an HRV device from “Elite HRV”. HRV taught me how to measure my voltage and gauge my stamina daily. I started a mitochondrial rescue protocol which included a proprietary blend of nutrients, but if I had not also started alpha ketoglutarate (AKG) and adenosine triphosphate, NAD, Fulvic acid and B-vitamins, I do not think I would have achieved as good of a comeback as I did.

As a mitochondrial/metabolic specialized practitioner, I do not think AKG and its role in mitochondrial health gets enough airtime. After my experience, I felt obligated to share the nuts and bolts about these amazing intermediaries and their role in energy production.
AKG, is an intermediary in the Krebs cycle, a process that creates energy in the mitochondria. The National University of Singapore is conducting a human clinical trial of the effects of alpha-ketoglutarate on people aged 45 to 65, testing biomarkers of aging such as epigenetic clocks, pulse wave velocity, and inflammation. However, we do have animal studies that show that it:

    • extends lifespan
    • turns on healthy DNA transcription
    • increases the positive effects of brown fat as opposed to unhealthy white fat
    • lowers senescent cells
    • reduces inflammatory signals
    • binds to ammonia and nitrogen and facilitates their clearance in the liver

It is not uncommon for athletes to have mood swings and feel low or depressed after a long hard work out or race. AKG deficiency can be a factor in explaining this phenomenon. AKG works intimately with the amino acid glutamine which to be plentiful, requires adenosine triphosphate. Glutamine is made from glutamate which depending on available vitamin B6, can either cause anxiety or depression. There is a lot of complexity to the biochemistry involved, but for simplification, if there is not enough AKG or adenosine triphosphate, waste accumulates leading to inflammation, a known driver of depression. For these reasons, it is extremely beneficial to replete these intermediaries along with other mitochondrial nutrients to ensure that you make clean energy, harness, and maximize every molecule of ATP.

The mitochondrion in total weight equals that of a battery in your iPhone. We all know what happens when the battery is low, the phone glitches, and needs stillness to recharge. The same things happens when we overtrain without replenishing the nutrients directly involved in keeping a healthy “mito-reserve”. Unfortunately, we need supplements these days as our soil is depleted and our systems our overwhelmed with toxic exposures. Just like mother earth, our mitochondria get the direct hit of all the pollution we are exposed to. Healing and regenerative health requires voltage. Voltage is energy and the only place we make energy is in our mitochondria.

My Top 5 Ways to Increase Mitochondrial Dysfunction:

  1. Exercise!
  2. Intermittent Fasting/Ketogenic Diet or (Fasting-Mimicking Diet)
  3. Mitochondrial Repair IV Therapy
  4. Cold Exposure (Cryotherapy/Ice Baths) or Heat Therapy (Sauna)
  5. Mitochondria Boosting Supplements

For more information on how you can boost mitochondrial biogenesis, increase your voltage and reclaim your power, book an appointment with me: 561-283-1166

I wish you all abundant health.


Wendy Finkelstein, PA-C

Tringali Vibrant Health


Wendy Finkelstein, PA-C

Wendy Finkelstein, PA-C

Tringali Vibrant Health Provider

Wendy Finkelstein is a board-certified Physician Assistant who believes that aging is a call for celebration and an opportunity to feel grateful for your body and its incredible ability to transform. She addresses the root causes of energy drainage that include immune function, latent infections, gut health, thyroid illness, hormone imbalance, metabolic inflexibility, fatigue, and accumulated bio-toxins.

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