Mitochondria and Disease: What I Learned About Migraines Today

The mitochondria are organisms that evolved from bacteria and joined us on this journey we call life. They are living things with their own DNA and lifecycle, which happen to live inside the cells of our bodies.  We need the mitochondria because they generate energy for our cells.

When the mitochondria don’t produce enough energy, the cells can’t work properly, and our bodies succumb to disease.

Mitochondria and Disease

I wanted to know what happens inside the body that would cause the mitochondria to stop producing energy.

Toxins are one piece of the puzzle. When the chemical “soup” inside our cells is filled with toxins, the process of converting food into energy breaks down.

In addition to toxins, the simple fact of passing years also seems to effect the mitochondria. I found this insightful video where Professor David Sinclair explains why this happens, and how it can be repaired.

Professor Sinclair explains that our cells need effective communication with the mitochondria to get the most out of the relationship. He even goes so far as to describe this relationship as a marriage, which starts out grand and exciting, and degrades over the years as the partners begin to take each other for granted. Communication breaks down, and the relationship falls apart.

In the relationship between our cells and mitochondria, the breakdown in communication causes our bodies to fall apart.

The relationship goes sour because the partners are bored. It’s the same old thing, day after day. There isn’t any call for discussion. The partners can play their part without constantly checking in with each other.

The stagnant relationship can be repaired (and mitochondrial function restored) by introducing mild stressors, such as caloric restriction and intense exercise. Just as in a marriage, stress can open up lines of communication and recreate cooperation between the partners.

Of course, things can easily head the wrong direction if the stress is too intense. One or both of the partners may give up under severe stress. When this happens inside our bodies, disease and death are the result.

What I Learned About Migraines Today


It occurs to me that this subtle difference between enough stress and too much stress is the challenge we face with migraines.

When our migraines are under control, we’re afraid to do anything that might upset the balance. We force ourselves into a strictly controlled regimen that seems to hold migraines at bay.

This explains why migraines tend to get worse instead of better. We weren’t meant to live a strictly controlled life, or our bodies become stagnant and start breaking down.

We need stress. We are designed to be able to thrive in stressful situations.

From what I learned in the video, it seems that we actually need stress to become healthy. Just as long as it’s not too much stress.

Did you have a chance to watch the video? Please tell me what you think!

Credits: Image by Jhayes21 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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