The Mito Diet, also known as the Mitochondrial Diet, is a term that I have seen mentioned recently in some of the online health groups and it prompted me to write this article about it. In case you have not heard of this diet, it’s an approach to eating that consists of an anti-inflammatory, low-glycemic, low grain, gluten-free, and high-quality fats dietary habit and lifestyle.
This type of diet focuses on attaining healthy mitochondria through the process of consuming therapeutic foods which is vital in improving energy production.
Essentially, the mitochondria, sometimes referred to as the batteries or power houses of your cells, are the energy producing structures of every cell in your body. They help turn the energy you get from food into ATP, the “energy” that your cells can use.
Higher concentrations of mitochondria are present in the cells located in the brain, heart, nerves, muscles, and every organ in the body responsible for a fully functioning human being. Harmful and negligent food choices eventually affect the decline of these parts of the body where mitochondria are largely present.
There is such a thing as Mitochondrial Disease, but I am not talking about that here. The disease is due to a fault in one or more of the genes that make up the mitochondria. This means the production of mitochondria is affected from the moment of conception.
Energy Food Plan
The Mito diet, also called the Energy Food Plan, will support your body’s production of energy, as well as the restoration of the sense of vitality. It was devised by a group of Functional Medicine Physicians, nutritionists and other health experts fom the Institute for Funcional Medicine to help patients know how to eat to support their mitochondria. It uses specific therapeutic foods that improve energy production.
The Mito Food Plan provides a food list to help prevent the likelihood of chronic neurological disease and in turn, helps people to choose varieties of food that can develop the mitochondrial function of the body.
If there are healthy mitochondria present in your body, chances of cellular survival, overall vitality, and the graceful aging process are all attained. Unhealthy, poor functioning mitochondria have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, and aging.
Covid-19 is now thought to damage mitochondria in some people causing them to under function. People with a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome may also have under-functioning mitochondria. Certainly, degeneration of mitochondria has been found in people with post viral fatigue. As such, the Mito diet answers this question of how to better improve the function of mitochondria in the body.
Related reading: How to Beat Chronic Fatigue with Detox
Research has shown that when the mitochondria are working well, this helps reduce stress, fatigue, and other cognitive problems while at the same time, it supports muscle mass and burns the excess fat present in the body. In turn, this means that you feel better, think faster, and stay physically active.
Features of the Mito Diet
Eating healthy foods begets a healthy and fully functioning body. Consequently, one of the salient features of the Mito diet is the use of therapeutic foods vital for energy production.
With the right supply of macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates, fats, and proteins), the creation of energy in the mitochondria is attained. It is based on a mildly ketogenic effect which can help improve mitochondrial and neurologic function.
If there is adequate consumption of high-quality fats and oils, the optimal function and performance of the mitochondria are achieved. Essentially, these good fats affect the quality of the inner membrane of your mitochondria where the final stage of energy production happens.
More than this, one of the key features of this type of diet is its use of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients. Eating diverse anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables highly influences the function of the mitochondria. As an example, eating a generous amount of 8-12 servings of vegetables and fruits daily make a difference in your body’s entire well-being.
Is It A Type of Detox Diet?
Yes it is! Sulfurous vegetables that are part of the cruciferous family such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower , cabbage and arugula contain strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These are, of course, well known for their detoxifying effects due to substances they contain which induce the Phase 2 detox pathways of the liver.
So, if your 8 -12 vegetables a day include these then the Mito Diet will help with detoxing your body. Yes, you read that right it’s 8 -12 portions of different colored fruit and vegetables a day. 5 portions of fruit and veg a day no longer cuts it.
Research has also shown that these types of food help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Essentially, cases of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease are lower among people who have been observed to consume anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods on a regular basis.
Consequently, the body undergoes detoxification if a variety of fruits and vegetables are consistently consumed. The nutrients contained in the therapeutic foods are constantly being used up by the detox system.
Our detox systems are constantly being bombarded with toxins from the air you breathe both outside and inside, the water you drink, the food you eat and the products you use on your skin. A diet full of processed and junk foods that many people eat does not supply them with the many nutrients needed for the efficient function of the detox system.
As a result, toxins are not readily processed and eliminated but get stored in cells where they cause damage and eventually contribute to poor health.
Related reading: The Effect Of Toxins On Your Health
The processes associated with metabolism and detoxification can lead to byproducts known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals that can cause damage to tissues. Eating a Mito Diet with the high amount of different colored fruit and vegetables supplies your body with antioxidants which neutralize the free radicals.
Additionally, consuming high-quality fats such as DHA commonly found in seaweed, egg yolks, mackerel, sardines, and salmon leads to a healthy brain. Similarly, consuming sufficient omega-3 fats is crucial in supporting healthy mitochondria present in the brain. Attaining optimal mitochondrial health is possible if you take into account the types of food listed in the Mito diet and food plan.
As on a good detox diet plan all grains are avoided on the Mito Food Plan. On a detox diet they are avoided as they are hard to digest and can cause reactions in the gut. Added to this is the fact that foods made from them now contain glyphosate, a toxic chemical that grains get sprayed with during growth and before harvesting.
They are excluded or minimized on the Mito diet to achieve the state of mild ketosis and low glycemic impact. Grains can easily be replaced by more nutritious foods, such as gluten free pseudo-grains such as quinoa or millet and phytonutrient-dense and fibrous vegetables.
The avoidance of gluten in the diet can very often reduce inflammation, pain, fatigue, and cognitive decline. It can also, in my experience, result in weight loss where the person has not been successful in losing weight previously.
Dairy products except live organic yogurt or kefir are usually excluded on a detox diet but the traditional Mito Food Plan includes them although in a limited way. However the Mito-Ketoflex Food Plan excludes them as they can be pro-inflammatory and problematic for those with specific neurological conditions or health concerns.
The low carb approach of both versions of the Mito Food Plan helps in producing ketones. They are absorbed faster than glucose so are a more efficient fuel for the brain and produce less oxidative damage in the body.
Related reading: What Are Keto Diet Ketones?
The Mito Diet in a Nutshell
1. It is made up of 60% of calories from healthy fats, 20% from good quality protein, and 20% from complex carbohydrates.
2. It is similar to a Paleo Diet as it avoids grains, but it relies more heavily on healthy fats and anti-inflammatory therapeutic foods
3. It is a gluten-free diet,
4. It consists of a rainbow of vegetable colors a day to provide key vitamins and antioxidants,
5. It includes three different periodic fasting options to increase the production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) that promotes nerve growth and connections to improve brain function.
Personalizing the Mito Food Plan
It is important to bear in mind that dietary interventions such as following the Mito Diet are just one facet of the overall picture in attaining optimal mitochondrial health. As such, considering to double your efforts in achieving healthy mitochondria means that exercising staying physically active are vital contributing factors for the optimal function of your mitochondria.
Research has proven that exercise and movement both play an instrumental role in mitochondrial health. Essentially, performing aerobic and anaerobic exercise on a regular basis positively contributes to energy production present in the mitochondria.
As such, one of the best ways in personalizing the Mito food plan is to incorporate exercise. May it be a short afternoon walk or a morning jog in non-traffic streets or park, exercise supports and keeps the body in good shape and in good health.
Appropriate and sufficient sleep is also vital in supporting mitochondrial health. Without proper sleep, the body feels even more stressed and fatigued. In this case, this leads to an increased risk of neurodegenerative changes found within the brain.
After all, keeping a fully functioning body both necessitates a healthy dietary intervention and an active lifestyle. Attaining your optimal mitochondrial health is possible through the Mito diet coupled with a healthy lifestyle and positive mindset.
Dr Marty Ross, an expert in treating patients with Lyme Disease, calls the Mito Diet “The Best Brain, Inflammation, Pain, Energy, and Detox Diet Ever”! Why not give it a try?