Before we get into that, just a quick word about me. I know the internet is crazy these days with all kinds of random people with no expertise trying to sell you on things. So if you haven’t heard of me (Ari Whitten), or my company (The Energy Blueprint), you should know that I am one of the leading thinkers on the science of fatigue and energy enhancement — not just some random guy online trying to sell you on something to make a quick buck.
I am a #1 international best-selling author with hundreds of reviews of my books, and my Energy Blueprint podcast has over 125 reviews where you can see people talking about me and the amazing results they’ve achieved from my work. (There are even reviews there from MDs who study my work).
I’ve spent the last 3 years of my life obsessively combing through tens of thousands of studies and collaborating with the world’s top experts on fatigue in order to create the world’s most effective system for overcoming fatigue. My program, The Energy Blueprint, has given thousands of people suffering from fatigue their LIVES back. And I have made my reputation online as one of the top science-based experts on fatigue and energy enhancement.
Now, having said all that about who I am, so that you know you can trust me as a science-based expert on this subject, let’s get into the real reason that you’re here…
You want to learn how to fix your fatigue and get your energy back, right?
What I’m about to show you is that everything you think you know about fatigue is wrong, and I’m going to show you what the latest cutting-edge science has now proven is the real cause of fatigue.
If you’re a health conscious person who eats well and takes care of yourself yet you still find that you are often tired and fatigued, this information is MUST-KNOW information that can change your life. (It has already changed the lives of thousands of members in my Energy Blueprint program).
And one last thing before we get into the science…
Okay, now let’s get into it!
The Truth About Adrenal Fatigue
“Adrenal Fatigue.” That’s the story we’ve all been told about how stress wrecks our energy levels.
You’ve probably heard the story before. It goes something like this:
The adrenal glands produce stress hormones to respond to periods of stress. Normally the system works just fine, but when the stress becomes chronic, the adrenal glands get tired and “fatigued” so they can’t produce enough cortisol to keep up with the demands.
Then when your adrenal glands are “fatigued,” you get all sorts of symptoms like:
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Brain fog
- Low blood sugar
- Low libido
- Waking up tired even after sleeping 7 or 8 hours
- Cravings for sugary and salty foods
- Trouble sleeping through the night (especially waking up between 2-4am)
The model of “adrenal fatigue” that many alternative practitioners follow today was basically a theory that emerged to try to explain why so many people were suffering from the symptoms mentioned above. This theory of “adrenal fatigue” says that the adrenal glands go through a progressive stress response like this:
- Alarm reaction – This stage is the body’s initial response to stress, which involves the adrenal glands producing lots of cortisol.
- Resistance – This stage happens as stress is prolonged and the adrenal glands are struggling to keep up with the demands on them to produce cortisol. Cortisol levels may be normal or high during this phase.
- Exhaustion – This is final stage and is typically characterized by low cortisol levels, which are a sign that the adrenal glands are “fatigued” and can’t produce enough cortisol to keep up with the demands on them.
And of course, this influences the way people think about the causes and solutions to the problem of fatigue. Because they’re conceptualizing the problem as tired, worn out, “fatigued” adrenal glands, then they try to solve the issues by fixing the adrenal glands. So they typically try to fix the adrenal glands by feeding them B vitamins, vitamin C, glandular and various other kinds of supplements.
In short, the model is:
While this theory has many people who believe in it and preach it, there are numerous problems with it. As I am going to show you in this article, the adrenals are not the fundamental reason we lack energy and have an epidemic of fatigue. The primary cause of fatigue is not worn out adrenal glands.
The big problem with this situation is that the way someone conceptualizes the cause of a problem directs them in how to solve it. So if you’ve conceptualized the cause of the problem wrongly, then your attempts at fixing the cause are going to be flawed from the start. Right now, millions of people are being diagnosed with a flawed diagnosis (“adrenal fatigue”), and then are being put on treatments which are often mostly ineffective and sometimes even counterproductive.
The problem with this model is that it’s simply wrong. It often fails to get results for people because it’s not addressing the true underlying causes of fatigue.
‘Let me be clear that the symptoms that we associate with “adrenal fatigue” are real. They do exist. By questioning the existence of “adrenal fatigue,” I am not saying that people are not experiencing these symptoms.
So, if you’ve been suffering from symptoms of low energy, anxiety, brain fog, and sleep problems, rest assured that when I say “adrenal fatigue” isn’t real, I’m not trying to imply that your symptoms aren’t real. The symptoms are very real!
But, the big distinction here is that those symptoms are not being caused by adrenal glands that are getting “fatigued.”
The symptoms of “adrenal fatigue” — fatigue, depression, anxiety, sugar cravings, sleep problems and the others — are caused by factors that have absolutely nothing to do with the adrenal glands getting “fatigued.”
Here, I am going to show you exactly what those factors are that are really causing your fatigue. And I’m going to show you how to fix the real problems and get your energy back.
First, let’s talk about the two main schools of thought around fatigue…
“Adrenal Fatigue” – Real Disease, or Fake Disease? Depends on Who You Ask. But They Are Both Wrong.
Before we get into the real causes of fatigue, I want to zoom out for a moment and show you the bigger picture context that all of this is taking place.
There are basically two paradigms of “adrenal fatigue”:
The “Adrenal Fatiguers”
This is my term for the huge amount of alternative medical practitioners pushing the diagnosis of “adrenal fatigue” on basically everyone who walks into their office complaining of fatigue.
James Wilson coined the term “adrenal fatigue” in 1998. Since it was invented less than 20 years ago, it has become the most popular diagnosis in the holistic medical community.
The popularity of this diagnosis has less to do with its accuracy and scientific validity, and much more to do with the simple fact that there really is an epidemic of fatigue going on, and there was a vacuum that was created because the conventional medical community really wasn’t doing anything to even diagnose it, let alone treat it. In other words, the fact that most MDs weren’t really doing anything for people with fatigue – typically telling people with fatigue that there is nothing wrong with them, or perhaps telling them to sleep more or prescribing an antidepressant – led to a situation where alternative medical practitioners could put forward ideas about the causes and best treatments for fatigue.
So, Wilson created an explanation for why so many people are low on energy. And since it was really the only theory – the only serious attempt being made to explain why so many people are fatigued – the idea filled the vacuum and became the dominant paradigm of why millions of people are fatigued.
Again, less because it had lots of science backing it up, and more just because it was the only thing being put forward to explain and treat fatigue.
When you look at the list of symptoms that one can use to figure out if they have “adrenal fatigue,” it’s easy to see why it’s become such a popular diagnosis among alternative medical practitioners.
Now consider that the single most common complaint among patients visiting doctors and health practitioners is fatigue.
Now you probably have an idea why “adrenal fatigue” diagnoses are given out to just about everyone who walks into an alternative medical practitioners’ office.
Here’s the typical thing you’ll hear from the “Adrenal Fatiguers”:
“Low on energy? It’s because your adrenals are fatigued from chronic stress.” “Having trouble sleeping? It’s probably your adrenals.” “Got sugar cravings? It’s the stress on your adrenals that’s making you crave sugar.” “Have depression or anxiety? Stress and your adrenals are the source of that too!” “Having trouble keeping the weight off? Too much stress – you’ve burnt out your adrenals.”
That’s the typical way of thinking from the “Adrenal Fatiguers.”
Everyone has learned to interpret these symptoms as being caused by “adrenal fatigue.” Thus, the “adrenal fatigue” paradigm has become the go-to paradigm for most alternative medical practitioners.
I almost feel bad for those poor little adrenal glands – they’ve become the favorite scapegoat for basically all types of health problems among alternative medical practitioners. Many of whom just throw this diagnosis out at the first sign of any symptom that even remotely could be lumped into “adrenal fatigue.”
As you’re going to learn as you read along, the symptoms associated with “adrenal fatigue” are real, but these symptoms are not just a simple case of stress wearing out and “fatiguing” your adrenal glands. Not only is this theory unscientific and wrong, but it usually leads to treatments that are largely ineffective, and sometimes even counterproductive. (More on that later).
In addition to the “Adrenal Fatiguers,” then we have …
The Mainstream “Adrenal Fatigue Skeptics/Debunkers”
These are the mainstream health authorities and MDs who flat-out reject “adrenal fatigue” as a legitimate condition or diagnosis. To them, it’s just made-up pseudoscience and alternative medicine quackery
They’ll generally tell you that other conditions relating to the adrenal glands (like Addison’s disease and adrenal insufficiency) are real diseases, but “adrenal fatigue” is just made-up nonsense that has no basis in science.
The Endocrine Society, representing 14,000 endocrinologist MDs, issued this statement:
“’Adrenal fatigue’ is not a real medical condition. There are no scientific facts to support the theory that long-term mental, emotional, or physical stress drains the adrenal glands and causes many common symptoms.”
Consider that statement carefully. They are saying that after reviewing the scientific studies, there are “no scientific facts to support the theory that chronic stress drains the adrenal glands.” That’s a pretty remarkable statement. They’re basically accusing the alternative medical community of making up a theory that has basically no science whatsoever to back it up.
In short, most mainstream MDs say “adrenal fatigue” is a fake disease. And they genuinely believe that everyone who thinks it’s a real disease (and everyone who diagnoses people with “adrenal fatigue”) is a quack, a charlatan, a snake oil salesman, or worse.
So, what’s the reality?
Could it be that both the “Adrenal Fatiguers” and the “Skeptics” have it wrong?
Are Both of These Paradigms Wrong?
So, you want to know if “adrenal fatigue” is real or just made-up pseudoscience?
Well, that depends on who you ask. Ask an alternative medical practitioner and they’ll likely be convinced that 70% or 80% of the people they see have “adrenal fatigue,” and that it’s unquestionably real. They’ll probably look at you like you’re nuts if you even doubt the legitimacy of it.
On the other hand, most conventional MDs will think you’re an unscientific hippy quack if you believe in this pseudoscience of “adrenal fatigue.”
So, what’s really going on here?
What I’m about to show you in this article is that both of these two groups of people are wrong.
- The people saying fatigue is just the result of “fatigued adrenal glands” that can’t produce enough cortisol are wrong.
- The people brushing off these symptoms and saying that “adrenal fatigue” is a fake disease that doesn’t really exist are also profoundly wrong
Both groups are also right about a thing or two as well:
- The “Adrenal Fatiguers” are right that there are lots of people who are showing up in their offices with a specific constellation of symptoms that involve chronic lack of energy, waking up tired, sugar cravings, low libido, brain fog, anxiety, trouble sleeping. In short, these symptoms do exist, and many people are suffering from them!
- The “Skeptics and Debunkers” are also right that these symptoms are not being caused simply by chronic stress “fatiguing” the adrenal glands and making it so they can’t produce enough cortisol.
To break this down simply: The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are REAL. These are legitimate symptoms that many people are experiencing. And there is a growing epidemic of people experiencing this specific set of symptoms. But simultaneously, the MDs and debunkers are also correct that there is basically no science to make the case that “fatigued adrenal glands” are the cause of fatigue.
Key Point: “Fatigued adrenals” aren’t the issue. There are deeper underlying causes of why people experience fatigue, sleep issues, and all the other symptoms of “adrenal fatigue.”
The Big Problem With Adrenal Fatigue – There Is No Science!
Think of a medical condition… Diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, obesity, hypothyroidism, celiac disease, lung cancer, depression, schizophrenia, psoriasis, dementia, or even obscure ones like Sjogren’s syndrome or Addison’s disease. Any condition you can think of – just choose one. …
Now go to Pubmed.com (it’s a database of virtually all studies in existence – like Google for scientific studies) and do a search for that condition…
What did you find?
You’ll notice that between hundreds to thousands of studies will quickly appear for each and every one of those conditions.
Now, guess how many you’ll find if you look up “adrenal fatigue”?
In fact, it’s actually worse than a mere case of there being no scientific research on adrenal fatigue.
Because if you do that search, you’ll actually find negative scientific data!
That is, you’ll find research examining adrenal fatigue that has concluded that adrenal fatigue is a myth that has no basis in science.
That systematic review of the scientific literature (all relevant studies on the topic) is even titled “Adrenal Fatigue Does Not Exist!”
I’m sure you can guess what the researchers found, but here’s their conclusion so you can read it for yourself (with my emphasis on certain key points added):
“We found an almost systematic finding of conflicting results derived from most of the studies methods utilized, regardless of the validation and the quality of performed tests. Some limitations of the review include: (1) heterogeneity of the study design; (2) the descriptive nature of most studies; (3) the poor quality assessment of fatigue; (4) the use of an unsubstantiated methodology in terms of cortisol assessment (not endorsed by endocrinologists); (5) false premises leading to an incorrect sequence of research direction; and, (6) inappropriate/invalid conclusions regarding causality and association between different information.
… This systematic review proves that there is no substantiation that ‘adrenal fatigue’ is an actual medical condition. Therefore, adrenal fatigue is still a myth.”
In short, there is hardly any science to even speak of. And the science that does exist doesn’t support the “adrenal fatigue” theory. (I might add, for those of you unfamiliar with the hierarchy of scientific evidence, that systematic literature reviews – which this was – are the highest level of evidence, considered the gold standard of scientific evidence).
Think about this for a moment: Let’s say you were diagnosed with a particular condition…
And let’s say you went home and wanted to look at the scientific research on that condition for yourself…
Then let’s say that after all your searching, you found virtually no scientific studies on that subject…
And one of the only pieces of scientific research that even exists was titled “Your condition does not exist” …
You would probably have some alarm bells going off in your head, right? It would be obvious to you that something about it all was very wrong.
Well, if someone has told you that you have “adrenal fatigue,” that is precisely the situation you’re now in.
In short, there is no body of scientific evidence showing that the adrenals get fatigued.
Is “Adrenal Fatigue” Really “Burnout Syndrome”?
Interestingly enough, there is another condition related to the concept of “adrenal fatigue” that actually does have some research on it…
Burnout Syndrome is a recognized medical syndrome with hundreds of studies done on it. While it is usually used in the context of work, it is described in a way that is almost identical to descriptions of “adrenal fatigue.”
Here’s a common description of what leads to Burnout syndrome:
“Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.”
What should immediately be apparent to you is that this is the same thing which people claim is the cause of “adrenal fatigue.” (Take that same description and add in a mention of the “adrenal glands getting fatigued” and you have “adrenal fatigue.”)
Basically, one group of people is saying that chronic stress leads to “burnout syndrome” and another group is saying that it leads to “adrenal fatigue.” They’re just using different words for the same thing. They are both saying that chronic stress leads to exhaustion. They just differ in that “Adrenal Fatiguers” say that it’s all being caused by the worn out adrenal glands.
The neat thing about this is that, unlike “adrenal fatigue” (where there is no research to speak of), there is plenty of scientific research on Burnout Syndrome!
So that gives us the ability to look to that research to see if “fatigued adrenal glands” is a valid way of explaining what goes on in chronic stress.
Fortunately for us, there are over 30 studies that have examined the relationship between either “Burnout Syndrome” or “chronic stress” and cortisol levels!
So interestingly enough, there is actually a ton of research examining the link between chronic stress and adrenal function.
But here’s the big problem for proponents of “adrenal fatigue”: That research doesn’t actually support the notion that chronic stress causes adrenal “fatigue” or adrenal malfunction of any kind!
Here is the breakdown of what those studies found:
Think about that for a moment. Think about whether these studies support or contradict the “adrenal fatigue” theory.
What do those results mean? They mean that cortisol levels and adrenal function have no reliable relationship to chronic stress, burnout, or the symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue.
Let me emphasize that this is essentially the entire body of scientific research examining the relationship of chronic stress and adrenal function. I.e. This is all the studies, so I’m not cherry picking the research to prove some theory—I’m showing you all the studies. When you look at all the studies, they clearly do not validate the “adrenal fatigue” theory.
Some studies are showing cortisol levels are higher in the morning…
or lower in the morning…
or higher all day long…
or lower in the morning and higher at night…
and many studies show that there is no difference in cortisol between people who are burned out and chronically stressed compared to those who are perfectly healthy.
To take this one step further, there are even studies which have examined the same people during burnout/chronic stress and after recovery from burnout/chronic stress that have shown:
- Decreased cortisol levels symptoms improve
- Increased cortisol levels as symptoms improve
- No change in cortisol levels as symptoms improve
In case you’d like to see some of this research for yourself, let me cite one of the most interesting studies from the journal Stress and Health.  First, the researchers introduced their study by noting – as I have already told you – that the existing studies are wildly conflicting and contradictory. Then came the interesting part…
They got a group of nurses under chronic stress. Then they took about half of them and did an intervention (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to lower stress levels, which they did successfully. (In general, this intervention caused people’s cortisol curve in the morning become a little more of a peak, rather than a hill – which is a positive sign).
Then came the interesting part: They wanted to test whether the people with the most extreme and abnormal cortisol levels (both extremely high and extremely low) had more symptoms, like fatigue, or sleep problems. Of course, they were assuming they’d find that people with very extreme and abnormal cortisol levels would have the most symptoms.
They divided the nurses into three groups based on their cortisol levels:
- Extremely high cortisol levels (far above the average)
- Normal, average cortisol levels
- Very low cortisol levels (far below the average)
Here’s what they found:
“Subjects grouped on basis of (extreme) cortisol values did not differ in the amount of stress, coping or psychophysiological complaints.”
Think about that for a moment…
They couldn’t even detect any differences in symptoms (like fatigue) or the amount of stress a person was under, based on whether a person had extremely high or extremely low cortisol levels or normal cortisol levels.
That’s pretty remarkable! What that’s telling us is that cortisol levels – which by the way, are what certain health practitioners are trying to use to “diagnose” adrenal fatigue – are a horrifically poor predictor of whether or not someone is under stress, and whether or not they are fatigued.
A person who is completely exhausted and burned out from chronic stress may have high cortisol, or low cortisol or normal cortisol.
Yet, we have hundreds of thousands of health practitioners claiming to diagnose “adrenal fatigue” based on cortisol measurements! Do you now see the insanity of claiming to diagnose the cause of a person’s symptoms based on their cortisol levels?
(The interesting thing they’ve done though, is basically rigged the game to virtually always come out with an adrenal fatigue diagnosis. You see, if a person has high cortisol, they’ll be told they’re in the “first stage of adrenal fatigue.” If they have normal cortisol levels, they may be told they’re in an early stage or middle stage, before their cortisol levels decline. And if they have low cortisol, they’ll be told they’re in a “late stage of adrenal fatigue.” In other words, they’re using a diagnostic marker that virtually always comes out with the result of “adrenal fatigue” regardless of whether cortisol is high, low, or totally normal. If the person is complaining of lack of energy, they’re probably going to get diagnosed with “adrenal fatigue” regardless of what their cortisol levels are!)
This is pretty crazy if you think about it. There is no other condition in the world where people would insist on using a diagnostic marker that the research shows is so inaccurate and inconsistent.
Think about this scenario for a moment: You’re looking for a diagnostic marker of a disease – some kind of marker that would show up on a test that would let you know if a person has a particular kind of illness. What you want to find is a reliable diagnostic marker that tells you whether someone has that condition.
For example, let’s say you wanted to have a test to see if people have insulin resistance (i.e. type II diabetes). Let’s say you wanted to do this by looking at fasted blood sugar levels. (That is actually the primary thing physicians look at to assess insulin resistance). Of course, what you expect to find is that people with more insulin resistance have higher blood sugar levels.
Now let’s say you didn’t actually find that! Let’s you analyzed the blood sugar levels of thousands of people with type II diabetes and found that diabetics have:
- High blood sugar 33% of the time
- Normal blood sugar 34% of the time
- Low blood sugar 33% of the time
If that were the case, could you still use fasting blood sugar to diagnose insulin resistance?
Of course not!
This is basically the absolute worst diagnostic marker imaginable. They would never use a marker like that – they would throw it out immediately. Why? Because they would recognize that it’s obviously not a valid marker to know whether or not someone has that condition!
Yet, that’s exactly what is going on with “adrenal fatigue.” They’re using a diagnostic marker which has no reliable relationship to fatigue.
Simply put, cortisol levels are a terrible predictor of the symptoms of chronic stress and burnout (i.e. fatigue, and the others).
- Some studies have found high cortisol in people with fatigue. Other studies have found low coritsol. And most studies fail to find any cortisol abnormalities at all!
- I’ve now shown you research which cannot even detect any differences in stress levels or symptoms (e.g. fatigue) between people with extremely high cortisol vs. extremely low cortisol levels vs. normal cortisol levels.
- I’ve shown you the entire body scientific studies that exists on this subject. I summarized the results of over 30 scientific studies on this subject – which I already showed you the results of, with 9 studies showing high cortisol levels in chronic stress, 8 showing lower cortisol, and 13 showing no differences at all between people in severe chronic stress/burnout vs. normal healthy people.
Thus, the claim that the primary cause of fatigue and the other symptoms is due to “fatigue of the adrenal glands” and “low cortisol” (or “high cortisol”) does not have any science to back it up.
The Primary Cause of Fatigue: Imbalance of Energy Supply vs. Energy Demand
Etch this into your mind…
Fatigue is fundamentally an imbalance between energy supply and energy demand.
When your cells are low on energy supply or the demands on them are too high (to deal with various stressors), it creates a chronic deficit of energy. That chronic deficit of energy is the root of fatigue.
So now that you understand that, here’s the big key to EVERYTHING…
The REAL CAUSE of fatigue isn’t about the adrenals and cortisol, but is about the ENERGY GENERATORS in your cells — your mitochondria!
If you consider that fatigue is fundamentally a problem of energy supply, then it’s not shocking that the primary cause of fatigue is when things in our cells that are responsible for generating energy are malfunctioning. The idea that our energy generators (mitochondria) are not producing enough energy is actually a much more straightforward explanation for fatigue than ideas around adrenals and cortisol.
And, most importantly, unlike adrenal fatigue, there is actually a mountain of SCIENTIFIC PROOF to show that mitochondria are the true cause of fatigue!
Mitochondria are actually what turn raw fuel (oxygen and food) into cellular energy – the mitochondria – are malfunctioning.
In particular, the work of Robert Naviaux, M.D., Ph.D, and Sarah Myhill, M.D. have been instrumental in advancing our knowledge on the causes of fatigue – in particular, the role of mitochondria.
To use an analogy often used by fatigue expert Sarah Myhill, MD, in her book Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndome and Myalgic Encephalitis: It’s mitochondria, not hypochondria:
“Fatigue is the symptom we experience when energy demand exceeds energy delivery: ‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.’ Mr Micawber in David Copperfield (Charles Dickens) … and so it is with energy.”
In a similar vein, she also says:
“Energy is like money – it is great fun spending it, but very hard work earning it. Think of energy as money in the bank, but our energy bank is one which we cannot go overdrawn on — we cannot borrow energy. If our bank runs out of energy, then we die. Energy is the difference between life and death. This is why fatigue is such an important symptom – it protects us from death.”
It’s also important to recognize that fatigue isn’t just there for no reason just to spite you – it’s actually adaptive and beneficial in most cases.
That is, fatigue comes into play in an effort to try to give your body what it needs to recover. The most simple example of this is the fatigue we feel every night before sleep. As Dr. Myhill explains: “Fatigue is an essential symptom to maintain life. Without the symptom of fatigue we would all be dead in 11 days. No-one has survived that long without sleep.”
So when there is fatigue, that means there is a problem with energy production or energy demands.
For the vast majority of people, energy production is the big obstacle. And that’s where the mitochondria come in.
The True Cause of Fatigue: Your Mitochondria
It will be useful to think about this for a moment: Cells make up tissues, tissues make up organs, and you are basically a collection of organs wrapped in skin.
YOU are nothing but a bunch of cells.
So without mitochondria working well at the cellular level, the cells get fatigued, then the organs become fatigued, and ultimately, you become fatigued.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that the main cause of lack of energy is the mitochondria, which are literally the energy generators inside our cells.
As much as it may have seemed logical to try to blame our lack of energy on worn out adrenals and cortisol levels, it makes, even more, sense that our mitochondria – our cellular energy generators – would be the problem.
And unlike what we saw was the case with the adrenals and HPA Axis, there is actually a ton of scientific evidence pointing to the mitochondria as the fundamental cause of fatigue. (And more science supporting this link is emerging every day).
First, I want to remind you that fatigue may be caused by literally dozens of factors, and an almost infinite variety of combinations of factors. Going back to our energy spectrum…
This spectrum could be thought of with mitochondrial dysfunction laid over it – in the sense that the degree of mitochondrial dysfunction will parallel the severity of the fatigue.
In other words, the more chronic and severe the fatigue, the more likely that mitochondrial dysfunction is the major player. Unlike what we saw with adrenal function – where the studies often showed no correlation between adrenal function and fatigue – mitochondrial function reliably parallels energy levels.
You’re not going to find a chronically fatigued person with healthy mitochondria.
And you’re not going to find an energetic person with unhealthy mitochondria.
It’s also worth pointing out that there are also many very mild and temporary states of low energy levels that don’t necessarily have much to do with mitochondrial dysfunction. For example:
- It may be possible for a person to exhibit some fatigue from something as simple as exercising too hard one day…
- Or from being stressed out at work or in your relationship…
- Or from simply missing a couple hours of sleep the previous night…
- Or from just catching a cold or flu…
As you’ve no doubt experienced, all of these little things may lower your energy levels – even as quickly as just a few hours after you experience them.
In all of these situations, there may be no mitochondrial dysfunction at all! You may be perfectly healthy (and your mitochondria may be healthy too), and yet, of course, you will still feel fatigued after working out too hard, or being stressed in your relationship and losing sleep, or from catching a cold.
So it’s important that we differentiate what kind of fatigue we’re talking about here…
The more that you have chronic and pervasive fatigue – that isn’t corrected simply by getting more sleep, or taking a couple rest days after your workout, or getting over your cold, or making up with your partner – the more that dysfunctional mitochondria are probably the cause of your fatigue.
The cardinal symptom that defines chronic fatigue syndrome is something called post-exertional fatigue. That means that after you do exercise, you feel wiped out – often for days. This is a key sign of mitochondrial dysfunction.
This is the primary factor that separates chronic fatigue from depression (which shares many of the symptoms). People with depression feel better after exercise, while people with fatigue typically feel exhausted for a full day or several days after exercise.
Again, if you have that, that is a sign of SEVERE mitochondrial dysfunction!
Now, let me point out here that if you are extremely healthy already and you’re simply a little low on energy because you haven’t been sleeping enough, or you’re stressed at work, or you caught a cold, this really isn’t for you. Obviously, those situations are quite easy to resolve, and you already know what to do to resolve them.
This article is intended for people with chronic and pervasive fatigue that isn’t quite so easy to see where it’s coming from and how to fix it.
The first step, as you now know, is recognizing that it’s your mitochondria – not your adrenals – that are the fundamental cause of your issues.
That’s important because as you saw in the analogy of redness being the “cause” of the pain in the case of the smashed toe, you first have to understand the cause accurately if you want your treatments to be effective in resolving the problem!
The key point to remember: The crux of fatigue is the mitochondria!
Now that you understand that mitochondria are the key issue in fatigue, the question is how does mitochondrial dysfunction cause fatigue?
First of all, it is common sense that if the thing that is responsible for producing energy in our cells starts to malfunction, we’d be low on cellular energy.
But how does that low cellular energy actually translate into you feeling fatigued?
Well, there’s a number of mechanisms…
How Mitochondrial Dysfunction Wrecks Your Body
Here’s the even bigger problem caused by mitochondrial dysfunction: Once the mitochondria start to dysfunction, it then causes a cascade of dysfunction in several more systems of the body…
Lee Know, ND gives an excellent rundown of these effects in his book on mitochondria called Life: The Epic Story of Our Mitochondria. Dr. Myhill also discusses them in her book. I’ll recap what he explains in those books about how mitochondrial dysfunction leads to fatigue by causing the various systems of the body to malfunction:
The heart is a muscle and it has one of the highest mitochondrial densities of any body part. In order for that heart muscle to work well, the mitochondria of the heart must be healthy. Without a heart that’s always working well, everything else in the body suffers. See, the heart pumps blood. And blood carries oxygen and nutrients, which all of our cells (in every organ of the body) depend on to work properly. Without efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients, none of the organ systems of the body – the brain, the muscles, the liver, the skin, the gut, etc. – can work well.
One of the things many people with fatigue notice is that they have a poor tolerance to exercise, poor stamina to do it, and it’s really hard for them to increase their fitness. Also, many people notice that they feel much better sitting or laying down than standing up. They may have low blood pressure or something called POTS, which is low blood pressure when standing.
All of these are signs of poor heart function.
The reason many people with fatigue feel better while laying down is actually an important part of the story. Normally, a healthy person’s heart will pump about 7 liters of blood per minute while laying down, and it drops to 5 liters per minute while standing. That’s normal, and the drop in heart output isn’t enough for healthy people to notice any negative effect.
In the extreme of chronic fatigue, many people pump only 5 liters per minute while laying down, and only 3.5 liters while standing. That’s barely enough to prevent organ failure! In fact, the reason they have the symptom of chronic fatigue (and thus, often feel the need to lay down or sit down and rest) is because their body is trying to avoid organ failure! It’s actually an adaptive response to survive with poor heart function – by causing the symptom of severe fatigue, the body prevents full-blown heart failure.
Now, of course, most of you reading this probably don’t have quite such severe symptoms. But think of it as a spectrum. Are you easily exhausted from activity? Do you have some blood pressure issues? Do you feel better when laying down than standing? Do you have a hard time motivating yourself to get up and do physical activity?
If so, it’s likely you have some mitochondrial dysfunction in your heart. And as a result of that, all your organ systems in your body are suffering from chronic lack of oxygen and nutrients…
As Sarah Myhill, MD notes: “Organs are shut down in terms of priority, i.e. the skin first, then muscles, followed by liver, gut, brain and finally the heart, lung and kidney. As these organ systems shut down, this creates further problems for the body in terms of toxic overload, susceptibility to viruses which damage mitochondria further, thus exacerbating all the problems of the chronic fatigue sufferer.”
When the heart isn’t working well, blood flow to the brain is decreased. Moreover, even without talking about blood flow, the brain happens to be the body part that is most dense with mitochondria. So mitochondrial dysfunction simultaneously causes both poor blood delivery (and thus oxygen and nutrient delivery) to the brain, and poor energy production by mitochondria in brain cells. This is why so many people with fatigue suffer from brain fog, difficulty focusing, headaches/migraines, mood problems like anxiety and depression, and poor cognitive performance
Like the brain, the muscles also have the same two problems: They are suffering from both poor delivery of oxygen and nutrients, as well as from poor mitochondrial function in the muscles themselves. This leads to the muscles having very poor stamina, and switching over to glycolysis (that’s the inefficient form of energy production we talked about before), which doesn’t need oxygen or the mitochondria. The problem is that it also results in huge amounts of lactic acid being produced, which not only causes pain and inflammation, but also depletes the body of ATP. (Also, because the muscles play such an important role in soaking up and burning the food we eat, mitochondrial dysfunction in the muscles also contributes to insulin resistance and obesity).
When the heart isn’t working well, the body pools blood away from the surface (skin) blood vessels and towards the organs. This means that circulation to the skin is hindered. This results in all sorts of issues. The body lowers the metabolism to run cooler. The body becomes intolerant of heat, because it’s not good at releasing heat from the skin as body temperature rises. By the way, because of this, the body will actually intentionally decrease thyroid hormone to lower your metabolism and run the body cooler. Then the underactive thyroid itself amplifies the problems in fatigue.
These changes lead the body to accumulate more toxins. One of the main pathways we get rid of toxins in the body is through sweat. And in order to sweat, we must be efficient at circulating blood into the capillaries (small blood vessels) in the skin. If you don’t have good circulation in the skin, you don’t sweat well, and this leads to the body accumulating more toxins, like heavy metals, plastic byproducts (hormone disrupters) and pesticide residues.
The liver is a primary place for detoxification. When blood supply to the liver is not optimal and the liver’s mitochondria aren’t working well, the liver’s cells don’t do their job well. That means accumulation of toxins (all the ones mentioned above). Combined with the lack of detoxification from the skin, this is bad news.
Poor blood supply and mitochondrial function in the gut creates all sorts of havoc – poor production of digestive juices, leaky gut, immune system dysfunction leading to gut dysbiosis (disruption of the bacteria in the gut, and susceptibility to infections), chronic inflammation, food intolerances, allergies, autoimmunity, and more. All of which can of course, cause vicious cycles that make your fatigue worse, fast. Perhaps the biggest problem that mitochondrial dysfunction creates is leaky gut.
The leaky gut then itself causes a whole set of problems because it allows leakage of undigested food particles into the bloodstream (which causes a chronic immune response that drains our energy) and more importantly, that is causes constant leakage of endotoxin (a bacterial toxin that should be getting flushed out of the body) into our blood. Endotoxin is a mitochondrial toxin and causes inflammation in the body (both of which drain our energy), and it’s linked with dozens of medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and many others.  
The fact that mitochondrial dysfunction is a huge cause of leaky gut is important because new research is indicating that disruption of the gut barrier may be the primary cause of age-related inflammation which accelerates the aging process.  And a big part of that aging is mitochondrial dysfunction and fatigue. In other words, there is a vicious cycle because mitochondrial dysfunction contributes to leaky gut, and leaky gut then makes mitochondrial dysfunction even worse.
Many experts in this field believe that the symptoms of chronic fatigue are entirely explained by mitochondrial dysfunction and how that then causes poor heart function and leaky gut. Now that you understand that the fundamental problem causing fatigue is mitochondrial dysfunction, the question is “What causes your mitochondria to dysfunction in the first place?”
To understand that, you first need to understand a little secret…
The secret is that your mitochondria aren’t just “energy generators” (as most people think), but they actually have another important role…
The Big Key: Your Mitochondria Are Also Involved in Cell Defense! And The More They Are Asked To Defend Against Threats, The More They Shut Down Energy Production!
“Mitochondria lie at the hub of the wheel of metabolism. Because mitochondria are also the concertmasters of innate immunity and inflammation, it makes them uniquely positioned to help the cell decide whether to devote energy and resources to ‘peacetime’ metabolism, or cellular defense.” – Robert Naviaux, MD
We’ve already seen that fatigue is basically a symptom of mitochondrial dysfunction. But there’s one more important layer to the story of how our mitochondria work and how they control our energy levels…
While mitochondria have long been known as the “energy generators” in our cells, breakthrough new research has uncovered another hugely important function of our mitochondria beyond just generating energy!
That’s right – your mitochondria are not just energy generators, but also play an integral role in defending your cells against threats!
This is a remarkable new discovery that has absolutely huge implications for our understanding of fatigue (as you’re about to see), and this fact is almost completely unknown to the vast majority of health experts, scientists and physicians.
If you’re wondering why it’s so important that mitochondria are involved in cell defense, I’ll explain more on how that connects to why you’re fatigued in a moment, but first, let me tell you the quick story of how this discovery came about…
Researcher Robert Naviaux, MD and his colleagues at the University of California San Diego medical school developed a revolutionary new way of doing ultra-comprehensive blood marker analysis. It analyzes over 600 markers in the blood and can create an entire “metabolic signature” of any disease. That is, it can show virtually all chemical changes in the body that are occurring in a particular disease. This is the first test of its kind, and a truly remarkable thing.
This has been vitally important in the case of people suffering from chronic fatigue, which is often regarded by mainstream physicians as being “all in the head” of the person. (Which is, no doubt, incredibly frustrating to the sufferer of chronic fatigue, as they have a debilitating condition that their physician doesn’t even think is real.)
In a recent study using this new blood testing technology, Naviaux, and colleagues examined 612 metabolites from 63 biochemical pathways in the serum of people with and without chronic fatigue.
They found that a whopping 20 of the 63 biochemical pathways tested were abnormal in people with chronic fatigue!  (So clearly, it is not only ridiculous, but also extraordinarily negligent for physicians to continue to suggest that chronic fatigue is not a real physiological problem, but is just hypochondria or depression or just in a person’s head).
Here is Professor Ron Davis, Director of Open Medicine Foundation’s scientific advisory board on Naviaux’s findings:
“The publication, ‘Metabolic Features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’ by Naviaux, et al. is a landmark in ME/CFS research. It is the most important and groundbreaking study of (chronic fatigue) to date.” 
Most notably, they found that in people with cronic fatigue, a whopping 80% of the biochemical markers were low. This finding in particular has profound implications. Here’s a quote from the research explaining why:
“Eighty percent of the diagnostic metabolites were decreased, consistent with a hypometabolic syndrome… Our data show that despite the heterogeneity of factors leading to chronic fatigue syndrome, the cellular metabolic response in patients was homogeneous, statistically robust, and chemically similar to the evolutionarily conserved persistence response to environmental stress known as dauer.”
That last line is especially important…
They are saying that chronic fatigue is a hypometabolic (low metabolic rate) condition that is similar to dauer.
Dauer is a sort of hibernation state!
Dauer is what certain kinds of worms go into when put in a toxic or harsh environment. (Dauer is a German word for endurance). These worms have been studied extensively by biologists due to their unique capacity to endure. They can live 4-8 times longer in a toxic environment by entering into this dauer state.
Basically, they shut down their metabolism just to survive – keeping all their body’s machinery on just enough to stay alive – and hopefully switch back on when in a safer, less toxic environment.
In other words, what they found is that the biochemistry of a person with chronic fatigue suggests that their body is going into a hibernation mode and shutting down energy burning and energy production.
The body is basically keeping on just enough of the machinery to stay alive, but not enough to actually function well.
That’s a remarkable notion!
Why would the body ever do a thing like this?
It turns out, the answer largely comes out of Robert Naviaux’s lab once again. Naviaux has uncovered something he’s termed “The Cell Danger Response.” (Even though Professor Ron Davis referred to Naviaux’s previous study on CFS as a landmark study, I actually consider his work on the cell danger response to be even more remarkable!)
This phenomenon explains how the body’s mitochondria get progressively shut down, putting the body into a sort of hibernation state.
Naviaux’s research has now shown that our mitochondria are not just our energy generators – they are actually major players in how our cells protect themselves from harm, by instigating the Cell Danger Response. I’ll let Naviaux explain what this is all about:
“The cell danger response (CDR) is the evolutionarily conserved metabolic response that protects cells and hosts from harm. It is triggered by encounters with chemical, physical, or biological threats that exceed the cellular capacity for homeostasis. The resulting metabolic mismatch between available resources and functional capacity produces a cascade of changes in cellular (function).”
Those changes in cellular function often culminate in fatigue. Basically, the mitochondria are the canaries in the coal mine – the first ones to sense that something is wrong. But as you’re about to see, they are also far more than simply the sensors of what’s going wrong, but they are actually the key players in our body’s response to that threat. That is, the mitochondria are instrumental in defending our cells from threats.
Here is Naviaux explaining this concept:
“All animals have ways of responding to changes in environmental conditions that threaten survival. We discovered that there is a remarkable uniformity to this cellular response, regardless of the many triggers that can produce it. We have used the term, the cell danger response (CDR) to describe the chemical features that underlie this response.”
The fact that animals can live much longer in a toxic environment by entering this state is the key to understanding this.
What this means is that fatigue is actually part of your body’s attempt to survive in a toxic environment!
It turns out that all of this hinges upon the mitochondria in your cells.
Here is Naviaux explaining this in more detail (and pay particular attention to what he says about what the mitochondria have to do to defend against the threat):
“Mitochondria lie at the hub of the wheel of metabolism, coordinating over 500 different chemical reactions as they monitor and regulate the chemical milieu of the cell. It turns out that when mitochondria detect “danger” to the cell, they shift first into a stress mode, then fight mode that takes most of the energy-producing metabolic functions of mitochondria off line. … Cells “go glycolytic” under conditions of stress, using oxygen less and sugar more for energy production. … Energy production and cellular defense are two sides to the same coin—when you are looking at one side, the other side is temporarily hidden. Mitochondria cannot perform both energy and defense functions at 100% capacity at the same time.”
And that’s the BIG KEY he’s discovered…
Mitochondria are not just energy generators…
They actually have another vital role that has been totally unrecognized until now — CELL DEFENSE!
And these two functions are mutually exclusive. In other words…
The more you ask the mitochondria to engage in cell defense, the more you will shut down their ability to produce energy!
And if your mitochondria have partially or fully shut down their energy production, then YOU will feel the SYMPTOM of FATIGUE!
In other words, I am saying that…
Your energy levels are a direct reflection of your mitochondrial health. Are your mitochondria switched into HIGH ENERGY MODE? Or are they switched into CELL DEFENSE mode, where they shut down energy production?
To put this another way…
Your ENERGY levels are a reflection of what kind of environment your mitochondria are in. And your energy declines to the degree that your cells are being forced to DEFENSE against threats
Mitochondria are our cell danger sensors – the canaries in coal mine. And they are also tasked with fighting off the danger!
Again, it’s worth repeating this because it’s critical to get this:
The energy function of mitochondria and the cellular defense function of mitochondria are two sides of the same coin. To get more of one, you have to decrease the other. So, the more that your mitochondria are taxed with engaging the CDR (to fight off threats), the more that you switch off the ability of mitochondria to produce energy effectively!
Etch this image into your mind, because what you see in this simple graphic is the fundamental cause of fatigue. The more your mitochondria are defending against threats, the more fatigue you’ll feel. Simple as that.
Naviaux has suggested that the mitochondria are able to sense virtually every type of threat, danger, or biological stressor you can think up – from viruses and bacteria, to toxic elements from pesticides, plastics and heavy metals, to inflammation, to pH changes, to physical overexertion, and even psychological and emotional trauma.
When the mitochondria sense these threats, they engage the Cell Danger Response.
This shuts down energy production in the mitochondria and the cell goes into defense mode to protect the body from harm.
Think of it like this: Imagine that someone threw poisonous gas outside your house…
It would obviously be a terrible mistake to say “oh no big deal, let’s just resume function as normal, keep the windows open and let the fresh air in and maybe later, we can go for a walk outside.”
If you kept functioning normally, you’d quickly die.
If you want to survive, your immediate reaction is to shut all the doors, close all the windows and stay inside your house.
And that’s exactly what cells do!
That is the Cell Danger Response. Lock the cells off to seal things inside, and turn off normal cell function (like energy generation).
The key point there is that the more your body shifts into the Cell Danger Response, the more it shifts out of energy production mode!
Mitochondria and cells are destroyed, and the mitochondria that remain are largely shifted from “energy generation mode” to “defense mode.” (To make matters worse, mitochondria literally commit suicide and self-destruct in order to try to protect the cell – so when this happens frequently, we end up with fewer mitochondria in our cells!)
If all of this seems abstract to you, let me ground this in your own personal experience so it makes sense…
Just think for a moment about the last time you got really sick…
Remember how your body felt fatigued and a lot lower energy than you do normally? Remember how your body needed more sleep?
Those are classic signs of the body engaging the Cell Danger Response. The reason why you feel less energy is because your body has literally shut down a large portion of your body’s energy producing machinery!
That’s the key to understanding fatigue.
This is an absolutely critical point to understand, so I’m going to repeat it again:
The more your body is taxed with fighting off threats, the more it will shut down mitochondrial energy production!
This is the foundation of fatigue.
If you have been suffering from fatigue, here’s the fundamental cause of your energy problem: Various threats and biological stressors to your body have taken more and more of your mitochondria offline!
That is, they have caused more and more of your mitochondria to shut down energy production and be forced to defend against the threats.
What Causes Our Mitochondria to Dysfunction?
So now the question is, “what causes our body to engage the CDR?” What is actually causing the mitochondria to dysfunction in the first place?
And the answer is…
A whole bunch of things!
In fact, things which cause our mitochondria to dysfunction are ubiquitous in the modern world we now live in.
- We live in a world filled with toxins in the food supply, in our air, in our water, and even in our homes (from carpet and furniture off-gassing, plastics in our shower, and cleaning chemicals).
- We drink alcohol regularly, which is a known mitochondrial toxin.
- We live in a world with factors that disrupt our circadian rhythm and sleep (which are critical to allow mitophagy – the cleanup of damaged and dysfunctional mitochondria) and regeneration of the cell’s antioxidant defense system. When the cell is operating with a low supply of internal antioxidant defenses, it’s much more susceptible to damage in the mitochondria.
- We eat diets that are deficient in nutrients that our mitochondria need to operate properly.
- We don’t stimulate and strengthen our mitochondria in the way they need to be in order to function well. (This is a massively important factor and we’ll discuss it in detail in the next section).
- We are psychologically stressed, which is linked with poor mitochondrial function. Adverse childhood events (ACEs) are a huge known risk factor for fatigue conditions.
- We eat diets with substances we’re intolerant to or that are inflammatory, which causes mitochondrial damage.
- We are often overweight and insulin resistant, which leads to mitochondrial damage.
- We have poor gut health and leaky gut (this is largely a result of all the above poor lifestyle habits and chronic CDR activation) which results in huge amounts of chronic inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation damages the mitochondria.
- We have poor immune function (largely due to poor lifestyle habits), which leads to susceptibility to infections. And infections typically often mitochondrial damage.
- And when we are experiencing problems with our health, we go to the doctor to get prescription drugs. As it turns out, a huge amount – perhaps even the majority – of prescription and over-the-counter drugs are mitochondrial toxins when taken long-term. Even things like common painkillers (ibuprofen, aspirin, Tylenol, NSAIDs) are toxic to the mitochondria. Antibiotics? Yup, those too. Cholesterol-lowering drugs? Yup, most of those too. Anti-anxiety drugs? Yup, most of them. Anti-depressants? Yup, most of those as well.
If you consider all this deeply, you’ll realize that most of us are unknowingly damaging our mitochondria pretty much constantly every day!
Most of us have at least 4-5 of the above factors going on in our lives on a daily basis. And for many of us, it’s all 11 of them!
Now consider that just ONE of these factors is enough to cause fatigue by itself. Take for example factor #1 – toxins.
Consider this: Studies have actually found that we are being exposed to countless different chemicals every day. Many of those chemicals are known to be toxic to the mitochondria and to have the side-effect of fatigue – even individually.
Now consider that our bodies are being exposed daily to small amounts of literally hundreds of different toxins which are almost all toxic to our mitochondria.
Are you starting to see how just this one factor of toxins can easily switch on the CDR and shut down a lot of our mitochondria?
Here’s an excerpt from Tired of Being Tired: Overcoming Chronic Fatigue & Low Energy (Note pay special attention to the sections I bolded):
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently recognizes more than four million chemical compounds. More than 60,000 of these are produced commercially, with three new compounds introduced each day. In 1992, the EPA published the results of a study in which the urine of 7,000 randomly sampled Americans was tested for toxic chemical residues.
Chemicals like pentachlorophenol, a wood preservative, and others were found in 71 percent of individuals tested. There were not people working at chemical factories or industrial waste incinerators. This study looked at the average citizen – you and me. It is disconcerting to find such a high percentage of individuals with chemical residue in their urine. These are all chemicals not even in existence 100 years ago.
Many doctors who work with chronically fatigued patients and those who work in the field of environmental medicine, agree that chemical exposure is a major contributor to fatigue and low vitality. For example, if you review the symptoms of formaldehyde exposure, you will find fatigue, depression, and poor concentration right at the top. The symptoms of exposure to trichloroethylene (found in floor polish, copy machines, carpet cleaner, etc.) include fatigue, poor concentration, and drowsiness, among others. Exposure to toluene, the most common indoor air pollutant, triggers symptoms of fatigue, poor concentration, drowsiness, and headache.
Methylene chloride is found in paint thinner, hair spray, adhesives, solvents, paint, flame retardants, and many other common products. The aerosol propellants found in hair sprays, antiperspirants, air fresheners, and spray paint, may contain up to 5o% methylene chloride. Once inhaled, methylene chloride goes directly to the brain, fat cells, and liver. Common symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, headaches, and chest pain.
In an article entitled ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Chemical Overload,’ Dr. R. A. Buist explained that there are many pieces of evidence suggesting that chronic fatigue may be a result of toxin exposure.”
Notice how fatigue is listed as a common effect of exposure to all these toxins?
Think about why that is? Why do all these chemicals cause fatigue as a side effect? What’s actually going on in our bodies that causes the chemical to result in fatigue?
Is it because these chemicals instantly manage to “fatigue your adrenals” in a mere matter of minutes and induce low cortisol levels, which results in fatigue? Of course not!
It’s the mitochondria! Like I’ve been telling you, the more you ask the cell to engage threats, the more it turns on the CDR and shuts down energy production.
What happens when the mitochondria shut down energy production? YOU get fatigued.
Again, this is just to mention ONE of the above 11 factors that contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction. And we didn’t even explore a fraction of that one factor.
- If you’ve been dealing with mild or moderate fatigue, it’s likely because you have a mild to moderate shut down of your mitochondria. And if you’ve been dealing with severe fatigue, it’s because your body has shut down even more of your mitochondria.
- The fundamental cause of fatigue is that threats/stressors switch on “defense mode” in our mitochondria and switch off “energy generation mode” in our mitochondria.
- If the stressors become chronic, our body can get locked in CDR mode, and a sort of hibernation metabolism takes hold. The main symptom of being in this state of physiology is fatigue.
- Leaky gut is another huge contributor to mitochondrial damage and fatigue. And it creates a vicious cycle of chronic inflammation leading to a chronic CDR activation.
- There are 11 key factors that switch on CDR mode in our body and cause mitochondrial dysfunction.
- Most of us are doing at least 4-5 of those 11 mitochondria-damaging factors daily.
- If you want to overcome fatigue and reclaim your energy, you must first break this cycle off being locked in the Cell Danger Response. To do that, you must send the signals to your body that the threat/danger is over. Reversing the message of threat is the key to getting your energy back.
How To Fix Your Mitochondria and Fix Your Fatigue
Now that you understand that mitochondrial dysfunction is the primary cause of fatigue, it’s time to see if you have mitochondrial dysfunction!