Women’s stress levels have risen by 44 percent since 2019, causing an uptick in mitochondrial burnout, says integrative health expert Fred Pescatore, MD. He estimates the condition impacts over 90 percent of women. Mitochondria are cellular structures that serve as power plants in cells, but chronic stress causes the adrenal glands to work overtime and pump out high levels of cortisol, which damages mitochondria, leading to fatigue, brain fog, and more.
Women over 40 are at high risk, as mitochondria decline with age. And since estrogen preserves mitochondria’s function, menopausal dips in the hormone can speed depletion. So can sugary, processed foods, which cause mitochondria-damaging inflammation.
Functional medicine physicians can run tests to diagnose burnout. But all women who are stressed and tired can benefit from the mitochondria-boosting strategies below.
Supplement with the herb ashwagandha. Research in the journal Phytomedicine reveals ashwagandha has an anxiety-easing action that’s similar to the prescription drug Ativan. In another study, taking 120 mg. a day improved sleep quality by 72 percent . “Most of my patients report a difference in energy after taking ashwagandha for three to five days,” notes Dr. Pescatore, who advises taking 250 mg. twice a day. If this dose makes you too drowsy, cut it in half and work your way up to 250 mg. twice daily if you don’t get the benefits. One to try: Life Extension Optimized Ashwagandha (Buy at LifeExtension.com, $7.50).
Sip three cups of green tea a day, advises Dr. Pescatore. Its polyphenol compounds boost the number and activity of mitochondria. And you’ll be on your way to feeling better in no time!
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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