top of page


Mitochondria and ATP

Going back 1.5 billion years. The Earth is covered with a terrible poison which is killing off large swaths of life. There are a few bacteria that have adapted to this toxic poison. They've learned how to use the poison, oxygen, more effectively in generating ATP. These ancient bacteria are engulfed by other bacteria and they developed a symbiotic relationship. This new bacteria will evolve over time to become animals and eventually us. That means all of ourselves have these ancient bacteria that help us generate adenosine triphosphate. Our mitochondria are really bacteria. In the most energy-intensive cells, our brain, our retina, and our heart, we have about 10,000 mitochondria per cell.

In medical school, I had to memorize lots and lots of reactions involving mitochondria, but no one taught me what I needed to feed my mitochondria to be sure that they could have optimal function and from what kind of things were particularly toxic. That's one of the things that I investigated as I figured out from my reading that likely , mitochondria were the root cause of my fatigue, my brain fog, and the atrophy of brain tissue in MS, Parkinson's Lou Gehrig's Huntington's, all these neurodegenerative processes.

With more reading, study, I figured out that I needed all the B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, sulfur, antioxidants, and essential fats because the mitochondria have lots of membrane around the cell and within the mitochondria to run that chemistry. They are also incredibly dependent on omega-3, omega-6 fats. You want to flood your body with that nutrition so your mitochondria can perk up and come back to life. It also means you particularity need to protect them from heavy metals, aluminum, arsenic, lead, mercury being the foremost toxins.

When you look at chronic disease on a molecular level and a cellular level, what we see is that it's all the same disease. You have mitochondria that are not working well, too much oxidative stress. You have inflammation that's inappropriate and attacking the self. You have nutrient deficiencies. You have toxins that are present, revving up the inflammation. Whether it is an auto immune conditions whether it's a mental health problem, whether it's a neurodegenerative problem, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, MS, at the molecular level are surprisingly similar. That is why if we treat people at the cellular-molecular level to address those broad categories, health improves.

Myelin is Made of Fat

All of our cells are wrapped in a cell membrane, which is made of fat. That fat includes saturated fat and cholesterol, about 70% omega-6 fat and omega-3fat (in about 3:1 or 4:1 ratio). It is critical that those cell membranes have plenty of saturated fat, plenty of cholesterol, plenty of omega-3 & 6, because the cell membrane is how our cells communicate with the world and cell functions. The myelin is that cell membrane wrapped around and around and around... so it is a very dense layer of fat. Saturated fat, cholesterol, omega-3 & 6 fat. It makes me completely sad when people are talking about a low fat diet for somebody who has a myelin problem because myelin is made of fat.

Source: Bullet Proof Radio #120


Excerpt from TED Talk

We have 1 billion cells in our brain and 10 trillion connections. All of that connective wiring must be insulated by something called myelin. MS damages myelin. In order to make healthy robust myelin, your brain needs a lot of B vitamins; in particularB1, B9, B12. It also needs omega 3 fatty acid and iodine.

Mitochondria are so critical to your lives because mitochondria manage energy supply for our cells. Without mitochondria you will be no larger than bacteria.

In medical school I had to memorize countless reactions involving mitochondria, but I never learned which compound my cells manufacture and which I needed to consume in order for those reaction to happen properly. I now know that I need a lot of B vitamins, sulfur, and antioxidant. So I added those to my daily regimen, and I designed a food plan specifically for my brain and my mitochondria.

For 2.5 million years humans ate what we could gather and hunt: we call foragers, also known as hunter/gatherer. I started with a hunter/gatherer diet, but I structured it to be sure that I was getting the nutrition, the vitamins, minerals that are identified as critical to my brain cells and my mitochondria.

The diet is this:

1) 3 cups of Green Leaves (3 cups = dinner plate heaped high)

2) 3 cups of Sulfur Rich Vegetables

3) 3 cups of Bright Color

4) Grass-Fed Meat

5) Organ Meat

6) Seaweed


Greens are rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, C, K, and minerals. (Kale has the most nutrition per calories of any plant).

- The B vitamins protect your brain cells and the mitochondria.

- The A and C support your immune cells.

- The K keeps your blood vessels and bones healthy.

- Minerals are cofactor for hundreds of different enzymes in your body.

Plus, having a plateful of daily green will dramatically lower your risk of cataract and macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.).


Your brain and mitochondria need sulfur. Your liver and kidneys need sulfur so that they can remove toxins from bloodstream. The cabbage family is rich in sulfur. The cabbage family includes cabbage, brussel sprouts, rutabagas, radish, collards, kale. The onion family is also rich in sulfur - onion, garlic, leeks, chive, charlotte. So are mushrooms and asparagus.


Colors are flavonoids and polyphenols. These are potent antioxidant that support retinas, your mitochondria, your brain cells, and the removal of toxins. You can get your colors from vegetables like beets, peppers, carrots, red cabbage, or you can get them from berries, from brightly colored fruits like peaches, oranges.


High quality protein that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids are very important in insulating the wiring in your brain. It is also critical in developing your jaw so that you can have straight teeth and larger brain. Therefore we have wild fish, in particular salmon, herring. Also have grass-fed meat every day.


Our ancient society all valued organ meats. Organ meats are concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and coenzyme Q. They are particularly potent in supporting mitochondria. We eat liver, heart, gizzard, and tongue once a week.


The ancients would travel great distances to gain your access to seaweed. Seaweed is a rich source of iodine and selenium. Your brain needs iodine to make myelin. It also needs iodine to remove toxins, in particular, mercury, lead, and heavy metals. Adequate iodine lowers your risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Study shows 80% of Americans have h=relatively lower rate of iodine. Therefore have seaweed at least once a week.

Dr. Terry Wahls gave a TED talk "Minding Your Mitochondria" and published a book "The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine"

bottom of page