The current life of human beings is under a “metabolic energy crisis.” Today, people have a dysfunctional energy metabolism, presenting constant fatigue, high levels of stress, worrying weight gain and the appearance of long-term chronic diseases. More and more people (and especially young people) are consulting their doctors for this “unexplained fatigue.”

Still, doctors and other professionals continue their struggle to find solutions, limiting themselves to routine blood tests to look for possible culprits (such as anemia). But usually the symptoms are subclinical, and related to the complexity of the energy of the blood. our body, stress management and how we function in the environment.

The energy equation

The nervous system plays a fundamental role in the sleep-wake cycle, mood regulation, general levels of activity and arousal, the response to stress and reproduction. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that facilitate signaling between neurons, being a part of the brain responsible for sending commands to different parts of the body. When working effectively, neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and GABA) allow us to adapt and respond effectively to stressors, entering an active state (sympathetic system) or a resting state (parasympathetic system).

“Fight or flight” is a condition caused by an increase in cortisol and adrenaline, causing the body to be alert to stressors, which is normal in brief moments and remains essential today when we face threats. These factors used to be occasional and consisted of approaching animal predators or tribes, but these days we rarely face threats as serious as those. Instead, our bodies are constantly stimulated by devices, work, relationships, and health problems. This results in chronically high levels of circulating cortisol, leading to stress and anxiety.

The gut-brain axis refers to bidirectional signaling between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain, which is vital for maintaining internal balance. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body and connects the brain to the gut, allowing the brain to influence it and vice versa. Different research shows that different strains of bacteria can alter the formation of neuronal pathways critical to the stress response, which can impact anxiety symptoms. There is often a high relationship between anxiety and gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), highlighting that low microbial diversity is associated with anxiety.

Methylation is a key process in the body and regulates a variety of biochemical processes from tissue growth and repair to DNA synthesis. It plays a key role in the nervous system by helping the metabolism of neurotransmitters, which is why people who have methylation problems can often experience mental health problems.


We are living in a unique period in human history, where most of us have easy access to a wide variety of foods. From an evolutionary perspective, the lack of regular access to food and seasonal shortages of carbohydrates required our bodies to develop efficient pathways to store and easily access body fat for energy. Cells can adapt to different types of substrate that can be used as "fuel" and different cells prefer different substrates. This adaptation is crucial and is achieved through various regulatory mechanisms involved in the control of energy and its utilization.

But, we are no longer “hunters stalking their prey.” Instead, we eat 24/7, with easy access to food, and are constantly left hungry. An overabundance of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods has led to a disconnect between hunger and true physiological needs:

  • Blood glucose dysregulation
  • Diets high in refined carbohydrates, low in fat/protein, and low in micronutrients often result in poor metabolic adaptation, ranging from hyperglycemia to insulin resistance. Chronically elevated insulin often correlates with elevated glucose as cells become less sensitive to insulin signaling. Glucose “ups and downs” can cause energy dips as a result of reactive hypoglycemia. It can also cause dyslipidemia which increases cardiovascular risk, testosterone problems in men, and an increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women.

  • Blood glucose metabolism
  • Glucagon and insulin exert opposing influences as part of a feedback system that keeps blood glucose levels stable. Glucose stimulates insulin secretion from the pancreas, promoting the absorption of glucose and amino acids from the blood into the cells. Transport proteins known as glucose transporters (GLUTs) facilitate the transport of glucose across the cell membrane. Insulin also inhibits glucagon secretion, blocking the conversion of energy sources other than carbohydrates into glucose. This is presumably a protective mechanism for periods of fasting. Our bodies seem to prioritize storing fuel rather than releasing it. A decrease in blood glucose stimulates glucagon causing the release of glucose from glycogen, the release of fatty acids from stored triglycerides, and the stimulation of gluconeogenesis.

  • Cellular Energy Regulation
  • Now that we are well fed, we need to deliver that fuel to our cells, that is, our mitochondria, to convert it into energy. The ultimate goal of delivering fuel substrates, such as carbohydrates, proteins or fats, is conversion to adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is actually a proton (H+) storage system. Removal of the phosphate group from ATP forms ADP and releases energy. It is this key 'phosphorylation' reaction, the coupling and uncoupling of phosphate, that drives our body's demands.

  • Mitochondrial inefficiency
  • A number of environmental and physiological factors can have a damaging effect on mitochondria. This includes toxic load and oxidative stress. Chronic high- or low-level exposure to xenobiotics, alcohol, and air pollution particles can directly interfere with mitochondrial energy production. This may be a greater problem in a state of low levels of mitochondrial antioxidants (manganese superoxide dismutase, mitochondrial glutathione) which may be caused by nutrient deficiencies (manganese, selenium, cysteine). Methylation is also a crucial process, as one of the mitochondrial enzymes (called MTHFD2), is responsible for producing 20 to 40% of cellular energy. ATP is more efficient in the presence of oxygen, so low oxygen states due to anemia or poor circulation can significantly compromise energy production. Finally, thyroid hormones are a key regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis and function, so hypothyroidism may be a contributing factor to mitochondrial dysfunction.

  • Adrenal Function
  • Cortisol influences, regulates or modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress. The effects of cortisol are felt almost throughout the body, impacting homeostatic mechanisms. There is an interaction between these two systems to intelligently manage a variety of stressors, with adrenaline exerting a rapid and powerful response and cortisol providing a lower intensity but longer-term response. Elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol are associated with anxiety states.

    On the contrary, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) balances the excitatory action and attenuates excessive sympathetic responses. As such, GABA has a calming effect on our emotions and prevents them from overwhelming us in stressful situations, by modulating cortisol, as well as adrenaline, norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin levels, and effectively promoting the parasympathetic mode.

    Support Energy Adaptation

    1. Fasting states: we need to spend less time eating and more time digesting. This could mean eliminating snacks between meals and focusing on 2 or 3 main meals based on real foods, or for some it could mean intermittent fasting or even a ketogenic diet.

    1. Optimize blood glucose regulation : if you have problems with blood sugar or even insulin resistance, increase your intake of chromium and magnesium , minerals involved in this process.

    1. Prioritize sleep : Inadequate sleep is an independent risk factor for metabolic abnormalities, such as insulin resistance and hyperglycemia, and also reduces our ability to resist stress.

    1. Regulate cellular energy : reduce mitochondrial insults, such as exposure to toxins, inflammation and oxidative stress, and prioritize healthy physical movement and exercise, to increase the number of mitochondria within cells. Some supportive supplements may be methylated b complex and iron complex.

    1. Manage stress by practicing mindfulness and meditation . Learn to be more present and appreciate the simple things in life. Remember that magnesium helps calm you down and reduce anxieties.

    1. Support steroid hormone production : vitamin B5 (part of the B complex vitamins ). It is essential for cellular energy generation. It is also a cofactor for cortisol production and therefore may support the stress response. Vitamin C works in symphony with the adrenal glands' response to stress. It is necessary for the production of steroid hormones and catecholamines and can improve adaptation to stress.

    To some extent, the energy equation is as simple as energy in = energy out. But energy metabolism is complex and its delicate balance can be easily upset, leading to fatigue and chronic disease. If we fuel our body appropriately, without overfeeding, while optimizing cellular energy metabolism and supporting the body in a balanced way with adequate time to rest and recover, we can improve energy adaptation and overall resilience.


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    Muy agradecida por la información la volveré a leer para entender mejor 👍

    Margarita Luisa Muñoz Yañez

    Que buen articulo… por favor de mis agradecimientos al autor del articulo, plantea una claridad única de conceptos y sus relaciones, se nota su sabiduría, hace rato que no leía algo con sentido entre los alimentos , alimentación , nutrición conectado con lo psicosocial y biológicos y diria aun mas, lo espiritual que tiene en el centro, cómo me RELACIONO consigo mismo y con el medio ambiente.
    En Chile la salud y la enfermedad solo se considera desde lo racional/ biológico como dogma. Un par de cuadrado en una malla de infinitas posibilidades ( rigidez dura), obviamente una mirada reductiva. Soy de los que creo, que esa matriz recibe el impacto de los psicosocial espiritual desde las relaciones, lo que uno decide libremente es cómo me relaciono según lo que pienso siento y hago, los estilos de vida. Entonces, ¿Cómo me relaciono conmigo, con el entorno cercano y mi medio ambiente? Entorno, al acto básico de comer y nutrir, descansar y buen dormir ? En condiciones normales y cuando no lo estoy , estrés cognitivo -emocional sostenido, por ejemplo…
    Agradezco a ustedes y sobre todo al autor. Podrían poner el nombre del autor por favor. Gracias
    Muy agradecido, saludos Ángel

    Angel Mella

    Solo agradecer la maravillosa informacion entregada


    Excelente información, muchas gracias!!!

    Maureen van Oosterwyk

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