August 28, 2019 4 min read
September is Mito Awareness Month and we are empowered to be supporting the work that MitoCanada is doing to bring not only awareness but research and advancements for this disease.
Through our Community Bar program, we hope that more people will understand this complex disease and that more people will become aware of what Mito is.
We were able to bring in Evan, Julia and Blaine Penny to pick the scent and colours of September’s Mito Energy Soap. Evan was just four when he underwent a routine appendectomy only to come out with an unexplained brain injury that left him quadriplegic due to mitochondrial disease. Blaine is the CEO and co-founder of MitoCanada and has poured his heart and soul into raising awareness and funds for mitochondrial disease. Our own Karina and Cam are good friends of the Penny family, making it a cause that hits close to home.
See the Penny's story here:
You may be thinking to yourself, what is Mito? Mito is short for Mitochondrial Disease.
To fully understand what mitochondrial disease is, and the impact it can have on a person, we have to go back to the basics of our bodies, mitochondria and how we use and create energy in our body.
Mitochondria are the energy producers of our bodies. They are actually responsible for creating over 90% of the energy in our bodies, which is amazing! In an adult human, we have about 100000 trillion mitochondria, and we actually make over 2 billion mitochondria every single second. Yes, these numbers are huge, and that is why mitochondria are so important.
Mitochondria take the food we eat and the air we breathe and turn it into energy. They are responsible for using 90% of the oxygen we breathe for this energy production. In simple terms, they take fat, sugar, protein and oxygen, and turn them into energy-rich molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). This ATP is used by our bodies to complete vital functions. From our brain to our muscles to our digestion, ATP makes your body function.
Mitochondria also contain two main types of DNA - mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA (nDNA). Both of which can have mutations. Unfortunately, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA can mutate 10x faster than normal DNA is a human body. This makes mitochondria susceptible to changes and the risk of mitochondrial disease as these mutations can make the mitochondrial fail. Failure means that they stop their production of that vital energy.
When we don't have this production of energy, we can lose functions in our bodies and they won't work properly. Currently, there are over 200 diseases that are associated with mitochondrial failure and it is estimated that 1 in 4000 people have the disease. It is also estimated that 1 in 200 people have mutations in their mitochondria.
There are two types of mitochondrial disease - primary and secondary. Primary is a genetic condition where there is a mutation in any of the mtDNA’s 37 genes, 13 encoding proteins or the 1,000 nDNA genes. Secondary mito disease is associated with mutations caused by acquisition, this could be from triggers such as environmental, drug related or a failure in gene encoding. Some diseases associated with secondary mitochondrial disease are diabetes, Parkinsons, ALS, some cancers, infertility and more…
September is Mito Month, and the third week, in particular, is mitochondrial disease awareness week. This year they are running events across the country, and globally events are happening.
Energy is one of the key things for mitochondrial disease. The more energized your life is the more mitochondria. Exercise is so good for you and your mitochondria. This is why Mito Canada also has TEAM Mito which is dedicated to doing runs, walks and activities. They want people to get active, stay healthy and be energized, this is one of the best ways to keep mitochondria healthy.
Next year is Mito Canada's 10th year and they want to light up the world. They are hoping to break a world record and raise awareness by lighting up monuments across the world. In the past, they have lit the Eiffel Tower, the Calgary Tower and many more in green.
Research is just the beginning.
The biggest hurdle in mitochondria disease is the diagnosis. In Evan's case, for instance, they still don't know what gene was impacted. It is like finding a needle in a haystack. Currently, you can get a test for a full-body gene sequencing, to help determine what is happening in your genes and DNA. This is a huge first step in mitochondrial disease research, treatment and to finding a cure.
Treatment, on the other hand, is slow and intensive. With so many diseases, variations and mutations, there is no one size fits all. Some research that looks promising is in immunotherapy, gene therapy and mitochondrial myopathy.
Our September feature soap is all about energy. With energizing notes of invigorating rosemary and energizing spearmint it is a great wake up, get going. Energy is so important.
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