Mitochondrial Therapy: Using food as Medicine


Using therapeutic food as medicine is an essential factor when introducing patients to the Mito food plan. As previously stated, the mito food plan aims to improve mitochondrial function, improve neural communication, and reduce symptoms of pain and fatigue. Indeed, these improvements are made possible with the help of different macronutrient distribution, which increases the percentage of ingested lipids while reducing carbohydrates and keeping a standard supply of proteins. Therefore, it is critical to introduce anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods of high quality to ensure the therapeutic effects on mitochondrial function.

Macronutrient distribution:

The mito food plan’s low-glycemic impact is present due to its macronutrient distribution that favors lipid ingestion and utilization. In addition, this feature allows the stabilization of blood glucose while keeping the patient satiated for a more extended period and keeping cravings at bay. Furthermore, the mito food plan can be considered a ketogenic diet or evolve to this dietary modality if your medical provider recommends it or a ketogenic diet fits the patient’s needs.

  • Carbohydrates:

The mito food plan can improve the well-being of patients dealing with seizures due to its ketogenic composition. Furthermore, this food plan is characterized by its fluidity, as it can be modified to fit a low- carbohydrate diet or a more strict ketogenic diet.

For instance, recommending 20 grams of carbohydrate with a mito food plan approach can ease seizures in patients dealing with this disorder and reduce weight in those patients starting a weight loss program. In addition, this ketogenic modality associate with improved energy levels, fat loss, enhanced muscle strength, and neuronal function.  

On the other hand, a milder ketogenic approach allowing up to 40 or 50 grams of carbohydrate can be applied in those cases where the patient is struggling to comply with a strict ketogenic distribution. In addition, this distribution can increase to 60-80 grams of carbohydrate and still improve cognitive function and brain protection. 

How to comply with a low-carbohydrate diet?

It might seem contradictory that the recommended ingestion of phytonutrient-rich vegetables is 8-12 servings per day when you need to follow a low-carb diet. Nevertheless, the mito food plan follows a grain and gluten-free approach that allows this high amount of vegetable servings. 

  • Protein:

While the mito food plan is considered a low-carb diet, it is not a high protein diet as the percentage of the ingested protein is 20% of the total calories. Furthermore, the benefits of consuming this amount of protein are the sense of satiety they provide while minimizing hunger and cravings. 

How to comply with this plan’s protein intake?

It is crucial fulfilling the patient’s needs and dietary preferences. Therefore, protein options depend primarily on if our patient is vegan, vegetarian, or eats an omnivore diet. Some of the options included in this pattern are:

  • legumes and soy options.
  • Eggs and dairy products.
  • High biological quality (animal) proteins: grass-fed organic meat, buffalo meat, poultry, and fish from wild-caught sources.

Furthermore, if an autoimmune disease or allergic reaction is suspected in our patient is crucial to determine which foods might cause these reactions and avoid them. In which case, your practitioner might recommend avoiding dairy products like cow’s milk yogurt. Therefore, milk alternatives like soy, coconut, almond yogurt, and kefir are advised to supply probiotics to maintain gut health. An additional piece of advice is to make sure that these products are labeled as unsweetened.

  • Fat

The fat distribution of the mito food plan can be changed to fit the patient’s lifestyle or condition. These are the macronutrient distributions considered in the mito food plan:

  1. 30% protein, 30% fat, and 40% carbohydrate. This modality can be easily followed by those individuals who struggle with ketosis or are highly active.
  2. 15% protein. 80% fat and 5% carbohydrate.
  3. 20% protein, 60% fat, and 20% carbohydrate.

Dietary fats may come from different food options, mostly from oils, nuts, fats, and seeds. These food groups allow this diet to be diverse and provide multiple sources of essential fatty acids while contributing to the phytonutrient content and supply micronutrients.

Furthermore, the seeds, nuts, and fats included in this diet have the dual property of supplying sufficient energy while having therapeutic anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Some of the recommended foods are:

  • Almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pine nuts, pecans, and peanuts.
  • Dried coconut.
  • Hemp, chia, and flax seeds.
  • Avocado.
  • Olives.
  • Oils coming from avocado, coconut, olives, grape seed, and sunflower.
  • Ghee.
  • Coconut milk (canned).

Food’s therapeutic role should always be accompanied by an adequate calorie quantity and the proper macronutrient distribution. Furthermore, the mito food plan’s macronutrient distribution favors fat ingestion because it can improve mitochondrial function by reducing oxidative stress derived from a high-carbohydrate diet. The combination of these factors will create the health enhancement we are looking for. – Ana Paola Rodríguez Arciniega, MS


The Institute of Functional Medicine (2020). “Mito Food Plan Comprehensive Guide.”

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The information herein on "Mitochondrial Therapy: Using food as Medicine" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

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