Using Therapeutic Foods to Improve Mitochondrial Function. Part II.


Providing a wide variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients is essential to promote mitogenesis, mitochondrial quality control, and modulate mitochondrial metabolic processes. After all, vitamins and minerals work as cofactors that help enzymatic function, enabling ATP synthesis. Furthermore, this reflects multisystemic benefits, including lowering the pain sensation, reducing fatigue, and better cognitive function. Indeed, we can acquire these benefits by ingesting therapeutic foods packed with antioxidants and micronutrients that promote mitochondrial function and improve our overall health.

Non-Starchy vegetables:

This food group has the primary role in providing the necessary phytonutrients and antioxidants that enable mitochondrial and cognitive function. In addition, non-starchy vegetables are considered the bulk of every meal and therefore are the most varied section of the mito food plan’s shopping list. 

Furthermore, this dietary approach encourages patients to eat around 6-12 servings of vegetables each day. 

  • 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables = 1 serving
  • 1 cup of raw vegetables=1 serving

The easiest way to include more vegetables in your diet is to make a breakfast smoothie. Indeed, smoothies can blend fruits and vegetables, even with natural juices extracted from vegetables like carrots or tomatoes. Another tip is to make sure that the juices you are using are unsweetened and do not have added sugar or sodium excess.

Furthermore, to guarantee the therapeutic application of vegetables, we recommend eating the “rainbow of colors.” Having a wide variety of colors in our diet ensures the ingestion of different micronutrients. 

Starchy vegetables:

Starchy vegetables are an essential source of micronutrients and can be included in the mito food plan. Nevertheless, the mito food plan has a low glycemic, almost ketogenic approach, and to accommodate these characteristics, the daily servings should be 1-2.


Fruits are another food group that is necessary to provide phytonutrients, fiber, and energy. In addition, fruits like pomegranate seeds, strawberries, and grapes are critical for increasing glutathione levels. Blueberries improve brain health and cognition, and apples are packed with phytonutrients and fiber to suppress inflammation.

The mito food plan recommends having limited amounts of fruits, 1-2 servings per day.

Gluten-free grains:

Gluten is a protein component of grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Therefore, it is present in their derivates, such as pasta, crackers, bread, and cereals, omitted in the mito food plan. 

On the other hand, the mito food plan promotes the use of limited servings of gluten-free cereals. These cereals can be amaranth, rice, quinoa, oats, millet, and teff. These foods provide a significant amount of phytonutrients as well as protection against gut permeability.

Spices and condiments:

The mito food plan has the priority to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Therefore, it is essential to know that added and refined sugars are avoided following the mito food plan. 

Furthermore, the use of herbs like cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and thyme are recommended to provide flavor and color to our dishes. In addition, spices like organic turmeric and ginger can boost flavor while reducing inflammation.

Improving your health through a specialized dietary pattern has many benefits. Something crucial to know about following a new diet is that it must be varied in nutrients and accommodate your energetic needs and lifestyle. The mito food plan represents a dietary pattern that can easily incorporate into our patient’s lifestyle and has multiple benefits. Furthermore, the introduction of varied therapeutic foods ensures cognitive health, improves enzymatic function promoting energy synthesis, diminishes fatigue and pain sensation. Ultimately, when these actions converge, the patient might work out for more extended periods improving muscle mass.- Ana Paola Rodríguez Arciniega, MS


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

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The information herein on "Using Therapeutic Foods to Improve Mitochondrial Function. Part II." 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 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, acupuncture, 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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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


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