Mitochondria isn’t hypochondria’s younger mischievous brother but rather “the powerhouse of your cells.” Low energy and fatigue do not have to be an inevitable companions to aging. Especially if you learn how to boost your mitochondria.
“What do mitochondria have to do with boosting your energy, losing weight, and living to 120?” asks Dr. Mark Hyman, an expert in the nutrition field. Absolutely “everything.”
How Old Are Your Mitochondria?
If you spot some sprite being full of verve and wonder why you don’t have that much energy, blame your aging mitochondria. These complex machines are vulnerable to a wide range of breakdowns.
Mitochondria are found in the cytoplasm of most eukaryotic cells. Their function is to generate energy in the form of ATP, the energy currency used by the cells in our body. Mitochondrial cells divide using their own circular strand of DNA and, as a result, there are numerous mitochondria within one cell. A large number of mitochondria are found in cells with enhanced energy demand.
Mitochondria are also responsible for programmed cell deaths. As cells age or show abnormal behavior, mitochondria release a chemical called cytochrome C, which triggers programmed cell death.
Like in ordinary cells, mitochondria also undergo mutation. People suffering from Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease have a higher mitochondrial mutation rate — up to 10 times more than do healthy people.
With aging, we experience a decreased mitochondrial function and content, which leads to a reduced capacity for oxidative phosphorylation, which in layman terms translates to the body’s mechanism of producing energy. Although nobody can stay forever young, we do have the power to delay the aging process gracefully. The more healthy and well-rounded your nutrient intake is, the more you’ll be able to naturally boost your mitochondria.
When you fuel your mitochondria, you also fuel your immune response. Mitochondria provide energy for immune cells such as T-cells and lymphocytes. Mitochondria are often the first to signal the presence of cellular danger, says Dr. Alexander Rineheart, a nutrition specialist. As such, they may also help mount a direct and immediate first-line immune defense to viruses and bacteria, and further, they may help signal a quicker immune response upon reinfection. It is not surprising that those with mitochondrial disorders have been linked with greater instances of immune deficiency and dysfunction.
According to Gay Riley, who has been practicing holistic and personalized nutritional medicine for over 30 years, “Certain nutrients are particularly important for the mitochondrial function but are difficult to obtain from food. These nutrients are Coenzyme Q10, L-Carnitine, and D-ribose. Other nutrients that support mitochondrial function are zinc, chromium, magnesium, vitamin C, E, and alpha lipoic acid.”
Let’s Boost That Mitochondria
1) Exercise: All of us have heard about several benefits of being fit and exercising regularly. But how about the benefits exercising has on mitochondria? Regular exercising reduces oxidative stress by improving the flow of oxygen and stabilizing our blood’s ph.
By getting a healthy workout in, you enhance the functioning of existing mitochondria in your body and facilitate the production of new ones in a phenomenon called the mitochondrial biogenesis.
All forms of exercise are beneficial for mitochondria, however, studies by Gary Dudley show the correlation between the intensity of exercise on mitochondria. According to the study, extending a workout from 30 to 60 minutes, leads to a better mitochondrial function. But extending it from 60 to 90 minutes has shown no improved effect on mitochondria. Exercise daily, and aims for high-intensity interval training.
2) Limit Consumption: We often eat less than what we should to maintain our weight and stay fit. However, watching what you eat has a positive effect on your mitochondria, too. The concept here is that as we consume less food in a day, our mitochondria are less bogged down and can more efficiently remove harmful free radicals.
3) Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent fasting spares your mitochondria of digestive duties so it can focus on more important work. Mitochondria carries out a process called mitophagy where old mitochondria are removed from the cells. The unwanted debris are cleared, along with the nitrogen, reactive oxygen wastes, and other unfolded proteins which may cause problems in the future. Mitophagy decreases your risk of acquiring Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease and increases your immunity.
4) Ketogenic Diet: I know what you are thinking, “Fasting is not my cup of tea,” and I completely understand. For most of us fasting is tough. But don’t you worry — there is another option. The adage, “Fake it until you make it” applies to fasting, too. A ketogenic diet,which is high in fats and low in carbohydrates, mimics the metabolic state of starvation. Consumption of Bulletproof coffee increases your intake of fat in form of medium chain triglycerides. The body starts using fats as a primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates, sparing mitochondria for other vital tasks. Ketogenic diets drastically improve mitochondrial function and are used clinically to treat epilepsy. Epilepsy is a product of abnormal mitochondrial function in the hippocampus region of the brain.
According to Rineheart, “Hidden infections can put extra strain on your mitochondria. Medium chain fats help promote ketone formation, fat-burning, and offer support against underlying infection — a great protective combination for your mitochondria.”
5) High protein diet: Consuming diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates such as legumes, nuts, fish, etc. has a positive effect on the mitochondria. It increases the mitochondrial oxidation which enhances the life of your mitochondria. It delays the process of aging and also helps in weight reduction.
6) CoQ10 supplements: We have discussed at length about the energy generating function of the mitochondria. It occurs via a mechanism called the “Krebs cycle.” CoQ10 is a nutrient which has a part in Krebs cycle, thus helping in the production of energy. CoQ10 is an antioxidant, and thus it insulates mitochondria from oxidative damage from free radicals. CoQ10 will thus improve the functioning and life span of mitochondria. (Editor’s note: to add a blast of highest quality nutrients to daily diet in an easy manner, try a high-quality superfood like Equilibrium. One teaspoon is enough for a day.)
7) Vitamin C supplements: Vitamin C is an antioxidant and a raw material for collagen, the body’s structural protein. A laboratory study from Saudi Arabia’s King Saud University, demonstrated how a healthy vitamin C level significantly helps protect and restore enzyme activity in the aging mitochondria of fibroblasts, cells that make the collagen and elastic fibers that comprise connective tissue. Apart from this, vitamin C has multiple other health benefits and should regularly be consumed. They are best absorbed through citrus fruits rich in vitamin C.
8) Get A Massage: Although this may sound strange, studies show that massages boosts the functioning of your mitochondria. Removal of toxins, through deep tissue massages, results in better blood and oxygen circulation. A deep tissue massage also leads to mitochondrial biogenesis, an important process that involves the growth and division of pre-existing mitochondria.
9) Resveratrol Supplements: Resveratrol is produced by plants when they are under attack by bacteria, fungi, and pathogens. It is found in skin of grapes, raspberries, and blueberries. According to a Harvard Study, Resveratrol accelerates mitochondrial activity in normal cells. Resveratrol supplements are thus highly beneficial to counter aging and obesity.
According to Dr. Alexander Rineheart, “The same supplements that support mitochondrial health, are often the same ones mentioned when it comes to supporting your brain and heart.”
10) Liposomal Melatonin Supplements: Liposomal Melatonin is known to help you sleep, but it also has a positive effect on mitochondria and works as an excellent anti-oxidant. Melatonin has physiological effects on normal mitochondria, such as prevention of mitochondrial impairment, energy failure, and apoptosis in oxidatively damaged mitochondria.
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