Mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cell.
You might recognize them from school, but what else do you remember?
And more importantly, do you know that their health is crucial for your own long-term health?
Understanding the concept of your mitochondria can be quite complicated, so we’ve broken down the science and how you can optimize them.
Mitochondria - the low down
What Are Mitochondria?
Our bodies are made up of trillions of cells and inside these cells are mitochondria. They convert the food we eat and the air we breathe into “ATP”, a special type of fuel that generates the energy our cells need to keep us healthy and alive. Literally.
While that is the most important function of the mitochondria, it is also responsible for:
- Sending messages to other components within the cell
- Regulating vital calcium levels
- Producing and regulating body heat
- Tailoring the cell to perform specific functions
- Controlling cell growth and cell self-destruction
As you can imagine then, for our bodies to be performing at their best, we need our mitochondria to be performing at their best too.
The Discovery Of Mitochondria
First classified as ‘bioblasts’ in 1890, mitochondria were officially named in 1898 by Carl Benda. He combined the Greek words ‘mito’ (thread) and ‘chondros’ (granules) to represent the shape of the mitochondria he was seeing in his microscope.
It wasn’t until 1952 that the first high-resolution electron micrographs were taken showing a much clearer picture of the mitochondria. This confirmed that not only did they have a double membrane but that the size, shape and density of mitochondria varied from cell to cell.
Are You Feeling The Effects?
Here are the 10 signs your mitochondria are suffering.
1.Tired or lacking energy
2. Hormonal mood swings
3. Weight gain or blood sugar fluctuations
4. Reduced exercise performance and recovery
5. Aging skin
6. Feeling the effects of aging
7. Stressed or anxious
8. Difficulty sleeping
9. Heart, blood pressure or circulation issues
10. Lack of mental sharpness
What Causes Our Mitochondria To Slow Down?
One of the mitochondria’s unique features is a double membrane which enables them to perform a number of life-sustaining biochemical reactions.
But there’s a battle raging inside our cells. During the energy generation process, a potentially damaging by-product, called a free radical, can damage this double membrane. To protect themselves from this, the mitochondria stack themselves with the body's own antioxidant, CoQ10.
As we get older, the natural level of CoQ10 in our bodies can decline. When this happens, free radicals start to damage the mitochondrial membrane where the energy-production process happens. Less energy is generated, the cells don't function as well - you can see the problem.
Did you know?
The popular term “powerhouse of the cell” was coined by American cell biologist, Philip Siekevitz, in 1957.
Mitochondria are found in every cell in the body except red blood cells. Some cells have more than one mitochondrion. A human muscle cell can contain up to 2500 mitochondria each.
Not surprisingly, cells that require the most energy - such as the brain, heart, skeletal muscles and the eye - contain the most mitochondria.
Your Top Four Mitochondria Support Essentials
Think about your mitochondria like a power station. When the station slows down production or there isn’t enough fuel, the amount of power you receive reduces. The reverse is also true, when the station is receiving plentiful high-quality fuel and regular maintenance, power production increases.
1. Eating to support your mitochondria
We know mitochondria take the food we eat and the air we breathe and turn it into the energy we need to survive. Eat nutrient-rich foods and you’ll give the mitochondria the essentials they need to power you through your day. This includes increasing consumption of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats and reducing harmful ingredients such as sugar and refined grains. Not sure where to start? Read this article.
2. Exercising for mitochondrial health
We all know that general exercise is good for us, but exercising is so much more than just a way to keep weight off.
Exercise (especially high intensity or strength training) increases the number of mitochondria in your body improving its ability to produce energy. In other words, the more mitochondria you have, the more energy you can generate during exercise and the faster and longer you can exercise.
Even with a healthy diet and adequate exercise, our mitochondria can still take a hit from other factors we have little to no control over. Pollution, UV rays, some medications and even stress can cause damage to our mitochondria.
Taking a supplement that supports mitochondrial performance is a smart strategy to help you maintain energy levels, protect your cells and support your ongoing well-being and longevity.
4. Additional boosters
Sleep is also important. If you’re not sleeping adequately then you aren’t giving your glymphatic system support. This system works to remove toxins and waste from the brain which inhibit mitochondrial function. Some studies also suggest that meditation improves mitochondrial function, as does taking cold showers, being in the sun, and intermittent fasting.
So, can focusing on your mitochondrial health improve overall health?
The answer is a resounding yes. Researchers continue to study mitochondrial health to discover how we can improve healthy aging. One popular theory is the Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (or MFRTA for short) which suggests that longevity comes down to well-performing mitochondria.
Optimizing your mitochondria can improve overall health by:
- Increasing energy levels
- Slowing cellular aging
- Increasing support for your organs
- Boosting physical performance and reducing recovery times
- Promoting better sleep
- More clarity and mental focus
- Visibly healthier and vibrant skin
Difference between Ubiquinol and Ubiquinone
6 things your cells did today