Read on to discover how to help maintain healthy mitochondria, and power the health of your heart.
What exactly does ‘cardio health’ mean?
Cardio or cardiovascular health relates to the health of the heart and blood vessels. It also relates to the health of organs that are critically dependent on a strong blood supply.
Good heart health is associated with supporting the maintenance of everything from immunity to blood pressure, brain function, mood, sleep quality, blood sugar and skin condition, so its a great place to focus your attention.
Heart issues are one of the main health concerns across the globe, but aside from that alarming fact, your heart is responsible for circulating nutrients, oxygen and water around your body, as well as supporting your immune system and transporting the body’s messenger chemicals such as hormones.
On a day to day basis, this means good cardio health can help you with everything from sleeping well, to processing the food you eat, to helping you run for the bus, to completing the tasks you need to get done at work. In the long term, good heart health can help you to maintain a healthful life in many areas of your body.
And what exactly are my mitochondria?
If you want to keep your heart healthy you need to have healthy mitochondria. Your heart is one of the hardest working organs in your body, which means it has high energy needs. This energy comes from within your cells and is generated by the mitochondria – your cells’ power factory.
As we age, our mitochondria start to decline in function naturally. Studies suggest this happens from the age of 30, the rate of decline can be as much as 10% per decade.
How do they relate to my cardio health?
Because of these high energy needs, heart muscle cells have one of the highest concentrations of mitochondria in the human body, up to 5,000 per cell. So you can imagine, it’s important that the mitochondria in your heart are supported and in good working order, so your heart’s cells are strong and your heart organ can support your daily life and longevity.
When learning about the mitochondria and how they work, there are a few main players you need to meet – free radicals, CoQ10 and oxidative stress.
As we age, our mitochondria start to decline in function naturally - studies suggest that from the age of 30, the rate of decline can be as much as 10% per decade.
Meet the free radicals
Free radicals are unstable atoms that have an unpaired electron in their outer shell, so they whizz around looking to steal their missing electron from the closest stable molecule in their vicinity. This could be a lipid or protein molecule, or a strand of DNA or RNA. Unfortunately, this attacked molecule then becomes a free radical itself, starting a chain reaction of electron-stealing all over the place.
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that your body makes to neutralize free radicals, and guess where the only place in your body is that produces CoQ10? The mitochondria.
Age, Imbalance and Oxidative Stress
When the mitochondria’s production of CoQ10 and free radicals are in balance, everything is fine. But from the age of 35, the mitochondria’s production of CoQ10 can begin to slow down, which means those cheeky free radicals aren’t kept in check. This exposes the cells to free radical damage – called oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is when the levels of antioxidants in our body are not high enough to counteract the damaging effect of free radicals. Research has shown that oxidative stress is thought to be a major contributor to the aging process, both at the cellular level as well as contributing to the external visible signs of aging.
When oxidative stress affects your cardiovascular cells it can lead to compromised energy production by the mitochondria there. This mean you’re likely to have a less-than-optimal cardiovascular system.
How you can level the playing field and support your mitochondria to boost your cardio health
When your cells are functioning optimally, your overall health and vitality are good. To help your cells to do this, your mitochondria need to be working properly, and thankfully there are many things you can do to help them.
Eating a diet that’s low in sugar, processed food and carbohydrates, and high in green leafy vegetables, protein, healthy fats, antioxidants and whole fiber gives your body the tools it needs to function well, particularly your mitochondria.
Exercise is also beneficial to mitochondrial health, as with the above foods, by reducing free radical production and therefore cellular damage. Strength training and aerobic exercise have been shown to benefit mitochondrial health in numerous studies – and the great news is that they also help to protect the health of those cardiovascular arteries too.
No-brainer, right? MitoQ is a New Zealand innovation and the first and only supplement able to enter the mitochondria and work to re-energize them by helping to neutralize free radicals.