The number and quality of your mitochondria will go a long way in predicting your future health and fitness. But what are these things they call mitochondria and why are they so important?
In this short article I aim to answer both those questions and also give you some tips on how you can improve your healthspan by taking proper care of your mitochondria. According to this website mitochondria are…
The “powerhouses of the cell”, that’s how many people know mitochondria. The parts of cells that turn sugars, fats and proteins that we eat, into forms of chemical energy that the body can use to carry on living.
Every living thing is made of cells: tiny compartments contained by a membrane. Cells are the smallest things that can reproduce themselves. When we look inside cells, we see that they have sub-compartments that are smaller still, known as “Organelles” which perform different functions that are essential for the cell to live.
Mitochondria are organelles found in the cells of every complex organism. They produce about 90% of the chemical energy that cells need to survive. No energy; no life! So it’s easy to see why when mitochondria go wrong, serious diseases are the result, and why it is important we understand how mitochondria work.
However, mitochondria do much more than just produce energy. They also produce chemicals that your body needs for other purposes, break down waste products so they’re less harmful, and recycle some of those waste products to save energy.
Mitochondrial health has been implicated in many degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. In fact esteemed natural health physician, Dr Joseph Mercola writes on his blog:
If you’re interested in reducing your rate of chronic disease and aging, you’re interested in optimizing your mitochondrial health. In addition to the dietary changes described above, exercise, including near-continuous movement throughout your day (and avoiding prolonged sitting) is also important.
When you exercise, your body will respond by creating more mitochondria (mitochondrial biogenesis) to keep up with the heightened energy requirement. Exercise also stimulates autophagy, helping to remove damaged mitochondria. In short, exercise helps to not only optimize mitochondrial function, but also increase mitochondrial numbers.
So what can you do to improve the health of your mitochondria? Well, as you’ve just read, exercise is the most common way to improve the quantity and quality of your mitochondria. Both aerobic exercise and HIIT exercise have been shown to improve mitochondrial biogenesis. There are also foods and supplements that help your mitochondria. These include B Vitamins, magnesium and Co Q10. While you can get all of these in food (and I recommend you do) they can alos be acquired through a high quality multi vitamin and mineral supplement.
Other ways to improve your mitochondrial health include heat and cold stress. Heat stress can come from saunas, particularly infrared saunas which heat the body and help you to detoxify toxins from your body. Cold immersion is the best way to create cold stress and can be done by showering in cold water or swimming in the sea or a river (in the Uk). These techniques have been shown to improve the health and function of your mitochondria.