mitochondrial health 101

What are these cute + intricate organelles and what do they do?

Mitochondria are responsible for producing a surprising amount of energy from the foods we eat to sustain the body in all situations. We need energy to perform every task, even sitting, thinking, metabolizing food and breathing!

There are thousands of mitochondria in almost every human cell [with the exception of red blood cells] to keep us functioning + energized. The highest number of mitochondria can be found in muscle cells [think heart, skeletal, and muscles in our organs]. Astonishingly, mitochondria are flexible based on the body’s energy requirements and can increase or decrease in size and number based on what the body needs most.

The impact of decreased / small / damaged mitochondria on health

When mitochondria become damaged, small or broken down by the body due to disease, lifestyle, environmental OR dietary factors, the impacts are widespread. Most commonly, the issues that arise are neurological, since mitochondrial health is strongly tied to brain health. But the following conditions can also result from poor mitochondrial health:

  1. Alzheimer’s
  2. cognitive decline + impairment
  3. insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes
  4. cancer
  5. chronic fatigue
  6. premature aging
  7. mood disorders [i.e bipolar]
  8. fibromyalgia
  9. neuromuscular disorders [i.e multiple sclerosis]
  10. stroke / cardiovascular disease
  11. obesity

How to care for your mitochondria

To keep your mitochondria healthy + happy, prioritize the following:

lifestyle:

  1. blood sugar stability
  2. intermittent fasting [time-restricted eating / caloric restriction]
  3. regular, moderate-intensity exercise
  4. cold exposure
  5. cognitive exercises
  6. red light therapy
  7. adequate quality sleep

therapeutic foods:

  1. wild caught fish
  2. dark, leafy greens
  3. cruciferous vegetables
  4. nuts + seeds
  5. olives
  6. berries
  7. spices + herbs
  8. green tea

To avoid damage to mitochondria, aim to limit the following:

lifestyle:

  1. frequently overeating [eating past the point of fullness]
  2. environmental chemicals
  3. inactivity
  4. poor sleep
  5. high stress
  6. high heat cooking [charring, grilling, broiling, searing, frying]

foods:

  1. high sugar intake [especially fructose] + sweeteners
  2. alcohol
  3. refined carbohydrates
  4. damaged fats + oils

Why it’s important to care for our mitochondria

When our mitochondria are properly cared for, benefits abound including:

  1. increased metabolic function
  2. increased energy level
  3. increased exercise performance
  4. decreased body fat + increased lean muscle mass
  5. increased longevity
  6. cancer suppression

Keeping mitochondria healthy is essential to a vibrant life. If you suspect you may be suffering from mitochondrial dysfunction, speak to your primary care practitioner + try some of the lifestyle and nutrition tips outlined above. You may also ask about the following supplements to repair mitochondrial health:

  1. coq10
  2. nicotinamide riboside / NAD+
  3. alpha-lipoic acid
  4. resveratrol

These recommendations  are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases. If have any questions, you should consult with your Doctor before starting any supplement program, especially if you are pregnant or have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions.

resources

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-02311-1
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/19/4924
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014483514000682?via%3Dihub
  4. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jcp.27754
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1567724919300492
  6. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2019.00532/full
  7. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/8/7/680
  8. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2020.560865/full
  9. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.660068/full
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684129/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409662/ [note this study was done on rats]
  12. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10715762.2019.1645955
  13. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/23/20/12603
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352172/
  15. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2019/8409329/
  16. https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9059/9/8/918

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