The mitochondria. The “powerhouse of the cell.” The little organelle that is believed to have originated outside of our cells since it carries its own DNA. For me, thoughts and aspirations of improving the function of the mitochondria in our cells gives me warm and fuzzy feelings all the way to my core. Unfortunately, for most of you, that warm and fuzzy feeling is a little more akin to nausea as suppressed memories of high school biology surface…
This organelle truly does hold to keep to longevity and health span. It is the root of all evil that is chronic disease. Even insulin resistance / prediabetes, as fundamental as it is to a huge list of chronic diseases, starts with mitochondrial dysfunction.
If I haven’t gotten your eyes glazed over just yet, let’s go a little deeper. Every cell requires energy to survive and thrive. At any given second, a BILLION reactions are occuring in our bodies. Each requires energy in the form of ATP. Some cells more than others. Cells of the muscles, heart, liver, kidneys and brain may have thousands of mitochondria per cell. The second our ability to generate energy falls, these organs begin to fail as well.
The goal of any lifestyle is to promote activities that support healthy mitochondrial function. Calorie restriction without nutrient restriction is incredibly powerful. With this approach, our cells have to use every scrap of glucose and every nutrient to function. Our cells run a tighter ship, creating more efficient and greater numbers of mitochondria. The opposite is true with too many calories–our cells get lazy and mitochondrial function tanks.
Other approaches to increase mitochondria function can include lots of phytonutrients in fruits, veggies and spices. Exercise. There are powerful supplements like resveratrol, ALA and CoQ10 support function. There are some amazing supplements that can aid in this process.
Destruction of our mitochondria begins with excess calories, environmental toxins, smoking, stress, poor quality diets.
Combining protective aspects and avoiding negative aspects gives you the best possibility of extending lifespan AND healthspan. Because who wants to live longer in a nursing home?
For those of you mesmerized by this topic, this article gives a very nice overview of the relationship of mitochondrial dysfunction and insulin resistance.