Looking for more energy? Most people are! Especially if we have kids!! Well, this odd-sounding structure — mitochondria — operates as an energy engine in your cells — but what exactly is the mitochondria and why should we care about it? The healthier our mitochondria, the more energy we have and healthier we are.
We find a helpful definition from the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation:
“Mitochondria use the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe to create energy (also known as ATP) for our cells. They are like power plants or batteries for our cells. They also have other important roles including controlling how long a cell lives and decreasing the number of unstable molecules (reactive oxygen species) in a cell.
“When mitochondria do not work well – the cell cannot get enough energy to function effectively or may not live as long as it should. Cells in organs that require the most energy often do not work the way they should. This energy shortage can lead to the organ not performing its job and medical symptoms.”
Imagine any machine. If there are limiting factors on energy production, like a worn or loose wire in a car, for example, that machine will be sluggish, slow-moving.
Similarly, your mitochondria need to be an effective conduit of energy production in order for your body (machine) to function well.
Nurturing Your Mitochondria
Thankfully, there is a swell of research on mitochondrial health. Just type the word “mitochondria” into a search engine … and boom! … scroll through countless listings from the scientific world buzzing with the ramifications of how mitochondria function. Some of the research is very heady, so let’s bring it down into our world and grab some practical insights for recouping more energy.
The research shows that mitochondria health is interconnected with your well-being and how you take care of your body. Mitochondria can become sluggish when we eat junk food, stop exercising, drink too little water, and get too little sleep. How we live affects our mitochondrial health and then in turn can affect our quality of life and energy levels.
Additionally, for some people, there are genetic tendencies toward mitochondria dysfunction. Check out this quick overview from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Mitochondria disease. Although they talk about disease, they also have a great explanation of what the mitochondria do, and how to take care of them. Even though you don’t have any type of dysfunction, its good to take care of your mitochondria, especially as we age :
The video repeats that to care for our mitochondria (no matter their status or genetic predisposition), we need to nurture our bodies. So, how do you nurture your body and help rebuild and/or maintain your energy?
Ways You Can Nurture Your Mitochondria Health:
- Try intermittent fasting.
- Reduce calorie intake for longevity.
- Exercise! There are lots of mitochondria in the muscles. When you use and build your muscles, you have more mitochondria, which give you more energy. Especially as we age, maintaining muscle is important for many reasons but also for restoring our energy.
- Eat foods with nutrients, healthy fats, and vitamins that restore your body and nurture your mitochondria. Alpha lipoic acid, Coenzyme Q10, Acetyl-L-carnitine, Vitamin B, and Vitamin D are critical. You can find these nutrients in foods, and if your doctor recommends, supplements can provide additional nutrients. (For those interested, you can find supplements through my Wellevate page. Learn more: https://simplywholebydevi.com/simply-supplement/ Talk with your doctor.)
- Sleep restores your whole body! Quoting from Our circadian clock sets the rhythm for our cells’ powerhouses, “In most cells, mitochondria connect in a constantly changing network that can adapt to various conditions. Mitochondria can thus fuse together and then divide again. Disruption of this fission-fusion dynamic can lead to health problems. Researchers have now investigated exactly how the mitochondrial network interacts with our internal biological clock … .”
- Try to reduce stress and introduce relaxation techniques. This Scientific America article states that, “But our fight-or-flight response places extreme demands on the mitochondria. All of a sudden, they need to produce much more energy to fuel a faster heartbeat, expanding lungs and tensing muscles, which leaves them vulnerable to damage. Unlike DNA in the cell’s nucleus, though, mitochondria have limited repair mechanisms. And recent animal studies have shown chronic stress not only leads to mitochondrial damage in brain regions such as the hippocampus, hypothalamus and cortex, it also results in mitochondria releasing their DNA into the cell cytoplasm, and eventually into the blood.” The article later quotes Douglas Wallace, director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as saying, “‘Mitochondrial DNA is probably the most sensitive thing in your body. If your mitochondria are sensing a problem, then all the rest of you is in trouble, too.’”
- Sometimes we just need a little help. There is a new wellness product from doTERRA called MetaPWR that feeds your mitochondria just what they need to give you more energy. This product does more than just give you energy, it has collagen and other wonderful products that can help manage your blood sugar too. If you have been struggling with energy or blood sugar issues, you may want to give this a try. Message me for more information!
For those wanting to read more about the ins and outs of the mitochondria, check out this handy overview from Medical News Today. And as always, if you have questions on our to nurture your health and mitochondria, give me a call.