Every cell in your body requires energy to function properly, and that energy is provided by tiny organelles called mitochondria. The number of these organelles varies among types of cells; for instance, your skin and red blood cells don’t have any, but the healthy microbes in your body can have as many as 100,000.
Most cells have at least some mitochondria, though. Together, they account for nearly 90 percent of the energy your body produces.
But physical energy isn’t the only reason these organelles matter. Being responsible for most of your body’s functions, your mitochondria have an enormous impact on your health and longevity, specifically as protectors against cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, diabetes, and obesity.
How Healthy Are Your Mitochondria?
To work properly, mitochondria need oxygen, as well as healthy levels of glucose, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, L-carnitine, and alpha lipoic acid. When mitochondria don’t work properly, the dysfunction can often be traced to inadequate amounts of these nutrients, and it might take years to become apparent.
Because of mitochondria’s role in energy production, their dysfunction might produce symptoms such as chronic fatigue, sluggish metabolism, digestive disorders, memory loss, brain fog, blood sugar irregularities, and chronic pain. This role, however, is equaled by their role in preventing disease, particularly cancer.
When working properly, mitochondria can effectively kill off the damaged, potentially cancerous cells we produce every day, replacing them with healthy cells. In the midst of mitochondria dysfunction, this doesn’t happen as often as it should, and your risks for cancer can skyrocket.
Boost Your Longevity by Strengthening Mitochondria
In addition to creating more energy throughout the day, improving your mitochondrial function is also essential to prolonging your longevity. By making a few adjustments to your diet and daily routine, you can restore their function and get your health back on track:
1. Tailor your diet to mitochondrial needs.
Make sure your diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, B vitamins, and amino acids so your mitochondria are properly nourished. Start by eliminating processed foods, sugars, and genetically modified ingredients. They’re low in nutrients to begin with and can interfere with your ability to absorb the micronutrients you need to support your mitochondria.
2. Force your body to make energy.
Your mitochondria are made to produce energy. If you expend that energy through regular exercise, they’ll be forced to synthesize proteins to make more. Exercise also raises your insulin sensitivity, which can have a profound effect on lowering inflammation. Together, higher insulin sensitivity and lower inflammation are keys to slowing the aging process.
3. Lower your carbohydrates.
When your body doesn’t have a surplus of glucose, it will begin to use both consumed fat and body fat as an alternative fuel source. This process, known as ketosis, requires mitochondria to turn fat into energy, so lowering your carbohydrates will boost your mitochondrial activity.
4. Fast occasionally.
Calorie reduction is a well-known method for lowering the production of free radicals, which are linked to almost every disease, including cancer. It also improves mitochondrial function, and therefore, your longevity. You certainly don’t have to go all day without eating; you can see incredible benefits just by limiting your eating to a 10-hour window, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., for example.
Good energy and healthy cell function are keys to improving your longevity, and both rely on healthy, fully functional mitochondria. Working closely with your physician and a highly experienced nutritionist, you can more accurately determine how healthy your mitochondria are. Regardless of whether you have mitochondria dysfunction, however, you can benefit from focusing on their improvement through healthier dieting and exercise.