How to Improve Cell Energy (Mitochondrial Function) for Anti Aging & Health

The energy of the cell is produced by converting food we eat and oxygen we breath into energy in an organelle found inside our cells called the mitochondria. These organelles are considered the batteries of life, and are found in large numbers in active organs and tissues where a lot of energy is needed, including the brain, muscles, and heart but also in nerve cells, kidneys, the liver, eyes, and the pancreas.

Mitochondrial function is a significant factor in optimal health. The mitochondria are very sensitive to damage leading especially to tiredness but also to increased sensitivity to pain, memory loss and other symptoms involved in early aging. 

In this article I will discuss how you can improve mitochondrial function and prevent its damage to enhance your overall well-being and help you lead a longer life.

First, let’s explain the effects mitochondrial function and dysfunction has on our health.

The Importance of Mitochondrial Health

Since mitochondria are the powerhouses in our cells. They are essential for energy production, and therefore, their function is a huge indicator of how long and how well we will live.

2,000 proteins are required to make the mitochondria work.

Age-related increases in oxidative damage and free radical production play a role in mitochondrial dysfunction. Free radicals damage mitochondrial DNA and in turn provoke mutations that alter mitochondrial energy production. So, the more free radicals your body produces or is exposed to, the less energy your cells will make in the mitochondria. [1]

Major mitochondrial dysfunction has been connected to diseases like Alzheimer’s, autism, dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, kidney disease, neurological problems, seizures, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. [2] [3] [4] 

But even slight dysfunction has been found to lead to early aging, memory loss, fatigue, greying of hair, muscle weakness, many facial wrinkles, loss of muscle coordination, muscle weakness, and visual and/or hearing problems..

Testing mitochondrial function is currently either very invasive or very expensive, therefore, the best way is to lookout for the signs, and symptoms that may point toward mitochondrial dysfunction mentioned above.

It’s important to mention that mitochondria are also very susceptible to nutrient deficiencies, and environmental toxins. Several commonly prescribed drugs also reduce its function including antibiotics, statins, aspirin, and more. What’s more, some illegal drugs can also cause major damage to the mitochondria, like cocaine and methamphetamine. [5]

How to Improve Mitochondrial Function

A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds with many essential nutrients and antioxidants plays a major role, as it can limit oxidative damage and prevent many nutrient deficiencies inducing mitochondria to produce more energy.

Many studies also show that dietary restriction, the consumption of less foods and periods of fasting, will boost mitochondrial function. [6]

Currently dietary restriction is the only proven non-genetic treatment that clearly increases mean and maximum life span. Studies show that animals on calorie restricted diets produce fewer mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and show decreased insulin signaling. [7]

Check out my article or video on how to incorporate intermittent fasting into your life to boost mitochondrial function and other health benefits here: https://www.theguerrilladiet.com/intermittent-fasting-and-weight-loss/

Supplements are also an important support for mitochondrial dysfunction. They help mitochondria produce more energy and reduce accumulation of toxic compounds inside cells and reduce the likelihood for nutritional deficiencies. 

Supplements that have shown to have positive effects on mitochondria function include coenzyme Q10 and creatine, but also B complex vitamins, alpha-lipoic acid and resveratrol.

It is also recommended to do exercise even though energy levels may be low. The reason is that some mitochondria may be dysfunctional while other may be functional. The healthy mitochondria may boost the level of energy in the cells back to normal helping to avoid symptoms. Building muscle mass through strength training can limit mitochondrial damage, even in people with Parkinson’s disease. [6]

As mentioned, mitochondria are susceptible to toxins, therefore it is good to try and limit your exposure to as many toxins as possible. This is indeed true for most diseases, and the best way to do this is through the use of natural cleaning materials in your home, use of natural hygiene products and making sure that there is no build up of mold inside your house. Consuming organic foods is another excellent way to reduce toxic load.

All in all, it’s clear that the best way to improve your mitochondrial function is by leading a healthy and natural lifestyle. Eat as many plant based foods as you can, exercise regularly, limit your exposure to toxins, and supplement your diet when needed, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your mitochondrial function and thus adding years to your life.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

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Thank You, 🙂

Galit Goldfarb

References:

[1] Mitochondria and Organismal Longevity. Ara B Hwang,§,1 Dae-Eun Jeong,§,1 and Seung-Jae Lee. Curr Genomics. 2012 Nov; 13(7): 519–532. doi: 10.2174/138920212803251427

[2] Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. Xinglong Wang, Wenzhang Wang, Li Li, George Perry, Hyoung-gon Lee, Xiongwei Zhu. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.10.015

[3] Expanding insights of mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease. Patrick M. Abou-Sleiman, Miratul M. K. Muqit & Nicholas W. Wood. Nature Reviews Neuroscience volume 7, pages 207–219 (2006)

[4] Mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases. M. Flint Beal. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0005-2728(98)00114-5

[5] Mitochondria—Fundamental to Life and Health. Joseph Pizzorno, ND, Editor in Chief. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Apr; 13(2): 8–15.

[6] Bratic A, Larsson NG. The role of mitochondria in aging. J Clin Invest. 2013;123(3):951-7.

[7] Sanz A, Stefanatos RK. The mitochondrial free radical theory of aging: a critical view. Curr Aging Sci. 2008 Mar;1(1):10-21. PubMed PMID: 20021368.

[8] Novel, high-intensity exercise prescription improves muscle mass, mitochondrial function, and physical capacity in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Neil A. Kelly, Matthew P. Ford, David G. Standaert, Ray L. Watts, C. Scott Bickel, Douglas R. Moellering, S. Craig Tuggle,1,2,7 Jeri Y. Williams, Laura Lieb, Samuel T. Windham, and Marcas M. Bamman. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Mar 1; 116(5): 582–592. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01277.2013