Mitochondria power every cell in your body and are very susceptible to the surrounding environment. By controlling the environment you can harness the power of your mitochondria to give yourself more energy, brain function and natural anti-aging benefits!
What are mitochondria?
Responsible for more than 90 percent of cellular energy, your mitochondria are organelles that power every cell in your body and are necessary for the body to sustain life and support growth. There are more mitochondria in your body than there are cells and bacteria! These little ‘powerhouses’ dictate how you feel all the time and are the bedrock of a strong body and a powerful mind.
Mitochondria are composed of tiny packages of enzymes that turn the fats and sugars you eat into cellular energy that keeps your body running. Although they don’t have higher level processing or contextual awareness, mitochondria make thousands of decisions for your body every second. They are rapid pattern matching systems that respond to the information being sent from the environment. Breaking it down to the basics, mitochondria control which cells live, which cells die, which cells turn cancerous, how much energy you make and whether you can grow new neurons.
If you make your mitochondria stronger, your whole body can benefit from the increased energy. More efficient mitochondria can also make you live a longer, healthier life.
On the other hand, if your mitochondria degrade, you may start to feel sluggish, foggy and experience early onset aging. Worse still, mitochondrial failure causes cell injury that leads to cell death, and when multiple organ cells die this becomes organ failure.
Bio-Hacking Your Mitochondria
Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof, has been studying mitochondria for years and has found that there are ways to maximize your body’s ability to generate energy and make it possible for you to think and work smarter and more effectively by feeding your mitochondria.
Dave refers to mitochondria as the ‘battery’ in your body and explains that we are able to ‘hack’ the battery to make it give us more energy, restore energy more quickly, and reduce early aging.
Because mitochondria are very sensitive to their environment, it is possible to manipulate them by adjusting the environment through diet, exercise, sleep and exposure to light.
1. Eat A Clean Diet
Dr. Terry Wahls researched the effects of diet on mitochondria and applied her findings to her own life. She found that she was able to dramatically change her body at a subcellular level and even cured her MS, getting out of her wheelchair!
Dr. Wahls’ findings recommend fueling your body with B Vitamins, sulphur-rich foods and antioxidants to help your mitochondria to thrive. To make it easier to do your grocery shopping and meal planning, she suggests eating:
- 3 cups a day of green leafy vegetables each day, including kale
- 3 cups a day of sulphur-rich vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes, collards, kale, garlic, leeks, chives and asparagus
- A protein each day: wild fish like salmon or herring for your omega-3 fatty acids, grass-fed meat and
- Organic organ meats, including liver, heart, tongue and gizzards, once a week as these contain concentrated vitamins and minerals
- Seaweed once a week to increase your iodine
2. High Intensity Exercise
Moving your body has so many benefits including improved mitochondrial function and improved brain performance. One study found that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was a great method of strengthening mitochondria, and just two weeks of HIIT “significantly increased mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle.”
High intensity interval training involves alternating between fast, strenuous exercise and rest so that your muscles can be pushed and then allowed to rest and heal.
3. Get Good Quality Sleep
We all know good quality sleep can do wonders for our health and that being constantly sleep deprived can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. When it comes to your mitochondria, they use your sleep time to ‘take out the trash’, removing cellular waste from the brain. If the mitochondria don’t get to perform this task it can lead to mitochondrial dysfunction.
4. Avoid Unnatural Light
Light is a nutrient that plays a significant role in signaling your mitochondria to do things and when to do them. The natural signal for mitochondria to wake you up is when the sun rises and the sunlight reaches your body and your eyes. When the sun goes down your mitochondria know it’s time to sleep. So that unnatural lights don’t interrupt this process, you can help your mitochondria by going outside in the morning and letting the light in, then you should embrace the darkness at night time, avoiding electronic devices and fluorescent lights.
5. Avoid Chemical Pollutants
Chemicals and air pollutants can damage your mitochondria. Remember, anything in your environment will affect your mitochondria as they are so sensitive. So while it’s great to do things to help strengthen your mitochondria, also consider what other environmental factors may be impacting your health and the function of your mitochondria.
When you start to take control of your mitochondria and your body’s energy levels, you will first feel it in your brain, eyes and heart as these are the most energy-dense areas in your body. Then the energy and other health benefits will spread throughout your body.