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, better brain function, and natural anti-aging benefits.
Responsible for more than 90 percent of cellular energy, 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 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 and foggy and experience early-onset aging. Worse still, mitochondrial failure causes cell injury that leads to cell death, and when multiple organ cells die organs fail.
Biohacking Your Mitochondria
Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof, has been studying mitochondria for years and says 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. 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. She suggests that you eat:
- 3 cups per day of green leafy vegetables, including kale
- 3 cups per day of sulphur-rich vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radishes, collards, kale, garlic, leeks, chives, and asparagus
- 1 serving per day of wild fish like salmon or herring for omega-3 fatty acids or grass-fed meat
- 1 serving per week of organic organ meats, including liver, heart, tongue, and gizzards, as these contain concentrated vitamins and minerals
- 1 serving of seaweed per week to increase iodine levels
2. Embrace High-Intensity Exercise
Moving your body improves mitochondrial function and improves brain performance. One study found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great method of strengthening mitochondria, and just two weeks of HIIT “significantly increased mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle.”
3. Get Good Sleep
We all know that quality sleep can do wonders for our health and that constant sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. Mitochondria use the time that your are asleep to remove cellular waste from the brain. If mitochondria don’t get to perform this task, mitochondrial dysfunction can occur.
4. Avoid Unnatural Light
Light is a nutrient that plays a significant role in signaling your mitochondria when to do things. 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. Help your mitochondria in this process by going outside in the morning and letting light into your home; embrace darkness at night time, avoiding electronic devices and fluorescent lights.
5. Ditch Chemical Pollutants
Chemicals and other pollutants can damage your mitochondria. Consider things like a water filter, natural beauty products, and non-toxic cleaning solutions to protect your health.
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 of your body. Then the energy and other health benefits will spread throughout your body.
This story originally appeared on Food Matters. It has been reprinted with permission.