Improving Mitochondrial Function For Increased Health & Vitality

If you’re like most people, including me, you’re all ears when it comes to learning how to increase the length and quality of your life. One approach is to nourish your cells, specifically the mitochondria within them. 

Since you can’t actually see the trillions of cells you have, it can be hard to imagine how to keep these tiny, yet extremely important parts healthy.

Your mitochondria set the foundation for your overall health. With that said, let’s go over what they do for you and how to improve their function.

Why is Mitochondrial Health so Important?

Your cells are small but mighty! As the building blocks for your entire body, it’s no surprise that the condition of your cells is reflected in your overall health.

Mitochondria are one of the most important functional structures of a cell. It makes sense that they’re known as the “power plant” of your body when you consider all that they do:

    • Convert food and oxygen into the energy you need to survive. Just how much energy? Mitochondria pump out ten thousand times more energy (gram for gram) than the sun.
    • Produce signaling molecules that regulate cell communication. When cell communication is interrupted it breeds illness and disease.
    • Every cell (except red blood cells) contains mitochondria. In fact, cells in parts of your body that require the most energy (heart, brain and muscles), have thousands of mitochondria at work.
    • Create ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) that your body relies on to function and grow.

Mitochondria produce energy by burning fuel to produce a molecule called ATP. This molecule carries energy and is found in every living organism. You can think of ATP as energy “currency” that can be stored for future use or transported to where it’s demanded most. 

There are two fuel sources for Mitochondria:

1) Glucose and oxygen (combined)

      • Common in a high carbohydrate diet

2) Ketones

      • A by-product of fat burning
      • Produced in your liver when carbohydrates (sugar) are restricted
      • The preferred fuel source for mitochondria

How Ketones Improve Mitochondrial Function

The metabolic state of ketosis is achieved when you burn fat for fuel and your body creates ketones. This requires consuming a diet very low in carbohydrates, so your body has a chance to use fat as a fuel source – instead of sugar. 

Using ketones for fuel is a much cleaner and more efficient source of energy for your body than carbohydrates. 

Let me explain…

When ATP is produced, it creates free radicals. Although this is a natural process, it needs to be handled because these free radicals can cause a lot of body damage. Antioxidants to the rescue!  By neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants help keep up with the constant presence of free radicals.

Unfortunately, there are many factors that make it easy for free radicals to outnumber antioxidants. When this happens, it leads to a dangerous state known as oxidative stress.  

Oxidative stress can:

  • Destroy cell membranes
  • Damage DNA
  • Encourage disease
  • Drive inflammation
  • Speed age related changes in appearance (wrinkles, sagging skin, graying/loss of hair)

It seems impossible to overstate the importance of antioxidants!

Remember when I said ketones are a “cleaner” energy for your body? Well, this is precisely because burning ketones (instead of sugar) for energy produces far fewer free radicals.

Want Healthy Mitochondria? Focus on Diet!

One way to take care of your cell’s mitochondria (and your entire body) is to alter your diet so that you are burning fat instead of sugar.

To boost mitochondrial health, you should:

→ Eat plenty of healthy fats!

    • Sugar and unhealthy fats damage your mitochondria
    • Your mitochondria thrive when they use healthy fat for fuel
    • Fat for fuel helps vitamin absorption, hunger control and boosts metabolism

The best food sources for healthy fats are: Salmon, pasture raised eggs, grass-fed beef, walnuts, almond butter and avocados.

Healthy oils are also a great way to get more healthy fat into your diet. However, I know the oil options at the grocery store can be overwhelming. If you want to know which ones are safe and which ones to avoid, here are some tips: Healthiest and Unhealthiest Types of Cooking Oils

If you don’t eat plenty of these foods, be sure to take a high-quality Omega 3 supplement.

→ Consider following a ketogenic diet, which can:

    • promote fat burning and the production of ketones.
    • reduce oxidative stress.

Healthy Mitochondria are the Key to a Healthy You!

If you want the opportunity to restore your energy, slow the effects of aging, and prevent or recover from disease, you need healthy mitochondria!  Truly, the best way to support your mitochondria is by eating healthy fats and restricting harmful sugar consumption

The difference between being sick and well, and feeling old and young, depends on how well your mitochondria function.  This is why preserving mitochondrial function is the key to extending your life!  

Ready to learn more? Discover the basics and benefits of a ketogenic diet here.

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