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Taking Better Care of Your Mitochondria [Part 1]

Posted in: Healthy Living

The Mitochondria of your cells can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

I like to think of my mitochondria like a Gremlin.

And much like a Gremlin, you need to keep them happy or bad things may happen (free-radicals sound cool, but trust me they are not). The best way to keep your mitochondria happy is by providing them with all the nutrients and minerals they require to do their job correctly.

If you don’t keep your mitochondria happy, the cell in which the mitochondria reside will be flooded with free-radicals (a by-product of energy/ATP production) and cause problems such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune conditions, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and even aging itself.[1]

If you remember learning from my previous post, the cells that contain the most mitochondria are muscle cells, brain cells and liver cells. As you’ve been hearing for quite some time, heart disease (which causes a heart attack or stroke) is the largest killer in America, which kills more people than all types of cancer combined [2].

What does your mitochondria have to do with heart disease? Everything.

I’m sure you’re aware that your heart is a muscle, and if you were paying attention above, your muscle cells have LOTS of mitochondria (40% of the space in a heart cell is made up of mitochondria); keeping your heart healthy starts with providing your mitochondria the nutrients and minerals they need. Think of all the energy your heart needs to beat throughout your lifetime [Google tells me your heart will beat roughly 2.5 BILLION times in your life]. That energy doesn’t just come from thin air, it is converted from the food you eat (along with oxygen) directly from the mitochondria, to your heart muscles. If the muscles in your heart aren’t efficiently receiving the energy from your mitochondria, you will develop weak heart muscles that contain free-radicals and are prone to disease.

So how do you keep your mitochondria happy? It starts and ends with your diet and lifestyle.

Many of you that are reading this probably already know what a “healthy diet” consists of; fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. So why is it that so many people KNOW what a healthy diet consists of, yet continue to eat unhealthy?

I’ve heard every excuse in the book (even used many myself until my body had enough and I was forced to make changes to my diet): ‘I don’t have the time to cook’, ‘I don’t have the skill to cook’ or ‘I don’t have access to healthy foods.’ While some excuses are valid, there is always a way to make healthier food choices and the first step is knowing what to eat and how much of it to eat.

This is the time where I have to instruct you to talk to your doctor before making any extreme changes to your lifestyle and diet.

The first thing you should focus on is removing processed foods, which create an inflammatory response, from your diet. The typical American diet is comprised of an astounding 70% processed foods (take a second to think about what you ate in the last week, how much of it was processed compared to whole fruits and vegetables?). While you’re at it, removing sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates (white flour products like breads, white rice, white potatoes), MSG, gluten, casein and alcohol is a good start.

Once the damaging foods and ingredients are removed from your diet, you can begin providing your body (and mitochondria) with the nutrients they crave and require.

Due to the sheer amount of information, I thought it would be best to split this topic into 2 parts. Part 2 will continue next week. Please come back and to learn WHAT to eat and how much to eat of it.

Be part of the solution and not the problem.

Chad R. Puschel

[1] http://www.heartmdinstitute.com/anti-aging/ageless-body/at-the-cellular-level/393-love-your-mitochondria

[2] http://www.livestrong.com/article/36536-top-health-problems-america/

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