By Warren L. Cargal —
Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Consider mitochondria (my-toe-CON-dree-ah). Billions of these microscopic organelles reside within the cells of our bodies. The bottom line: without them we wouldn’t be here at all.
Science has known for years that mitochondria are essential for producing energy. In fact, they generate more than 90 percent of the energy cells need to support their structure, regeneration and growth. However, recent studies by Harvard, Hokkaido, Oslo and Glasgow Universities among other research centers have discovered even deeper links between mitochondria and our ability to effectively battle age-related conditions. And that’s just the start. Healthy mitochondria can also deter cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, macular degeneration and cancer, among other issues.
Obviously, battling disease is important at any age but it is essential as we grow older. Thankfully, we’re also discovering how to support mitochondrial health and, in turn, learning how to not only live longer but live better, healthier lives.
Mitochondria are critical to our health because as tiny power plants they break down the foods we consume into a specific form of energy our cells can use. In technical terms that energy is a compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP essentially is the fuel that keeps us running and mitochondria help make it.
What happens when your mitochondria are impaired? Your cells lose their vitality and ability to regenerate and grow, impairing your immune system and clearing the way to various diseases to take hold and spread. Poor mitochondrial health can also lead to fatigue, memory loss and muscle and joint pain.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that enhancing your mitochondrial health is easy and pretty straightforward. There are three basic steps:
- Breathe! Mitochondria need oxygen to do their work. Shallow breathing just won’t cut it.
- Eat right to optimize amount of ATP your mitochondria can produce. Think high-quality fats, while reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake.
- Movement builds more mitochondria.
Natural supplements can also support health mitochondria. These would include D-Ribose L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10 and Magnesium taken under a structured program.
No one can stop the aging process or guarantee a disease-free life. Anti-aging isn’t the point anyway. Optimal aging is. Looking good and maintaining vitality as we mature is possible and building and maintaining healthy mitochondria is the key.
Warren L. Cargal, author of Your Mitochondria Key to Health & Longevity, is a leader in his field, specializing in age-related diseases tied to diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative issues, and cancer. He is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and is also the founder and clinical director at Acupuncture Atlanta (www.acuatlanta.com).