Have loads of energy or run out before the end of the day? Are you a morning person or need cups of coffee to help you putter through? How you describe your (lack of) energy has a lot to do with your mitochondria and how well you are—or aren’t—treating them.
If you don’t know your mitochondria, it’s time to know them—and treat them—better. They are essentially the power converters inside your cells that take your food and oxygen into energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the power in the biochemical reaction in your cells.
Feed the ATP a stream of rich nutrients, and you’ll give your mitochondria the essentials they need to keep you pumped and energetic through your day with some to spare. But give them poor food, and you’ll be dragging daily, if not throughout your life. In fact, it is theorized that mitochondrial dysfunction is the primary causes of age-related decline, contributing to neurological, muscular, cardiac, and metabolic disorders. Like a machine that jams or stutters when it is given low-grade oil or allowed to function in poor conditions, mitochondria produces less and less energy when they do not receive what they need, which accelerates aging, making you old before your time.
With mitochondrial deterioration at the root of the fatigue we associate with getting older, it’s important to turn the tide on your health and quality of life for both short and long-term. The more you increase the quality and quantity of your mitochondrial, the better you will feel and the more gracefully you will age. You can consider mitochondria as your built-in anti-aging, pro-energy factory. Start on these essential eating habits to boost your mitochondrial nuclear plant and keep it running at its optimal stage your entire life:
Quit eating sugar and grains
Sugar is crap. We know that. Eat too much of it, and your body—and mitochondria—can’t burn it fast enough for energy. Any excess sugar will end up getting stored as fat and create damaging free radicals. The less sugar you eat, the better. Unfortunately, people tend to mistakenly over-eat on “healthy” grains and that rapidly turn to sugar in the bodily process.
Ditch the dirty stuff
By that, we mean foods grown, produced, and sprayed with pesticides and toxins, which unsurprisingly, cause a lot of mitochondrial damage. Try to buy organic, non-GMO, local produce to reduce exposure. Look for pasture-raised animal products (grass-fed if you can). Avoid all processed and/or factory farmed foods.
Eat the rainbow
The more colorful and varied the vegetables on your plate, the more phytonutrients are available to nourish and protect your body. Pile up on the leafy greens and sulfur-rich veggies, like cabbage and cauliflower. They will help your body produce glutathione, which is essential to cellular health.
Dig into healthy fats
Mitochondria can use fatty acids and carbohydrates to create ATP needed to produce energy, it much prefers fat as it is more efficient and creates fewer free radical byproducts.
Have a cup of bone broth
Other than being warm and comfort, bone broth had the additional benefit of contributing to your mitochondrial health by protecting your gut lining and delivering amino acids that your cells thrive on.
Up your Omega 3’s
Regular servings of omega 3’s will help build up your mitochondria’s protective membranes, resulting in more energy for you. Get more omega 3’s by eating low mercury wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, nuts (particularly walnuts), seeds, and egg yolks.
Try intermittent fasting
Restricting your calories is a great way to improve mitochondrial function and increase longevity. It is believed that cutting your eating window down from a typical 12-14 hour down to roughly an 8-hour one, you reduce mitochondrial free radical production. You don’t have to go to extremes to get the job done either. A day here, a few days there, simply avoid eating a few hours before going to bed and have your first meal a little later the next morning. This will give your body a few extra hours of non-eating.