One of the primary ways to achieve longevity is through promoting mitochondrial health. The mitochondria is located in each of our cells and is considered the powerhouse of energy production. The mitochondria produces ATP (adenosine triphosphate), our main “currency” of energy. Aging and stress are two factors that can diminish the health of our mitochondria — leading to a decrease in ATP production.
Every action in our bodies requires ATP. Our bodies will produce millions of ATP per minute just to keep up with our daily routines. The harder we work our bodies, the more ATP production we require. Vitamins and amino acids supply nutrients to the mitochondria in order for our cells to function. Issues like nutritional deficiencies can lead to a poorly functioning mitochondria and a possible inability to produce ATP.
Mitochondria and Stress
Stress (physical, chemical and mental) can cause inflammation that eventually leads to a dis-ease in the body. Inflammation can produce oxidative stress which can lead to damage directly affecting the mitochondria. Mitochondrial dysfunction can then occur, leading to the progression of chronic dis-ease specific to the area affected. For example, oxidative stress can occur in the brain, leading to mitochondria dysfunction of a neuron.
Oxidative stress is a byproduct of ATP production but is reduced by glutathione, our bodies’ major antioxidant. Glutathione is mainly produced by the liver and should be a focal point in the fight against oxidative stress and aging. It can even cross the blood brain barrier and help reduce oxidative stress that is often found in cognitive decline. Oxidative stress is also found in mental wellness disorders.
We are just now starting to understand how important mitochondria dysfunction is when it comes to your overall health. It makes sense that we should supplement the proper nutrients that support a healthy mitochondria and reduce an overproduction of oxidative stress. L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10, NAD+ and resveratrol all do their part to help the mitochondria function optimally. Labs that measure mitochondria health can give us insight into which nutritional deficiencies, such as these, are needed.
Other Methods to Support Mitochondria
Ice baths and calorie-restrictive diets have long been documented to support healthy mitochondria. Ice baths promote the production and conversation of white adipose (fat) tissue into brown adipose tissue, which will produce hormones such as adiponectin that support a healthy mitochondria. A calorie-restrictive diet (<1000/day) along with prolonged fasting (36 hours) can activate autophagy, a pathway mitochondria can use to promote cell regeneration. This is where a toxic or damaged mitochondria will essentially “clean” itself and rejuvenate, which is known as mitochondrial rejuvenation. NAD+, vitamin IVs and resveratrol capsules can also promote mitochondrial rejuvenation.
Someone who has promoted mitochondrial rejuvenation can activate a gene that promotes true longevity. Once a person has cleaned up their diet, addressed potential nutritional deficiencies and then lives an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, they now can promote mitochondrial biogenesis. This is where the mitochondria are able to duplicate themselves within a cell and make new mitochondria. When a person is living in this type of healthy, cellular state, how long will a person live for? What will their quality of life look like?
By now, you might be a little overwhelmed and feel like we just took a crash course in biochemistry. Well you did — but it’s for a good reason. This is a blueprint on how to take care of yourself. If you take care of yourself, you can do anything you want to do in life. You can go as far as you want to go. You can function at the highest level possible — imagine that! What would you accomplish? What would your mindset be? What would your life look like if you were the healthiest you have ever been? That is what longevity is. The ability to function at the highest level for the longest possible period of time.
No matter what point you are in life right now, you could be better. You could sleep better. Feel better. Think better. Eat better. Breathe better. All of these actions can be produced from optimal functioning mitochondria.
Whenever I complete an ice bath, I am targeting all my mitochondria throughout my body. Whenever I get a NAD+ IV, I get a vitamin B3 derivative that is administered directly into my bloodstream to be used immediately in the mitochondria whenever it is needed. When I perform a three-day water fast (please consult your health practitioner before you do this!), I promote autophagy throughout my entire body. If we focus on the entire body as a whole, then we can promote a more well-rounded approach to our health. Just like with any new routine, modify to meet your needs and capability. Always include deep sleep, breathwork, flexibility (chiropractic is great for this!), mindfulness exercises and lots of water, along with mitochondria support to promote optimal health and wellness. If you don’t know where to start, consult with us and we can help guide you. We can even order labs for you. It’s never too late to focus on your health. Just remember to include the mitochondria in your health regimen.
About the Author
Jonathan Mendoza, DC, RN, FNP-C – AKA “Nurse Doza” is the founder of MSW Health Lounge and co-founder of MSW Nutrition in Austin, Texas. An Austin native, Nurse Doza has been studying nutrition and its effects on our health for over 15 years. While in his last year of chiropractic school, Nurse Doza began nursing school so that he could eventually utilize the healing benefits of both bodywork and intravenous vitamins and minerals. Now, MSW Health Lounge is an Austin hot spot for groundbreaking health & wellness, hosting regular Lunch & Learns and other events for the community to come together and learn about how to improve their lives with health. His passions include teaching, discovering new healing modalities, interviewing guests on the How do you Health? Podcast and traveling with his loved ones to anywhere with mountains.