5 Tips for Top Mitochondrial Health
We live in an amazing time of technological advancement. Knowledge of any topic is within fingertip reach, and connecting with another human across the world can now be done easily. Our access to innovative and exciting new technology makes many aspects of our lives easier, and not surprisingly – we share many similarities to our favorite electronic devices. Humans also generate and use electricity. However, we are powered not by batteries but by an impressive organelle with an even more mysterious origin story.
If you haven’t guessed it, we’re talking about the all-powerful mitochondria. They are our foundational generators that provide our cells - and ourselves - the energy we need to move, adapt, and evolve.
Thank Your Mother
When scientists began studying evolution and what key factors promoted change, they found answers hidden inside our mitochondria. One theory behind where this small but mighty organelle came from was actually no further than the bacteria in our environment. Not unlike the microbes that thrive in our gut, scientists believe that we evolved a close companionship with minuscule bacteria that could tap into a far more efficient energy production model than our far-off microscopic ancestors.1
This spike in energy allowed ancient organisms to suddenly have the liveliness to do more tasks. It may have been a major contributing factor toward the development of greater, larger, more complex creatures.
These days, how efficient your mitochondria is, is passed down from your maternal line of DNA (most of the time).2 Interestingly, mitochondria are the only other organelle in the cell (outside the nucleus) to contain a copy of your genetic code.3 This has inspired scientists to improve their understanding of mitochondria and its roles outside of energy production. Turns out, your mitochondria are responsible for quite a few other things.
Mitochondria are Multifunctional Masters
Mitochondria perform a diverse array of tasks that help maintain the integrity of a cell. The energy it produces is used for growth and cell functions but is also targeted to help heal and recycle other outdated parts. They are also known to help activate various antiviral and anti-inflammatory pathways to help fight pathogens.4 Moreover, they’re a key player in regulating cell death – an essential system designed to help destroy infected or damaged cells.5
Without a healthy set of mitochondria, your ability to lead a healthy life can be greatly reduced. This is why establishing a healthy, resilient line of mitochondria is so important to optimizing your well-being.
If you’re ready to buckle down and get your powerhouses pumping, there are a few tricks you can take home to improve your mitochondrial health.
1. Get Active!
Did you know you can actually increase the number of mitochondria within you simply through regular exercise? When your body notices a new routine in your fitness, it works to generate more energy and help your body adapt to the changes in stress and environment. More mitochondria means more stamina, and a greater ability to allocate resources to healing after a heavy workout.
2. Eat the Right Foods for Mitochondrial Health!
Your diet is so important – and at Viome we cannot stress the importance of nutrient-rich foods enough. When you provide your body healthy foods—especially superfoods that are specifically right for your body, as well as avoiding foods which may cause you harm—you’re improving the natural resources used to create energy from your mitochondria. This provides it access to antioxidants that help neutralize the sometimes-toxic byproducts associated with normal energy production.
3. Check Your Inflammatory Response
Inflammation can have a very destructive effect on your mitochondria. Issues may stem from an out of balance gut microbiome, possibly promoting a higher than normal inflammatory response within your body. By focusing on changing your dietary patterns, you can help balance your gut and maintain healthy levels of response. This can be a true game-changer in promoting healthier mitochondria throughout your body.
4. Focus on Quality Sleep
Mitochondria are incredibly active organelles and require constant care. Because of this, engaging in healthy sleep habits is essential to supporting a restorative period for mitochondrial health to clear out waste and repair. Make sure you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep and learn more about practicing good sleep hygiene.
5. Keep Track of Your Mitochondrial Health
With the advent of at-home health tests, it’s a simple process to take the guesswork out of managing your mitochondrial health. With a few quick samples, blood, saliva and stool, you can learn an entire wealth of information about your body, your microbiome, and the health and functionality of your mitochondria. Are they receiving enough energy to function efficiently? Take a test and find out!
1 Gray MW. (2012). Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2012 Sep 1;4(9):a011403. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a011403. PMID: 22952398; PMCID: PMC3428767.
2 Luo, S., Valencia, C. A., Zhang, J., Lee, N., Slone, J., Gui, B., Wang, X., Li, Z., Dell, S., Brown, J., Chen, S. M., Chien, Y., Hwu, W., Fan, P., Wong, L., Atwal, P. S., & Huang, T. (2018). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(51), 13039-13044. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1810946115
3 Chadwick, L. (updated 2023, Nov. 14) Mitochondrial DNA. Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms. National Human Genome Research Institute, genome.gov.
4 Li XD, Chiu YH, Ismail AS, Behrendt CL, Wight-Carter M, Hooper LV, Chen ZJ. (2011). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Oct 18;108(42):17390-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1107114108. Epub 2011 Sep 29. PMID: 21960441; PMCID: PMC3198352.
5 Wang C, Youle RJ. (2009) Annu Rev Genet. 2009;43:95-118. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-102108-134850. PMID: 19659442; PMCID: PMC4762029.