Mitochondria are tiny organelles inside our cells that process our food to make energy by a process known as the Krebs cycle. The main function of the mitochondria, often referred to as our cellular batteries, is to provide energy so that our cells can carry out various activities in our body. Mitochondria take the air that we breathe and combine it with the nutrients in our diet to produce chemical energy in the form of a molecule called ATP by processing the nutrients through a series of reactions.
The mitochondria are essential for every biochemical reaction in our body. The most effective way to boost energy is by boosting your mitochondrial health and function. Here we will describe several ways to naturally improve the mitochondrial function and boost the energy levels of your body:
Eat fewer calories:
Mitochondria are the source of over 95% of the free radicals in our body. Free radicals are the byproduct of the energy generation process. Eating fewer calories results in lower levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in our body, and prevents mitochondria (and the rest of the cel)l from oxidative damage. Eating fewer calories will result in decreased energy generation and oxygen usage. Less oxygen consumption will ultimately cause a decrease in the number of ROS and less harm to the cells and tissues. A high amount of calories, along with negatively impacting on your weight, also can increase ROS in the mitochondria causing harm to the cells and tissues via oxidative stress.
Physical activity daily:
Physical activity can enhance mitochondrial function by increasing oxygen intake which is essential for the Krebs cycle. Exercise helps the body to use the stored energy thus providing space for the production of new energy. The best exercises to support mitochondrial function include core exercises, aerobic exercise, stretching, strength and balance training.
Minimizing sugars and carbohydrates can support mitochondrial function. High protein foods are essential for mitochondrial function because of the nutrients present in them such as L-carnitine and creatine. Best food sources to get these nutrients include eggs, nuts, seeds, grass-fed beef, beans, and bison.
Omega-3s and alpha-lipoic acid:
Omega-3s and alpha-lipoic acid can enhance mitochondrial support by enhancing respiratory enzymes. Best foods sources to include in your diet include sardines, salmon, anchovies, and halibut. Plant-based sources include carrots, spinach, beets, yams, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Avoid refined carbs:
Excess fat foods can result in changes in the shape and function of mitochondria, especially in brain cells. These changes can lead to metabolic diseases such as diabetes and potentially to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Excess carbs can lead to rampant inflammation that can affect mitochondrial function. Reducing carbs intake can help to increase mitochondrial function support, thus improving energy production.
Intermittent fasting can support the mitochondrial function by reducing the damaged or worn-out mitochondria and increasing mitochondrial biogenesis to produce new mitochondria. It is recommended that taking 2-3 meals within an 8-10 hour window can trigger mitochondria to increase energy production.
When you are following the intermittent fasting plans, the quality of food you choose to trigger energy production is important. You should provide good sources for the efficient working of the mitochondria. The best plan for intermittent fasting includes a natural circadian rhythm that involves eating 3 meals per day at 8 am, 12 pm, and 5 pm with no snacking in between. Occasionally (once or twice a month) drop down to 1 or 2 meals over 24 hours to further stimulate this process.
Foods rich in antioxidants:
Antioxidant foods can support mitochondrial function by reducing oxidative damage to mitochondria. Good antioxidant food sources include grapes, dark chocolate, red wine, and pistachios. An especially good antioxidant for mitochondria is astaxanthin, an algae-derived antioxidant that has the special ability to protect cellular and mitochondrial membranes.
Heat therapy increases the functional efficiency of mitochondria. The fuel needs of the body increase leading to the usage of the oxygen in the blood by a process called oxidative phosphorylation. Best heat therapy includes sauna use. 2-3 sessions of sauna per week for 10 minutes are adequate to support mitochondrial function.
Relaxation techniques like massage therapy and mediation decrease the release of stress hormones in the body. A decrease in stress hormones causes better mitochondrial functioning and increased efficacy of several systems such as the endocrine, immune, and nervous system.
NAD is a key enzyme used in the energy generation process. As we age NAD levels decline in our cells and in our mitochondria negatively impacting on our ability to generate energy. By taking precursors like NMN you can boost mitochondrial energy production.