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The lowdown on Mitochondria

Updated: May 16, 2019

Mitochondria are the power generators of the cell!

As I nodded along to this statement in my second class of hormone health, I looked around the room wondering if anyone else was drawing a blank on what exactly mitochondria are. Was I the only one who didn’t really know what they were and exactly what they did? I discretely made a note on the page to google it after class.

It turns out that these little rod-shaped organelles, that look like cute little tic tacs are actually pretty awesome. Really simply put, they convert nutrients into energy. But how does this affect your daily life, I hear you wondering.

Well, if you have ever felt unexplainably drained of energy, get sick a lot, are highly sensitive to environmental toxins or have anxiety, read on!

We have an average of 6 kg (13 lbs.) of mitochondria in us. Some cells have thousands of mitochondria, while others have none. They go where they are needed and if a cell feels it is not getting enough energy to survive, more mitochondria can be created. However, when they don’t get what they need, your mitochondria produce less energy and stop working altogether and this, my friends is what causes (amongst other things) ageing! That’s right, mitochondrial degeneration is one of the primary causes of age-related decline.

Not only that, but new research is also showing a direct link between stress and its effects on your mitochondria. Mitochondria actually regulate your stress response and if you have excessive long-term stress situations, like a job you hate or a long-term injury, this depletes and sometimes even damages, your mitochondria.

If we look at mitochondria in terms of women’s health specifically, we find that their dysfunction plays an essential role in the development of PCOS and the related complications that go along with that.

So the big question is, how do we keep our Mitochondria happy and healthy?

It’s pretty simple actually and nothing you haven’t heard before. But, before you roll your eyes at these steps, remember that they will help slow ageing, give you energy and keep your bod humming for decades:

1. Stop eating sugar. Just stop. You can tear apart pretty much any diet (Keto! Paleo! Vegan!) but every single person alive will benefit from cutting out sugar. When you eat sugar mitochondria just can’t burn it fast enough, so it ends up creating damaging free radicals.

2. Eat a variety of organic or local fruit and veg! Pesticides can cause a lot of mitochondrial damage. Glyphosate, for example, is the most widely used pesticide and causes a host of really scary side effects.

3. Don’t avoid (healthy) fat! Good fats are so important to your overall health and also help mitochondria produce energy. Pass the ghee please.

4. Minimizing stress. Doing yoga and meditating are great ideas and highly recommended, but also try to minimize dietary stress. A great way to find out which foods are causing inflammation or even allergies is to get tested instead of guessing what to ditch.

5. Sleep, my favorite recommendation. Try and get those 9 hours of shut eye.

Some pretty simple steps that will have massive impact on your health and help you keep your mitochondria happy!