Mitochondria - the cells within our cells are the basis of life and the source of our life force. Isn't it time we implemented daily habits that cared for them better?
Long before humans took their place on earth, life consisted of single cell organisms in the form of tiny bean shaped bacteria called mitochondria. These tiny flecks of life consumed oxygen and blurted out an energy rich waste product called adenosine triphosphate or ATP. Over the course of millions of years larger single cell life forms required more energy to perform more complex functions; so evolved to absorb mitochondria into their cell structure creating the the first animal cells with a symbiotic relationship. Now if you looked at a muscle cell under a microscope you would find thousands of mitochondria utilising oxygen and producing ATP (human heart muscle cells have up to 5000, and brain neurons have up to 15,000*).
Aging depends on the robustness of our mitochondria. They make up the platform of longevity. When I first started looking into what mitochondria are the definition that made sense to me was : "the power-plants within all our cells". In reality the story of these power-plants is much more complex and exciting (in a science fiction kind of way).. These ancient bacteria have been harvested by our bodies expanding cellular matrix as we evolved and now have a huge part to play in running the whole operating system. There are around a quadrillion (a one with fifteen zeros after it) mitochondria in our bodies, and they ultimately control how much energy goes into fight, flight, freeze, or problem solve. They are very interested in the food we put into the system as their purpose is to take the food, and the oxygen extracted from the air (with a bit of light) and create energy. They are separate bacteria that are now inside our cells with their very own DNA - over time they have morphed their DNA into human DNA so our destiny is intertwined (modern day mitochondria can't live or reproduce outside the human body). If these little microscopic power plants can produce energy efficiently then they will have enough to actually repair human DNA (this is energy created in excess of the usual bodily functional requirements). To achieve this cellular energy excess (therefore preventing the chances of cancer and disease within the system) you need to have a holistic outlook. You need to get adequate quality sleep, you need to eat adequate amounts of plant based, nutritious whole food, you need to get the right amount of exercise (too much will create cell damage), and you must strive to live in a nourishing community, blended with nature, and guided by purpose.
In my research over the last 6 years I believe these are two most POWERFUL daily habits you can undertake (for FREE) to optimise your mitochondrial function and therefore your literal life force (creating an excess of energy in a society that is constantly complaining of not having enough)
1)FASTING provides the opportunity for your system to see which mitochondria "freak out" due to the enforced stressful environment and will eject them. This is called autophagy - clearing out the less optimum ones and creating fresh new ones. Check out my article on the benefits of fasting for more information https://everfit.co.nz/articles/fast-for-wellness
2)Getting COLD also creates some system stress to weed out poorly functioning mitochondria. The ones that mis fire and can't produce enough heat will be relieved of their thermogenic duty and replaced with newer more efficient heat produces. My article on using cold to run faster gives some more insight in the holistic benefits of seeking out a little cold daily with a shower, a cold bath, or a dip in a river https://everfit.co.nz/articles/getting-cold-to-run-fast-wholistic-runner-part-4
If you don't provide some discomfort in your day then the mitochondria won't go to the trouble of getting rid of dysfunctioning older mitochondria and replacing them with better functioning new ones. Having one older less efficient mitochondria within your cell is like having one rotten apple in a barrel with good apples - in will slowly degrade the "freshness" of the other apples. You will rot from the inside out accelerating the aging process in your heart, muscles, and brain.
It has never been more important to get comfortable with uncomfortable. This is not only great for our mental health and our ability to handle stress (remember we don't rise to our levels of expectations during stress we fall to our levels of training), but it literally helps our cells become more robust with replacement of the life giving force within them. Please get cold and go without food for your cellular wellness.
*If mitochondria are present at almost half the synapses (Shepherd and Harris, 1998) and throughout several meters of axon, an estimated population of up to 2 million mitochondria per cell is reasonable.