Are you aging quicker than you would like? Is your energy level less than before? Does your skin have more wrinkles, dryness and unevenness? Is your blood pressure rising?
We could go on and on with the list of symptoms that signal that your body and cells are aging. Problem is that although we all know we are destined to age some day…we seem to be aging at a younger and quicker rate than the generations before us. Why is that?
We researched this more thoroughly and were shocked and surprised to find that all aging, all loss of energy AND all diseases (yes that even includes cancer which we will cover in the next article) are controlled by our mitochondria and how we care for them.
We covered mitochondria and what they are in our previous article, but to summarize, they are the symbiotic bacteria that live in our cells and power ever function of our bodies. They are in essence the small rechargeable batteries that give us energy and keep us alive. Without their constant energy production we would die.
What Causes Aging?
Lets get back to our purpose of understanding the aging process. We will explain it in our own simpler terms from the research that we have read.
Mitochondria make energy for our cells by breaking down the food that we eat. They use it to produce ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which is like a delivery truck that moves the energy produced by the mitochondria through our body to all of our cells. In this process the mitochondria also produce byproducts like carbon dioxide, water and free radicals.
The carbon dioxide, along with other toxins that have been collected by the body, are released by breathing and doing exercises that force our lungs to expel more air (think HIIT, burst training, weight training, incline walking, biking…basically anything that makes you breathe harder). Hence…the reason why we need to exercise regularly.
The other component produced by this mitochondrial process is water. Mitochondria use the water we drink to produce energy and then release the excess to move harmful waste products out of our bodies through the urinary system, to cool and heat our bodies to keep a homeostatic core temperature and to keeping our cells hydrated so that they can complete their bodily functions.
The third, and most important function in relation to aging, is the production of free radicals by the mitochondria. Free radicals are atoms with an unequal number of electrons. They try to capture the needed electron to gain stability. Essentially they “steal” electrons from nearby molecules.
When the “attacked” molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, finally resulting in the disruption of a living cell. In moderation free radicals help us fight infection by essentially killing off dangerous bacteria – in excess they kill healthy cells and cause inflammation, disease and excess (accelerated) aging.
How do Mitochondria Get Damaged?
According to studies conducted by the Pederson Laboratory, a subset of John Hopkins University Studies, the primary reason our mitochondria become damaged and deteriorate is that we eat the wrong foods in excess.
When mitochondria get damaged – our cells no longer get energy so they die – and we feel the effects in increased aging, disease and inflammation.
What can we do to stop the Mito-Damage?
Improve the foods that we feed to our bodies.
It seems too simple. What about the medications, creams, or other remedies that have been and are being recommended every day to slow the aging processes? They might help with the symptoms, but they are not stopping the aging process.
Think about it – the empty calories of sugars, flours and processed foods devoid of nutrients make up the bulk of most diets. Mitochondria burn through the great deal of junk food eaten — generating loads of free radicals and inflammation — before the small amount of nutrients can be utilized to make (an equally small amount of) energy.
Now there’s an excess of free radicals that are stealing electrons from nearby cells causing inflammation (disease) and lack of nutrients in our cells causing undernourishment (hunger and overeating to get more nutrients). This explains why we have an obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic.
Eat healthy foods → to feed your mitochondria → to create healthy cells → to create energy and vitality!
How Do We Slow the Aging Process?
Back to slowing the aging process…one of my foremost areas of interest…
Greatest finding of recent years is that our mitochondria regenerate and can multiply. Going back to the battery analogy – Make More Mitochondria = Make More Energy.
Healthier and greater numbers of mitochondria means that there is not only more energy created for your daily use. It also means all the cells in your body will run at a more productive rate. This means:
- Brain = improved memory and heightened learning
- Heart = stabilized heart rate and increased oxygen production
- Muscles = increased stamina and strength
- Eyes = improved eyesight and less eye strain
- Body = all organs functioning at peak rates
Aging = slowed down with the reduction in “waste products” and free radicals in your body so you
Feel Younger, Look Younger, and Act Younger
Can We Reverse Our Own Signs of Aging?
Research is newer in this area but so far the evidence shows that mitochondrial damage can be reversed, thus reversing the aging that it caused as well. Here’s what science has shared you can do to limit and reverse your own aging processes according to scientific studies:
- Do strength training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These activities increase the number, and improve the function, of your mitochondria. The better your muscle mass and cardiovascular conditioning, the more powerful your mitochondria perform.
- Avoid or Eliminate These Ingredients From Your Diet. These things are toxic to your mitochondria, including processed flours, all sugars and refined sweeteners, trans fats, gluten, and non grass-fed dairy products. Eat non GMO foods, pasture raised and grass fed animal meats and healthy fats and oils.
- Eat Six to Nine Cups of Fresh Vegetables and Fruits Daily. Terry Wahls, MD, recommends a variety of greens (broccoli, bok choy, etc.), brightly colored vegetables (beets, carrots, etc.), and the sulfur-rich veggies (cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) that help your body produce glutathione, a master antioxidant. See her informative Ted Talk video below.
- Eat less and Eat Less Often. This gives your body time to detox the poisons that can build up when the foods you have eaten are broken down by your mitochondria. When we eat at a constant rate, our cells need to focus on digestion and assimilation processes, rather than elimination processes. This can leave a lot of waste storing up in our bodies. Eating less often gives our bodies time to rid the waste and rebuild cell damage.
- Up your Omega-3 Fat Intake. This helps build your mitochondrial membranes. A healthy diet should consume 6 to 12 ounces of grass-fed meat or low-mercury wild-caught fish each day. Avocados, nuts, and seeds are also rich in fatty acids. Taking a fish-oil supplement is a good idea for most people.
- Take Mitochondria Protective and Energy-Boosting Micronutrients. Take such micronutrients as Vitamin E and Vitamin C, Acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, N-acetylcysteine, NADH, D-ribose, resveratrol, and magnesium aspartate to support your mitochondria regeneration and energy production.
Mitochondria are the primary source for all our body’s energy and the control center for the diseases and disabilities we get. As we continue with our research in this area, we are so excited to learn that we have control over how quickly we age.
In that all of our cells and organs regenerate on a consistent basis we can feel reassured that no damage is permanent and all diseases and aging can be improved.
Watch this video for a reassuring talk on the restorative power of feeding your cells the right foods: