Energy. Just the word can conjure up everyday scenarios for when you need it most and, sometimes, when you don’t have enough. Ask yourself: Am I keeping up with my schedule, or am I buried by it? Am I matching strides with those close to me, or are they outpacing me? Am I kicking my workouts, or are they kicking me?
If your responses are less than stellar, then you may need a metabolic makeover—starting with your mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouses in cells that take in nutrients as well as oxygen and use them as energy. That energy is called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, and is used to support every bodily function. Interestingly, each cell contains hundreds to thousands of mitochondria, but they are found in larger amounts in active organs and tissues, including the muscles, heart and brain. As a matter of fact, we have more than 100,000 trillion mitochondria in our bodies, with each one containing 17,000 sources for making ATP.
That’s all well and good, but if the mitochondria aren’t getting what they need, then you’ll experience an energy crisis and a myriad of undesirable effects. Why? Mitochondria are the place where metabolism occurs. When your mitochondria aren’t up to snuff, then your metabolism is less efficient or can nearly shut down.
And just what do mitochondria need? Mitochondria rely on a diet that supports healthy blood sugar levels, has healthy fatty acid ratios and offers plentiful antioxidants (including CoQ10 and resveratrol) as well as trace minerals. They also require regular exercise.
Unfortunately, mitochondria can be damaged by everyday life. Primary ways they are attacked is through excessive oxidative stress via the standard American diet of processed foods, junk foods and excessive sugars; exposure to toxins; unhealthy inflammation levels; hormonal imbalance and more.
Now for the metabolic makeover. It’s basically a two-step process: find and eliminate what is negatively affecting your mitochondria, and then give your mitochondria what is necessary for thriving.
For starters, avoid processed foods and junk foods, and eat a diet that is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Foods to eat include: wild fish; grassfed beef and other lean meats; organic eggs, preferably from pastured poultry; leafy greens and other fresh, organic veggies and fruits; avocados; nuts, nut butters and seeds; dark chocolate; extra virgin olive oil; coconut; brown rice; organic, raw cheese; organic whole milk yogurt; chickpeas, lentils and other legumes; poultry; apples, pears and other fiber-filled foods.
You’ll also want to detoxify and eat foods and use products displaying the USDA Organic seal. It’s your guarantee that no prohibited pesticides, GMOs and other toxins aren’t re-entering via your diet and other products you use. Otherwise, you could be putting toxins back in your system. Likewise, eat inflammation-cooling foods and strike a balance hormonally. (Incidentally, many of the foods mentioned above help with these.)
You’ll also want to consider interval training, which increases the efficiency and function of your mitochondria. Strength training can also increase muscle mass and the number of your mitochondria.
What about you? Is it time for a metabolic makeover?