Nourishing your mitochondria isn’t likely your first thought as you open your eyes in the morning. And yet, the energy, the thought, the movement that follows waking up, all take energy produced within each and every cell in your body. You know that I love to do a deep dive on this show and podcast, and truly, I’m not sure if we could go deeper than the structures in the cell that make energy by using oxygen and nutrients from food. Your amazing human body is fuelled by trillions of microscopic powerhouses called mitochondria. They’re there in almost every cell in your body, these tiny but mighty, energy-producing structures generate the energy we need to survive. Mitochondrial disease can affect anyone at any age. And there is no cure. Your brain, your heart, nerves that send messages all over your body, your muscles and all those organs that are workhorses have more mitochondria than your skin cells for instance, but trust me when I say that they’re everywhere. I’ve introduced you to biohacking in the last few weeks, first in episode 125 which is essentially all about optimizing your health on a cellular level aka the mitochondria. I realized that I’ve while I’ve been talking about biohacking; how to help your body and cells with the right light – red light and near infrared light, and knowing yourself with testing your DNA from thednacompany.com/eatthis as I have but what we haven’t done a deep dive on is food. Eating for your mitochondria can be protective for your brain; not only to reduce risk of Parkinsons, Alzheimers, MS, and as prevention to any neurological diseases, and maintain brain health, to reduce inflammation that is the cause of most cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and situations like high blood pressure and of course pain, which we talked about last week with Dr Davis Brockenshire in episode 127 because the root of pain is a sign that something is not right, and the cause of a stress response that has a knock on effect to everything. The loss of energy that happens as we age, well the root of that is the health and ability for the mitochondria to regenerate after their 100 day or so life. But regenerate without missing parts that lead to the wrinkles that you see on your face – that’s an outward sign called ageing, and what you can’t see on the inside and feel as you go about your day. Fueling yourself in a way that supports these powerhouses to reproduce effectively is at the root of health, longevity, and optimization of the one truly amazing life that you’re leading right now.
So today on EAT THIS with Lianne, eating for mitochondrial health and optimization of your internal powerhouse!
Remember back to biology class when you talked through what a cell was – as a good friend would say, that likely has you going into the way back machine to recall that. Well we all have hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of little factories in your cells that turn food and oxygen to energy. Us humans have 100,000 trillion mitochondria in our bodies. We make about 2 billion mitochondria every second throughout our lives and their lifespan is about 100 days. The highest number of mitochondria where you need the most energy. Two million mitochondria per cell in the brain. In females, our eggs have 600,000 per cell. Heart and muscle cells have 5000 per mitochondria per cell and they all generate 90% of your energy, and use 90% of your oxygen. Impressive isn’t it. So impressive that you also have to understand that 90% of inflammation in the body is in the mitochondria. From mitocanada.org, they say there it is estimated that millions of Canadians suffer from diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction is involved. These include diabetes, diseases of the heart, kidney and liver, Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, autism, cancer, blindness, deafness, chronic fatigue, seizures, learning disabilities, heart defects, and infertility, poor growth and many more along with syndromes of various names that are collection of issues that make up a syndrome that you might have finally been diagnosed with.
The point of a mito way of eating – that’s the lingo that I found as I researched this topic, is to support healthy mitochondria with the nutrients that they use to make energy. There are harmful foods and supportive foods that can help restore italy and help lead you to through a graceful ageing process. Optimizing energy and preventing fatigue, pain and cognitive problems while supporting muscle mass and burning excess fat. All that helps you to feel better, think clearly, have less aches, stiffness chance for disease sneaking up on you. There’s a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF that protects neurons and helps create new ones. BDNF is like a growth hormone for neurons and vital for thinking, learning, and higher level of brain function. BDNF is lower in alzheimers and parkinsons disease patients. Increasing your BDNF in any way possible is essential. The short list quickly before we get into the foods is that intermittent fasting, the spice curcumin that comes from turmeric – I’ve been taking Physica’s Bio A curcumin daily and put it in my BioHacking bundle over on SproutRight.com, there’s also omega 3 fatty acids or DHA (my Omega Boost is in the bundle too), taking B Complex daily, and a diet rich in antioxidants from colourful foods while reducing calorie intake for those who are consuming too much and are overweight, exercise, stimulating your brain (not from your phone) and meditation. Sauna and red light can also increase BDNF. A diet that’s lower in carbs is the way to increase BDNF and the standard north american diet of white, processed and sugary foods is like a kick in the gut for BDNF.
Ok so let’s look at what a mito diet looks like.
Maximum plant or phytonutrient consumption is what we are after here. The way to do that is with fruits and veggies. And I don’t just mean an apple a day but by eating a diversity of anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies. That looks like 8–12 servings daily of whole, colourful vegetables and fruits will guarantee a generous supply of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins, without added sugars. Your primary focus is vegetables; especially the bitter foods in the cruciferous family (such as broccoli, watercress and arugula) that have strong anti-inflammatory effects. Polyphenols in many of the therapeutic foods, especially blueberries, strawberries, and walnuts, have been shown in both human and animal studies to increase cognitive function and decrease inflammation. They may even help to increase lifespan.
High antioxidant rich foods
These are mitigating the damage from oxidation that comes from oxygen. You can’t get away from it. The nutrient dense foods have to be a part of your diet to deal with oxidation and cellular or mitochondrial damage. That white bread, cupcakes that your daughter sent – yes that happened last night in my house – are all the opposite of what I’m talking about here. The nutrient-dense foods contain protective enzymes and vitamins, are where you’re going to get your antioxidants from. This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this – every time I mention KID or SKIN BOOST, that’s what’s in them – superfoods or antioxidants. Glutathione is one of the most important cellular antioxidants that your body produces. It is also involved in detoxification. The vegetables I mentioned, the spice of curcumin, and quality proteins in your diet enable you to make and use important antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamin C, and N-acetyl cysteine or NAC. The more you can use a variety of spices and phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) in your diet, the more you enhance the production of glutathione and other antioxidants that are critical for cell protection from destructive free radicals.
Low glycemic foods
The heavily processed diet with too many grains and sugars, spikes your insulin and inflammation and is that sucker punch to your mitochondria. Have you heard of type 3 diabetes? It’s about insulin resistance in the brain that messes with your learning and memory. Low glycemic foods are apples versus watermelon because there is higher fibre. Mango versus cantaloupe and blueberries versus grapes. Any more sugary food that you eat, when combined with protein or fat, reduces the glycemic index of your meal. For instance, watermelon with feta cheese and basil, as chunks on a toothpick is a great summertime snack and lowers the glycemic index of the watermelon.
Protein is essential. It stabilizes blood sugar and no matter whether you’re omnivore, vegetarian or vegan, focusing on protein is needed. That means fish, preferably omega 2 rich, mackerel sardines, salmon, herring and tuna, grass fed beef, buffalo, elk, lamon, venison and wild game too. Chicken, cornish hen and turkey. All cheese including cheddar, cottage, parmesan, ricotta, eggs of course. Then vegetarian sources are miso, tofu, tempeh, beans mushrooms and if all else fails a protein powder of some kind. Dairy alternatives that fall into the protein category a bit, but also carbs and fats are coconut milk. Almond milk, any other nut or seed milk. Legumes are fibre rich and a source of b vitamins and known as a complex carb. They are also proteins and excellent for low glycemic options. Bean soups, dried beans or lentils made into a dip, edamame (only organic and Non GMO).
Nuts and seeds
Almonds, walnuts, coconut, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and their butters or pastes. If you’re going to have an apple for instance, throw on some nut butter. Way tastier and more essential fats. Chia and flax are higher in fibre, but ground hemp seeds and ground flax become easily rancid and so don’t buy the massive bags of them or grind all your flax up. Do small bits at a time. Chia, hemp and flax all offer different nutrition. An average serving of chia or flax is higher in fiber and carbohydrates and lower in protein than the same amount of hemp seeds. While all three are similar in calories and fats, hemp seeds have less than half the omega-3 fats (1000 mg vs 2400 mg/TBSP).
Good fats and oils for cooking, salads come into play here too. Go for minimally refined, cold pressed, organic and non gmo if possible. Your fats and oils can come from avocado, olives (black or green), olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed), flaxseed oil, coconut oil (organic and virgin), coconut milk, ghee (clarified butter), and butter from the milk of grass-fed cows. EVOO is perfect for salads and dressings. MCT oil is also good for that. Butter from grass fed cows, or organic butter is best, or even ghee if you can find it. Cooking is coconut oil, MCT and ghee are best. Coconut oil is good and a super fuel for the brain so use oil and add coconut milk from a can to anything that you might add dairy to.
Gluten free grains whole grains with the grain or brain intact is key here. You could ditch the grains really for maximum mito support so it’s tough to get wholegrains all the time.
Well beer and booze is off the list of beneficial drinks so I’ll leave that to you to decide, but adding in tea, hot or cold that include green tea, or herb teas and adaptogenic teas like cordyceps, shanzandra ginseng, astragalus and licorice. Yerba mate, ginkgo biloba, black and white tea, and coffee are other beverages beneficial for brain health. Some of your water intake may be replaced with unsweetened coconut water, which is high in minerals and electrolytes.
Another superfood to know about is nutrient-dense algae suitable for every possible dietary profile, and they are chlorella and spirulina. Apparently, you could live forever and have almost the same amino acid or protein profile as breast milk. Call your nutrition insurance because you could live on it forever. Antioxidants, protein, phytonutrients. Nutrition and energy, spirulina highest protein, and gives each cell energy – energizing at a cellular level. Chlorella’s highest chlorophyll pulls out toxins, and helps with recovery, and pulls out toxins including alcohol. That’s why my KID Boost is excellent to prevent a hangover. Must find a good source.
Spirulina has the powerful antioxidant SOD. SOD attacks free radicals. Our bodies make SOD but after about your 40s that decreases.
Ok there’s a lot there to digest – literally! So let’s recap as you’re likely now hungry.
Mitochondria health is essential and we rely on these powerhouses for everything that we do. The reason that we need to help out our mitochondria is because as ATP or energy is made, free radicals are created. Carb diets produce free radicals, exercise produces free radicals, breathing produces free radicals – everything basically.
- mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy we need to survive
- adult humans have about 100,000 trillion mitochondria
- We make about 2 billion mitochondria every second throughout our lives. The lifespan of a mitochondrion is about 100 days so you have a chance to support the next billion that’s being produced.
Mitochondria DNA can get damaged and so those cells can’t reproduce in a healthy way and we end up with ageing. Focusing on diet; following intermittent fasting, going lower carb and high nutrients from veggies, especially the green ones and colourful antioxidant rich fruits and veggies – like 8-12 servings a day helps remove free radicals and reduce them. You need to support your mitochondria with supplements too as getting CoQ10 from food is hard for instance. Eating adequate protein is essential because amino acids like creating, and carnitine come from them. CoQ10 is an antioxidant and we need those in buckets, so check out my BioHacking Bundle, or order separately from sproutright.com You need loads of B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc and selenium that’s in Alka C, and omega 3 fats from fish and Omega Boost.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start by writing down what you eat. Take stock of where you are with my free downloads on sproutright.com/takestock. Reach out for a free 15 minute call to go over the supplements you are taking and what you might be missing.