SFH #29: Mitochondria and New Year's

How my birthday weaves into my pursuit of health 🎉

My birthday is December 31, 1978. 🥳 Many fun things come with this birth 'date,' like people's faces lighting up when they hear it's my birthday or getting to celebrate with the built-in energy around the holiday. My favorite 'fun thing' has been my ongoing New Year resolution since I was in my early 20s. It started as a desire to be a healthier version of myself in some measurable way. Early on, I envisioned six-pack abs, a suntan, and dunking a basketball. My vertical jump prowess has been a resolution a few times 🤣. These days I don't write or say my resolution out loud. It's just a given that I'm going to seek how I can be a healthier version of myself. I've just been doing more profound and deeper dives as years progress.

Mitochondria is one of the deepest ways I know to measure my health now. These tiny organelles inside your cells extract energy from the food you digest and create a chemical called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which stores energy for cellular function. They're essentially the power plant of the cell. Mitochondria is not always the easiest subject to bore into, but Dr. Mark Hyman does a great job with a rundown here. 📺

How can we improve our mitochondrial health?

  1. Eating. 🍽 Nutrient-rich foods are essential for feeding your mitochondria 'good' energy. Feed them 'poor' energy food choices, and you'll be struggling through your day with low energy to match. Here is an excellent rundown of which foods aid our 'mito' production and repair.

  2. Not eating. ✋🏽 Training your metabolism to become more flexible will also make it easier to adopt another longevity practice: intermittent fasting. I cover the basics of IFing here. In the end, fasting allows our mitochondria to stay more 'youthful.'

  3. Move fast, then slow, then fast again. 🔥 Also known as high-intensity interval training. HIIT. Your mitochondria love this action even you do not. 😉 HIIT helps build up muscular endurance and the number and size of the mitochondria that power your muscles. 

  4. Sunlight. ☀️ Exposure to the sun is a natural way to increase mitochondria production. The sun gives us vitamin D, which regulates our blood sugar and circadian rhythm. No supplement can replicate the full spectrum of light humans need from the sun. When the sun's ultraviolet B radiation hits our skin, it chemically converts vitamin D into its sulfated form, making it easier for our bodies to use. I like to get out early in the morning before the sun is most potent. I'll write about my sungazing practice soon. 🙌🏽

  5. Sleep. 😴 The body's natural detoxification process drains fluids from tissue and flushes out cellular waste and neurotoxins, helping preserve your mitochondria. A good night's rest regulates our hormones to help us feel satiated, improving cognitive abilities, promoting skin health, and encouraging healthy cell division.

  6. Get cold. 🥶 Another way to trigger new mitochondrial production is to expose yourself to short sessions of cold temperatures, covered here only yesterday. 🤪 Doing so will, in essence, trick your body into survival mode and kick mitochondria production into high gear.

As for my resolution this year, I'm continuing to learn and understand mitochondrial health. I know the critical choices listed above fosters 'mito' my health and longevity. I'm feeling more energized and healthier than ever. I'm not perfect, but I'm seeking ways I can improve. Try some tactics above, and maybe you'll not only feel more energized - but you'll look it too!