Think of something so small that can only be seen under a stained microscope, that produces all the energy in your body. Something so small that if not taken care of can dysfunction and cause a plethora of diseases and issues. The mitochondria are a double membrane organelle found in the human body that produces ATP, is involved in cell signaling, biosynthesizing intermediates, and plays a role in aging and death.
Mitochondria's main function is to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) the fuel used for all reactions in the body, the average cell uses 10 billion ATP per day and cells can contain 1000 to 2500 mitochondria. Each ATP molecule is recycled 500 to 750 times a day, meaning we as humans produce a heck of alot of energy, and our control center the brain uses 70% of the ATP this is a big component and strong connection of mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegeneration and brain health.
The production of ATP starts in the kreb cycle (citric acid cycle) then to the electron transport chain, where 90% of ATP is produced in aerobic metabolism. The ETC is a key player to what is moving out of the mitochondria and the metabolites it is able to use. The complex process of the body taking in energy from food and molecules and changing them into energy the body uses is intricate with many steps on the way and always revolving and working. If there happens to be dysfunction then things start to get derailed. The main function is through oxidative phosphorylation, the transfer of electrons from NADH/FADH2 to O2 by the electron carriers, thus we have aerobic metabolism.
Now when the process of the mitochondria gets disrupted we get dysfunction of the cell itself, and the cell affects the systems as a whole. Now As processes slow down or do not respond we get a slowing of the metabolic rate, the process of energy production is slowed and energy is not utilized efficiently. This inefficiency leads to metabolic syndromes one of the most well known is type two diabetes. When these powerhouse cells shut down it causes a cascade effect throughout the body. Situations where we have chronic intake of carbohydrates and fats excess leads to mitochondrial dysfunction, these can also lead to accelerating aging. In the process of creating energy the body produces Reactive Oxygen Species which can cause damage to the cells of our bodies, DNA, RNA and proteins. The more dysfunctional a mitochondria gets the less it can deal with the ROS that are created and those free radicals can leak out into the surrounding cells and change and alter them. This alteration can lead to mutations in genetic material that can lead to many issues. So our biggest goal is to create a healthy and functional mitochondria to reduce aging, have an efficient metabolism and have a cell defense.
To take care of our mitochondria, a healthy- nutritious diet is key to getting proper vitamins and minerals in and limiting high carbohydrate and fatty processed foods. The most potent ways to increase health is through physical exercise, moderate aerobic work (running, biking), High intensity training,(short work intervals), through resistance training, any work that will increase your work capacity will change the mitochondria for the better.