Through all my years of living so far, I have felt elated, disappointed, aghast, pleasantly surprised (you get where I am going with this), by various people, things, circumstances in life, to the point where I have gone used to it. But one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the human body. I mean we have been around for 66 million years and we are still learning and finding more about the marvelous creation i.e. human body. And to imagine all this brilliance functions via the smallest units – cells and powering them and in effect us – mitochondria.
Mitochondria is an organelle (kind of like an organ of the cell which performs a specific function) in the eukaryotic cells (more structured cell with defined nuclei). Thought I would save you the effort of opening google. Mitochondria has an outer membrane, and an inner membrane (both of which are embedded with proteins) with folds like structures called cristae. The space surrounding cristae is called the matrix. It is a gel-like substance that contains enzymes, coenzymes, water, and other molecules.
The main function of mitochondria is to create the energy used by cell (ATP – Adenosine Triphosphate). They are also responsible for cell growth, division, and death. Through a series of mitochondrial reactions, these generate about 90% of the energy used by us to perform all functions. In nutshell, in the matrix, a chemical called NADH is created by a reaction called Citric Acid or Krebs Cycle. And through a process of Oxidative Phosphorylation in cristae, the NADH is then used to create ATP with the help of oxygen present in the cell. And thanks to the fold like structures there is more surface area for creating more ATP. Hence mitochondria are the true source of human energy. What is also amazing and distinct about these is that they have their own mitochondrial DNA separate from your nucleus DNA and generally from the maternal side only. So, it can be used to trace back the eve’s that have contributed to your present self.
Depending upon the functions of the cell the number of Mitochondria varies like muscles need more energy so they have many, red blood cells don’t have any. And depending upon the requirement more can be created.
Here are a few ways you can improve its functions and advertently improve health:
· Intermittent Fasting: As the food is broken down to create the ATP, fasting may seem against the idea, however, the trick is when you fast for some time, it depletes the energy for the time and that triggers an increase in the levels of NADH and hence an increased ability to create more ADP. In this regard, eating healthier options and less calorie food helps as well as more of them hampers the proper functioning of mitochondria. More antioxidants and healthy fats prove to be a boon too.
· Exercising: Based on the above-mentioned principle exercising works to boost the mitochondrial function as well by creating the need to replenish the energy and by providing more oxygen in the body cells.
· Sunlight: it isn’t just required for Vitamin D, but it aids mitochondria too. So, make sure to get some time in the sun
· Cold: Interestingly, cold temperatures boost mitochondrial functions. You can try the ice therapy, staying in cold temperatures.
The thing is that mitochondria aren’t just a power plant, but if it malfunctions it can also wreak havoc by resulting in various diseases.
To conclude, always remember that our bodies are our miracles gifted by the creator. Ergo respect it and you will always something to count on.