8 Reasons Why Your Mitochondria Matters
Written by: Lilla Bessenyei
Mitochondria is one of the most important cell organelles in the body, which are responsible for generating chemical energy for your body. They’re particularly important for your brain and muscles because they consume larger amounts of energy than other organs. However, although your brain’s weight consumes only 2% of your overall body weight, it needs 20% of your resting metabolic rate to function properly (you use quite a lot of calories just to be able to think).
Your mitochondria transforms glucose and oxygen to energy, also known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate) on a cellular level. This molecule transports energy to every single cell in your body, so it’s existence is crucial to keep you alive.
Fun facts about your mitochondria:
- They have their own circular DNA and contain only 37 genes compared to the few thousands of genes found in your chromosomes
- While your DNA comes from your father and mother, you inherit your mitochondrial DNA solely from you mother (sperm cells have mitochondria but they’re broken down shortly after fertilization)
- Your mitochondria can multiple within your cells independently
- Your cells can contain from 2 to 2,500 mitochondria
- Mitochondrias like to work in team and often join together to establish branched networks
- Your mature blood cells don’t have them
So, the big question arises: Why does your mitochondria matter?
1. You can’t live without it
As I mentioned above, these organelles generate the necessary energy supply for every cell in your body to work properly. These little guys have a big job!
2. They’re important for your longevity
Your mitochondria are necessary for many biological processes, so it is logical that their severe dysfunction is related to premature aging and death.
3. Crucial for fat loss
More mitochondria creates more energy from glucose, amino acids and fat and due to this fact, burns more calories. Need I say more?
4. Helps to maintain your blood sugar levels
Research has shown that patients with type 2 diabetes have a decreased mitochondrial number, function and biogenesis. In insulin production, which takes place in your pancreatic beta cells, mitochondria plays an important role.
5. One of the most eminent factors to improve your athletic performance
The biggest limit to how fast you can run over a certain distance, or any other physical activities that demand endurance, is the time it takes to generate energy from oxygen and sugar in your exercising muscles. Having more mitochondria in your muscle cells will amplify their energy production and thanks to this, you’ll perform better.
6. Mitochondrial damage is linked to major neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Dementia
As I mentioned before, your brain cells need a massive amount of energy to communicate with each other, as well as to communicate effectively with your other organs. Without proper energy, this creates the perfect environment for disease.
7. Properly functioning mitochondria prevents heart disease
Mitochondria plays an important role in the regulation of cardiovascular cell function. ON the flipside, mitochondrial dysfunction increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
8. They trigger programmed cell death
This process is significant to maintain the proper balance in your body. When your mitochondria are damaged, they release a substance triggers cell death, which leads to a host of problems.
Lilla Bessenyei is a pharmacist and writer. It has been through her own experience that she realized that health and happiness start with what you put in your body and mind - including your thoughts. She is an avid researchers and has learned a lot about health and medicine. In her studies, she found that cultivating healthy emotions were just as important (if not more so) as a healthy diet. She is a fitness junkie, enjoys the numerous benefits of a vegan diet and enjoys helping people discover true health and happiness.
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