activate mitochondria

Mitochondria are not little animals that live in your body, they are our cell power plants that are responsible for the energy production of our cells. They contribute to your physical and mental performance and provide energy. 

What exactly these so-called power plants of the cell are and how you can strengthen them sustainably, you can find out here. 

What are mitochondria? 

Mitochondria are the smallest components of our cells and are often called cell power plants. Because their task is to produce energy. They are either round or shaped like a bean and thousands of them are found in every nerve cell.

These cell organelles are in a constant state of build-up and breakdown, multiply, grow, are consumed or degraded. They are responsible for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), an energy source that our cells need in order to function properly. [1]

So why should we strengthen our mitochondria? Inefficient functioning of the mitochondria makes you feel tired and weak. If they work properly at full speed, the mitochondria produce more energy and you feel fitter and more powerful.

It is therefore advisable to strengthen your mitochondria in a natural way. You should pay particular attention to your diet and exercise. [2]

Strengthening through cold training 

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A common method for strengthening mitochondria is cold training. This involves exposing the body to stimuli through cold and temperature changes and thus training it at the cellular level. Time and again, the health and hormonal benefits of cold showers and ice baths are highlighted.

Researchers also found that cold training induces PGC-1, a regulatory protein that enhances mitochondrial recovery and production and stimulates blood flow to muscle cells. [3]

Cold therapy helps burn calories and promotes the formation of brown adipose tissue. This is an adipose tissue that is more pronounced in babies and recedes in adulthood. However, in contrast to the better known white adipose tissue, it has a large number of mitochondria. These allow the fat to oxidise directly and generate heat. [ 4] [ 5]

Cold showers and ice baths can reactivate this reconstituted fat and thus strengthen the mitochondria in our body. 

Ketogenic nutrition 

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Your diet is particularly important in strengthening the mitochondria. Helpful in this case is the so-called ketogenic diet, in which the carbohydrate supply is greatly reduced and replaced by fat as the main source of energy. This diet is based on healthy fat, which is a more stable source of energy and thus promotes cell health in the long term and protects your mitochondria. 

Studies have shown, for example, that a constant ketogenic diet increases the density of mitochondria in mice. [6]

Calorie reduction 

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The body builds up new mitochondria especially when the demand for energy increases. By consciously reducing the calorie intake, such a lack of energy can be artificially induced, which in turn promotes the breakdown (mitophagia) of old mitochondria and the formation of new mitochondria. [7]

However, you should be aware that this method also has its downsides and can have side effects. So you should rather pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet and sufficient exercise.  

Intermittent fasting 

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However, there is one way you can take advantage of calorie reduction without being confronted with its negative side effects. This method is called intermittent or interval fasting. This means that you eat food only at certain times of the day and fast during the other times. The 16/8 plan is common, for example. Here you eat two meals in a time window of about 8 hours and do not eat anything for the remaining 16 hours. [8]

This nutritional trick promotes fatty acid oxidation, insulin sensitivity and slows down cell aging. In short, a real miracle cure for strengthening the mitochondria. 

Food supplements or effective foods 

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Another way to strengthen your mitochondria through nutrition is to take dietary supplements. They can increase the density and efficiency of the mitochondria. Resveratrol, alpha lipoic acid, PQQ, coenzyme Q10 or ribose are particularly popular.

However, it is more important to pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet, which you can supplement by taking micronutrients. These include alkaline-forming vegetables, magnesium, B vitamins, manganese vitamin D, zinc and selenium. You should also reduce your meat consumption and eat less processed foods with additives. 

altitude training 

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The goal of altitude training is to increase the performance of the mitochondria by maintaining an optimal load range. It is important that this takes place in a purely physiological range.

Altitude training is about training under special, difficult conditions, such as training with reduced oxygen supply due to extreme altitude. Especially for competitive athletes, altitude training is a popular method to promote resilience.

This intensive training strengthens the mitochondria and their activity. Contrary to older assumptions, researchers have now found that less oxygen reduces the number of mitochondria, but increases their effectiveness.[9]

A good night's sleep 

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Restful sleep is immensely important for your body, especially for your cells. Sleep is an important component for the general well-being of your body. This is because at night the cells, including mitochondria, regenerate. Studies show that we produce less energy and our performance decreases if we sleep less than 6 hours. [10]

But not only the duration, but also the quality of sleep is important. For example, it helps to have a fixed evening ritual and to avoid using smartphones before going to sleep, because they project blue light onto your retina which your brain perceives as daylight. Furthermore, the right room temperature is important for a restful sleep and you should be careful not to eat right before going to bed.

HIIT Training 

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A good method to increase the energy potential is sport. Especially effective is the so-called HIIT training (High-Intense-Interval-Training). This training method involves short, very intensive exercises that promote fat burning and muscle build-up and strengthen endurance. A popular variation is CrossFit, but there are also numerous exercises that you can do simply from home. [11]

In addition, this intensive training has an effect on mitochondrial activity, as the body balances the demand for more energy by producing mitochondria. Therefore, people who exercise regularly generally have more energy. [12]

A mixture of endurance and strength training 

Altitude and HIIT training may not be suitable for everyone. That's why you can also use a mixture of endurance and strength training to strengthen your mitochondria. So you can go to the gym and lift weights with confidence.

Reduce or avoid stress 

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In general, you should also make sure that your everyday life is not too stressful. This is because when there is a mixture of little sleep and a lot of stress, the mitochondria reduce their activity. In addition, under stress you tend to reach for the wrong foods, which can reduce the activity of the mitochondria.

Even worse: stress weakens the mitochondria in the intestines, which leads to poorer cell division in the body.[13]

So it helps to relax a little and to get some sun (in moderation), because this also stimulates the mitochondria. 

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Influence of stress on intestinal mitochondria

If you want to read a funny article about it in which you learn what happens to you if you only implement at least 2 of these tips, you can find out here.