What are mitochondria and why are they so important?

Mitochondria are the structures in every cell that make energy by using oxygen and nutrients from food. The brain, heart, nerves, muscles and organs all have the highest concentration of mitochondria, however, as we age, mitochondria decline in numbers and produce less ATP. So whilst mitochondrial function is a natural part of ageing, decline is also associated with environmental factors such as, stress, childhood trauma, medications, alcohol, mould, poor sleep and poor diet.

Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body in our body is similar to rust on a car and understanding that if we look after our body well it will perform well and similarly to giving a car the wrong fuel, the body is the same, without the correct nutrients we can not perform well.

Signs of poor mitochondrial function include fatigue, poor memory, vision problems, digestive problems, muscle weakness, fibromyalgia, depression, whereas when mitochondria are healthy and in abundance, benefits include:

  • lower oxidative stress
  • increased metabolic function
  • increased energy levels and exercise performance
  • lower body fat
  • increased lean muscle mass
  • lower age-related deterioration

Tips to Optimise Mitochondrial Function


Eat an anti-inflammatory diet full of colourful vegetables, good quality organic protein and healthy fats such as wild salmon, avocados, nuts and seeds.

Avoid gluten which can lead to the breakdown of the mucosal lining of the gut, which may lead to malabsorption of the essential vitamins and minerals being obtained from the food you eat.

Reducing stress by practicing deep breathing techniques such as HeartMath, mediation and yoga. Chronic stress may damage mitochondria in the brain and immune system.

Regular exercise stimulates production of mitochondria in muscle tissue.

Prioritise sleep as sleep deprivation increases oxidative damage leading to reduction on mitochondrial function

Reduce toxins – click the button below to download a ‘How to Detox Your Life ’ handout