How To Eat Healthy Food To Support Your Mitochondria

Updated: Jan 3

Food is medicine! Every time we eat we are either supporting our body's ability to fight disease and illness or promoting cellular fatigue which can lead to disease. It is not your fault that you did not know this. We are not taught how to live a healthy lifestyle, which includes foods for healthy eating.

eating for a healthy mitochondria

We learn how to eat from our families. Did you family focus on eating vegetables more than eating meat? Probably not. I know mine didn't. When I was growing up, meat was the primary focus. Meat was always served with either potatoes, pasta or rice. The very last food at dinner was maybe a vegetable or a salad.


Organic foods and grass-fed meat were a foreign concept. The bottom line was anything that could be microwaved and prepared fast were the type of meals I ate growing up. I don't blame my parents. They did the best they could. The truth is we know more today about how food impacts our health compared to 40 years ago when I was a growing child.

It wasn't until I was an adult, much later in life, that I started paying attention to food choices. I started reading about how eating a lot of meat isn't healthy for our bodies. I started reading about how increasing vegetables and reducing meat significantly helps our body stay healthy. Especially as we get older.


There is a very important part of our cells that is critical to good health - the mighty mitochondria. You may not have heard of the mitochondria unless you took a biology course in school. Even if you did learn about the mitochondria in school, you've probably forgotten what you have learned!


The mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells turning what we eat into energy. They are also required for everyday functions of our cells and when they are damaged, the mitochondria may not be able to keep us healthy. (Source: Medical News Today)


What is unclear is if the mitochondria are damaged, do they cause disease or are they the victims of disease? What is clear is keeping the mitochondria healthy follows the same recommendations as the key to overall, healthy living: eat foods that are nutrient dense, move your body regularly, drink plenty of water and reduce stress as best as you can.


I started eating plant-based and cut meat out of my diet 3 days a week more than 10 years ago. I was shocked when about 9 months later my cholesterol dropped 20 points by making this simple change. My cholesterol wasn't even high!


After I had a measurable test result showing that I was doing the right thing for my body, I was hooked. Not only was I eating more vegetables, but the variety of what I was eating regularly grew immensely. There are so many more vegetables to choose from compared to just eating meat, chicken, pork and seafood all the time. I am definitely not bored!


When I went plant based, I also noticed that my digestion started to improve. I was like most people, my bowel movements were every couple of days and I would suffer from constipation. Growing up, I was told this is normal. That everyone has their own schedule. What a lie that is!


Studying Holistic Nutrition gave me a whole new perspective about digestive health. If we aren't pooping everyday, something is wrong with our gut! Think about it, poop is waste that is sitting in our colon, just waiting to be released.

When we don't get rid of the waste our body has accumulated, it ferments in our bowels and can cause bad bacteria to creep back into the body. While not having a bowel movement every day is one way to know our digestive system is not working properly, there are others.


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Does any of this sound like you?


👉Diarrhea and/or constipation

👉Bloating and gas

👉Weight gain

👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing

👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues

👉Headaches and migraines

👉Acne and itchy skin

👉Tired all the time

👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals


If you said yes to just one of the above, your body is telling you something is not right. Discovering the root cause and how to get healthy can be confusing and hard! I am here to help.


I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach obsessed with teaching people just like you how to achieve your health and wellness goals.


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woman on a video call

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✅Eliminate food fear

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It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.

We will get together via Zoom for 30 minutes, where you can tell me what you want to achieve.

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HOW DO YOU KEEP THE MITOCHONDRIA HEALTHY?

Eating organic, plant-based food, moving the body and taking supplements are the best way to keep the mitochondria healthy. Not all food we eat supports the health of our mitochondria. Food that is processed and full of pesticides confuses and damages parts of our physiology through oxidative stress and free radicals.


Eating for your mitochondria is not the only way to keep it healthy. Drinking plenty of clean water every day is required. How much water should you drink? Half your body weight in ounces, every single day. We are dehydrated! The number one reason we reach for food is not out of hunger - it is because we are thirsty. The next time you reach for a snack, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes. If you are still hungry, eat something. But you may not be!


Our mitochondria wants to fight for our health. When we eat food that contains foreign substances, such as fillers used to extend shelf-life or pesticides, the body tries to fight the substances. It wants to get rid of the harmful substances. As our body fights for us to be healthy, it becomes fatigued. When the body becomes fatigued, it can't fight illness and disease. It is a vicious cycle.

HOW TO FEED YOUR MITOCHONDRIA


If you are like me, you love to eat. Eating is not a problem, but eating healthy food to support the mitochondria is like learning how to eat for the first time. Mitochondria love antioxidants!


Mitochondria food such as apples, blueberries and strawberries are high in antioxidants. Also, vegetables such as kale, spinach, eggplant and broccoli are high in antioxidants. Mitochondria also love high-quality protein. Some of the best foods for mitochondria are grass-fed and wild-caught protein. You can also get a lot of high-quality protein from eating vegetables and beans.

Mitochondria friendly foods

It is so important to eat organic for the mitochondria. One of the reasons that the mitochondria cannot keep us healthy is due to the toxins we expose it too on a daily basis. The air we breath is polluted and we can't do anything about it. We all have plastic in our bodies because plastic is so prevalent in our society. Just touching plastic can leach chemicals into our body. Think of how many products we buy that are in plastic containers.

By going organic, you are helping your mitochondria to have less exposure to toxins on a daily basis. Not only is going organic going to help the mitochondria but you will lose weight eating organic. Organic food is nutrient dense. Much more than non-organic food. When we eat food that is nutrient dense, we eat less of it.


Getting the mitochondria healthy does not mean going on a diet. It means eating differently to support our body's natural defenses so we can avoid disease. When you eat to support the mitochondria, you will lose and maintain a healthy weight.

RECIPES THAT SUPPORT A HEALTHY MITOCHONDRIA

Broccoli Stir-Fry with Spicy Garlic Sauce from Healthy Slow Cooking

Baked Eggplant from Nutritious Life

Easy Tomato Spinach Pasta from Hurry the Food Up

Lemon Blueberry Oatmeal Bars from Joyful Healthy Eats

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Cups from Live Well Bake Often

One Pot Mexican Spiced Vegetable Quinoa from Jessica Gavin

Roasted Sweet Potato, Kale and Farro Salad from Making Thyme for Health

Mediterranean Bean Salad from Skinny Taste

broccoli stir fry with spicy garlic sauce

I hope you enjoyed learning about the mitochondria and why it is important to keep it healthy. When we take care of it by eating antioxidant rich foods, moving our body and taking supplements, our bodies can fight illness and disease.


About The Author

Heather L Donahue is a Master Certified Health Coach and Certified Holistic Nutritionist. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Heather has personally overcome hypothyroidism, a lifetime of struggles with her weight, constipation and the transition to menopause holistically. She is passionate about helping others achieve their wellness goals so they can live a life they love. When she is not helping others, Heather loves to read, cook, garden, go to the beach, practice mediation and yoga.


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