Cellular Foresight ~ Part Four

Mitochondrial Function

Mitochondria represent one of the most important organelles within a cell.

It is found in significant numbers in which the biomechanical processes of respiration and energy production [ATP synthesis] occur.

This energy-producing cellular powerhouse portion of your cells is responsible for 97 percent of your body’s chemical energy by capturing energy generated by the breakdown of food during the oxidation of organic compounds.


There are at least 400 mitochondria per cell with thousands per cell respective to heavy hitters like  your brain, liver, and muscle tissue.

Mitochondria crave proliferation to meet the increased energy demands of snowshoers and trail runners.

A balance of duration and intensity in your training/exercise regimen combined with interval training not only improves your fitness level and endurance sports performance but supports the greatest adaptive mitochondrial response.

Mitochondria structure is uniquely comprised of strands from both your parents [nuclear DNA | nDNA] and a strand solely from your mother [mitochondrial DNA | mtDNA]. The mtDNA strand is particularly useful in genealogical study.

The myriad and breadth of differences between nDNA and mtDNA in terms of structure, composition, inheritance, recombination, mutation rates, number of copies, and other characteristics is beyond the scope of this article.

Mitochondrial membranes and mtDNA are highly susceptible to oxidative damage from free radicals. The damage frequency to mtDNA is nearly 20 times more than nDNA.

This is important because the lack of protective molecules [histones] combined with the damage rate leads to a mtDNA mutation rate 17-times higher than nDNA.

This progressive mutation rate stifles mitochondrial energy production and plays a critical role in the accelerated aging process theory.image thumb Resolution This!

Oxidative stress is the burden placed on organisms by the constant production of free radicals in the normal course of metabolism.

This burden causes toxic effects through the production of peroxides and free radicals resulting in cellular damage to proteins, lipids, and signaling pathways.

Said interplay results in energy depletion, cellular instability, inflammation, tissue dysfunction, accelerated aging, chronic and degenerative diseases, and the proliferation of free radicals versus antioxidant capacity.

One of the fiercest generators of free radicals is the burning of food in the mitochondria. Free radicals are the metabolic waste products from turning food into energy.

Toxins, infections, allergens, and nutrient-deficient foods create metabolic waste. The bottom line: free radicals severely impair the ability of the cells to produce energy in the mitochondria. The ultimate loss of energy is death.

Our body has a built-in mitochondrial protection system but it is overwhelmed by the workload. Issues arise when we are out of balance. The system is termed REDOX because of the chemical processes REDuction [reduction] and OXidation [oxidation]. REDOX concerns chemical reactions in which oxidative states have been altered.

REDOX represents a family of reactions concerned with the transfer of electrons between species. Reduction is a decrease in oxidation through the gain of electrons whereas oxidation is an increase in oxidation via the loss of electrons – a reversible chemical reaction in which one reaction is an oxidation and the reverse is a reduction. This ongoing cellular feud impacts mitochondrial health.

Consuming too many calories and not enough micronutrients breeds illness. The typical diet contains too many calories and anti-nutrients complete with an antioxidant shortfall. A balanced REDOX system and mitochondria protection are the keys to optimal health and improved endurance sports performance, and graceful aging.

Anti-nutrients remain staples in the typical North American diet. These include animal foods/protein, saturated fat, hydrogenated/trans fatty acids, cholesterol, oil, sodium, artificial sweeteners, sugar, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate/MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.

Find below some of the several diseases linked to mitochondrial damage.

~Alzheimer’s disease;
~Huntington’s disease;
~Parkinson’s disease;
~Cardiovascular and related diseases;
~Chronic fatigue;
~Migraine headaches;
~Other neurodegenerative diseases;
~And more.

Efficient mitochondrial function is vital to endurance athletes.

Increased mitochondrial size and density will bless an endurance athlete with enhanced respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal proficiency. Increased mitochondria and myoglobin enhance the art of energy production and the capacity for oxygen storage within the muscle.

Myoglobin is a protein that binds with oxygen in the muscle fiber.  Myoglobin releases the oxygen to the mitochondria when oxygen becomes depleted during exertion.

It is unclear the degree to which myoglobin content contributes to the oxidative capacity of a muscle but evidence suggests that endurance training increases myoglobin content which increases the oxygen reserve in the muscle.

TX2 280x300 Transition: Trail Runner to Snow RunnerSome of the benefits to snowshoers and trail runners include:

~Improved blood flow and oxygenation;
~Reduced fatigue;
~Increased energy production [ATP];
~Enhanced muscle fiber interaction [elasticity | efficient contractions]:
~Improved heart function [stroke volume | cardiac output];
~Improved circulatory system efficiency;
~Health at the cellular level.

Protect your mitochondria and prevent rusting like a vehicle or a bowl of apple slices on the counter. One of the keys to optimal health and endurance sports performance is regeneration. Snowshoeing, trail running, and other forms of exercise provide reasons for your body to regenerate.

Regeneration is an ongoing process that transpires at the cellular level. The rate at which your body regenerates is dependent on the quality of dietary fuel to support it.

Poor nutritive decisions convert the complementary stress produced by exertion into uncomplimentary stress. A nutrient-deficient diet combined with strenuous exercise will hasten cellular degeneration and advance the aging process.

Regular consumption of primary source, alkaline-forming, easily digested, absorbed, and assimilated nutrient-dense, whole foods supports cellular regeneration and optimal mitochondrial function which translates into more energy production for your endurance outings in addition to heightened wellness.


  • Jeff Kildahl is a writer, author, wellness consultant and philanthropist advancing preventive health care by synthesizing primary source nutrition and fitness as the principal components of the practice of medicine. Kildahl is a sponsored vegan ultra-endurance athlete credentialed in bioenergetics, biomechanics, metabolic efficiency™ testing, sport nutrition, and natural medicine. He is a dynamic member of CUBE™ ~ a professional speakers group ~ empowering others to harmonize the "Keys to Living in the Song of Life." He is the wellness editor at Snowshoe Magazine, United States Snowshoe Association columnist, and contributor to health, fitness and wellness sites, blogs and publications. He is a US-based ultra-endurance athlete and philanthropist for the 100 FOR 100 Movement ~ https://100for100.me. Kildahl is the creator and president of The Wholistic Edge® ~ a visionary firm providing synergistic solutions to transcend health, performance, and potential in life and sport from the inside out via the principles of Performance Medicine™ ~ http://thewholisticedge.com.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.