Why MDs Say You Should Prioritize Mitochondrial Health
Of all the ways we talk about healthy aging, some might seem more obvious. We know we need to take care of our skin so it can continue to function as a barrier. We know we need to keep our bodies moving for cardiovascular and muscular health. We know we need to support our gut microbiome to temper inflammation and digestion. We know we need to prioritize cognitive health for mental clarity. Oh, how the list goes on.
One area of healthy aging that often gets overlooked, however, is mitochondrial health.
Why experts say we should pay attention to mitochondrial health as we age.
Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells. This means they are responsible for producing the energy that allows all cells to function optimally. (This is why people whose mitochondria are not functioning optimally tend to feel exhausted.) And like many things in our body, they actually start to lose power and function as we age.
"Mitochondria are interesting and become more and more important as you get older because mitochondria deplete with age," says functional medicine doctor Frank Lipman, M.D., during an office-hour session for mindbodygreen's Functional Nutrition Program.
Because of this natural mitochondria decline, many healthy aging experts and MDs are looking for ways to enhance its function, even as the years go on.
How mindbodygreen's nr+ can support mitochondrial health.
The ultimate supplement for healthy aging.*
Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is a form of vitamin B3 that is converted to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) when consumed. NAD+ is a coenzyme naturally occurring in the body that plays a vital role in energy metabolism and maintaining proper cell functioning. Levels of NAD+ also happen to decline significantly as we get older, and these declining levels apparently drive the aging process.
"If you raise NAD+, you promote a vital, healthy aging process. Nicotinamide riboside is an incredibly promising compound," says functional medicine doctor Robert Rountree, M.D. In fact, studies have shown that NR is clinically proven to increase levels of NAD+ and therefore naturally rejuvenates these cells.*
And while taking a daily supplement, like mindbodygreen's nr+, is certainly an easy and effective way to do this, you can also further optimize your mitochondria function with the right habits. (A few you may find you already do on your own.)
Other ways to support your mitochondria health.
What else can you do? "There are a couple of ways," says Lipman, highlighting HIIT workouts, consuming the right nutrients, and intermittent fasting. "These create this hormetic response, so a little bit of stress, which will stimulate mitochondria."
"Fasting is probably one of the best things, so intermittent fasting or just fasting in general," says Lipman. In fact, studies have shown that restricting calories (20 to 30% less than what you normally consume) and fasting have been shown to increase NAD+ levels. However, cutting your calories or fasting for prolonged periods of time isn't realistic or advisable for most people, which is why most advise adding other mitochondria-enhancing lifestyle changes.
This includes, notes Lipman, your diet in general. "Eat more good healthy fats—healthy fats are really good for it. Lots of phytonutrients, like vegetables, are good. There are some specific nutrients [that can help]," he says. (One of those nutrients being NR, for the aforementioned reasons above.) From there, consume "fewer carbohydrates, grains included. Also get rid of the sugar and the processed foods."
The final area of metabolic health is through workouts. "You want to do some high-intensity interval training," says Lipman. "You want to stress the body—a little bit of stress is good for the body. It'll stimulate an increase in mitochondria. High-intensity exercise for short periods is good."
Rountree agrees, noting, "The best forms of exercise for raising NAD are high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting."
Mitochondrial health is an important way to support your overall health and longevity. There are a few simple ways you can help your cells' health, but one of the most effective is through smart supplementation, like with mindbodygreen's nr+. This is especially true if you already practice things like healthy eating, intermittent fasting, and HIIT training and are now looking for ways to go a step further.