Mitochondria – the batteries of life – and why we need to look after them.
Most of our energy (around 90%) is delivered by minute structures or organelles called mitochondria, which are present in every single animal and plant cell. Mitochondria use digested food products (such as carbohydrates and fats) to produce energy for all cellular processes. The cells that need the most energy, such as brain, heart and muscle cells, are more densely packed with mitochondria.
It is believed that mitochondria originated from bacteria that were engulfed by cells. This is because they make copies of themselves like bacteria and have some residual genetic material similar to bacteria. These ‘living’ structures ended up staying in the cells in a mutually beneficial relationship. The cell protects and delivers nutrients to the mitochondria which, in turn, deliver the energy needed for life.
So, how happy, healthy and energised we feel ultimately depends on how well our mitochondria are functioning.