When we look at ourselves what do we see? We see arms, legs, bones, flesh, skin and hair all collectively brought together to form a unique person. But let’s just take a second to think about what makes up all of these vital elements.
Cells are the building blocks of life. We cannot doubt the power these small microscopic orbs of life hold. There is no doubt that the complexity of the body is mind boggling. All our larger bodily processes are all supported by many smaller more complex processes happening at the cellular level. So many reactions are taking place at any onetime that if we were to list them all it would literally take years.
When trying to understand the process of healthy cellular function we have to first delve into the essential components of the cell which make it all possible. Hopefully you were paying attention in your high school science class, but if not, prepare yourself for a crash course in cellular energy production.
Every cell has an organelle, or microscopic organ, called the Mitochondria. This organelle is located in the cytoplasm or outer fluid of the cell and its main function is energy production. It converts glucose (sugar) into ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), which is used by the cell as energy that becomes fuel for cellular processes.
At the same time, another process called Mitophagy is taking place. Mitophagy is a natural renewal process in which our cells break down and recycle damaged mitochondria to maintain a healthy cellular environment.
Dr. John Cuomo, USANA’s executive director of product development and technologies, explains this crucial process.
“Mitochondria get damaged as they work producing energy,” he says. “To produce energy, you need to burn fuel and in that process you create free radicals that are damaging to your cells. Mitophagy is a natural process in which our cells recycle this damaged mitochondria to support good health.”
When mitochondria are young, they are real go-getters (aren’t we all?). But when they get older, their function becomes impaired — eventually damaged to the point that the mitochondria are making more free radicals than energy, translating into more and more oxidative stress.
Knowing that we want to limit oxidative stress to maintain good health, you can see the value in nutritionally supporting the natural renewal process that occurs in our mitochondria.
The speed at which our cells naturally regenerate mitochondria is normally controlled by nutrient availability. When nutrients are present in high quantities, the cell doesn’t need to be as efficient. It has plenty of fuel to burn. But when nutrients are scarce, efficient energy production becomes much more important.
Our bodies normally trigger the “mitochondria renewal” process in times of low energy — such as when we’re running low on food.
“But if I’m not mistaken,” John says, “most of us don’t live in states where we’re running out of food. As a matter of fact, most of us get too much food on a regular basis.”
For that reason, our cells are naturally recycling mitochondria much less efficiently. We need to find other ways to trigger the mitochondrial recycling process even when we have plenty of energy.
“And we think we’ve found that secret,” John says.
USANA scientists are focusing on leveraging the body’s natural intelligence to create optimal health. What they’ve discovered will unlock a new era in nutritional science. And that era will begin on Aug. 25 at the 2016 USANA International Convention.