Why Foundations Matter!
In construction of a house or building most people get the concept of building a sound foundation before working on the rest of the structure. Focusing on what to put on the structure's walls (Stucco, brick or siding) would seem silly if it took precedence over the foundation.
These components certainly have a role in the overall construction of a home, however, without a sound foundation, the structure will be unstable and fail. Taking this analogy further, if one were to look at repairing or upgrading a structure, adding paint, new siding or replacing the walls would be futile if the foundation was failing.
Yet the dietary and exercise debates are akin to exactly this. Arguing about the best diet, nutrition or exercise regimen is just like arguing stucco or brick is better. All the while ignoring the fact your foundation could be weak and failing.
Human Biology is no different!
Why are we talking about foundations? In the human body there are fundamental foundations that most dietary / nutritional and exercise regimens either ignore or worse the advise runs counter to optimization of these foundations.
Worse yet, many people crowd source recommendations on social media using others personal un-vetted recommendations. This is even more dangerous - especially when one's foundation(s) are in disrepair or broken.
If ones desire is to develop true optimized health & wellness, your foundations must be built, repaired and shored up, just like in a home or building, well before we focus on what to put on the walls, roof or what color to paint the house.
Regardless of your personal passion around a particular diet (pick your favorite Paleo, Ketogenic, LCHF etc) or exercise regimen (HIIT, Crossfit, running, etc), these will never be key to optimized health & wellness without a solid foundation.
What is the foundation in the human body?
Mitochondria are the energy factories and power plants within your bodies cells. In fact, Mitochondria are truly ground zero for energy production.
Readers likely remember high school biology class where Mitochondria were often called the “powerhouse of the cell,” where the discussion focused on their production of energy as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that the human body then uses to fuel not only critical functions like respiration, cardiac, neurological / brain function but all day to day activities across the body as well.
Mitochondria health dictates how one feels all the time. As far as foundations go, they are the top key driver to optimized health and wellness.
Mitochondrial density varies across your body. Neurological (Brain) cells are densely packed with these energy factories. Ditto with cardiac cells (heart). For those exercise enthusiasts, it would be important to note that muscle cells also have fairly highly dense populations of mitochondria as well.
For optimal health & wellness, you want your mitochondria working at full capacity and cranking out an optimized level of ATP (Energy). As a basic premise, stronger mitochondria make for stronger brains, cardiac function and bodies.
Optimized health & wellness relies on consistency: mitochondrial biogenesis, or the process of creating new mitochondria, becomes critical to protect against oxidative stress, for healthy aging and optimized energy production.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, mitochondrial dysfunction spells disaster for optimized health and wellness. Attempting to exercise or diet for optimal health & wellness, something suggested daily on blogs and in social media, while subject to mitochondrial dysfunction would result in poor results. In the most extreme cases, chronic exercise and diet could result in disease, another thing that is linked to chronic inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction.
Several recent guests on FitFluential Radio have discussed the importance of Mitochondrial Health for optimized health & wellness.
The following interviews dive deep into inputs for optimal mitochondrial health including the fact that diet, nutrition and exercise are not the primary driver. In fact, in several cases, common recommendations for diet and exercise can serve to damage mitochondrial health.
Have a listen. You won't regret it.
Next up as far as a foundation in the human body is Chronobiology or Circadian Biology. Stay tuned for that post.