Mitochondria- the Achilles’ heel of the cell in aging.

As we age, the mitochondria ( cellular power structures) in our cells mutate, and slow down in all our tissues.  The mitochondria, have their own DNA which could mutate, thus diminishing function.  The mitochondria take in glucose, fatty acids and amino acid and generate ATP, the energy molecule which makes our metabolism run to give our bodies the energy necessary to perform all its various functions.   Aerobic exercise can increase the number of mitochondria in your muscle cells by 40 to50% in 6 weeks. According to Gerald Shulman from Yale University, “ we believe that insulin resistance develops when fat builds up in the cells, and that can eventually block the transport of blood sugar(glucose) into cells.  “ . The most common cause of fat buildup is consuming more calories than we burn.  Older mitochondria are less able to get rid of fat. This predisposes us to fat accumulation in muscle and possibly even the liver Metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes can result from aging mitochondria dysfunction.   Age can also slow down the mitochondria in the beta cells of the pancreas which produce insulin which is needed for blood sugar transport into the cells. Beta cell dysfunction leads from insulin resistance to impaired glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes.  Exercise may be able to prevent diabetes ,insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome by boosting mitochondria.  We can all benefit from a regular exercise program that includes some strength training . 

Schardt, David,  “Manipulating Mitochondria-Playing in the Fountain of Youth” .
Nutrition Action Healthletter, December 2008, pp. 8- 10.`.