While wrinkles and a sagging belly might be among the wince-inducing initial signs, aging actually begins in your cells. Mitochondria are the power plants within your cells that are ground zero for energy production.
Often called the “powerhouse of the cell,” mitochondria produce energy as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that your body then uses to fuel your day-to-day activities. Mitochondria dictate how you feel all the time. They’re the bedrock of a strong body and a powerful mind.
Some cells have more mitochondria than others. Your brain cells are teeming with these little guys. Ditto your heart. Muscle cells have a pretty massive mitochondrial crew.
You want tons of these guys working at full capacity and cranking out constant energy. Stronger mitochondria make for stronger brains and stronger bodies. So does consistency: mitochondrial biogenesis, or creating new mitochondria, becomes crucial for vibrant aging, optimal energy production, and protection against oxidative stress.
The opposite — mitochondrial dysfunction — spells disaster for your energy levels, contributing to numerous problems including cardiovascular disease and obesity. 
Unfortunately, the enormous amount of energy your mitochondria produce makes them susceptible to free radical damage and decay as you age.
“Mitochondria slowly decline in number and vigor” as you age, writes Ginny Graves in a fascinating Prevention article. “Little by little, your health and vitality decline, until one day you realize that your favorite clothes no longer fit, you’re exhausted by a trip to the grocery store, and your doctor is writing you a script for metformin to control your diabetes.”
But if you’re familiar with Bulletproof, you know that we don’t stand for weight gain or low energy. Mitochondrial glitches are not inevitable. Here are four ways you can support your mitochondria (even grow new ones!) for greater vitality and a more vigorous life.
In the past, researchers and doctors have relied on things like chronic calorie restriction (CR) to convince your body to create more mitochondria.  That works, but it takes a great deal of willpower. These four hacks are much easier than starving yourself.
Inflammation plays a key role in aging, damaging mitochondria and increasing mitochondrial dysfunction.  Ways to dial down inflammation include Bulletproof Protein fasting, exercising, taking a quality krill oil supplement, and following the Bulletproof Diet, where you replace inflammatory foods like grains, dairy, and omega-6 oils with anti-inflammatory , nutrient-rich fats, meats, and vegetables.
Studies show crappy sleep and sleep disorders play a key role in mitochondrial dysfunction.  In 2012, researchers identified the glymphatic system, which uses the cells’ mitochondria to remove cellular waste from the brain, particularly while you sleep.  In other words, as you sleep, the cells in your brain use their mitochondria to remove cellular waste. Here’s a guide to hacking your sleep.
Brain Octane turns into ketones within minutes, providing abundant fuel for your mitochondria. Ketones boost your metabolism, increase fat burning, curb hunger, and sharpen your focus. They make your mitochondria more efficient at producing energy.
Among its gazillion benefits, moving your body improves mitochondrial function and helps your brain perform better.  Walking has its merits, but the real advantages come from stepping it up a notch. Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to work out your mitochondria. One study found just two weeks of HIIT “significantly increased mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle.” 
The assumption that getting older means you are genetically destined to lose brain functionality is just wrong. I feel so passionately about this that I’ve written a book called Head Strong. It’s all about hacking diet, sleep, light and many other aspects of your biology and environment. The goal: to empower you to create a strong, resilient brain no matter how old you are.
As I say in the book:
“After all of these years as a professional biohacker — spending hundreds of thousands of dollars hacking my biology and traveling to the ends of the world to seek out the most cutting-edge, extreme, and ancient hacks for improving human performance, I was surprised to learn that it really all comes down to our mitochondria. I never would have imagined the extent to which these billions of tiny bacteria that live in all of us are calling the shots, controlling our energy, brains, and performance and basically determining who we are.”
Head Strong publishes in April, 2017 but you can check it out now.
Have you hacked your mitochondria to increase your energy? Any tips or tricks? Share them below. Thanks for reading and have a great week.
Originally published at blog.bulletproof.com on September 10, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com