Ancient Orders – Mitochondria

Within human cells are tiny organelles that convert sugars in to a chemical called ATP, which is the source of human energy. This process, referred to as cellular respiration, is the ground level factory of life.

In the research on aging, there is broad consensus on very little but one theme reappears over and over and that is the aging occurs on a cellular level. The aging process, whatever it is, is occurring not on a systematic level but in the cells and then stacking up, and THEN affecting the entire system. The cells in your hair follicles go wonky, and then you get grey hair.

But, if aging occurs in the cells, what part of the cells? What is disrupted in the cells that create aging? That is a core question, and it has not been fully answered. But, what is fully known is that within the cells are the tiny factories that convert inputs of air and food and later in to the energy that sustains life and these little organisms are called mitochondria.

It is only of academic concern where the mitochondria came from, but it is still interesting because it gets to the heart of what a human being is. Were the mitochondria freestanding organisms that were absorbed in to a new primitive cell structure, or did it evolve at the same time as cells with cellular walls and replicating DNA appeared? The answer is interesting because it gets to the idea of the human organism as a ‘stack’ or processes or wet technologies.

A stack of technologies is an interesting way to think about humanity. We know that our brains represent a sort of stack, with a lower brain that we call the ‘reptile brain’ called the brain stem, which handles basic functions, like heartbeat, and a higher order brain, called the frontal cortex, that handles things like higher order thinking and abstraction. Perhaps the cells are organized in a similar manner and the mitochondria as the ‘reptile brain’ of the cells and the other cellular components are the higher order components that do things that a liver or skin cell does. The lower order programming still is vital to the higher order functions and so keeping the lower order parts in working order is key to staying healthy and viable and ‘young’ regardless of what the calendar has to offer.

Here is a link to a study that tried to examine the structure of mitochondria and determine if it arose with the cells or before the cells. Understanding the nature of cellular biology is critical to understanding and eradicating the effects of aging at the cellular level. And, it’s interesting to think more deeply about just how and what we are at the most basic level.

“We may anticipate that the unabated deluge of genomic and proteomic data will confront us with currently unappreciated aspects of mitochondrial structure and function across the broad range of eukaryotes, with new data and insights continually reshaping and refining our ideas regarding mitochondrial evolution.”

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