A long time ago a very small bacteria entered the human body and took up long term residence in each of our cells. We call them mitochondria, and they’re the engines of our energy generation. They still have their own DNA and are seen as predictors of our life span. A typical 70 year old has just half the mitochondria of a 35 year old, and this explains why we have less horsepower as we get older.
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This is the typical, but at 83 my dad had my aerobic capacity compared to most 35 year olds. He cared for his diet, he cycled daily and importantly he never smoked. The mitochondria are an immediate target for environmental toxins and cigarette smoke is a straight introduced poison with an ideal delivery system.
Despite the fact that every cell is influenced some will be targeted over others, like the ones on your heart cells and cells in your blood vessels. For you as a smoker it means you’ll age much faster than you normally would. Along the way you can create much less energy and other cells such as those involved with your immune system. In short you may feel tired, you’ll get sick more often and you’ll have less ability to cure when unwell. It’s tough to consider things as little as mitochondria, and understand how they could make as much difference in our own lives.
Imagine you go to the beach and you see hundreds of jellyfish gradually swimming in the clear clean water. Now imagine the water remains and muddy, made toxic by contamination. The jellyfish will get slow and many will wash up dead on the coast. Now think of your mitochondria as these jellyfish.
But if you eliminate the contamination those surviving jellyfish will return to wellness and move freely. This whole sorry tale about these ancient bacteria does not need to be your narrative; you could stop smoking even if you think you can’t. It’s possible; it is do-able with the appropriate assistance and your commitment.
The harsh reality is each year older you’re, when you stop smoking your mitochondria is going to have a more difficult time bouncing back. But if you do not quit then you can’t expect to be very busy in your old age. And you will need at least enough energy to carry your oxygen bottle on you, unless you can attach it to your wheel chair! Not very friendly but true none the less.