Dr Terry Wahls on Eating for Cellular Health

Diet is where it all begins. It is the one most influential elements about your environment that you can control and it is therefore your most powerful tool in preventing or healing chronic disease.

You are made of cells. A cell is the unit that makes up a living organism. Some organisms consist of only one cell, like an amoeba. Some, like human bodies, consist of trillions of cells. Cells come in different sizes and shapes, and they all do different things, but they are, essentially, the building blocks that make up our bodies.

Cells, however, don’t work under just any conditions. They need certain nutrients in order to do the work of keeping you alive and healthy. What your cells use to fuel the chemistry of life comes directly from what you feed yourself. Without those nutrients, the cells begin to malfunction, even die. Your genetics may determine what goes wrong, but when the cells aren’t getting what they need, the body doesn’t work right, and something (usually many somethings) will go wrong somewhere.

So, what does eating for cellular health look like?

It all starts with your mitochondria.

If you want to be healthy, strong and sharp, then your cells have to be healthy, and your cells won’t be healthy unless their (that is, your) mitochondria are healthy.

Most cells in your body contain mitochondria – the ‘engines’ that power the cell. Some cells contain many more mitochondria than others. The more energy that a particular cell needs, the more mitochondria it requires to churn out that energy. For example, your brain, retina, heart and liver cells contain a lot more mitochondria than most other cells in other parts of your body because thinking, seeing, pumping blood, and processing toxins are all high-energy activities.

How do mitochondria work?

Mitochondria produce a compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which stores energy in the bonds between its molecules. It is the fuel used to power the chemistry that is used by our cells for all that they do.

What does your mitochondria need to produce ATP?

To produce ATP efficiently, the mitochondria need particular things: glucose or ketone bodies from fat and oxygen are primary. Your mitochondria can limp along, producing a few ATP on only those things, but to really do the job right, your mitochondria need:

  • Thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Niacinamide (vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin b5)
  • Minerals (especially sulphur, zinc, magnesium, iron and manganese)
  • Antioxidants

And ideally, they also need plenty of L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, creatine and coenzyme Q10. They also need to be protected from toxins like lead, mercury and arsenic or solvents, plastics and other organic pollutants.

So, how do you eat to support your cells?

More green leaves, for sure, for their B vitamins and magnesium. More sulphur-rich vegetables from the cabbage family, onion family and mushroom family. To make sure that our cells get the antioxidants that they need, eat deeply coloured vegetables and berries. And, as a general rule, where there is pigment, there is most likely a lot of antioxidants as well.


Dr Terry Wahls is speaking live at two events in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia:

  • Saturday, April 21 – Melbourne Plenary, Melbourne Convention Center
  • Saturday, May 5 – Sydney, Cockle Bay Room, ICC Sydney

Can’t travel? You can still attend!

Her talk will also be available to purchase via live stream if you’re not able to make it in person.

For full event details, head to the Dr. Terry Wahls Live website.