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The Secret Link Between Gut Health And Mitochondria (And How It Controls Your Energy Levels) With Roland Pankewich

In this podcast, I am speaking with Roland Pankewich—the CEO of Health Optimization Practice in Canada—about the secret link between gut health and mitochondria and how it influences your energy levels.

In this podcast, Roland will cover

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The Secret Link Between Gut Health And Mitochondria (And How It Controls Your Energy Levels) With Roland Pankewich – Transcript

Ari Whitten:  Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I’m your host, Ari Whitten, and today I’m with my good friend, Jesus Christ. I mean, Roland Pankewich.

So, for those of you watching the video, you guys can see that Roland obviously resembles Jesus Christ, but he is not. He is, in fact, my good friend, Roland. I’m really excited to have him on the show. We’re going to talk about some really amazing content that we’ve never talked about on this podcast before; some really novel, amazing, powerful stuff. So, I’m excited to get into this. Let me tell you a bit about Roland.

He is the CEO of Health Optimization Practice in Canada where he will also be opening the country’s first HOP, or health optimization practice clinic, later this year. His background in clinical nutrition and functional medicine give him a wide scope of theoretical understanding on the topics and biochemistry as well as practical applications to client care for his clinical practice.

In addition to working with health-focused clients and athletes and it, and in addition to seeing clients rolling consults for supplement companies like microbiome labs and designs for health as an educator and content creator to support clinical practitioners all over the country who want to upgrade the caliber of their client care. I will also mention that he is the protege of Dr. Ted Achacoso, who is an anti-aging and world-renowned endocrinologist expert who has been on this podcast two times and has had some extremely popular episodes. Welcome to the show, Roland. Such a pleasure to have you on, my friend.

Roland Pankewich:  Thanks for having me, buddy. That was an awesome introduction, and I feel like because you mentioned Ted that I have big shoes to fill, but the reality is that he’s not a very big man; he has got small feet, so that’s kind of an ironic thing to say.


The connection between the gut and mitochondria

Ari Whitten:  Yes, indeed. So, we are going to be talking about the gut and mitochondria and the link, or the communication, between the gut and mitochondria. There’s some amazing science around this area to get us started. Just to make sure that we don’t sort of jump into too technical of stuff too fast and lose people, I want you to start with a basic overview of the importance of the gut and mitochondria, what they are, and the basics of what they do.

Roland Pankewich:  Perfect. So, let’s start with the gut because it’s kind of becoming my area of focus. Most people know that the gut is where all the food that we eat goes. We digest that food and pull those nutrients into our system, and we use them to actually feed on mitochondria to make energy. That is the first layer of connection, but when looking at the digestive system, we also know that there’s an absorptive aspect to it. There is an ecosystem that lives in our gut. We refer to something called the microbiome, which is one of the most hotly contested areas of research, and, in some cases, debate, right now, and the microbiome is a collective of the cells in our digestive system, the bacteria which are called the microbiota that inhabit the digestive system, and the immune and neurological axes that interact with the entire scope of those two things that help regulate our overall function.

Our gut immune system is controlled primarily as a result of our digestive function; we have something called the gut-brain axis. An example of that is a food you eat affecting your mood or something in your digestive system can send a signal up to your brain and they can talk back and forth. Then on top of that, we have to maintain this ability to keep the contents of what is inside our digestive system in the tube and not absorb things that are not meant to be in our bloodstream translocating, or the whole phenomenon of leaky gut. We want to maintain a protective barrier. When we look at the mitochondria—and I know that you’ve talked about this quite often, so this might be something that many people know–they are basically the energy-producing centers of ourselves.

The foods, the carbs, the proteins and the fats that we eat are most often processed by the mitochondria to make energy in the presence of the oxygen we breathe. On top of that, mitochondria are important signals or stimulators of immune and neurological function, and they’re one of the primary areas of response when it comes to threats coming in from the food we eat. An example would be the connection that I mentioned before: if we eat something that has a bacteria or something on it, as in the case of food poisoning, which I’m sure everyone can relate to, it’s the communication back and forth between the microbiota and the mitochondria that regulate the body’s response

to that. So, it is a very dynamic thing, but we’re looking at two separate entities and organisms that talk to each other to regulate their ability to keep our health in check.

Ari Whitten:  So, what are some of the variables that affect the function of our gut, or the health of our gut and the microbiome, and what are some of the variables that will affect the health of our mitochondria?

Roland Pankewich:  Both of them are responding to inputs, so everything you put in your mouth, for example, will reach your digestive system and that will have a massive effect. That is the principle thing that betters or compromises our overall digestive health. When we were looking at the gut, we want to make sure that it is working properly, first and foremost. The digestive cascade from the beginning when we started chewing food too when we release our waste material on a regular basis is not only a seamless process, we should know what’s going on. This is something for our listeners to take away: if you have any symptoms of poor digestive habits or poor digestive processes, you know that something along the way has been compromised. Starting at the stomach, we may want to make sure we produce enough hydrochloric acids and that we can break down proteins properly, as well as…

Look at the pancreas and the gallbladder to make sure that we’re producing enough enzymes and bile to digest those foods. If that process is optimally taken care of, the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients through our digestive system is going to be regulated, and it’s going to maintain a healthy gut if we’re eating the right kinds of foods. We’re going to be feeding our gut microbiota, or the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut, and it’s kind of like an ecosystem. Each species needs its own aspect of different foods variety.

Provided that we are eating a diet that consists of high-quality food free of pesticides and chemicals, which is very big for people on the West Coast, and things that are not processed—avoiding gluten, dairy, and things that are often inflammatory—that is going to keep our gut working very well.


The key drivers of gut dysbiosis

Ari Whitten:  Got it. Regarding the epidemics of gut dysbiosis, and maybe you can define that for people, and gut permeability, or leaky gut: what are some of the key factors that drive those issues?

Roland Pankewich:  So, dysbiosis as a term is something that’s pretty new, but I’m sure most health focus people will be familiar with it. Gut dysbiosis refers to the state of the bacteria that live inside your digestive system. So, to backtrack and explain, we have thousands of species of bacteria that live in our guts, and they all kind of work in conjunction with us, the host, to make sure that there’s a hospitable environment for them to live in, but they’re also helping to improve the health of the host because it’s a symbiotic relationship. Certain variables can compromise the bacteria themselves as a balance or a ratio. So, usually, when someone has a dysbiotic gut, it means they have an overgrowth of bacteria that are problematic, disease-causing, or pathogenic.

When you have high levels of disease-causing bacteria, you usually have an increased level of inflammation,

and we know that inflammation is typically at the root of almost all chronic degenerative diseases. What happens in the gut when you’re highly inflamed are the barriers that control the gut and prevent breakdown become compromised. So, the bacteria live in this meek mucus medium; it’s almost like they have their own little environment. If we have an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria or a dysbiotic gut, that mucus starts to thin, and when that mucus starts to thin, what ends up happening is those bacteria can actually interact with the cells that absorb and process all the nutrients of the food that we eat. When this interaction takes place, the immune system becomes responsive, and when the immune system becomes responsive, it starts increasing the inflammatory response to try to kill these bacteria, so they don’t create that leakiness, and then the contents of the digestive system don’t get into the bloodstream.

So, when someone’s highly dysbiotic, this process is happening almost 24/7, and if it’s taking place over months or even years, then it can transition from an imbalance to a syndrome state, to a disease state to, and finally to full-blown disease. Typically, we see the connection very highly in autoimmune patients of chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and things of that nature because the dysbiosis drives inflammation, and when you can’t rectify inflammation, you can’t restore health.

Ari Whitten:  Got It. That was a great explanation, by the way. So, what are some of the inputs that are going to affect the function of our mitochondria?

Roland Pankewich:  It’s a really good question because it ties into the previous point. The body should always have the ability to be in a prior anti-inflamed state whenever it wants. What I mean by that is if something happens, like if you roll an ankle, for example, what happens to the ankle? It swells up because that’s the first step in the healing process, but provided that you don’t overuse it and you give it time to rest, the ankle will eventually retract, and normal function will be able to be maintained. The body should always have the ability to respond to a threat, and it should always have the ability to calm down. If you look at the most up-to-date research when it comes to mitochondrial function, the thing that affects them most prominently is uncontrolled, unregulated inflammation. Why? For a couple of reasons. First and foremost, when the cell is inflamed, it is typically incapable of regulating energy production as efficiently, so the mitochondria themselves are essentially under attack from proinflammatory compounds.

If this happens locally, it might affect a specific tissue or a specific organ, but if it’s a systemic thing, for example, if you have endotoxins or various compounds floating around your bloodstream, these compounds can find their way anywhere where the blood supply is directed, and it can ultimately affect mitochondrial function systemically. Being human, we’re only able to produce energy in correlation to the efficiency of how well those mitochondria function, so when looking at the primary cause of mitochondrial dysfunction, it ties back in to what causes the breakdown of our gut, or unregulated levels of chronic systemic inflammation. We want to make sure that we can make as many molecules of energy, which we call ATP, for every food we eat, and we want to minimize the amount of mitochondrial dysfunction because the food we eat can’t be converted into the energy that our body needs.


Mitochondria and how they work within the cell

Ari Whitten:  Excellent explanation. There’s one aspect of this that you’ve touched on several times, but I want to point this out because it’s really important. A lot of people look at Mitochondria as sort of just mindless energy generators. they’re just in ourselves; they’re one of the organelles of ourselves as this; this is how we learn it in biology class, in high school or college. You have all these different organelles of the cell. The mitochondria are one of them, and the mitochondria are responsible for producing cellular energy. They’re the quote-unquote powerhouse of the cell, which is all true. However, the more modern understanding of mitochondria in the last five or ten years that has been built by a number of studies, probably most prominently Robert Naviaux’swork around the cell danger response, is showing that mitochondria also have this other critical role in cell defense and in defending the body against threats.

They can detect the presence of things like infection, inflammation, immune overactivation, and the presence of toxins. You mentioned endotoxin. I know we’re going to get more into that, but any other toxins such as heavy metals, BP, fluoride, chlorine, disinfection byproducts, and all these other things; the mitochondria are able to detect the presence of that and initiate the innate immune system in response to that. It basically creates its own immune system cascade that is designed to protect the cell against threats. So, the mitochondria have these two roles. We could think about them in this way of energy production and of defending the body against threats. That’s what you’ve been talking about as far as what shuts down the mitochondria and results in mitochondrial dysfunction, things like immune and inflammatory activation. The more that goes on, the more the mitochondria shut down energy production and switch more into a defense mode.

Roland Pankewich:  That is absolutely true, and it’s a great thing you brought that up because that’s a very strategic decision by the body, but if you make that a practical experience, someone might say, “I feel tired all the time. I’m doing everything I can do to try to increase my energy levels,” yet they don’t realize that the body is saying, and the mitochondria specifically are saying, “No, no, no, we’re not going to let you do this high-intensity thing. We’re not going to allow you to experience more stress because you have this unregulated threat that is currently in your system.” To make an example of what you just said, let’s say your body has been infected with a disease pathogen or a virus. Those viruses, just like our cells, need energy. So, rather than produce a lot of energy, your body will actually blunt the energy production response, and it will stress out the cells so that whatever is trying to live inside the cell will hopefully die off, and then it can return to normal function. I look at the mitochondria as the quarterback of what’s going on inside the cell, and this is true for any area of the body: without energy, nothing sustains. Energy is primordial to not only life but especially to health. So, if we’re constantly bombarding our mitochondria and compromising their ability to do their principal job as energy production organelles, then the downstream cascade of everything else will be compromised because they have other rules and regulations to fulfill.

Ari Whitten:  Absolutely. I want to go one layer deeper here. Part of what you’re talking about in a simple way is how the cell makes the mitochondria and helps make the cell inhospitable to a virus or a bacterium. Within that context, let’s talk about reactive oxygen species and how they’re involved in that process of cell defense, and specifically defending against an infection because a lot of people are under the impression, again, that free radicals are just all bad and that we don’t want free radicals, that we want to take our antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals. So, talk a bit about why free radicals are important and how the mitochondria are producing them, and then specifically what role they’re playing in this context of defending the cell against threats.

Roland Pankewich:  Sure. I love this topic. Free radicals are most easily thought of as signaling molecules. They are a means of communication because everything inside the cell has its own ability to be alive and to speak. The mitochondria communicate with other organelles, specifically the nucleus of the cell, via free radical formation and signaling. The mitochondria essentially act as a massive positive-negative charge pump. I don’t want to bore people with the details like protons, positive charge electrons, negative charge or being pumped across the membrane, and it’s the energy potential of the change in that membrane that ultimately drives the body’s ability to make energy.

However, sometimes the mitochondria themselves, rather than make energy with that gradient, will combine an electron with an oxygen molecule and create what is called a free radical, and this free radical has the ability to not only affect the mitochondria locally but also as a signaling molecule if it gets out of the mitochondria membrane. It’s like sending a smoke signal or sending a message to someone. They’re going to be receiving it from a long way away, but they’ll know what the main message is.

Ari Whitten:  That’s a great way of thinking about it.

Roland Pankewich:  It’s nothing more than a way to communicate what is really going on inside the cell to make sure that both the nucleus and the mitochondria can change their tactics to suit what is going on. If there is a virus coming in, the reason you’re raising the free radical formation is to stop energy production so you don’t feed the virus and to signal to the nucleus to change the genetic expression of how the cell can defend itself.

The third thing is high levels of reactive oxygen species. This is where people have the perception of them being bad. They oxidize, meaning they metaphorical rust inside the cell, and so we assume oxidization is bad and that the opposite is good. It’s really the balance between those two. It’s called the redox balance, which really shows you that again, like the immune system example, you want to be able to raise inflammation when you need it; you want to be able to relax when you don’t. You want to be able to increase your radicals when you need them, but if you’re not sick or you’re not compromised, you want to lower your radicals because that raises the ability to make energy. A lot of that is regulated by environment, i.e. the input signals from the food you eat, the air you breathe, and the activity,

but in the context of the mitochondria, that is how they communicate back and forth.


The secret link between gut and mitochondria

Is it okay with you if I jump into a cool example of how we connect the gut?

Ari Whitten:  Yeah, absolutely.

Roland Pankewich:  So, the beneficial example of how this communication back and forth goes is that the mitochondria use free radicals to signal how the cells can maintain the internal environment of the microbiome. So, one example of how we keep the bacteria happy is by keeping the immune cells and the epithelium, or the absorptive cells, happy by maintaining barriers. The way I look at it is separate and mediate. We separate with a physical barrier of mucus, meaning the bacteria cannot penetrate it, and then we mediate with these anti-microbial molecules from the immune system, so if that physical barrier fails, we have a Plan B. The way we maintain the physical barrier is actually through the body’s ability to regulate reactive oxygen species within the mitochondria of the colon cells, which stimulate the renewal of mucus.

If we shut this process down, then we’re taking away a free radical-dependent mechanism that actually maintains our health. It is not a nefarious thing, but it’s actually a positive thing providing it’s kept in check. Almost like saying, “All right, signal the molecule, raise the ability to make energy, secrete new mucus,” and that happens on a regular basis. While we’re doing this pod, we’re both secreting another layer of mucus, and then when it’s done, we will have secreted another, so it’s a regulatory feedback system that’s maintained by free radicals.

Ari Whitten:  Very well explained. I want to jump back to what happens in the cell for just a second because there are a couple important points you made. One is that this oxidizing environment, or the cell or the mitochondria producing lots of oxidants, is not inherently bad. It’s something that in a certain context, let’s say where there is an infection present or there are toxins present, that oxidizing environment for the mitochondria to shift out of energy production mode towards producing more free radicals is actually a beneficial and protective thing for the body

Roland Pankewich:  It is always containing that virus or that pathogen. It’s like a self-mediated quarantine, if you will, or an attempt.

Ari Whitten:  Yes. I want to just connect the dots for people as to the degree that your mitochondria shut down energy production and defend against threats and shift towards producing oxidants to defend against infection, toxins or whatever type of stress. There is even new research on this subject. I don’t know if you’ve seen Martine Picard’s research on mitochondrial psychobiology; he’s one of your Canadian brethren. It’s brand new research. I’ll send you the study. It’s really cool stuff about psychological stress and how that impacts the mitochondria and how oxidizing, or that shift from energy mode to defense mode, is a protective response. I just want to connect the dots for people so they realize that the symptom that you feel on a big picture level as far as what you as a person actually feel when a lot of your mitochondria are doing that is fatigue or low energy levels so that that is essentially what fatigue is. It is when a lot of your mitochondria have shifted out of energy production and towards defense mode.

Roland Pankewich:  The idea of being able to raise energy levels via something is well-intentioned: obviously you want to feel better, but I think that the idea that the body makes no decision by accident should make people take stock and well, “How have I not thought about this idea first and foremost?”

Because if it’s a protective thing rather than raise energy because you feel fatigued, and this is what I see with a lot of my clients’ successes, is we have that as a beneficial side effect of something else that is a chronically smoldering ember in their body that has never been taken care of.


The outdated theory about DNA and mitochondria

Ari Whitten:  Yeah, absolutely. I want to come back to one other thing that you said in passing that I think is a really important point that a lot of people maybe didn’t quite get, and that is that for many years, for decades in biology, it was taught that our DNA is the boss and that what is in the nucleus of the cell, our DNA or genes, is the big boss. That is what’s giving orders to everything else, and everything else is downstream of the DNA. What we now know and what you were referring to is something called retrograde signaling where mitochondria are producing signals like smoke signals, as you said (I love that analogy), which are going back from this organelle of the nucleus and the mitochondria, which is supposed to just take orders from the DNA.

It sends signals back to the DNA in the nucleus of the cell and influences which genes get expressed, switched on, and switched off. For example, if you stress your mitochondria out with physical exercise or with a number of other hormetic stressors, let’s say sauna or certain phytochemicals, it activates this retrograde signaling and it goes back to the nucleus and switches on a Nrf2pathway, which then creates various beneficial signals. It stimulates the growth of mitochondria, the creation of new mitochondria from scratch and a number of other signals. It also shuts down another gene expression pathway called NF-kB, which is a proinflammatory signaling pathway. So, it’s literally affecting the expression of genes that have an impact on energy production, on inflammation levels in your body, and so on.

So, I just wanted to elaborate on that a little bit more because you touched on it in passing, but I think important that people understand all these really important roles that mitochondria are playing.

Roland Pankewich:  Yeah. Is the nucleus really the boss? I look at the nucleus as a library or a database of information, but someone has to tell you which book to read. Someone has to go fetch the book, and we need to know what to extract from that book. I look at the mitochondria as the quarterbacks because they’re making the calls as to what genes are being expressed and if the body needs to be inflamed, then let’s get better at raising inflammation because it suits our purpose. Let’s go stimulate NF-kB. If we’ve been inflamed for a while and we need to calm the fire, let’s get out the fire blanket, let’s go get the Nrf2 two guys because those are going to signal the downstream activities of what regulates the actions inside

of the cell, and thus our organ and our whole body. And yet this is only a little communication back and forth between these two organelles. It’s incredible how deep and detailed it is, and what the research is showing us because now we’re able to take that research and on a more practical, applicable level for someone who is a patient, a client, or whatever you call them, we’re able to give you actions that are going to hopefully yield or lead to a resolution or an improvement of your state because we can give you a deeper understanding of what is going on.


The secret link between the gut and mitochondria

Ari Whitten: Absolutely. Let’s talk about some of this, this communication or this link between the gut and the mitochondria. How are they linked? How are they communicating? What is this all about? What do you mean? Give me the big picture overview. One reason they’re communicating is for the maintenance of an optimal environment for them to both live in. It’s that simple. In some ways, I look at

Roland Pankewich:  One reason they’re communicating is for the maintenance of an optimal environment for them to both live in. It’s that simple. In some ways, I look at us as just the host for bacteria. We have trillions of bacteria all over us, inside of every orifice, and these bacteria, just like all humans, have the prime directive to survive. If you look inside a cell, a mitochondrion technically used to be a bacteria species. It used to be a separate thing entirely until it found a cooperative arrangement with a cell based upon variables that are millions and millions of years old. So, the reason they communicate fundamentally is to create a better environment for themselves to survive and thrive. Knowing that, we have to then understand that the way they communicate and the way they mediate things is to improve our health, so it’s bi-directional communication. The main things that we find that they control or their influence are things like energy production. What’s going on locally in the gut can not only affect your overall gut health, but it can affect the peripheral mitochondria in your muscular tissue or other aspects of your organ function.

We maintain things like redox balance, which we talked about. They control immune responses, the communication back and forth based upon, for example, the foods you eat can stimulate the production of new mitochondria locally in the colon and thus in the body systemically. Then the last thing you can do is focus in on the gut because that’s obviously where we’re highlighting our talk back and forth. Communication can influence things like gut barrier function, cell division, and cell renewal. All the things that have to take place to keep us healthy are essentially governed by these two guys going back and forth, and the X factors are the food, lifestyle, and inputs that we put into our systems because they’re just responding to those things to find balance.

Ari Whitten:  Excellent. Let’s dig into some of the specifics, the layers of the story, because I know there are a lot of layers to this and maybe the best way of explaining this is to take people through a sequence of how this can play out, starting with some gut issues and then what goes on in the gut and how that then gets relayed to the mitochondria.

Roland Pankewich:  Yeah, let’s use one signaling molecule for the sake of ease, something called the short chain fatty acid, which I’m sure you’ve discussed multiple times.

Ari Whitten:  I don’t know if we have discussed that at length, but you should elaborate on that.

Roland Pankewich:  Perfect. So short chain fatty acids are these essential energy-containing compounds that are created when the bacteria interact with fiber. We think we take fiber so we can go to the washroom on a regular basis. There is a benefit to that, but the reality is that on top of that bacteria are just trying to find a way to survive, and they need a food source. Specific fibers and a variety of different plant foods are donating that food source of the bacteria, which they break down via fermentation, the same process used to make alcohol or Sauerkraut and Kimchi, and that allows not only the bacteria to get a source of food, but to donate those molecules to actually improve the environment in the colon itself. This is the first layer of a symbiotic relationship.

Let’s assume the digestive process went well. You have intake in different kinds of fibers from some green vegetables, maybe some sweet potatoes, or some fruit. These fibers are going to get through the small and then principally the large intestine—most of this happens in the colon itself because we have a lot more bacteria residing there—then when they break down these compounds, these compounds act as signaling molecules to improve, in the case of the mitochondria, the ability for them to make energy and ATP to absorb not only food more effectively, but to maintain the integrity of the colon lining. So, this short chain fatty acid, which is created by the bacteria, will actually be transferred into the cell of the colon directly into the mitochondria, which will enter the energy production process and result in the formation of ATP energy.

Provided that this happens on a regular basis, then there’s enough rich energy source for the mitochondria and the colon to always be optimally functioning and to maintain a healthy gut barrier. This is an optimal scenario because when you look at the preferred source of fuel in the gut, it’s actually a fatty acid because that’s what the mitochondria are designed to burn for energy. How this process can be perturbed or imbalanced is let’s say someone takes a course of antibiotics, which is a very non-specific way of wiping out a large scale of bacteria. Although it might take care of the pathogenic organisms or the infection, it’s going to compromise the whole host of bacteria that are meant to work in this network and this ecosystem like the symbiotic network that I mentioned prior. The course of antibiotics might compromise some of those bacteria that break down those fibers.

So suddenly you have a job, a drop in the production of short chain fatty acids, which leaves a food shortage for the colon cells. So, what they need to do now is to change their default to a different source of food because there are no fatty acids available. They’re going to start becoming more glycolytic, so they’re going to make energy in a more primitive way using glucose, which isn’t as optimal because there is less energy available. Now the colon cells cannot produce mucus as well. They can’t support their ability to maintain the gut barrier, and the inflammatory process might be able to ensue because you’re creating a dysbiotic environment. What does that mean for the client or for the person? While they may start experiencing gut issues, it might be something like an IDS response or an inflammatory bowel disease.

If this goes on for long enough, it might be something like the development of leaky gut, which can cause both local and likely peripheral changes. All of a sudden, they have brain fog, mood changes, and aches and pains in their joints; all because things that are in the digestive system no longer have the ability to stay in the gut. They’re actually getting into the bloodstream. So, that’s an example of how we imbalance one signaling molecule like a short chain fatty acid being produced from the right kinds of food. Having a non-dysbiotic gut, we can see that cascade leads to a breakdown in normal function.

Ari Whitten:  And the short chain fatty acids are used by the mitochondria?

Roland Pankewich:  Yes, they are. They’re one of the preferred sources of fuel, if not the preferred source of fuel is butyrate, but there are two more main ones, propriate and acetate, which help regulate immune function. So, as you mentioned before, they help regulate the balance between the innate and adaptive immune systems and they also signal the gut-brain axis via the Vagus nerve because they can enter general circulation and affect how the brain forms ketone bodies for something like that.

Ari Whitten:  Excellent. What is another layer to the story? This is a really important layer that you just went over, but let’s talk about the endotoxin layer.

Roland Pankewich:  Ah, yes. The lipopolysaccharides. Yeah. Can I give you a little analogy that always allows me to make this a practical thing for people? I have to swear, is that a problem?

Ari Whitten:  Not at, not at all. Not for me. It will be for some segment of the population; maybe 5% of people are really offended by swear words, but I’m okay with that. A warning to everybody who is offended by swear words, please cover your ears for the next 20 seconds.

Roland Pankewich:  Well, lipopolysaccharides is an endotoxin, but that’s a very hard word to remember, so I call them little pieces of shit. It’s easier to remember, always.

Ari Whitten:  LPS. Yes. Well, just so people know, they are abbreviated as LPS, for lipopolysaccharides, so that actually works really well. Well done.

Roland Pankewich:  Thank you. It’s a practical example: easy to remember. So, if we go back to the pathologic state that I just described, we have a dysbiotic gut, we have inflammation, leakiness and then these little LPS guys, which are a normal part of every bacteria inside of the cell—It’s how they attach onto the mucus—when these bacteria die, the LPS gets released their cell membranes, and it can get into general circulation if you have excessive leakiness. One example is they find people with leaky gut have higher levels of HDL and LDL cholesterol because that’s the way the body tries to keep these things in check. If the body can’t keep them in check that way, what ends up happening is these LPS molecules can circulate in the bloodstream and cause an inflammatory response with every immune cell or every epithelial cell that they come in contact with. There’s an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that is called toll-like receptors and they are ways that the body of the cells can sense invading threats from viruses, pathogens and stuff of that nature.

They’re designed to be able to raise the immune system response as a reaction to these LPS guys being highly concentrated in the bloodstream. So, a practical example is people with poor dietary choices, people with leaky gut, and people who eat high carb, high-fat foods typically have the highest levels of lipopolysaccharides, or LPS, circulating around the bloodstream. Every time they circulate around the bloodstream, wherever they find themselves, they can initiate an inflammatory immune response. That could be in the liver, that could be in the brain, or that could be in the muscular tissue, and every time we eat that kind of diet, provided that we have a digestive system that is compromised, we essentially raise this response and over time we break down the body’s ability to regulate this response because it comes back to the epigenetic thing. If I’m always needing to be inflamed, I might as well get better at being inflamed. So then, what’s it’s going do? It’s going to connect to the whole idea of chronic fatigue. Why? Well, if the mitochondria are always getting the same signal because of these little endotoxins in the gut getting into the bloodstream, I’m going to downregulate energy expenditure or energy production so I can direct resources to powering my immune system’s ability to break these things down.

Ari Whitten:  It is worth mentioning that there’s research showing that LPS is toxic to mitochondria and that it shuts down mitochondria.

Roland Pankewich:  It also changes the balance of the immune cells and the compounds they make in order to keep everything under control. These endocrines that are made in response to LPS will also drive the raising of the NF-kB transcription factor, so the body’s always in a state of crisis. That’s the way I look at it. And because we have poor gut health from poor dietary choices and not optimizing our essential lifestyle variables to remedy the situation.

Ari Whitten:  Yeah, and looking at the big picture, as far as the evidence shows, we also know that there is now research linking this process that you just described with Nitro neurodegenerative diseases, dementia and Alzheimer’s. There is also research linking it with cardiovascular diseases as a key driver of heart disease and as a key driver of diabetes, and many other chronic diseases that are major killers in our world

Roland Pankewich:  And as is seemingly unconnected with endocrine system issues. It can drive change in how the hypothalamus is able to regulate hormone expression because, again, the body is not meant to be under chronic threat all the time. It’s not a crisis thing, like a staph infection where you need to go to the hospital or else you will die, but it is a great way to initiate degeneration over the course of two, three, or four decades if it doesn’t get resolved.

Ari Whitten:  Yeah, and I’m not sure if I’ve seen research on this, but I’m sure there is some. Have you seen research specifically on this process of endotoxemia, linking it to autoimmune conditions and hypothyroidism?

Roland Pankewich:  I’ve seen research connecting it to autoimmune diseases via specific mechanisms that we assume to be at play. The thing that seems to be most connected to this is if you have high levels of inflammatory response, then the immune system becomes less able to decipher the difference between self and not-self, and add in cross-reactivity to specific foods where the food proteins or peptides may resemble a body protein or peptide—I believe it’s called molecular mimicry—the increased potential of an autoimmune disease could theoretically happen as a result of higher levels of LPS in the body.

Ari Whitten:  Excellent. So, that is obviously a very important layer to this whole story of how the gut links with the mitochondria. It also links up with the brain in that way because endotoxin is also neurotoxic.

Roland Pankewich:  Yes, and it can through the blood-brain barrier, which is a problem because the brain is a very fragile organ that despite having some aspect of immune regulation via astrocytes and microglia, can shut down areas of brain function in the presence of high level of toxins. I shouldn’t say shut down but deregulate key areas of brain function that we will notice, for example, brain fog, mood dysregulation, short term forgetfulness, and even behavioral changes can all be driven by this process.


How everything is interconnected

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. With that in mind, I think this is a good time to point out to people how interconnected everything is. There are more layers to this story that we can get into, but I want people to just get a sense of how interconnected all these systems of the body really are. So we’re talking about how changes, let’s say your diet or taking a course of antibiotics or just the way that you eat and live on a daily basis for years, create shifts in the microbial balance in your gut and how that affects that protective layer in your gut and can potentially lead to gut permeability.

And now you chronically have toxins, endotoxin or LPS leaking into your bloodstream, which then have widespread effects on essentially all of the organ systems of your body, especially your mitochondria and your brain and creates this chronic, proinflammatory and immune overactivated environment throughout the body, which can result in all sorts of different symptoms and diseases. So, there is the connection between the gut and essentially everything else, i.e. the body’s immune system, the organs, the mitochondria, the brain, cardiovascular system, etc. It affects everything, so this is why trying to pinpoint one particular cause or one particular thing that’s off and then going to chase after it…let’s say people are fixated on cortisol. A lot of practitioners are in the adrenal fatigue paradigm and so when somebody comes into their office complaining of fatigue, their paradigm is, “Oh, it’s chronic stress wearing out your adrenal glands. That’s why you have low cortisol, and so we’re going to put you on some stuff, some supplements of adrenal glandular, some herbs to try to boost your cortisol levels.” And that’s their whole paradigm. That’s their whole approach. But what they don’t realize is if there actually is an issue with adrenal dysfunction, that’s probably just one sliver of the overall pie of 30 types of detectable dysfunction that you could see across all the systems of the body.

Roland Pankewich:  There’s an old saying I like: if you see the world as a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. You made a really good point in there where if someone has a biased perspective of how the body works or what the most important cog in the wheel or node in the network is, they are always going to go to that and sometimes they may get great success, and that’s amazing. Sometimes they may get mixed success. Sometimes it will go the opposite way. You really never know, and I’m sure Dr. Ted mentioned health optimization on his episodes and what it is we do. The perspective I have of all this stuff is treating disease as a focus is very challenging because disease is so complex. We can talk about NF-kB and Nrf2 because it’s great to know the mechanisms.

It’s good to know and have an understanding of what the body is able to do and what it’s trying to do, but we are not yet at the level where we can measure all that stuff reliably across all populations. So, the question becomes what is it you do when you have this kind of thing going on? And what we can measure to some degree is what’s going on in the gut. We can measure what’s going on in the blood. We can even do the same thing for urine. And we can look at key metabolites or key aspects of evidence of where the imbalances in the system might be. Disease is nothing more than the ceremonial naming of a collective of symptoms as a medical profession or as an entity sees them, and I think it’s great that we have that ability because if it’s a disease that’s manageable via diagnosis and treatment, I’m all for that.

I’m not someone who is against Western medicine as an alternative or a holistic practitioner because I see the benefit in it. My mentor is a doctor and was an illness medicine doctor, but to the point that you made, these things that people experience are not necessarily easily detectable, and there’s not a procedure for seeking them out. There is not necessarily a protocol. So, you have to look at all the inputs and all the areas that we’re able to affect as practitioners or even as individuals and try to find a way to regulate or harmonize them. If you imagine your body as a symphony, you want every instrument in the symphony to be able to play in proper timing and the proper key, the proper frequency in the proper modality. I’m not a musician, obviously, so my analogy didn’t work out so well there.

But the idea is that we are the sum of our inputs. So, when it comes to everything affecting everything, that is absolutely correct, and you’re right in saying that what affects the gut will affect your body because the gut is really the last layer of defense of the outside of our body. It is still not the inside, even though it’s in our torso. It’s the last thing that separates what gets into general circulation, so if you separate if you keep that …

Ari Whitten:  Explain that a little deeper because I think probably a portion of people won’t get the idea that our gut is outside of our body.

Roland Pankewich:  Yeah, the gut is the last barrier. Our skin is a big barrier that protects everything that’s inside it. It’s a physical structure that stops things from getting in. We can get things out our via pores, which is typically sweat. If we cut ourselves, we can breach that barrier into the bloodstream. The gut is still technically the outside of our body because it is a physical barrier preventing and deciding what goes in the bloodstream, what doesn’t go in the bloodstream and what doesn’t go in the bloodstream comes out as waste material. We have a bowel movement. So, if we breach that barrier, then things that are not meant to be in the body, in the cells in the bloodstream, can get in, and it’s nothing more than the body responding to that as a way of trying to find a way back to center: it’s just protecting itself. So, if we can take care of the gut, like you said, then everything in the body gets better. In my years of clinical experience, I have found that if you improve energy production, if you improve or enhance gut health and you regulate inflammation, everything seems to get better to a point. In some cases, it totally resolves whatever someone’s dealing with, and in other cases, they find a way to return to normal life maybe via a specialist or a modality that attacks what they’re dealing with, they finally find a resolution—but the supporting cast always needs to be considered.

Ari Whitten:  Yeah, absolutely. One more thing I want to say on this, just to emphasize, is if you do any sort of test and if you pick up on one kind of dysfunction in almost any of those tests, it’s probably a safe bet that there are a dozen or more other types of dysfunction that are present in other systems of the body.  So, speaking specifically about the gut, if you’re doing a test and that test finds some significant dysbiosis or gut permeability, it’s a safe bet that your problem isn’t just gut permeability and dysbiosis, and that that’s not the only thing that you should be working on because if that problem has been going on, and hopefully people understand this now based on what we’ve discussed so far, you probably also have done some damage to your brain, your blood-brain barrier, to your mitochondria, you’ve dysregulated the epigenetic regulation of the inflammation and immune activation in your body and a variety of other negative effects. So, it’s not like, “Hey, I just need to pop this pill that helps my gut.” It’s, “You need to completely overhaul your nutrition and your lifestyle as much as possible to heal all of the systems of your body. That is what’s going to get the best results.

Roland Pankewich:  That’s a great point because it brings up something that recently came into my own world with a client, where she came to me because her issue, or perceived issue, was that she wasn’t losing body fat. A lot of people are in the same boat, they say, “I’ve exercised, I eat right and exercise and nothing happens,” which may mean just because you move and just because you eat doesn’t mean that’s what you need to be doing. So, we looked at all these things going on with her, and we saw that there were some imbalances in her urine. We also saw that there were some imbalances from the results of a stool test and there were some deficiencies from results of what her blood panel said.

What did I do? I didn’t focus on one thing. I moved as many things into the network that my clinical abilities gave me, the ability to decide, and in two and a half weeks she’s down 10 pounds, but I didn’t tell her about anything to do with calories. I just removed some foods that I suspected and then confirmed were problematic. You remove that and you can lower the inflammatory response. We regulated some aspects of blood sugar control because if someone’s inflamed, hypoglycemia and cortisol can become a problem, and make energy in the mitochondria, you need what are called cofactors, or vitamins and minerals. If those aren’t providing, we can pull them through the gut. I needed to supply them not only via diet, from supplementation, and fortunately for her, she’s young, so it was like an instantaneous response, but it has happened with many people where I work on things that they don’t think about, but they come to me for something that they want. I want to lose fat, I want to do this, I want to do that.

So great, let’s make you feel better. Let’s increase your energy levels. Let’s calm down your aches and pains and the inflammation. But we don’t work on those things: we work on the gut. We work on managing dysbiosis. We work on reducing the overgrowth of candida and yeast. We work on calming down the gut immune system because you can see evidence of that being heightened. Ari, what you do that’s really amazing is you provide all this content for people to become informed about what they need to know more about, and then from there it’s figuring out what action items do they do knowing that they only have so many tools in their toolbox within their scope of practice as an individual, or rather than go to the cortisol doctor or go to this person, how can they find the best person or people who can include all these variables so that their path leads back to health. It can be one that’s not going to do this, and I’m going to try this. It’s let’s support the whole thing because like you said, everything affects everything. Nothing is separate in the body.


How phytochemicals affect your gut health

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. Well said. I want to get back to the gut microbiome link. Is there one or two more layers to this story that are worth talking about? One that I can think of offhand is phytochemicals and what the microbiome are doing to some of these phytochemicals in the foods we’re eating, how they’re metabolizing them in certain ways and how that affects the mitochondria. One thing that we talked about for, last time you were in town was that pomegranates and chestnuts are rich in this compound called ellagic acid. Do you want to go into this a little bit, because there’s a lot of knowledge around this, but I also think that the science is very much in its infancy as far as our understanding of what species of bacteria metabolize specific phytochemicals into what compounds and what those things they do in our bodies.

Roland Pankewich:  Yeah. I sometimes ask if I’m a glutton for punishment because I’ve chosen to focus on specializing in the area that changes so rapidly that I never get a chance to take a breath. If I’m not reading something, then I might fall behind. To give someone a good description of what matters about that is the different color pigments and phytonutrients in foods are there to serve a purpose. First off, they can act like antioxidants in and of themselves, which means that there is an overproduction of free radicals. They might be able to blunt that, but they’re also acted upon by specific species of bacteria, and these compounds can regulate or influence epigenetic expression, so there are proanthocyanins which are the blue-purples in blueberries, I believe it’s collagen acid, the compound you find in coffee.

So, there are certain things that are acted upon, and that can go one of two ways from a diagnostic perspective. If you see elevated levels of certain things like benzoic acid, for example, in the urine, it shows you that you may have an overgrowth of bacteria or you eat too much of a certain compound, but the vast majority of the science that I have read you could probably add to this is that these phytonutrient color pigments are typically great ways that the gut can further influence the overall status of health of the host by upregulating epigenetics, transcription factors to prolong life, to reduce the occurrence of cancers. They can basically help the body create a more symbiotic or harmonious relationship between the food you eat and the bacteria that processes everything we eat. We have to remember that nothing goes through our system without being acted upon by bacteria.

So, if you’re eating and you want to be able to enhance this process that you bring up, the easiest way to do that is every time you go to the grocery store, pick a different vegetable, focused on a different color, rotate different kinds of fruits because we don’t know what the best combination of fruits and vegetables are. We don’t know what our innate microbiome profile is. So right now, the best we can do from a practical perspective is to include as many different things as possible; provided that you feel a positive response, you’re likely supplying additional cofactors for the enhancement of our health via dietary intervention.

Ari Whitten:  Yeah, absolutely. I will add just a couple of things to this, and like I said, the science is still just it really in its infancy on this topic. I think we don’t know so much, but we know we can measure a lot.

There is a lot of research that has measured intake of certain phytochemical compounds or foods rich in certain phytochemicals and the effects we can measure, for example, how it affects outcomes in a particular disease or levels of inflammation or mitochondrial function or markers of mitochondrial biogenesis. What’s not that well known is this intermediate step of what the bacteria and the gut are doing to these phytochemicals in many cases because what’s happening is, they’re literally, in many cases, taking the original phytochemical in that food and essentially digesting and metabolizing it into some other chemical. Then that’s the new chemical that gets into your body and that actually exerts the biological effects on your organism. So, one example of this is what we talked about last time you were in town, such as pomegranates and chestnuts and a few other foods that are rich in a compound called ellagic acid which is metabolized by a gut microbiome into a compound called urolithin A, which is one of the most powerful promoters of my mitophagy, which is essentially autophagy-specific to mitochondria that repairs and recycles damaged parts of the mitochondria, which is really important for anti-aging and for maintaining healthy mitochondria.

What is interesting here that I want to point out to people is that there is actually some research, in this specific case, that has tried to figure out what specific species of bacteria are doing this metabolization of ellagic acid to your urolithin A, and there have been a few studies that haven’t found it. And then the last one I read, maybe a year ago, is really recent study where they believed to have found the specific species, and it was this really obscure one that is not talked about. It’s not any of the bifidobacteria or lactobacillus or any of those. That’s really interesting because what they’re finding is that this powerful promoter of this key process in our body, mitophagy, from ellagic acid and from the foods we’re eating, is being done by this one specific species of bacteria. That’s actually quite rare. It’s not in any of the probiotics that anyone’s taking, and for people with dysbiotic guts, it may not even be present in their gut microbiome at all. So, what you might extrapolate from that, at least what I do is I think, “Well, how many other examples is that the case for?”

Roland Pankewich:  Off subject and in another study, they were conducting a clinical trial of a pharmaceutical for its efficacy. I think it might’ve been something to do with the immune system of the brain, and they found that in people with a specific strain of bacteria, that bacteria inactivated the active component in the pharmaceutical, and there was no effect, so people became non-responders only because of the specific makeup of the gut microbiota. That’s crazy. You look at it in both directions. The pursuit of health: you maybe need this compound for regulating a specific activity. You need these bacteria, and that’s something that no one controls for yet.

I have a hunch, or a hypothesis, that the next massive wave of medicine is going to be microbial medicine and  microbiology and the understanding of how the interaction between Substance A, Substance B, and Substance C is influenced by specific but then we have to figure out a layer deeper of what is inside of someone and what, over the course of their life modulates the changes in that. That’s why this area of research is so promising. Yet there’s so much to comb through because we know far less than we think we do in terms of figuring it all out if that’s even a thing. We’re in the infancy, but we know that we can derive patterns and trends from things we can test and measure, and then we can look at evidence from what healthy people do or healthy populations around the world versus the evidence of someone like a stroke victim before the stroke, they’re bacterial profile might not be that different, but for two to four weeks after a stroke, their gut bacteria is in a constant state of flux. We’re looking at a stroke that’s, something to do only with the brain, but we see a change in the gut.

Ari Whitten:  Yeah. I think I agree with you that this is going to be a huge trend in medicine in the coming decades. I want to mention just a couple of thoughts on that. One is this whole concept of the phytochemicals. I think that there are probably dozens of other examples of the one that I just mentioned. So, if somebody has a dysbiotic gut then they might not have the bacterial species in the right amounts, or the presence of them at all, to be able to metabolize dozens of different phytochemicals that are associated with all kinds of health benefits, whether it’s curcumin or EGCG from tea or many others. They might not meet metabolizing lots of different beneficial phytochemicals into the proper nutrient that is actually getting into their bloodstream where it’s going to exert those benefits.

In other words, it’s possible that those phytochemicals may only have the proper benefits in somebody who has a fairly healthy or very healthy gut microbiome. One more prediction on this trend of microbiome medicine: there’s so much research now showing that all these different lifestyle factors can impact our gut microbiome. For example, sun exposure; I saw a study recently showing that light exposure can impact our gut microbiome. There’s research that exercise can too, and there’s obviously research showing that diet has a huge impact on it. Sleep deprivation or circadian rhythm disruption can also disturb the microbiome. I think that when all is said and done, after we dig into this in excruciating detail and find all this map of the thousands of bacterial species and what chemicals they metabolize and what functions they do and how it impacts this and how the whole network exists with all the different systems of the body, I think ultimately what we will then arrive at is either a very complicated system of hundreds of different supplements that you can potentially take, or the possibility that living a healthful lifestyle in touch with nature, getting sunlight, moving your body, being exposed to the elements, to hormesis, eating a very diverse diet of whole unprocessed foods is probably still going to be superior to a vast array of thousands of different gut-boosting supplements and drugs that they’re going to develop.

Roland Pankewich:  I’m with you there and hope that it goes in that direction. Exercise and nutrition, or exercise and supplementation in the health field, are still perceived by the vast majority of people to be the two most important drivers of fixing everything. There are aspects to both that can be negative without necessarily being mindful of that. The whole ability to regulate circadian rhythm, to get outside of the appropriate times, to not look at artificial light at the appropriate times, to have a regular bedtime routine, to even just spend time in nature to activate your parasympathetic nervous system or doing things like meditation and humming.

It all affects the gut, which will affect the periphery, and exercise can stimulate changes in gut bacteria that can stimulate peripheral mitochondrial biogenesis, yes, but when you exercise, you drive blood away from the gut so you can induce leaky gut via over exercising with things like chronic cross fit or marathon trainings, or various things that people think are good for them because it’s exercise, therefore it’s healthy. I do feel that because we don’t know what a perfect gut looks like, it might be like asking the question, “What’s the perfect fingerprint? What’s the perfect hair color or eye color?” I don’t know that such a thing exists because why would 8 billion people on this planet all contain a different microbiome? If there’s one ideal we want to move towards, it might rather be what signals are most appropriate or most important for your specific gut microbiota as it relates to your specific physiology and your specific genetic expression. Ultimately, if you look at success-leaving clues, humans got pretty good at being in touch with their environment and now because we live lives closer to that of zoo animals sometimes, it’s like a frequency or disharmony resonance of what we should be experiencing versus what we do experience on a regular basis. We are the sum of our signals. Everything you’ve done up until now has led to this moment in your life, which sounds overly profound, but if you examine that statement in the context of your health, if it’s taking you 50 years to develop an autoimmune disease or chronic fatigue, you need to figure out which signals you need to reverse engineer based upon everything we’ve spoken about today. That’s your starting point, and then it’s the consistency of execution to the best of your ability

Roland Pankewich:  with the current depth of knowledge that we have.

Ari Whitten:  Very well said.

Awesome, Roland. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. It was a blast and it’s always a blast hanging out with you, my friend. As a final word, I would love for you to just talk a bit about the work you do with health optimization practice and what it’s all about, and if people want to work with you, how can they do that?

Roland Pankewich:  Sure. Thank you for the opportunity. You mentioned at the beginning of the episode that Dr. Ted Achacoso, the founder of Health Optimization, is my mentor. I’ve been bouncing around the world, jet-lagging my microbiota and mitochondria for the last two years, just learning from him because the opportunity was presented. Now we’re at the point where it’s a global movement, so essentially, it’s very easy to figure out.

Roland Pankewich:  It’s nothing more than the world’s first health-only focused practice paradigm. We don’t treat disease. We do a lot of what we discussed today. We detect and correct the biochemical imbalances going on that we can measure in the body. The key there is the measurement of them all. We don’t make a decision without testing it first, this way it’s as objective and qualitative as it can be rather than subjective and quantitative. We specialize in nothing other than the health of the basic fundamental cell. So yes, we take care of the nucleus, mitochondria, and the endoplasmic reticulum so that all they can do is do what they’re known to do or do what they want to do, and that is to regulate the health and longevity of the cell.

So what we basically do is test a client based upon their individual biochemical results of the blood, the urine, and the stool results of their metabolomics tests, and then from there we do an analysis and we present the client with the practice platform that they need in order to restore their health to the optimal level that we can take it to. If someone is interested in doing any work with myself or anyone involved, they can go to to get a better background and understanding. We’ve launched a clinical framework as an education modality that we are in the process of expanding right now, and if someone wants to get into contact with me, they can always send me an email at, or I’m sure if they message you, Ari, that you wouldn’t have a problem facilitating that.

Ari Whitten:  Yeah, we’ll forward it to you. Let’s just spell your last name. The first name is Roland.

Roland Pankewich:  Which is That’s my personal one because it allows me to do a telemedicine practice with GoogleDocs, that way the client doesn’t have to be physically present.

Ari Whitten:  I was just going to ask. So, you practice in Toronto?

Roland Pankewich:  Yes, but I have clients all over the US and in Asia. The best way to do that is I can get things sent to them, they can commission their own lab tests, and then the result gets sent to me and I can then do everything via correspondence online. This way they don’t have to be physically present in Canada because we’re still coming out of winter. If you’re in southern California, stay where you are.

Ari Whitten:  Awesome. It was so good to have you on. For everybody listening, I highly recommend working with Roland. He’s a very close, personal friend of mine. How long have I known you now? Two years now. Yeah. I trust him. I would send my family to him, so he has that level of my trust and I have respect for the work he does. So, if you guys are looking for a good clinician to work with, I highly recommend reaching out to him. Roland, thank you again, so much. Such a pleasure. And I know we talked briefly about having you on for a part two where we do an even deeper, geekier dive into some of the mechanisms here, and I would love to have you on again, and maybe even a third and fourth time to talk about some other topics, as well. Certainly, such a pleasure, my friend, and I look forward to talking to you again very soon.

Roland Pankewich:  Alright, thank you, everyone, for listening today, and I’ll talk to you soon, Ari. Bye.

The Secret Link Between Gut Health And Mitochondria (And How It Controls Your Energy Levels) With Roland Pankewich – Show Notes


The connection between the gut and mitochondria (2:09)

The key drivers of gut dysbiosis (7:02)

Mitochondria and how they work within the cell (11:35)

The secret link between gut and mitochondria (18:42)

The outdated theory about DNA and mitochondria (22:45)

The secret link between the gut and mitochondria (24:35)


If you want to work with Roland, you can reach him here:

Listen to the podcast with Dr. Ted Achacoso on how to optimize mitochondrial health


11 thoughts on “The Secret Link Between Gut Health And Mitochondria (And How It Controls Your Energy Levels) With Roland Pankewich

  1. Please have Dr Roland Pankewich on again and also have Dr Ted Achacoso on again as well.
    I sent this video to my Functional Medicine Practitioner and she was super impressed.
    You are a genius Ari because you know the questions that must be asked. Your work is head and shoulders above your competition; you are on the cutting edge and connect the dots better than anyone.

  2. Thanks very much for an interesting talk! Key points for me were the fluctuating gut microbiota after a stroke and potential gut disbiosis due to excessive exercise. Is there anymore information on why the microbiome is in flux after a stroke and how? I was also wondering about what Roland said that the microbiome is no different before a stroke but is different afterward. Doesn’t the microbiome hold the keys to controlling blood pressure? Fascinating. Thanks.

  3. Simply fascinating information. I’ll listen to it again and share it with my functional doc. Thank you! Cherryl Friedman, MD

  4. I didn’t think I was able to keep listening to this entire podcast with all the scientific lingo but it was so fascinating to absorb this information that i some how understood everything being said!!I I
    was desperately illl for a month and went to a health practitioner because the medical community had no answers. They just chalked it up to the flu. When my blood work was done i was shown the yeast and pathogens buildup.I am on the Kaufman detox diet phase 1. Are you familiar with this one? I am going today too have another blood check and go to phase 2. What I do not understand is the change in my bowel movements going from very loose to really smooth to knitted and now consolidated. I would love to work with Roland! Thank you i am very grateful for this contribution to health!

  5. Very interesting and informative. Thank you. What is most harmful to our entire gut is GMO foods and glyphosate! It alters the gut and inhibits minerals and nutrients from being absorbed. Then, how do we heal??

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