Recently I interviewed Laura Frontiero, as she discussed how to restore mitochondrial health. If you would prefer to listen the interview you can access it by Clicking Here.
Dr. Eric Osansky: With me, I have Laura Frontiero, and we will be chatting about mitochondria. Laura has served thousands of patients as a nurse practitioner over the last 22 years. Her work in the health industry marries both traditional and functional medicine. Laura’s virtual wellness programs help her high-performing clients boost energy, renew mental focus, feel great in their bodies, and be productive again. Her belief is that to create optimal wellness, first, we need to identify and clear the root causes of our health problems, usually toxins, chronic infections, and stress; eliminate inflammation; and restore gut and mitochondrial health. Her signature system helps to reclaim what she calls the energy edge. For each person, it’s a unique journey back to their peak mental, physical, and biological performance. When your body is bio-optimized, and you are operating at your energy edge, you are unstoppable, productive, happy, and fulfilled. Thank you so much for joining us, Laura.
Laura Frontiero: Doesn’t that sound good? Don’t we all want to be happy, fulfilled, and producing at our highest level?
Dr. Eric: It does. I definitely want my body to be bio-optimized.
Laura: Yeah, for sure. Thanks for having me on the show, Eric. It’s fantastic to participate and collaborate with you again.
Dr. Eric: You’re welcome. Again, I look forward to this conversation. Let’s go ahead and start off by sharing your story. Why did you transition from working as a nurse practitioner in the largest HMO in America to specializing in functional medicine?
Laura: That is a story, I’ll tell you. I spent 20 years working in conventional medicine in the clinic setting. A great portion of that time, I actually worked in what we call preventative medicine. It dawned on me many, many years into the process that preventative medicine on the conventional medicine side is not really prevention at all. When you think about what we’re doing in a preventative medicine clinic, we’re doing colon cancer screenings, breast cancer screenings, prostate cancer screenings, and thyroid cancer screenings. We’re screening, but it’s really looking for early disease. One day, it just hit me that this isn’t really prevention. This is early detection. That’s a really huge problem in the Western medicine world. We’re not actually showing people how to prevent early disease.
As I dug in and started learning about functional medicine, I also realized that some of the things we tell people to do in the Western medicine world to prevent disease are actually harming people. For example, we tell people in the Western world to be sure to eat lots of whole grains. We tell people to use artificial sweetener instead of sugar if they’re diabetic. You and I both know, Eric, that lots of whole grains and artificial sweetener are probably not really helping people.
We also tell people to monitor your 10,000 steps. Use a wearable monitor. I have some concerns about that because the level of personal body EMF exposure, there are wearables that you can use that don’t cause problems, but the majority of the people in the Western world don’t know that their wearable could actually be causing problems for their health.
I realized I can better serve people if I just focus on true prevention, true root cause, and truly reducing risk for disease. That is where it came from.
Dr. Eric: How long have you been a nurse practitioner for?
Laura: 22 years.
Dr. Eric: Wow.
Laura: I know. For those watching, you can see I don’t look like I have been a nurse practitioner for 22 years. But there is something to say. I’m going to be 50 this year. Clearly, I know something about preventing aging and taking the best care of your body possible. It’s obvious when you can see my face because I don’t look like I’m old enough to have worked that long in medicine.
Dr. Eric: I never would have guessed you’re about to turn 50. You’re looking great. You are taking awesome care of your mitochondria apparently, which is what we’re about to dive into. Why don’t we talk about mitochondria and explain in simple terms what mitochondria are as well as what they can do to support our health?
Laura: I love this topic. I’d really like to make it easy to understand. Mitochondria are your life force. They are called the powerhouse of your cells because they are responsible for 90% of energy production. We hear that over and over when people talk about mitochondria. I like to break it down even further.
What is this energy production? I like to think of it as we have two types of energy: physical energy and invisible energy. Physical energy is that energy that you experience throughout your day where you hit the mid-afternoon, and you have still got energy to keep going and be productive. Or maybe you don’t have energy, and you feel like you want to take a nap or have a cup of coffee. That is that physical energy, that energy to keep going with. How we notice our brain functioning and how we notice our body feeling.
Then there is something called invisible energy. Your mitochondria are responsible for that, too. That is a higher level of cellular energy. It’s required for everything from gut healing to restoring your immune system. It’s responsible for you being able to digest your food and your liver to be able to detoxify and for your urinary system and kidneys to work. That is the invisible energy that we don’t even know is happening, but we need it. Our mitochondria are supplying that ATP energy.
That is an overview of invisible energy versus the physical energy. This is not scientific; this is my experience of energy and how I help my clients make sense of it. I’m not quoting a research study here or anything. This is a Laura-ism.
The next thing I want to talk about is where mitochondria are at in our body and how they function. The best way I can explain this to you is to really compare mitochondria to houseplants. Let’s have a discussion about houseplants, okay?
Dr. Eric: Sounds good. I wasn’t expecting this, but I like houseplants.
Laura: Let’s talk about a couple of things. Let’s talk about mitochondria and houseplants in terms of location of where they like to live and their living conditions and their function. Those three aspects are really important to mitochondria health. It’s easy to understand it if you think of houseplants.
Before I say that, I should say mitochondria are these tiny, microscopic organelles that live inside of all the cells in our body, excluding red blood cells. They’re even smaller than a cell. In fact, in some cells, you have 10,000 mitochondria. They’re itty bitty and inside the cells. That is a huge concept to understand.
Let’s break it down to houseplants. Location is everything. Houseplants live in a specific spot in your home. Think of them living on a windowsill or sitting on a shelf. They have a spot where they live. That special spot is inside a room. For example, a bathroom or kitchen or bedroom or patio. That room is inside the larger structure of your home. We’ve gone from the most small part where they live to the large structure of the home. Each of those plants that you have in your home, they’re suited for certain rooms. Some plants do better in a moist bathroom. Some plants do better in a bright kitchen. Some do better in a dark bedroom.
Now, let’s explain mitochondria, now that you have that concept in your brain. Similarly, mitochondria live inside the individual cells. Think of that like the windowsill or the shelf in your home. The cells are located in organs, kind of like how the shelf or the windowsill is located in a room in your home. The organs are like the rooms. Think about brain, liver, kidney, heart, all the organs. Those rooms or organs are in the larger structure of your body, which is similar to the home, the house, for the houseplants. Does this make sense, Eric?
Dr. Eric: It makes sense.
Laura: Just like the houseplants that have a certain living condition that they want to be in, like the moist bathroom or the dark bedroom, your mitochondria are the same. They are suited for certain areas of your body. Some mitochondria are specific to brain. Some mitochondria are specific to heart. Others for muscle, others for your digestive tract, and so on. It’s the best analogy I can give you to make sense of these mitochondria.
I said there are three things I was focusing on: location, living conditions, and function. The next thing is living conditions. Given the right living conditions, houseplants will thrive, grow, and even sometimes reproduce. I have these little air plants right now in my kitchen window that are reproducing. They are making baby air plants.
Mitochondria are similar. Given the right conditions, they will thrive, grow, and reproduce. Mitochondria are fragile. If you withhold what they need, they will die, malfunction. That’s no different with houseplants. Some people have a green thumb, and some people kill everything they put in their house because they also need certain things. If you withhold what they need, they will die or look limp and terrible.
The funny thing is that mitochondria and houseplants are so much alike that they both need clean water, they both need sunlight, and they both need nutrition. They are quite similar. We even know through studies that if you speak negatively or talk negatively to your houseplants, it’s more likely to stunt their growth. The same thing goes for mitochondria. If you live in a stressful environment, and you’re stressed all the time, high levels of stress, trauma, that will yield lower mitochondrial function.
That leads us to function, the third point. Houseplants create life-giving oxygen. That’s why we want them in our house in the first place. They help remove toxins from the air. They clean the air. They create oxygen. Mitochondria also create something; it’s called ATP, a unit of energy that is needed for every cellular function in your body. Plus they even assist in the detox pathways. Like houseplants detoxify the air, mitochondria assist in the detox pathways to keep your body flushed of toxins. Then they remove toxins from the body. Very similar. That’s the best, easiest analogy that I can give. I think it’s fun.
Dr. Eric: Mitochondria are not only important for energy, but they are the powerhouses of the cell and important for ATP production. Also, they play a role in reducing one’s toxic load. If you don’t have healthy mitochondria, you could have an increased buildup of toxins. Is that correct?
Laura: It is. People constantly think of mitochondria as being energy producers. There is actually a long list of functions that mitochondria are responsible for in your body. Yes, detoxification and energy production. They’re also really important for calcium homeostasis to promote cell growth and multiplication. They are responsible for cell death, which is really important. Apoptosis is a word you may be familiar with. This is programmed cell death, and this needs to occur to make space for new cells. They are responsible for cleaning out cellular debris. They generate oxidative radicals, or free radicals, and reactive oxygen species. That’s a whole talk, but those reactive oxygen species can be helpful when you have an invader, like a virus or bacteria. Mitochondria support your nervous system function. They help with heat production. They are organs of metabolism. They help the whole body communicate with your immune system as well. Lots of things that your mitochondria do.
Energy production is the one we talk about the most. It’s the one you learn in biology class in high school, the Krebs cycle, when we talk about ATP and the cycle of energy production. That was about the time I tuned out in high school; I found that very boring.
Dr. Eric: Same here. Overall, I like biochemistry, I guess, but the Krebs cycle, I can’t say that it’s something that I’ve kept up with over the years. We had this conversation because I’m in Laura’s upcoming summit, which we’ll chat about later. I was telling her not to ask me about the Krebs cycle because it’s been years since I’ve learned about it. I’m sure some of it will come back to me if I review it, but I try to distance myself from it.
Laura: Totally there with you. I am not a biochemist; I am a nurse practitioner. My superpower is educating people, breaking down complex concepts into easy-to-understand concepts so that you can take action. If I just sit and talk to you about biochemistry, I promise you you’ll tune out.
Dr. Eric: Same with me. I also try to stay away from the biochemistry. Let’s talk about certain health conditions. Mitochondria, as you mentioned, are in pretty much every cell except for red blood cells. Let’s talk about mitochondria and chronic health problems. I know mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to health issues, but I want to hear you discuss this relationship.
Laura: When we have strong mitochondria health, we can avoid chronic health problems. It’s as simple as that. There is a cascade of things that need to occur for mitochondrial damage. There are a few levels. Let’s start at the beginning.
Let’s talk about how we damage mitochondria in the first place. We have to talk about that before we can talk about how we get to chronic disease. Chronic disease is cancer, heart disease, autoimmune conditions. The list is long. There is a lot that goes on between healthy mitochondria to that end point.
The first thing is how we damage our mitochondria. Most of the ways we damage our mitochondria, we have control over. There are a few things we don’t have control over. We don’t have control over the genetics we’re born with. However, we do have control over our epigenetics and whether we turn on or off those genetic switches. We are born with a set of genetics.
We also can’t control aging. Aging is going to occur to us no matter what. Every year, we are a year older. We can influence whether we age in a healthy way or whether we age in a way that is accelerated. Those two things, we really don’t have control over.
Everything else I’m about to list to you, we do have control over. These all affect mitochondrial health. This sets you up for mitochondrial decline: sedentary lifestyle, not eating healthy, poor diet, eating sugar and processed foods, and non-organic food that contains pesticides. Having nutrient deficiencies because you don’t eat a wide range of foods. Having hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels and blood sugar dysregulation due to the way we eat and types of food we eat.
Chronic stress. Not sleeping. This is a big one. Burning the candle on both ends. Sleep problems and stress kind of go hand in hand.
Then there is this whole category of infections. Everything from viral infections like Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis, and herpes to bacterial infections, like infections that occur in the gut microbiome or urinary tract—many people have chronic UTIs. Fungus or candida infections. Parasites that are not just in the GI tract, but parasites can be anywhere in your body. They can be anything from visible to the naked eye to protozoa, which you can’t see with the naked eye. They are microscopic and can live anywhere in the body.
There is a category of environmental toxins and industrial toxins. Some of the stuff we get exposed to from industry and things being produced in factories and petroleum and exhaust from planes and cars. Then there is the environmental toxins that we put on ourselves from our body products, our beauty products, our cleaning products for our home. Burning toxic candles in the home and air fresheners.
Another category of problem that I touched on is EMFs, electromagnetic fields. I mentioned it with the wearable devices. Then there is the problem of radiation. Heavy metals. Industrial mold mycotoxins.
All of this leads to chronic inflammation, which is possibly the #1 killer of mitochondria. This chronic inflammatory process in the body. The first step of hurting your mitochondria and going down the chronic disease path is how we damage them.
Once you have damaged mitochondria, the next thing that happens is you start to get into metabolic instability. What that means is you have a lowered energy production. We talked about ATP energy, the Krebs cycle. That’s your energy that your body uses for every cellular function. That starts to decrease. The invisible energy and the physical energy I talked about, we don’t have enough of that for our body processes and to feel good as well.
When we have lower energy production, we also have increased metabolic waste, so the cells are releasing damaging free radicals and waste that needs to be carried away through your detox pathways. You have an increase in oxidative stress. These are concepts you may have talked about with your other guests, and your listeners are probably aware of because you have a high level of highly educated listeners here.
Once you get through that phase of metabolic instability, the downward spiral to chronic disease, you are getting closer to it. You go into what we call metabolic inflexibility. We went from instability to inflexibility. That is the inability to respond to metabolic demand and choose the best fuel source.
Your body uses two types of fuels to make energy: glucose and ketones. Glucose is like using leaded gas in your car. It burns dirty; it makes a lot of exhaust. Ketones are like using super premium unleaded gas in your car, where it burns clean. Like the engine in the car doesn’t suffer, your body doesn’t suffer either. You’re unable when you’re inflexible to choose between what type of fuel to burn, and you just end up burning glucose all the time. You get dysfunctional energy production, poor fatty acid metabolism. This results in chronic protein damage and more increase in oxidative stress. Now, you have created a chronic disease. Those chronic diseases manifest as cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, metabolic syndrome, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, autoimmune disorders, autism, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, and on and on. Thyroid disorders, Eric?
Dr. Eric: Most thyroid conditions are autoimmune. Graves’ and Hashimoto’s fall under that category. A lot of what you mention are triggers of Graves’ and Hashimoto’s and autoimmune conditions. You mentioned the impact of certain infections, not only gut infections but stealth infections and environmental toxins, including heavy metals, xenoestrogens. There is a lot of overlap.
Laura: Yes. You see that cascade. It’s really important how we live our life and the choices that we make in our day-to-day. That is going to spiral you and cascade you toward that chronic disease state.
Dr. Eric: Are there tests out there that you recommend to evaluate mitochondria? Or do you go more by symptoms, or just assume everyone has a mitochondrial issue?
Laura: I love not to assume. I love to test. You’ve heard that concept of “test, don’t guess.” Let’s see what’s really happening with your mitochondria. Are they mildly dysfunctional? Are you in full hypermetabolic state, where your mitochondria are lying flat on the ground and not producing energy at all? The way you approach supporting those mitochondria would be different.
The beautiful thing is we can test this through an organic acids test. It’s a simple urine test. It tells us what’s happening in that fancy Krebs cycle, the biochemistry of what’s happening in the body. Eric and I are really good at reading organic acid and Krebs cycle tests but aren’t so great at explaining the biochemistry. This is our superpower, being in this space that we’re in right now.
An organic acids test is incredible. It tells us whether you are efficient at making energy from glucose or fat. It tells us what your metabolism is like and whether those mitochondria are super suffering. An organic acids test is pretty awesome because it also gives us an idea of what nutrient deficiencies you might have and what nutrients you may need to help support mitochondrial function. Everything from B vitamins to magnesium to lipoic acid to CoQ10.
The other test that I really like to do is a toxin test. Look at your toxic burden, mold and mycotoxins, environmental and industrial toxins, everything from pesticides and herbicides to folates and parabens, endocrine-disrupting chemicals. You can also test for heavy metals.
Those are tests that are really supportive in knowing what to do to help you at a foundational level and help you have a starting point so that you’re not willy nilly trying to figure out what to do to help your mitochondria and figure out how severe the problem is. Where are you in that cascade of lifestyle to chronic conditions?
Dr. Eric: Does the testing depend on the person? Maybe not necessarily the organic acids test, but let’s say mycotoxin testing. Do you recommend that to everybody or just if you suspect there might be a mold issue or toxic mold problem?
Laura: Good question. It’s interesting. You would be surprised how many people have mycotoxins affecting their health who don’t think that they have ever been exposed to mycotoxins. If people are resourced and can really afford some investigation into their health, then I do recommend, not right out of the gates, but maybe after we have taken a little bit of binders and opened the internal detox pathways in the body, and your body can start releasing some of those toxins, and we can start seeing them. Then I will often recommend we do a total toxin evaluation that includes everything.
As an example, I didn’t think I had mycotoxins, and I was stunned at what I saw in my own test. If you have any brain fogginess and low energy, that’s a good sign that you should probably include it in your evaluation. Not necessarily right off the bat. It will probably get more bang for your buck if you do it four weeks into taking some binders and doing a little bit of opening those drainage pathways.
Dr. Eric: Makes sense. It’s not just airborne. Of course, that’s probably the major source of mycotoxins, but you can also get them in food, too. If someone is eating grains, corn-
Laura: Grains, corn, coffee. Those are big sources of mycotoxins. I was surprised to see I had those as well. The surprising thing is I also had the type of mold toxins that you get in a wet building. The thing with mycotoxins is once you’re exposed to them, they can be in your body for the next 30-40-50 years. You may not be able to clear them on your own. Probably you won’t. We can’t tell you exactly when you were exposed. Once you start digging into your past, oftentimes you can pinpoint when it happened. I was able to do that. I know exactly when I got exposed once I started thinking about it.
Dr. Eric: Are certain heavy metals more significant than others? Obviously, you want not to have any metals. Do you find that mercury or cadmium or arsenic or lead-
Laura: Heavy metals are a problem. It’s really hard to accurately test for heavy metals in the urine without actually challenging them to come out of the body. If you are going to do heavy metal testing, you want to work with a practitioner who can put you on some supplements to move the metals, or even a prescription medication. It’s a hard thing to do. The beauty is a lot of us who work with detoxing the body, our protocols that remove industrial toxins, mold toxins, the same binders will move metals as well. Even if you don’t see metals on your testing, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Oftentimes, a protocol will also help support removing them. That’s good.
Dr. Eric:Can you discuss how you go about restoring mitochondrial function?
Laura: Yeah. Obviously, you lived into mitochondrial dysfunction. You need to live out of mitochondrial dysfunction. This is not an overnight process; it takes time to restore your health. Definitely give yourself an honor space and time for this.
The first thing you can do is really support your nutrition by eating a nutrient-rich diet and eliminating refined sugar and processed grains and bad fats. By bad fats, we’re talking about vegetable and seed oils. Removing casein, which you find in dairy. Removing gluten. Removing artificial ingredients. Then eating all the things that your body craves and wants, like greens and vegetables and herbs and fruits and nuts, seeds, legumes, and some whole grains. You don’t have to remove all whole grains. If you have autoimmune disorders, you should probably remove all grains. If you are not dealing with autoimmune disorders, you can probably eat some, and you can work with your practitioner to find out what would work best for you.
Incorporating healthy fats like avocadoes, olives, coconut, grass-fed butter and ghee, pasture-raised eggs. Clean proteins, like grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, wild game, pasture-raised poultry, free of hormones, free of antibiotics. All of that matters when you are choosing your animal proteins. Organ meats by the way are also really healthy for you: liver, kidneys, heart, brain, bones. If that grosses you out, you can always get encapsulated forms of organ meat, which are really nutritious and supportive to mitochondria.
While we are on the topic of food, the way you eat your food, or the timing of eating your food, is also important. If you can tolerate it, some intermittent or extended fasting, you may need to work yourself up to that depending on what your current glucose dysregulation could be. If you are really dysregulated, you may not be able to do intermittent fasting right away.
When you’re fasting, your damaged mitochondria are purged through something called autophagy. Your body removes and gets rid of damaged cells and damaged micro-organelles. This is amazing because damaged debris and accumulated reactive oxygen and nitrogen species are removed from your body. Intermittent fasting, you can start with a short 12-hour window.
The keto diet can be supportive. This is not something I recommend long-term forever, but getting you to become more of a fat burner than a glucose burner could be supported by keto. Work with a practitioner on that.
Moving your body in regular exercise. Studies show that you get a 50-80% increase in mitochondrial capacity when you exercise with interval training. I am not saying it has to be crazy athlete-level training because that would be too much for damaged mitochondria. Work with your practitioner to see what kind of low intensity exercise would work well for you to do in intervals. The high intensity exercise, leave that for the athletes right now. If you have mitochondrial dysfunction, there is no way that high intensity exercise will be helpful to you. It will be more harmful.
Reducing stress. I talked about the link between stress and poor sleep. There is also a huge link with increased inflammation and reducing your immune function. Reducing stress is absolutely critical to healing your body. You’ll hear integrative and functional practitioners talk about this all the time. That was something missing in the Western world when I was working in a Western clinic. We didn’t focus enough on helping people heal from trauma and reduce stressors in their lives.
Sleep is really important. Circadian rhythms. Sleep and sunlight, as I mix these two concepts together. Our sleep cycle is actually dependent on and related to our Circadian rhythm. Sunlight is part of that. It’s really important that we get at least seven hours of sleep a night to support mitochondrial health. Circadian rhythm is supported when you get out into the sun or look at the sun. Get your eyes on the sun first thing in the morning when you wake up. It’s also equally important to see the sun setting at night. Don’t spend your entire waking cycle inside your home. Get outside. It’s really critical to mitochondria function and Circadian rhythm.
Also, in sunlight, you’re making Vitamin D from your skin. You can’t wear sunscreen if you want to go out and make some Vitamin D. It’s important for mitochondrial function. It promotes mitochondrial biogenesis. It increases oxidative capacity. Vitamin D is critical. Sunlight is so healing.
There are a bunch of things we can do, like red light therapy, cold exposure. You have heard of people taking cryotherapy or cold showers or cold baths. That shivering recruits your mitochondria to generate heat. You can do heat exposure. If you go into a sauna, this is a mild stressor signal that triggers cell responses. It creates a beneficial response in the mitochondria.
Then there are nutrients you can use, like supplements. I mentioned a few of them. When we look at the organic acids test, we can tell if you are deficient in CoQ10, L-carnitine, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid. Other things that can help are resveratrol, d-ribose, curcumins, PQQ, a lot of supplements. Work with a practitioner to figure out what supplements would support. I’m sure you have some tricks up your sleeve as well.
Dr. Eric: Did you mention CoQ10? You might have.
Laura: Yes. Absolutely. On the organic acids test, we can see your oxidative stress levels, and that will tell us if you need more CoQ10. We can also see what’s happening in the Krebs cycle. CoQ10 is one of the cofactors there. We can tell if that would support you. It’s probably a simple thing that everyone could do, even without an organic acids test or working with a practitioner. CoQ10 is safe and supportive to your cardiovascular health, mitochondrial health. It’s a good idea.
Dr. Eric: It comes to mind not just because it’s very commonly taken. A lot of people associate CoQ10 with mitochondria, but especially with hyperthyroidism, it’s common for people to take beta blockers. A lot of beta blockers will have a negative effect on CoQ10. Statins as well for those on cholesterol lowering medication. Wanted to bring that up.
Of course, you mentioned food and nutrients. What you mentioned earlier, reducing your toxic load, if you have mycotoxins, clearing those out. Reducing your exposure to EMFs. There are so many things that need to be done. Good news is a lot of things you can do on your own. In some cases, it is a good idea to work with a healthcare practitioner because it could get complex when it comes to things like toxic mold and stealth infections.
Laura: I think it’s really hard for people to go through a true detoxifying process on their own. When I went through my own detox, I actually hired a practitioner to walk me through it, even though I know what I know. You will be held more accountable. You will have somebody to talk to. Your body shifts and changes as you go through detox. If you live on planet Earth in today’s day and age, you have exposure to a level of toxins and chronic low-grade infections. Almost everyone on the planet could benefit from working with a practitioner on some level of detox.
Eric and I are not talking about doing a juice cleanse. That’s not detoxing. You cannot detox your body with food. You can’t. You need to have binders. You need to have support for your organs for phase one and two liver, kidneys, lymphatics, bowels. This is not something you can do with food. It’s a misconception. You can’t actually thoroughly detox. It’s just impossible.
Dr. Eric: Especially in this day and age. Food plays a role, but if you just are relying on food, it’s difficult with the toxic world we live in.
Laura: You know the concept, “Let food be thy medicine?” How many thousands of years ago was that stated? Hippocrates? Did he say it?
Dr. Eric: I believe so.
Laura: This was before the Industrial Revolution. This was before big food, big pharma. This was before the level of stress that we have now. I really like to think of that concept of after you have restored your body to its balanced and healthy level, and after you have learned how to live a clean, healthy life in the 21st century, once you have accomplished all of that, you remove the chronic smoldering infections, you have reduced inflammation, you have removed the toxins in the body. Once you’re there, let food be thy medicine.
Dr. Eric: Well said. Gut health. The last thing I wanted you to chat about, even if it’s briefly, is why you like to start the process of restoring mitochondria health by first addressing gut health.
Laura: This is a really important concept. In all of my programs, when I work with my clients, we address gut health first and foremost. It is foundational to wellness. If you don’t address gut health, you’re never going to get rid of the smoldering inflammatory fire that is happening in your body. All programs begin in my mind with gut health and detoxification and build from there.
Let’s talk about why gut health is really important. In order for mitochondria to survive and do their job, they need nutrients. We talked about the cofactors and nutrients required to make ATP energy. Primarily, those nutrients come from the food that we eat. It’s simple for people to understand that all food goes to one place first: into your digestive tract, into your gut, where the food is broken down into smaller parts, so your body can utilize the nutrients required to make energy and all body functions.
Here’s the thing: Our body can’t do any of it without the help of your gut microbiome. It’s made up of three main things. You have this community of bacteria that live inside of you. Plus you have the immune and neurological axes that regulate everything and help it communicate with our body. Here is where it all syncs together. Your mitochondria are stimulators of the same immune and neurological systems that interact with your gut microbiome.
Let me give you an example of where things go wrong. If you get food poisoning, you start having communication back and forth between the mitochondria and microbiota, the community of microbes that live in your gut. That regulates the body’s immune system response. Mitochondria, microbiota, are communicating. The body’s immune system is doing its thing. What you have here are two different set of organisms, bacteria and mitochondria, communicating back and forth to keep everything going smooth and healthy.
What goes wrong is you get this infection from food. You get food poisoning. This dysregulates everything, driving inflammation. You have an overgrowth of disease-causing pathogenic bacteria. The cycle of inflammation increases. Inflammation damages the mitochondria, which are supposed to be communicating to the immune system to tell your immune system what to do. Everything goes haywire.
If you don’t start at that really basic level of assessing and supporting gut health, then it’s going to be an uphill battle. It’s kind of like that concept of trying to solve your problem with just food. You’re leaving something big out. You must start with gut health. I know even in your programs, Eric, you focus on gut health when it comes to thyroid. It’s so vital.
Dr. Eric: Agreed. Healthy gut is important for overall health, especially for those with immune system conditions. Graves’, Hashimoto’s, other autoimmune conditions, you need a healthy gut to have a healthy immune system. It’s safe to say that just about every functional medicine practitioner at least pays attention to some extent to the gut. You dive into great detail. You’re definitely a gut expert. I agree. I spend a lot of time as well helping people to optimize their gut microbiome.
Laura: When people come to me and say, “Hey, I’m a high performer. I have a big life to live. I have big goals, big vision, big dream. I want to be present with my family. I want to excel in my business or at work. I want you to fix my energy, Laura. I want energy, and I want brain stamina.” Great. Let’s check your gut. That’s where we start. Let’s look at your gut health. Then we will be successful at building from there.
Way back when I was a nurse practitioner working in the conventional world and working in pseudo prevention, we did not talk about gut health. It did not exist. We did not talk about mitochondria health. We did not talk about toxins in the environment. We did not talk about how to truly nourish your body and solve underlying infections and toxins so that you can restore your health to optimal function. It’s really what it’s all about.
Dr. Eric: Quick question: Do you recommend testing, like a comprehensive stool panel, to your patients as far as evaluating gut health?
Laura: I do. You and I both know that we can do a pretty strong health intake. Really comprehensive. Learn a lot about what people are suffering from based on their symptoms and health history. If you have a gut test, it will tell you a few things about the good bacteria, the bad bacteria, the opportunistic bacteria. It will tell us about inflammatory markers, digestion. The most valuable piece of having a gut test is once the client sees what’s happening in their body in black and white, written out, and they have an explanation of what’s happening, it helps you stay the course. It helps you stay motivated. It helps you with accountability. It’s really nice when six months down the road, a year down the road, if you retest and see that all that effort, all that work you put into it, actually changed something, it really feels good. We want proof that what we’re doing is working.
I could help you heal your gut without ever doing a gut test. There are all kinds of things we can do to support your gut health. It’s knowing what’s happening that can give us little tweaks in your protocol and get you faster results. The most valuable piece is you seeing what’s going on so that you’re motivated, and you keep going.
Dr. Eric: Awesome. I want you to discuss your upcoming summit, the Mitochondrial Matrix Summit.
Laura: Restore your mitochondrial matrix, boost your energy, and fix your health, so you can live the life you love. It all starts from this talk. If we ignore mitochondria, it’s going to be really hard to restore energy levels, fix chronic health problems, and live your most productive and amazing life. When people ask me, “Laura, why did you do a mitochondria summit of all things?” Because it’s so foundational. It’s so critical. We have to support mitochondria health in order for you to reach all those goals.
Dr. Eric: I am one of the speakers, but I am also looking forward to listening to the other speakers. You have a lot of different experts, but this is the first mitochondrial summit I have heard of. Speaking of the gut, you always hear of gut summits and things about environmental toxins, but I think this is going to be a unique summit truly. Check out my talk, but check out as many of the talks as you can. It is a free summit.
Can you discuss other ways people can find out more about you?
Laura: Thank you. I’m really looking forward to your talk. We got deep into thyroid. We talk about hypo and hyperthyroidism and how they relate to mitochondrial health. We talk about simple strategies all coming from the brain of Eric, which is amazing because he is the thyroid guy.
In terms of getting in touch with me, you can find me at LauraFrontiero.com. I’m also on Instagram @Laura.Frontiero. You can find me on Facebook. Occasionally, you can find me on Tik Tok. I gotta get better about being on there. Thanks so much!
Dr. Eric: Thanks, Laura. This was great. I’m sure people will find this to be extremely valuable. Definitely register for Laura’s upcoming summit. Check out her website and social media. Take care!
Laura: You, too.