The Empowering Neurologist – David Perlmutter, MD and Dr. George Tetz

Without a doubt, we spend a lot of time in this forum discussing the influence of bacteria on the health of the gut, and how that translates into risk for disease elsewhere in the body. As it turns out, there are a multitude of other entities residing within the gut that are absolutely worthy of our attention.

Bacteriophages are a type of virus that can infect bacteria and alter their function. First identified in 1917, bacteriophages have been long overlooked in terms of their potential contribution to human disease.

Our interview today is with Dr. George Tetz, one of the world leaders in bacteriophage research. He has identified pathways whereby bacteriophages can alter gut bacteria in such a way so as to modify their function in the human body. His work relates bacteriophage activity with autoimmune conditions, like Type 1 diabetes. He has also found strong connections between bacteriophages and Parkinson’s disease, a subject into which he’ll dive deeper in our discussion. He believes that these bacteria-infecting viruses may also play a prominent role in other neurodegenerative conditions, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The implications of the science shared in this interview are many! I will state at the outset that some of the discussion is at a level that might be challenging for the non-researcher to understand, but there are some terrific takeaways and I would urge all of you to celebrate with me the accomplishments of this incredible scientist.

Finally, I mention a YouTube video that graphically illustrates the function of these bacteriophages. It’s very well-done, and worth a look.

Research Spotlight: Type 1 Diabetes and Gluten

Gluten and the Microbiome

In humans, the relationship between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease is clear: having celiac disease dramatically increases risk for becoming a type 1 diabetic. But even beyond those with celiac disease, it has now been shown that early introduction of gluten-containing cereals in infancy is directly related to increased risk for type 1 diabetes.

The why and how of this relationship are still not perfectly clear. However, new research is focused on the role of dietary gluten in challenging the microbiome – the 100 trillion bacteria living within each of us – and how this paves the way for increased inflammation and autoimmunity, fundamental mechanisms in type 1 diabetes.

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Virginia O.

There are studies available on this site that reinforce the scientific basis for many of the improvements Virginia saw. – Dr. Perlmutter

I am a 54 year-old Type 1 diabetic that was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago. Additionally, I have suffered from back pain that had been peviously diagnosed as a pinched nerve, I had a skin rash that was diagnosed as eczema, and I had years of sinus problems, which included one surgical procedure to remove polyps. I presented this history to an endocrinologist and she immediately referred me to her brother who was a gastroenterologist.

After following a gluten-free diet for several weeks, I realized that my back pain had disappeared, my skin rash was gone and my sinus problems also went away.  After going thru so many years of steroid shots, creams, and a multitude of other treatments, I was thrilled to see the differences. I wish everyone about to undergo back or sinus surgery would be tested for Celiac first. Today, I am taking steps to pay closer attention to my blood sugar.

-Virginia O.