Dr. Eric Trehus on Health and the Microbiome, part 1 of 4

Good evening, good evening. So, I’m Thomas Trehus. We are related. I’ll get to that later, but I’m here to introduce Rick Trehus, or Eric Trehus. Dr. Trehus. And, first I want to thank our sponsors for tonight, which I’m a part of, so I have the pleasure of introducing Rick. The Sons of Norway here, Valheim Lodge is a sponsor. Wilmington Church, welcome, Wilmington Church in Wilmington Township is a sponsor, as well as Spring Grove community education, Spring Grove public schools. So, very happy that they’re able to sponsor this program tonight. Eric Trehus, medical doctor, is a 1973 graduate of Spring Grove Public High School. He went on to–
(applause and cheers from crowd) Yeah! Alright, ’73 graduates! Anybody? Alright, ’73! Good year. Rick went on to Augsburg College in Minneapolis, followed by the University of Minnesota for medical school. He then went on to a family practice residency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a family physician at Health Partners in Minneapolis from 1984 until 2015. While there, Rick was the chief medical officer in Brooklyn Center Clinic for 12 years, chairperson of preventive health services, and professor of Family Medicine through University of Minnesota for 17 years, a member of AMA, the American Academy of Family Physicians, Minnesota Medical Association, and, since retirement, has given talks in Florida, Chicago, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Rick is married and has two adult children, currently resides in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. So, please give it up for Eric Trehus. (Applause and whistling) Thanks, and I really do appreciate you coming here. And as I look at this theatre, I’m thinking, what a beautiful place this is, and what a commitment to Spring Grove that a place like this exists. I’ve been back many times to see friends like Mike Moen, and there’s Thomas and David, and every time I come back, I am just really… happy and impressed with what Spring Grove is. The town itself obviously has a great deal of pride. Driving through the streets, the lawns are manicured, the houses are painted, and you just don’t see that in a lot of other little towns, and I’m just so proud, and it’s really to you, hats off to you, to do all of those measures, as well as your decisions that are made by your council and whatnot to keep Spring Grove growing. It’s really a pleasure to come back to this town. I really do love it. So, you’re probably wondering, “What’s Rick Trehus doing here tonight?” I retired three years ago. I did not think I would be public speaking at that time. I thought I would be doing things for me–and I have done those, backpacking, going to the Boundary Waters, and doing all sorts of trips and whatnot, and having a very wonderful time. I started a little woodworking business myself. And all that is great. That’s what I thought I’d be doing, but… something happened to me when I retired, and that is, I had time. I never had time. Growing up in Spring Grove, I didn’t have any money. I didn’t know it then, but we really didn’t have much money. And, so, bailing hay, and delivering newspapers, and mowing lawns, and all the such. And continuing that on to taking whatever job I could just to make some money to make it through. And then of course you go to college, and I knew nobody. Nobody was gonna make me a medical student just by name. So I had to study. I didn’t do things. And many people have to work hard, I’m not singling myself out, but I never had time. And then you get into medical practice and I’d leave before seven, I’d get home after seven, try to have a decent meal with my family, try to relate a little bit and then read a little bit, and then go to bed and do it again. So, 60-80 hour weeks were pretty much the standard. And many people do that. And I applaud them to get through it and raise good families that way, but I never had time. When I retired, I had some time. So, I started reading. And I didn’t have to read the things that I would normally read. I would read about, you know, a challenging patient, or something that was new in vogue in the medical field. That’s all I had time to do. But now I had time. I could sit back and read about the things that were kind of interesting. And, my natural inclination is to read about science and about health, and as you get on the internet, you kind of go from one subject to another subject. And here you’re down this line and you don’t even know how you got there, but you’re reading this interesting article and… I started reading about some things that I never would have experienced while being a physician, because they weren’t… they weren’t… the standard things you learn about, the things that are popular. Things that are a bit more off-center don’t get put in the journals that I’m supposed to read to keep up to date. But, I didn’t have to answer to anybody now, so I read them. And they were very interesting to me, and very different. And I kept reading, and after about six months, I started believing what they had to say, because I would read some books, and then more books, and read more articles and more blogs, and after after about six months, it dawned on me that this stuff that I was reading was actually true, and very, very well done studies were proving these things. And you’re going to be just about as amazed, I think, as I was when I start reading these things, as I go forward. And as I read them, it really completed a picture to me, because when I was in practice, and the patient would come to me, and–you name the disease–people would say, “well, why did I get this?” “Why should I have it?” And I would tell them the rote answers that I’d learned from my mentors, or from the specialists, and that was, “Eh, maybe its genetic,” or… “It could be something you got into. I don’t know. It’s hard to track that down.” Or, the worst one was, “I don’t know. Just bad luck.” Well that gives you a lot of power. A lot of things you can do with that. Yeah, I can change my family history? I don’t think so. And so it’s very frustrating for me to see these diseases, and some people would have multiple different diseases, seemingly unrelated, and I’d say, ‘well, why does this unfortunate person have so many things going on with them?’ And there was no unifying concept that could describe why this person had so many things wrong– until I started reading after the fact, after I retired. This unifying concept that I’m going to tell you about tonight. I used to give this talk with many different slides, and kind of blast people with with data and information, and by the end I was bored with myself. So I decided, I’m going to throw that away, and I’m just going to tell a story. And the story– it’s not that long. It’s very interesting to me, and I think you’ll find it at least intriguing. And it answers a lot of questions for me. So I’m going to tell that story, and at the end I’m going to ask for some questions for me– and I really do want you to ask questions, because that’s the part I enjoy, and that’s what gives each audience a new flavor for me. So, please, if you’ve got a question, remember it and ask it when it’s time to ask some questions. So– how’s that for a short intro, huh? I, um, The– Disease and health are part of the same coin. Heads is not tails and tails is not heads. They are not the same thing, but they are part of the same process. And if you make the right choices, and you do the things that I’ve come to learn as truth, you have a much better chance of getting through this life without illness than if you didn’t make these corrections. people live past 100 years old. And I’m not talking about a few, I’m talking about 34 times the rate that people live a healthy, productive life past the age of 100. And one of the key elements that every one of those societies– not related genetically, not related by location, even by diet sometimes. One of the key elements was relationships. It’s important to have good relationships. And the really cool thing about a town like this is that you have that ability. It’s small enough. You have the… coincidence of running into people on the street–that isn’t necessarily the case in large towns. So relationships is what I also talk about in those other talks. So. Nutrition -ish, is what I want to talk about. But I want to talk about five things that I want you to know. And, at least, if you don’t know them, please ask questions about it, because it’s really important that you know the first one to understand the second, third, fourth, and fifth. The first one I’m going to talk about is the microbiome. The second one is intestinal permeability, or what’s referred to as the leaky gut. The third one is what happens when you have foreign invasion into the next layers of your gut and induce immune response. The fourth thing is the immune response causing inflammation, and the fifth thing is what inflammation does to the end organ, or to… let’s say your heart arteries, or your thyroid, or different structures, and why that transcends into disease. Sounds like a lot. It’s not going to be that technical. I want you to know this and I want to speak in your terms. If I don’t, please call me on it. So the first thing is the microbiome. How many have heard of the microbiome? Raise your hand. A few people. Okay. Good. The microbiome– this one took me a while to really embrace. It was– I had to keep reading and reading, and read the authors, and read the books and whatnot, because this one, it took a long time for me to really grasp and say, “Wow. This– I guess this really is something.” And when I describe it to you, I think you’re going to probably shake your head a little bit, as I did. The microbiome is the bacteria, the viruses, the bacteriophages that reside in your intestines. So we’re going to talk about your intestines, folks. Not personally. You don’t have to feel embarrassed about this, but but it is what is inside– it’s from your stomach until it comes out the other end. I know, it’s pretty interesting to say the least. And it’s about what happens in that area when you put things into it, such as food, such as drink. And, up until just about 20 years ago, it was felt to be just this… innocuous thing that didn’t have any do with us, really. It was just there. In fact, they knew about it 300 years ago when Leeuwenhoek [a Dutch microbiologist] started looking at these bacteria. He noticed bacteria in our colon but it was no big deal– until about 20 years ago, until it started to be studied. And what they studied was, well, why are these bacteria there? What are they doing? There’s ten thousand different types of bacteria in our intestines. There’s got to be a reason why they’re there. And they started looking at each one of these ten thousand types. What do they do? Well, bacteria are very, very interesting structures. They emit chemicals. A great example is food poisoning. Anybody ever had food poisoning? You don’t want to admit it. I know you have. I’ve had it. And I had it when my wife was eight and a half months pregnant, and all of about 112 pounds, and I passed out, hit my head on the toilet, was sprawled on the bathroom [floor], and she had to yank and get me into bed, and there I was for two days, and I never want to have it again. This is a process where these bacteria that we ingest–or at least we ingest the toxins that were made by these bacteria– they get into our colon and they have a direct irritation to our intestinal linings. And they really raise havoc. If you’ve ever had this, you know what I’m talking about. You have no choice. It’s got you. So these bacteria have a message that they’re sending to your colon, to your intestines. There’s not only bad bacteria, there’s good bacteria. There is good bacteria that we absolutely need in our gut, but we don’t have a lot of times because we have what’s called a standard American diet or the ‘SAD’ diet. This is creating illness. And every one of you has some version of what I’m going to talk about unless you’ve gone to a very high fat (good fat) low carbohydrate diet and eliminated a lot of these other things that I’m going to state in a few minutes here. So, as an example of a good bacteria: good bacteria will help take in amino acids which are essential for our protein structures, and building cells, and hormones, and different structures of our body. We need these amino acids. If we don’t have that bacteria, we don’t get it and we have a problem. One of those problems is called depression. Serotonin. You’ve heard of Prozac, right? Prozac is one of–a very good medication. It came out 30 years ago or so and really revolutionized the treatment of depression. 1 out of 4 adults will be diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime. It’s not a good thing. And it’s life– it’s life-ending in some cases. Well, the serotonin chemical is important, and that’s what Prozac does. It works on the serotonin. Serotonin– there’s not much in your brain. 80% of all serotonin-producing cells are in the gut. It’s within this far of what we eat, and if you don’t have the right bacteria to transmit the building blocks of serotonin, you don’t get serotonin. And you have depression. So all the stuff in the past about guilting you.
“Why are you effected?” You know, when you get depression, you don’t want to admit it. You don’t even want to go the doctor. Particularly males. Their wives would have to bring them in there kicking and screaming to get on medication and, by God, they’d get better and then they’d thank me. But it isn’t– it is physical, it isn’t something– yeah, you may have had bad things, and you lower your resistance to certain things and you have a reaction to it, and then you can develop depression, but it’s also what you don’t have in your colon that you should have in your intestines to absorb the right things to make serotonin so you don’t get… depression, and so you then can withstand those pressures that would then lead you to depression if you didn’t have the right chemicals. So there’s an example of good and bad bacteria. And so they’ve looked at these bacteria, and they were able to see a pattern in this, and they called it a ratio between good and bad bacteria. Then they started looking at different cultures around the world. It became very, very apparent that Americans and first world countries such as Europe, and parts of Asia, what we’d call sophisticated societies, had kind of a similar pattern of what their ratio was, and they had somewhat similar disease patterns. So there’s kind of a correlation to that. Well, then they started looking at Aboriginal societies living in the deepest parts of the Amazon, or Africa, or the Aborigines of Australia, and they had a very different pattern of good and bad bacteria. And when you started comparing the diseases, it was a very close correlation with, the worse your microbiome, or your bad bacteria was, the more disease you had. It’s a linear relationship, and we can map this out with certain tagged chemicals and find this out. And when they found– I don’t know if you remember– the caveman. 5,000 years ago he was stuck in a snow drift and somebody found him in the Italian Alps. Turns out he was murdered. I think they’re still looking for the guy who did it. (Audience laughs) But they analyzed his microbiome. They were able to look at his intestine and see what was in there, and lo and behold, his microbiome matched the aboriginal societies. And the aboriginal societies, they don’t really have cancer. They don’t have heart disease. They don’t have autoimmune disease. They rarely have diabetes. They have injuries and parasites and different things like that, but it’s a whole– you know, if someone came from another world– they’re like a different species. They just don’t have the same problems going on. So, they started trying to make this correlation. Then they went further. Now this one, this one really is quite amazing to me. They looked at autism. Okay. A horrible situation. A child is born, has no interaction– in the severe forms– they have no interaction with the world around them. They don’t talk. They don’t interact with their parents. What a horrible nightmare for a parent to have to deal with autism. Well, they don’t do this in America because insurance won’t cover it, but they did it in England. They flushed this– something, I don’t know how many, I think it was 12– people in the study, and then they had 12 controls with autism– and they flushed the colons out like you would for a colonoscopy. Anybody here ever have a colonoscopy?
(awkward chuckling from audience) Anybody remember that prep? Yeah, I want to forget it. Twice. So, then they did what’s called a fecal transplant. Yeah, that’s what it is. They take that same colonoscopy instrument and infuse– give it a syringe full of what would be considered a good microbiome, good bacteria. They put that in the colon of this autistic child. And with three of those twelve children, within a week, were starting to talk and interact. And within a month, all of them showed obvious changes, [improving/proven] changes. However, when those children were exposed to their standard diet, they reverted back into the autism ways. But, if they were doing the things that I’m going to be talking about to you in just a little bit, they actually retained some of those good things and still kept interacting with their families. I think that is just a dramatic, dramatic thing that, unless you, you know, unless you embrace that as being a real entity, you’re losing out on something that could do some very good things for people.

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