It's me, Martha
I'm Martha Carlin, in 2002 my 44-year-old husband, John, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. We were told Parkinson's is a disease with no cure, and a guarantee of decline over time. The resources provided were limited, John was sent home with a pill to mask the symptoms and our lives changed forever. Still we were not willing to accept defeat or the status quo approach to the disease.
My business career was as a systems thinker and turnaround expert, so I began to apply those turnaround skills to the puzzle of Parkinson’s disease. I immediately began my quest to find a cure. In the meantime, I worked to find ways to help John better manage and improve other aspects of his health to improve his Parkinson’s prognosis. I looked at food choices, nutrition, chemical exposures through the diet, and more. We changed our diet over the years as more research began to support the importance of diet and nutrition in all chronic diseases. Over the years the research began to build and connect until in 2014 the first research was published pointing to the gut.
This was my Eureka moment! From my business lens, I could see the gut as the general ledger for our health, the record of what is flowing through the system.
I quit my job and we started funding research at the University of Chicago with Dr. Jack Gilbert. Through that research I learned how many chronic diseases are connected to gut bacteria. I founded The BioCollective to help bring together people and research to get the data needed to connect the dots across diseases through the bacteria and their metabolic functions in the gut. Since founding the company and becoming a recognized opinion leader in Parkinson’s, many people contact me to find out how they can improve their prognosis. I field calls and emails but ultimately decided it was time to make my knowledge more easily accessible.
Yes, I'm the guy with the diagnosis, John Carlin.
I'm doing my best to live a full life despite my PD. Martha has gotten me to try everything from restrictive diets (the no fun diet) to funky light therapy helmets. I am a willing participant because I recognize opportunity I have to make a difference and help do my part to move closer to a cure.
While my PD forced me into early retirement I am lucky to have had the chance to be more involved in the daily lives of our kids and become an advocate for Pedaling for Parkinson's. I especially like participating in cycling events like RAGBRAI (on a tandem) and currently do a PD zoom spin class with people from all over the country (just email me if you're interested). I still enjoy fly fishing, hiking and ice climbing on as often as I can.
In 2011, Martha and I took part in an awareness climb with a group of people – 10 with Multiple Sclerosis, 4 with Parkinson's. We each were assigned a healthy companion climber. Our group climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and became like family. It was once in a lifetime adventure that was masterminded by Lori Schneider, Empowerment Through Adventure. It was an amazing experience that truly showed what was possible with grit, enthusiasm and support.
While life isn't always easy with a chronic disease like Parkinson's I continue to reach out to my PD peers and do what I can to raise awareness.
When I stumbled upon a study that showed how mannitol can prevent or slow down protein aggregation in the brain, I realized I was on to something. Protein aggregation in the brain is a key factor in PD progression. Mannitol, one of the most abundant sugars in nature, is also created by certain gut bacteria. This was another AHA moment.
My team of researchers began working with this concept and created the probiotic that alters the way our body digests sugars, converting glucose and fructose into the prebiotic mannitol. On the most basic level, sugar feeds inflammation. And chronic inflammation leads to a host of health issues. The body cannot use mannitol, and therefore safely eliminates these extra sugars. This formula also addresses many gut distress issues caused by PD, such as constipation.
John has been taking our signature formula, BiotiQuest™ Sugar Shift, crafted for him, since 2017. Today, John is leading bike groups in Colorado and thriving.
The big AHA moment!
I was an invited to speak at the White House National Microbiome Initiative
as a “citizen scientist”.
This is my story, my quest to solve Parkinson's by identifying patterns in health, disease, and the microbiome.
Here's my TED TALK. It explains my journey from turnaround expert to citizen scientist.
Pre-probiotic target metabolic shift.
BiotiQuest™ Sugar Shift metabolic network
Post probiotic metabolic network.
This is the actual data collected from John Carlin while taking BiotiQuest™ Sugar Shift. It shows that Sugar Shift alters sugar metabolism to create a more complete and healthy functioning gut microbiome.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF RENNICKE
“I took a leap of faith. Climbers, like me, with Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis or were paired with companion climbers. Together we committed to climbing toward a summit that represented our hopes and dreams. Most made it to the top, but all of us beat the odds. We celebrated victory over fear and pain and reclaimed our strength and courage. This mountain was part of my quest.”
– JOHN CARLIN