A Closer Look at How Genetics Could Be Impacting Your Health
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Monday, August 24, 2020
In this post we are going to take a closer look at how your genetics play an important role in your health. You may watch the Genetic Factor Series HERE, or read the post below.
Don’t worry, if you haven’t studied biology in a while, I’m here to make this as easy as possible to understand. One of the best analogies I’ve heard...is that your DNA is a like a musical instrument.The instrument quietly sits there, unless someone or something plays it to make music. When you play sheet music, you follow instructions to hear unique sounds. You can do the same with your DNA. You can turn your genes on and off according to what the sheet music says. In this case...the sheet music is your life, the choices you make, the food you eat, how you handle stress, how much sleep you get, and other lifestyle choices.
In this lesson, I’m going to talk specifically about the Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase, more commonly known as the MTHFR gene mutation. I promise, MTHFR is not a swear word! More than 60% of adults in the United States have at least one genetic mutation that impairs their body’s methylation process which has a direct impact on their day to day and long term health. Nearly all patients who battle a chronic health condition have less than optimal genetic expression due to MTHFR. Some of the diagnosed conditions associated with MTHFR mutations are Hashimoto's, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, a number of autoimmune diseases, infertility, depression, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, schizophrenia, paranoia, Alzheimer's, as well as some cancers.
Today I’m going to explain more about MTHFR and how it could silently be impacting your health. We’ll talk about how to get tested for MTHFR, as well as diet and lifestyle changes that can help you detox your overburdened heart, brain, mental, reproductive and detoxification systems.
GENETIC FACTORS LESSON 1 - A Direct Link to a Low Functioning Immune System
The number one thing I want you to take away from this lesson is that if you have MTHFR, this doesn’t mean you are destined for have bad health. We know with some diet and lifestyle changes, we can help you functioning at your best and reduce the opportunity for disease to progress. I’m going to talk about what exactly an MTHFR gene mutation is, and while that may seem scary, it shouldn’t be. I will teach you some simple steps you can take on a daily basis to greatly minimize the effects and overcome a MTHFR gene mutation.
How our body functions is the end product of a vast supply chain, with each link balancing the other. It’s a beautiful process when it works correctly, but because all links depend on one another, if just a single link is broke, in this case MTHFR, the whole process is broken. The MTHFR gene is one of 20-thousand genes in your body.
MTHFR is very important for the chemical functions within your body. One of its main jobs is to convert Vitamin B9, or folate, into a usable form. This process is called methylation. Every cell and tissue in our body needs methylation to function properly. It’s key for detoxifying your body and your immune system to avoid chronic health conditions that often debilitate us into living a life that doesn’t feel complete.
When functioning properly, the MTHFR gene is considered a high methylator. It is responsible for removing and reprogramming disease progression such as tumors. Health issues arise if your MTHFR gene is a low methylator, is not functioning properly or has a gene mutation. There are countless scientific reasons why methylation is important, but simply put, it impacts all areas of your health from your physical wellbeing to mood, behavior, mental health, and sleep.
Genetic mutations commonly occur with the MTHFR gene. The more mutations you have of the MTHFR gene, the less effective it is, which puts you at risk for developing a number of autoimmune conditions and thyroid issues. Many times, people with these conditions struggle to detoxify heavy metals and have high mercury levels in their body which impact your immune system, heart health, kidneys, lungs and more. It’s important to know your MTHFR status so you can make simple necessary changes to impact your health and wellbeing.
GENETIC FACTORS LESSON 2 - A Simple Saliva Test!
Getting tested for MTHFR mutations is simple and pain-free. I encourage everyone to be tested, especially women aged 20 - 34. MTHFR has been shown to increase risks of birth defects and miscarriage, so it’s important that women of childbearing age are tested. If you have an autoimmune disease it’s also important to be tested because MTHFR mutations contribute to the vast majority of those illnesses as well. Lab testing can be costly as most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of MTHFR mutation testing. Patients have told me without insurance it can cost up to one-thousand dollars. The good news is, there are now a number of companies that offer this service at a much more affordable rate. 23AndMe ™ is an online DNA testing company. You can get a health and DNA screening for under $200. You simply have to provide a saliva sample and that is it. You don’t even have to leave your house.
Patientshave said the results can be somewhat confusing to interpret. No worries. There is a solution for this. An online tool that you can upload your 23andMe ™ results to called StrateGene ™. It will show you pretty graphs of your results to make it easier to understand. Links to 23AndMe ™ and StrateGene ™ will be in the notes section of this lesson.
I know this may sound a bit confusing, but one step at a time. You will get there. There was a time when 23andMe ™ was available for little kids. My son was 2 when we did his. All we had to do was put a small sponge in his mouth and let it sit there till saliva accumulated, then squeeze it like a sponge full of water into a tube. Easy peasy. My entire family did the same thing. The information is extraordinary. The saying “forewarned is forearmed” couldn’t be more true. When it comes to your health, you are responsible, not your doctor. There is not a perfect test, and there is not a perfect doctor. There is only one perfect you and ultimately, you are responsible for you.
GENETIC FACTORS LESSON 3 - You Don’t Have to be a Chemist to Improve Your Health!
Once you know your MTHFR results, you can begin taking the next steps to live a better life. As we discussed, MTHFR mutations impact your body’s ability to function properly. While there are many scientific explanations, the good news is you don’t have to be a biochemist to understand what needs to be done to improve your health. If your body has enough 5-MTHF, then your methylation cycle will work better and you will feel better. What I want you to take away is if enough 5-MTHF is present, the methylation cycle will work better.
There are seven nutrients can help optimize this process, even if you have a genetic mutation.
1)5-MTHF Active Folate?.This is just folate in a pre-methylated form.
2) Pyridoxal 5’-PhosphateThis is the scientific name for vitamin B6 in its active form.
3) Methylcobalamin This is B12 in its active form.
4) Vitamin D?3K25).
5) Betain This can also be known as trimethylglycine.
6)Riboflavin 5’-PhosphateB2 in its active form.
There are links in the notes section with recommendations for all of these high-quality supplements. Be sure to check there once you review this section.
It’s important to note that there is not a cut and dry system for figuring out your unique dosage for these supplements. Every person is different, so you need to slowly introduce them to your system, and record how you are feeling so you can find the best dosage amount for you. I recommend starting with vitamin B12 first. For the first several days, begin taking B12 at a low dosage. Then start adding folate supplements at half the amount of your B12 supplements. For example, you can start taking 1 milligram of B12 a day, and then add 500 micrograms of folate a day. You can keep increasing your folate every few days until you start feeling better.
There are also a number of diet and lifestyle changes you can make as well.
-Avoid Products with “Folic Acid.”
Folic Acid is synthetic Vitamin B. It can burden your already compromised immune system. It can be found in a number of processed foods and supplements. Make sure you read labels like a hawk. Folic Acid can negatively impact your body’s ability to heal. Your body can’t use it, process it or get rid of it. Having too much in your system can create internal toxins that he body can’t get rid of and ultimately lead to disease.
-Eat foods high in Vitamin B
While it’s important to avoid synthetic or fake vitamin B, it’s vitally important to get natural vitamin B throughout your diet. Some great foods to incorporate into your diet include organic chicken, seafood, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, citrus fruits and bananas.
Since your body struggles to detoxify through the methylation process, you want to avoid exposure to toxins, especially heavy metals, as much as possible. Heavy metals are likely the cause of progressive brain diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Here are a couple of easy ways you can avoid everyday toxins.
It’s important to add a water filter in your kitchen for your drinking and cooking water. I also recommend adding water filters to all the taps in your house. Chemicals can be absorbed directly through your skin, so it’s important to have filters on your tubs and showers too.
Depending where you live, there can be a number of chemicals in the air. If you live in the city there are a number of pollutants that can impact your health. Conversely, if you live in a more rural area near agriculture there can also be a number of chemicals in the air. Regardless of your zip code, I encourage you to use a HEPA air filter. It is a great way to filter and purify the air in your home.
-Avoid Fish that is High in Mercury and GMO (genetically modified/engineered)
Fish can be high in mercury, so you want to make sure you are avoiding eating those as much as possible. Some popular fish high in mercury include Atlantic halibut, bluefin tuna, blue shrimp, imported crawfish, grouper, snapper, octopus,orange roughy, and striped marlin. Do not eat fish from a pond near agricultural farms. A complete list of high mercury fish can be found on the Environmental Defense Website. I will put a link to their website in the notes section.
-Avoid Plastics as much as possible
Plastics contain a number of toxins. These toxins are linked to specific hormone cancers such as breast and uterine as well as blood sugar issues. You don’t have to be diagnosed with cancer to know you are ingesting too much plastic. Uterine fibroids, acne around your chin and jawline, polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) are also linked to toxins in plastic.
Unfortunately, most of our food is packaged in plastic. While it’s nearly impossible to avoid all plastic in your everyday life some simple changes can make a big difference in your health.
-Start storing your food in glass containers
Instead of putting your leftovers or packing your lunch in plastic containers, opt for glass. Mason jars are great for storing food.
-Never heat food in plastic containers
Chemicals are known to leach more aggressively into our foods and liquids when they heated. Make sure to always heat your food on or in glass containers, plates, or bowls. Keep in mind, the food you buy in stores such as orange juice, butter and yogurt at packed in plastic high temperatures. That means the food you ingest from the plastic container is full of toxins. If you have PMS you are probably getting too much plastic too. Look in your fridge, how many items are wrapped in plastic? That easy squeezy ketchup and mustard counts too. Plastic touching anything, hot or cold....it doesn’t matter...the food absorbs the chemicals of the plastic.
-Don’t drink hot beverages in styrofoam cups
Again, chemicals are activated with heat and cold. So try to avoid using plastic and Styrofoam cups as much as possible.
The Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory can help you identify specific health problems, and your responses to various chemical or toxic exposures. I encourage you to fill out the questionnaire HERE
It’s important to talk about ways to flush out the toxins that are already in your body. No one ever said....I want to swim in a dirty fish bowl. It’s a good idea to adopt these strategies to make sure your fish bowl stays clean. We wouldn’t want to remove all toxins, as some are beneficial, these tips will help you correctly detoxify.
-If you have the MTHFR gene mutation, it’s important to include a variety of supplements in your daily diet. The supplements we previously discussed are critical to your health.
- Glutathione is also extremely important. ?To spare you the nerdy medical talk, it is responsible for cellular “damage control.”
Glutathione plays an important role in preventing autoimmune issues and cancer. However, even if you take glutathione, you can’t convert it into its usable form without the presence of 3 amino acids:-Glycine. This can be found in meat, diary, and legumes.-L- Cysteine. This is also found in meat, turkey, eggs, etc.-L- Glutamic acid, which is found in chicken, eggs, and seeds.
I see lots of people buying glutathione but it makes for really expensive bowel movement. If you have all the proper amino acids, I recommend glutathione in the nasal form. There is a link in the notes section for glutathione in the nasal form as well.
If you are eating all of the foods I just mentioned, L-Cysteine is the most important for you. With MTHFR, your natural ability to produce glutathione is diminished.
If you have history of constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating, it’s a sign that you’re probably not breaking down proteins and dairy properly. Therefore, I recommend my patients to take cysteine. The shelf name is NAC or N-acetyl cysteine.
- I also encourage patients to take a liver support supplement on a daily basis. This will not only help your body flush toxins but strengthen your immune system. Most people are deficient in magnesium and it can positively impact your physical and mental health in a variety of ways. Keep in mind, when one dies from a heart attack, technically, they are dying from a “magnesium deficiency.” Shop for any of the above supplements HERE
- -Eat super foods such as cruciferous vegetables Cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and bok choy are rich in antioxidants and will help support natural detoxification in your body.
- Exercise benefits your body and mind in a number of ways. Sweating is a great way to naturally shed toxins in your body. This is just another good reason to make sure you are getting moderate exercise five times a week. Infrared saunas are also a great way to sweat with a vast number of health benefits too. ?A traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body. An infrared sauna heats your body directly without warming the air around you. Several studies have looked at using infrared saunas in the treatment of chronic illnesses.
Resources used in this Genetic lesson include:
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