Since partnering with SelfDecode to help you better understand your health and genes I wanted to highlight a common genetic variant known as MTHFR. I’m sure that many of you have heard the term MTHFR but don’t have a clue what it is and why it even matters. MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) is a genetic SNP (single nuclide polymorphism) that it is estimated to be present in 30 to 60 percent of the population. In my experience, it’s more around the 60 percent range. Having this particular SNP can put you more at risk for:
- Heart disease
- Cancer (especially colon)
- Recurrent miscarriages
- Neural tube birth defects
- Blood clots
- Psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, depression, anxiety)
- Hormone issues (PCOS)
- Chronic fatigue
- Thyroid issues
- Autoimmune diseases
- Digestive issues (IBS)
This particular SNP is estimated to be a part of 20,000 genes that aid your body in processing folate. When you have this gene, it means that you can have low levels of B vitamins and folate plus high homocysteine levels in the blood. Without even doing genetic testing I can tell on blood work from a homocysteine level or complete blood count (CBC) whether or not you are likely to have MTHFR. Signs in newborns of potentially having the SNP are lip and tongue ties, stork bites, hemangiomas, sacral dimples, or sugar bug (blue vein on the bridge of the nose).
What does MTHFR do?
The gene is responsible for providing the body with guidelines to make an enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase which is important for methylation in the body. Methylation is a process in the body that helps with the metabolism of hormones, detoxification, and production of DNA. It can have an effect on brain function, digestion (breaking down fats), cholesterol levels, neurotransmitters, and hormone levels. If you have MTHFR, you are either heterozygous (have one pair of the variant) or homozygous (two pairs) which you get from your mother and father. People who have more variations of the genes tend to have issues with methylating in the body.
What can I do to help?
Just because you have a particular genetic variation doesn’t mean that you’re doomed! Many of us have been taught in school that we are stuck with our genes and just because your mom has high blood pressure doesn’t mean that you have to as well. Genetics only plays 10 percent of chronic illness, but diet, lifestyle, traumas, and environment pull the trigger. SelfDecode did confirm that I have 2 pairs of the SNP. Because I have suspected that I had MTHFR due to having PCOS and my son having severe lip and tongues at birth, I have been actively making healthier changes to my diet and lifestyle to maximize my methylation, improve my overall health, and decrease any symptoms.
One of the first things you can do is eat more vitamin B12 and folate-rich foods such as pastured raised eggs, beans, nuts, and nutritional yeast. Other foods that help with methylation include legumes, broccoli, asparagus, and avocados.
Because you don’t detox well with MTHFR, it is important to support detoxification in your body by moving every day, sweating (sauna), daily bowel movements, hydration, anti-inflammatory high fiber diet, taking epsom salt baths, dry brushing, rebounding, decreasing your exposure to chemicals, and adding phytonutrients and antioxidant-rich foods into your diet. Plus you can always make an appointment with me to help you detox mold, heavy metals, parasites, Lyme, and viruses.
Decreasing your alcohol intake will help your liver with detox as well but alcohol also inhibits DNA methylation. Drinking in moderation is best which means for women one glass and for men two glasses a day.
Work on stress management because high levels of stress can exacerbate the MTHFR symptoms. Write down 3 things that you’re grateful for which have been scientifically proven to rewire your brain to handle stress better. Other ways to manage stress are reading, taking a walk, getting a massage, deep breathing, or taking a bath. Make sure your supplements are high quality and do not have folic acid in them because it can be toxic to you. You want it to say folate or methyl folate on the bottle. Work with an experienced practitioner to heal your gut to improve digestion.
These are just a few tips and remember that you have the power to change your health for the better! Contact us at Be Whole Wellness Center for genetic testing, detox, and help to make those healthier lifestyle changes.