Our health is determined by two key factors, our genes and environment. Genes are the blue print for our body and its function. We inherit two copies of each gene from our parents. Although, we all have different backgrounds studies have found there to be little variation in the human genome, less than one percent. The small difference in our DNA contribute to our unique features, both physically and mentally, as well as how we respond and adapt to our environment. Epigenetics is the study of how our environment alters our gene expression. We are exposed to a variety of chemical toxins, fillers, pollution, and negative thoughts on a daily basis. Our bodies are built to seek and destroy potential enemies; however, if our immune system is weakened and an enemy slips by or constantly bombarded by enemies it causes our defense and repair system to go awry, which will cause changes in our DNA. Therefore, our overall health is influenced by the food we eat, nutrients we absorb, water we drink, air we breathe, and the thoughts we think. These environmental stressors have the ability to turn on and off genes, thus making some people more prone to heart disease, depression, and breast cancer.
A common gene to be turned off is MTHFR. A healthy MTHFR gene is responsible for making a surplus of the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). The role of this enzyme is to convert folate (B9) active form L-methylfolate that is usable by the body. L-methylfolate is essential in creating neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, and neural tube development. Also, MTHFR is responsible for converting the amino acid homocysteine to methionine and glutathione. This conversion process is important for protein production, as well as disease prevention.
The severity of MTHFR gene mutation is based on having one or two gene mutations.
Conditions Associated with MTHFR Mutations:
- Spina bifida
- Bipolar Disorder
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Alzheimer Disease
Genetic testing is the only way to definitely determine if you have a MTHFR mutation. However, eating a healthier diet, promoting gut and immune health, and eliminating environmental toxins will improve overall health and wellbeing.
- Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet - Eliminating gluten, dairy, and processed foods will help decrease inflammation and toxins that the build up in the body. Eating organic vegetables and fruits, as well as limited grass fed, free range, antibiotic free meat and eggs will provide your body essential methylated nutrients and less toxins.
- Eat a Plant Based Diet - Dark, leafy greens (i.e. kale, collard greens, spinach) and vegetables (i.e. asparagus and broccoli) contain methylated forms of folate.
- Support a Healthy Gut - One of the key functions of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is to absorb nutrients. It is important to support this function by taking probiotics and eating prebiotics, fermented foods, and bone broth.
- Supplement with Methylated B vitamins: Supplementing with methylated folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) is important because you are providing your body with the active, usable form of the vitamin.
- Avoid Environmental Toxins - MTHFR mutations decrease the body's ability to eliminate toxins; therefore, it is important to avoid environmental toxins (BPA, EDTA, phthalates, etc.), heavy metals, unfiltered water, cleaning products, and synthetic hormones.
- Detoxing - With an impaired ability to eliminate toxins, it is important to support the body by drinking water, taking detox baths, exercising, and dry brushing.