GENETIC NUTRITION TESTING: You Must read this, as you can start preventing disease now before it is too late!
Methylation is a big word. Take a breath and put that aside for now because it is essential for the optimal function of almost all your body systems. It occurs billions of times every second. In doing so, it helps repair your DNA on a daily basis, it helps keep inflammation in check, it replenishes the compounds needed for detoxification, and it helps maintain a stable mood.
Genes load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger:
Genes give us information in terms of helping us know where to look for potential problems in the methylation cycle and maybe helping us to tailor treatment, but really it’s our lifestyle, diet, and disease states that are probably more important. So we need to consider a patient’s internal and external environment in addition to the genetic predisposition to really understand their functional health.
What is functional health?
It is using a method to test how your body is functioning rather than if you have a disease or not. Most diseases start way before any disease based tests show abnormal findings. Functional health attempts to prevent disease over the long haul and cannot be compared to disease states as it is like comparing apples and oranges. For example you may have an irritated gallbladder, without any gallbladder disease. Functional health practitioners like myself would find that dysfunction often after you have undergone all the testing one could possible imagine. Just because tests don’t show any abnormalities does not mean you are healthy. You may be heading for a disease if you do not address the early dysfunction.
My family has a medical history of alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, and strokes. All of these diseases begin with a functional imbalance that does not show up on lab work many, many years before the diagnosis and medical tests are positive. Why are you waiting for the diagnosis when you can take action now? READ ON PLEASE.
Nervous system and stress handling with methylation:
Let’s start with our mood. If we look at how methylation supports the brain and nervous system, there are two different functions where this works. One is in neurotransmitter synthesis and degradation; this is really important in stabilizing mood and improving stress resilience. One of the genetic predispositions to mood stability as it relates to methylation, is a COMT mutation. Patients who have this mutation may have a more difficult time recovering from a stressful event. We know that if someone with the COMT mutation experiences something stressful it takes them longer to return to baseline. This is because they don’t metabolize stress neurotransmitters, like epinephrine and norepinephrine, as rapidly as someone might without this mutation or without impaired methylation. The good news is that there are supplements you can take that are enzymes that support this genetic mutation to work better.
Methylation is also really important in supporting myelin. Myelin can be thought of as the sort of protective coating or insulation along the nerves. If you have injury to your myelin, you can it is like having frayed electrical cords that have vulnerable and exposed wires. Methylation is important in helping to maintain the integrity of the myelin, and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Supporting these things is one of the best things we can do to support mood and cognitive function. Injuries to the myelin underlie the changes seen in multiple sclerosis. Myelin is an incredibly important structure in the nervous system.
Genetics and disease:
Epigenetic differences in individuals can explain why people with the same genetics can have a different state of health and function from each other. Methylation is one of the major factors in identical twins who have an identical genetic code, but may have a slightly different appearance, and or can suffer from different diseases. Epigenetic factors include lifestyle, upbringing, and environmental exposures. These factors turn genes on and off for better or for worse. Methylation is a major factor in keeping genetic mutations quiet that hurt our functional health, and can eventually cause disease.
In identical twins, there’s a 50% concordance rate, which means there is a 50% chance that if one twin has it, the other one will have it, but it’s not 100%. This is because of epigenetic factors.
Methylation is a term that comes from biochemistry. Methylation is the body adding a tag, or a work order to parts of DNA. This tag/methyl group can be added to a gene, a vitamin, or an enzyme. When our system adds that tag/methyl group; it is technically called methylation. When methylation happens, it changes DNA function which turns genes on or off; which is called gene expression. The way in which methylation affects our DNA is incredibly important. Methylation helps turn gene mutations off, so they’re not expressed. Optimizing our methylation reduces our risk of developing certain diseases, and some types of cancers. Our understanding now is that genes alone account for less than 10% of disease. The environmental/epigenetic factors that an individual is exposed to from the moment of conception to when they die, accounts for 90% of the diseases that we’re dealing with. Methylation has a profound influence on the gene mutations being expressed or not. We want to do everything we can to optimize our methylation, because it increases our health and prevents disease.
Symptoms of Poor Methylation: are pretty vast, but they can be broken down into a few key categories, so let’s go over those one by one. FYI your capability to methylate decreases with age.
Methylation can be associated with production of important compounds needed in cellular energy production and metabolism; oftentimes patients present with:
***Almost that entire symptom list could be caused by gut issues alone. So we fix the gut and methylation together.
What impairs methylation other than a gene mutation?
Chronic gut issues, such as leaky gut, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, nutrient deficiencies, or chronic infection will impair nutrient absorption and methylation. Chronic infection contributes to an overburdened detoxification system, which impairs methylation. Poor methylation can be caused by environmental toxicity, heavy metals, mercury toxicity, high copper, pesticides, fungicides, volatile organic compounds, phthalates , glyphosate/roundup, and genetically modified foods. Liver exposure to toxins affect methylation as well.
Detoxification of your own biochemistry, as well as environmental toxins & pesticides:
Detoxification is one of the most important roles that methylation supports in our body. Methylation helps to remove toxins from the body. Impaired methylation can actually block or inhibit detoxification. As a result, you may have a higher heavy metal burden, which could lead to things like mercury toxicity. Poor/slow methylation may make it difficult to recover from SIBO
(small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), or chronic yeast overgrowth. It is a two way street. Gut issues strain methylation, and poor methylation from activated genetic mutations influence the gut and liver.
You can also over-methylate:
Our caution is to start methylation support slowly, with a practitioner who can monitor your progress. Improving methylation will actually lift the block on detoxification. This results in toxins moving into the bloodstream and activating your immune response. Detoxing too fast can make you feel as though you have the flu; causing fatigue, and malaise. Starting methylation support should be done slowly, while we monitor symptoms of increased detoxification. In the beginning it is wise to be checked in the process monthly, until things settle.
Immune System and Methylation:
If you find yourself catching every cold and flu that comes through town, then it may be that methylation is impaired or not functioning optimally for you. There is some new research linking poor methylation to autoimmunity. If someone’s having a lot of problems with immune function, I consider methylation as one thing that’s possibly going wrong.
MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. MTHFR is one gene that’s involved in the methylation cycle, and it probably is the main driver of methylation, and specifically, it makes methylfolate, However when we look at methylation, we need to consider over a dozen genes that contribute to the methylation cycle. This is where many practitioners and self treating people go wrong.
Poor diet is something that’s going to impair methylation. If you’re eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), or a diet that includes a lot of processed and refined foods, that will contribute to inflammation. These types of diets cause you to have insufficient B vitamins, zinc deficiency, or even magnesium deficiency. These vitamins and minerals are important cofactors in supporting the methylation cycle, among others.
The following medications affect levels of B vitamins, which play a crucial role in methylation:
Antacids because of their effect on stomach acid and nutrient absorption, Methotrexate, metformin, contraceptives, blood pressure meds, etc…
Zonulin is a substance in our body that is released in the gut when we are exposed to wheat and glyphosate/roundup. It makes the gut wall leaky and can also have the same affect on the blood brain barrier and kidneys. It is important to avoid these two substances by eating organic and avoiding most grains other than rice.
Too much methylation support from too many methylation supplements. This can cause over-methylation, where you end up with feedback inhibition and reducing the body’s internal production of methylfolate. For example if a man takes testosterone cream he can eventually reduce his body’s own ability to produce testosterone. This can happen with taking too many methylation supplements.
Why kinesiology is so helpful with analyzing methylation:
When I check your methylation pathways I am testing the function of what is actually happening now, rather than basing the supplements only on the genetic mutations of what could happen if a mutation is turned on epigenetically. In my view muscle testing kinesiology is the best way to test what is actually happening in your system. Blood work is not sensitive enough to pick up on a pre diseased state of health. Applied Kinesiology is the best way to check functional/non-diseased health to catch early patterns for potential disease down the road.
How I treat methylation Issues:
First I recommend eating a nutrient-dense, low-inflammation paleo like diet to support healthy methylation, as well as doing stress management, whether it’s daily progressive relaxation, sitting meditation, yoga, pilates, tai chi — doing something to help manage stress. This is a lifetime way of eating, and should be followed 80-90% of the time depending on other factors such as temperament, stress level, toxin exposure, and genetic mutations. Then we start testing what your body shows for activated mutations that need vitamin and mineral support.
Follow up visits:
I repeat functional methylation testing with wholistic kinesiology. Once someone has been on methylation support, we will tweak their supplements by rechecking the methylation pathways. Often patients will start to need different things at different times of year, and doses will change over time. Your methylation supplements are tested exactly for you as a personally designed mutivitamin/mineral! Issues you have had for years will start to drop away over time. I recommend that when you start that you write down all your symptoms so that you can look back a year or two later and see the difference. You are creating a higher baseline of good health that you often never knew you could have.
Homocysteine the main culprit:
Homocysteine, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Active Folate
Up to half of all Americans may carry a genetic variation that prevents the body, including the brain, from optimally using folic acid. Scientists believe that this genetic polymorphism may be linked with an increased risk of dementia. Fortunately, a non-prescription form of bioactive folate, 5-MTHF, can cross the blood-brain barrier and effectively reduce homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine has been linked with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Many people suffering from cardiovascular disease, stroke, migraines, and dementia could be suffering from the adverse effects of elevated levels of homocysteine in their blood. This condition has also been linked to other problems, including osteoporosis, birth defects, macular degeneration, and certain types of cancer.
In most cases, doctors will not consider testing for homocysteine because they are not trained in how it affects the body. Most health-conscious people know their cholesterol level but few know their equally important homocysteine levels.
Folic acid/B9 is called bioactive folate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate, or 5-MTHF) and it prevents homocysteine-related conditions that disable and kill many Americans. The reason this is not mainstream news is that it is not as profitable and able to be patented because it is a specific form of Folic Acid/B9.
There is a lot more profit in dispensing medications rather than learning to take care of your system each and every day. You must remember that medical doctors are not trained in wellness, unless they have trained outside of their education in functional medicine. Ostensibly they are checking your health status from 0-30% of wellness. The standards are pretty low. Their expertise is finding and treating disease, and that occurs at 0-30% of our overall health. Most do not know about methylation. This kind of care is in the realm of wellness care, functional care, via practitioners like myself and Naturopaths. So if you ask your regular MD about this do not be surprised if they don’t know about it, or put it down because they do not want to admit that they do not know about it… Often patients get very different answers about wellness from MD’s because they are not trained in it. Yet everyone seems to assume they are wellness experts. They are not, they are disease experts. I am a wellness expert.
Thank you, I needed to clarify that. Both types of doctors are super important. But as a consumer you should know the difference.
Stay healthy and happy!
Dr Kate has been in practice since 1989. She utilizes Chiropractic, Nutrition, and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy to help her patients.