What is methylation?
The first time I heard the term methylation was in 2013. Dr. Jeff Bland and Dr. Bridget Briggs introduced it in an educational course I purchased. The information they covered set my world on fire. I was already seeing patients with chronic and mystery illness, and I concluded this must be the missing piece to healing.
Simply put, methylation is breaking down and converting substances. It does so by taking a single carbon and three hydrogens, known as a methyl group, and applying it to countless metabolic reactions in your body. If we are breathing, we are methylating. It’s involved in repairing DNA, protein synthesis, turning on or off genes, detoxing harmful chemicals, producing and regulating neurotransmitters, and hundreds of other metabolic reactions.
What the Drs presented was that if people inherited a faulty gene, and the gene regulates so many fundamental processes in the body, that genetics is what made people sick.
Excited that I’d found the magic wand to health, I obtained my own comprehensive genetic profile as well as that of my patients. Low and behold, nearly all of my patients tested positive for one or more MTHFR gene variants.
I studied everything I could from Dr. Amy Yasko. And then the work of Dr Ben Lynch. And the plot thickened. Not only were we seeing MTHFR SNP’s, other genes like CBS were also involved.
I studied every Friday with a couple IFM colleagues and we discussed all of the pathways, and how methylation and related pathways resulted in various symptoms and conditions. We really thought we had it nailed down.
But you know what? Despite all this knowledge and the nutritional support of these weak genetic pathways with the “right” supplements, in the right forms, people didn’t get better. Yup. They spent a lot of money. They took their P5P, or their molybdenum (insert theoretical magic nutrient), but they didn’t feel any better. And sometimes they even felt worse!
It took awhile to see that this was a rabbit hole, AND, it was a dead end rabbit hole in my opinion. I was getting better results for my patients when we “just” focused on diet and lifestyle changes. Yes, there are a couple supplements that really are game-changers, but the craziness of trying to manipulate specific metabolic pathways in the human body was not paying off!
What is epigenetics?
So now, let’s define EPIGENETICS. It is simply that the genes we inherit are affected by our diet, lifestyle choices, toxin exposures, stress, pathogens, sleep, and other lifestyle choices. Shazam. THIS is stuff we can manipulate.
EX: Despite what genes I inherited, I can choose to eat a whole foods plant based diet. And those foods – rich with their phytochemicals – send certain signals to our body. On the contrary, if I were to literally eat at McDonalds every day (Super Size Me documentary), it would also send certain signals to the body. But I hope you see that it’s our lifestyle choices that have the impact and the genetics are secondary. One diet will prevent premature aging and induce a healthy life. The other will facilitate premature aging and health problems. Get it?
“We all have genes, and the messages we send to them is what really matters.”
Methyation 101 Summary:
We can’t change the genes we inherit. And if you’ve been told you inherited faulty genes, take heart. Its easier and more effective to support our genes with a healthy diet and smart lifestyle choices (IE, epigenetics).
Methylation Do’s and Don’ts
- Do take a methylated form of B12 and a methylated form of folate. This did turn out to be helpful.
- Eat a whole foods, clean diet with plenty of fresh or frozen unadulterated fruits & veggies.
- Within the veggie category, be sure to consume 3-5 cups of organic leafy greens a day (parsley, cilantro, spinach, romaine, kale, butterleaf lettuce, red leaf and green leaf lettuce, arugula, mache)
- Reduce exposures to toxins, heavy metals, and solvents through lifestyle changes.
- This means get rid of candles unless you’ve done a lot of research and are certain they don’t contain solvents and cancer causing agents.
- The same holds true for air fresheners so swap them out for essential oils.
- Learn about safe personal care products (toothpaste, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, makeup, perfume….). I did a Facebook Live on 2/5/18 and you can view the recording on my website or find me on Facebook and view the recording.
- And let’s not forget to use safe cleaning products & laundry detergents.
- And last, be sure you have a high quality water filter. We use a Berkey.
- Get 7-9 hours of restorative sleep. Easier said than done but you might need to power down your devices an hour or two before bed. Eat a light fruit snack or a tsp or two of raw honey to nourish glucose stores while you sleep. Take a bath with calming essential oils. Say some prayers. Listen to God. Do some breathing exercises. This one does require a lot of effort but it makes SO much difference in your day time energy.
- Manage stress and this isn’t optional. Be grateful each day because as bad as it is, life can always be worse right?
- Engage in movement or exercise.
- Rebounding is the optimal way to move as it strengthens core muscles and moves the lymph fluid. If you aren’t strong enough to do a big workout, just bounce lightly. You’ll still benefit.
- Implement therapies that support and facilitate the liver and detoxification pathways. A lot of methylation happens in the liver, and if the liver is tired and overwhelmed, methylation is compromised.
- I’ve done an entire hour-long training on this so it’s easiest for me to refer you to my Liver Health eCourse.
- Don’t let your head get caught up in the blame game and that you can’t heal because you have faulty genes. Don’t claim it. Our genes have not changed that much in the past 3 generations but our diets and lifestyle choices have. If you are sick or struggling, please know it’s not your genes!
- You really truly might have trouble methylating. But remember that you need to give your body the right tools so it can perform this essential function.
- Don’t eat foods that make matters worse.
- Gluten for sure and being grain free has huge benefits when you are in a crisis state. This includes corn.
- Junk oils – organic or not, canola is a junk oil. And yet it’s cheap and the marketing team has done a lot of PR to sway the vote. Don’t listen to them and avoid canola oil at all costs.
- MSG, artificial flavors, artificial colors….
- Processed foods
- Go easy on hard to digest foods
- (animal proteins, legumes, nuts)
- Don’t eat a lot of fat even if it is plant based. Your liver needs time to do some internal housecleaning and to heal. the liver has 400 to 500 documented jobs so he is BUSY! Our livers clean our blood and when the liver filters are full, dirty blood goes out into circulation. Symptoms and conditions include skin rashes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, dysglycemia, varicose veins, dark circles under the eyes, weight imbalances…
- I said this above, but don’t expose yourself to toxin after toxin.
- Eat more organic foods, especially those that are highly sprayed
- Learn about safe and clean personal care products
- Research carpets, paints, and home building materials before you build or remodel