SO YOU HAVE MTHFR.... NOW WHAT??
First of all you need to find a health care provider that you can work with. There are many professionals that are yet to acknowledge the significance of MTHFR, and they may explain it away as not being that important. If this is the case, find another GP or health care provider who understands the condition, and who will work with you to get the results you deserve.
Deciphering the many names of folate can be confusing. It is often wrongly labelled on supplements and food packaging. Here is a simplified break down:
- Folate – Naturally occurring folate that exists in food.
- Folic acid – Synthesized folate that is added to processed foods and commonly used in many supplements. This is broken down very slowly by the body, which can cause high amounts of un-metabolised folic acid (UMFA) in the body. This may cause ill-natured consequences.
- Folinic acid – This is a type of folate that is important for DNA synthesis. Folinic acid is only 3 steps away from being converted into activated folate. This type of folate may be suited to A1298C mutations, but must be evaluated on a case by case basis. It is certainly beneficial in pregnancy, during the increased need for healthy DNA production. This should be discussed with your health care provider.
- 5-methyltetrahydrofolate – Also known as active folate, 5-methylTHF, 5-MTHF, methylfolate. This is the final result of the folate cycle, and is essentially the form of folate that MTHFRs have trouble creating.
Remove folic acid from your diet.
Those with MTHFR have trouble converting folic acid into methylfolate. Folic acid is commonly used in supplements and is also added to non-organic white flour, which is used in commercially sold breads. Breakfast cereals and fruit juices may also contain folic acid, so it’s important to read labels carefully. Folic acid is commonly wrongly labelled as “folate” on packaging.
Incorporate folate into your diet
Add lots of raw leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, mustard and collard greens. Folate is very fragile to heat so it’s best to eat these raw, or if adding to cooked meals, add them at the last minute to avoid too much degradation.
Discuss with your health care provider about relevant tests that may be helpful to see how your methylation cycle and body as a whole is running. RBC folate, active B12, homocysteine, thyroid function, E/LFT’s, and haematology, are a good start. Other tests such as a zinc, B6, neurotransmitter analysis, stool analysis, or hair mineral analysis can also be very insightful.
Foods to support methylation:
- Folate – Other foods include asparagus, brussel sprouts, green beans, broccoli, peas, legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans, and also brightly coloured fruit like berries, mangoes, plums and papaya. Nuts and seeds are also a good source of folate.
- Vitamin B2 – Liver, soybeans, asparagus, spinach, almonds, mushrooms, yoghurt, salmon, eggs.
- Vitamin B6 – Grass fed beef, veal, chicken, avocado, brewers yeast, oats, rice or wheat bran, legumes, eggplant, and pistachio nuts.
- Vitamin B12 – Oysters, sardines, tuna, salmon, eggs, beef, lamb.
- Betaine – Beetroot, spinach, prawns, quinoa.
Use these guidelines to help the liver to detoxify, increase bile secretion, regenerate liver cells, and produce glutathione.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and processed sugar.
- Include cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and artichokes.
- Include onions and garlic (support may be needed if there is a CBS mutation).
- Include lemons, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit.
- Include green tea, avocado, walnuts, and turmeric.
It’s important to have adequate gut function to remove toxins from the body.
- Including fibre like slippery elm or psyllium husks can help remove intestinal toxins.
- Establishing a good microbial environment is essential for proper methylation. Removal of parasites or other dysbiotic microorganisms should be high on the agenda. A comprehensive stool analysis (CSA) is an insightful way to see what’s going on in the intestines.
- Re-inoculate the gut with good quality probiotics. Fermented foods like tempeh, kim-chi, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kefir can help with this. Fibre in carrots, pears and berries are also helpful to increase beneficial short chain fatty acids in the intestines.
- Minimize pesticides and herbicides that interfere with the methylation cycle. Eat organic when possible, wash produce before eating, and shop according to the Dirty Dozen 2013 (print pdf for reference)
- Avoid processed foods. These processed chemical experiments are not real food. If you don’t recognise words on a food label, don’t buy it.
- Avoid charcoaled foods, nitrates (found in food additives, cheeses and cured meats), and sulphites (found in sausages, cordial, dried fruit and most wines). These interfere with detoxification pathways.
- Avoid high fructose corn syrup and trans-fats. They alter glucose metabolism, damage the liver, and affect fat breakdown.
- Stay away from soft plastics that contain Bisphenol-A (BPAs). They disrupt the endocrine system: in particular the thyroid, which is necessary to activate vitamin B2 that acts as a cofactor for the MTHFR enzyme.
- Use the stove instead of the microwave.
- Use natural body care products that don’t contain harsh chemicals, and use safe natural cleaning products. Try a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water to clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces.
- Reduce stress levels and get adequate sleep!
- Increase antioxidants by eating brightly coloured foods like berries, papaya, sweet potato, prunes, red kidney beans, or plums. Or try ginger, turmeric, green tea or garlic.
- Increase omega 3 in the diet, by using flaxseeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans or good quality fish oils (preferably made from small fish like anchovies or sardines which are heavy metal free).
So much can be done with ordinary lifestyle choices. Rethinking our current routine quite often reveals unacknowledged harmful habits.
- Open windows for some sunshine and fresh air. Spend some time outside.
- Drink clean water. Use a good quality filter on your rainwater tank to remove microorganisms, or think about a filtration system for your house to remove fluoride and chlorine.
- Establish a good sleeping pattern! Follow the natural rhythm of the day by going to bed early, and waking early. Turn off laptops, mobile phones, and bright lights in the evening. Turn the realty show or news program off and talk to those around you, or read a book.
- Exercise each day by riding to work, hitting the gym, take the dog for a morning walk, go for a walk during lunch, take up yoga, play with the kids, or join an active group like salsa dancing or ultimate frisbee.
- Reduce stress levels – Laugh, be social, listen to music, meditate, talk things through with those around you…. get out of your head for a while.
Dr. Ben Lynch – www.mthfr.net
Dr. Amy Yasko – www.dramyyasko.com
Stirling Hill – www.mthfrsupport.com
Carolyn Ledowsky – www.mthfrsupport.com.au
Dr. Andrew Rostenberg – www.beyondmthfr.com
Methyl Cycle Nutrigenomics – www.heartfixer.com/AMRI-Nutrigenomics.htm
Genetic testing – www.23andme.com
Elemental Health & Nutrition Facebook page – www.facebook.com/elementalhealthandnutrition
MTHFR Genotype Support & Education Facebook page – www.facebook.com/groups/mthfr.support.education/
MTHFR A1298C Facebook page – www.facebook.com/groups/MTHFRA1298C/?ref=br_tf
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