By Mariza Halliday
All humans have the same set of genes, it is the tiny variations in those genes that make us different from one another. Those little variations determine how we look, how we behave and how our bodies react differently to external factors. Especially how it reacts to the foods we consume and lifestyles we lead. We all have certain genetic variations or “defects” that can influence how our bodies break down, metabolize and use certain nutrients. One of the more common variations is known as an MTHFR mutation.
Contrary to how it looks, “MTHFR” is not an abbreviation for a curse word, but a shortened form of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase… quite a mouth full. It is a very important enzyme in our bodies and is necessary for Methylation to occur, a metabolic process that switches genes on and off, repairs DNA and many other important things.
This gene variation can have an impact on how well your body metabolizes folic acid and folate. Folic
acid and folate are both forms of vitamin B9, required for numerous critical bodily functions. People who have the MTHFR mutation may have trouble effectively eliminating toxins from their bodies, and it is linked to several quite serious health problems.
However, most people with a mutation remain unaffected and do not experience any symptoms at all. Although studies are still underway to confirm statistics, it’s believed that 30-50% of the entire population might carry a mutation in the MTHFR gene, which is inherited and passed down
from parent to child.
If you believe you may have an MTHFR mutation, the only way to verify your suspicions is to get tested. There are some common “MTHFR symptoms” that has been experienced among those with a defect that warrant an MTHFR test:
• High homocysteine levels
• Folate deficiency causing extreme chronic fatigue, light-headedness, and forgetfulness.
• Longstanding gastrointestinal issues
• A prolonged history of anxiety or depression
• ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
• Autoimmune disease and thyroid issues
• Cardiovascular disease
• Digestive issues, including IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
• Hormonal issues, including PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
TIPS ON LIVING WITH AN MTHFR MUTATION…
There is no cure and it is not possible to change the gene, but there are things that can be done to minimize the potential for problematic symptoms:
• Focus on your gut health by reducing the intake of inflammatory foods, increasing the intake of probiotic foods, consuming only healthy fats and gut-friendly foods.
• Minimize alcohol intake as it can make your symptoms worse by interfering with methylation.
• It is extremely important to consume more natural folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Some of the best whole-food sources of folate include dark leafy greens, avocado and lentils.
• Get enough quality sleep, a minimum of 8-9 hours sleep every night is crucial for your well-being.
• Boost detoxification by taking detox baths, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water and taking activated charcoal
• Reduce stress and anxiety. High levels of stress can exacerbate MTHFR mutation symptoms. Tips for decreasing overall stress include starting a regular meditation practice, journaling and spending
time in nature.
Always consult with a Dietitian or practitioner who can put your results into context. And eat more folate-rich foods…
That goes for everybody.