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Ways to support methylation

Methylation is a biological process in our body that helps to support many vital functions relating to our cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive& detoxification systems as well as the production of DNA. However, when methylation isn’t functioning optimally these areas may become compromised. It can affect everyone differently and that’s why its good to understand what it is and how it may be affecting you.
MTHFR Explained
To understand methylation we need to touch on the gene MTHFR. MTHFR provides the body with instructions for making the enzyme of the same name MTHFR via methylation.
But don’t let the name double up confuse you – what you need to know is that when you eat foods containing folate the MTHFR gene conveniently converts them into the active form, methyl-folate through the process of methylation.
Those with a defective MTHFR gene can have an impaired ability to produce the MTHFR enzyme.

This can make it more difficult to break down and eliminate not only synthetic folic acid but also other substances, such as heavy metals, xenobiotics and prescription drugs.

What is the methylation pathway?
Think of methylation as an on/off switch. If methyl-folate is not present, this methylation process switches off, resulting in a multitude of symptoms.

What is methylation responsible for?
o Metabolism and excretion of drugs

o The creation of neurotransmitters and hormones — including dopamine, histamine, melatonin and oestrogen — to facilitate their excretion

o The synthesis and repair of myelin proteins

o Energy production

o Mobilisation and elimination of fats and cholesterol

o Required so that DNA can modify the transcription of a gene
Conditions associated with a MTHFR gene mutation
Research has shown an association between MTHFR mutation and many severe health problems including:

o Autismo Autoimmune diseases

o Thyroid issues

o Cardiovascular disease

o Chronic fatigue

o Sleep disorders

o Anxietyo Migraine

o Depression

o Colon cancer

o Digestive issues, including IBS

o Hormonal issues, including PCOS

o Schizophrenia

o Recurrent miscarriage
Common symptoms seen in people with impaired methylation:
o Fatigue

o Insomnia

o Depression

o Addiction

o Obsessive-compulsive disorders

o Seasonal allergies

o Delusion

o Low threshold for pain

o Digestive issues

o High libido

o Self-motivation

o Perfectionism

o Strong will
MTHFR Variations – C677T & A1298C
There are many different variations of MTHFR gene mutation, however the two most researched and most common mutations that can occur are C677T and A1298C. All mutations stem from a variation in our genes passed on from each parent.
The most common forms of MTHFR mutation involve various combinations of these genes being passed on from each parent:
o Homozygous: the same gene passed on from both parents

o Heterozygous: a gene mutation is passed from one parent, with the other parent passing on a healthy gene

o Compound heterozygous: one parent passes on one type of gene mutation, while the other parent passes on another type of gene mutation
6 ways to support methylation
There are many active steps you can take to make up for what your body lacks. Here are some of my favourite tips:

1. Consume folate and vitamin B12 containing foods

Consuming folate in your diet may aid with methylation. Some of the best food sources of folate include dark leafy greens, avocado and lentils.
Those with MTHFR mutation are also at a higher risk of being deficient in vitamin B12. Including vitamin B12 rich foods in your diet, such as pastured eggs, nuts, beans, and meat, is therefore important.

2. Support detoxification:

Because reduced methylation contributes to poor detoxification, it is important to support your body’s natural elimination pathways. You can improve detoxification with diet as well as avoiding toxins, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, as well as with the assistance of supplements and herbal medicine.

3. Minimise alcohol intake:

Alcohol intake can often make symptoms worse by inhibiting DNA methylation and increase the demands of detoxification on the liver.

4. Manage your stress:

Those with MTHFR genetic mutation are more likely to have an imbalance of neurotransmitter levels which can affect mood and cause irritability, especially when stressed. High levels of stress can exacerbate MTHFR mutation symptoms. Tips for decreasing overall stress including meditation, long walks, exercise, breathing techniques, journaling and spending time in nature.

5. Stay away from folic acid:

People with MTHFR mutations have more difficulty converting folic acid into its usable form, which may cause symptoms to worsen. It is important to use supplements that contain the most bioavailable form of folate, ‘activated folate’ to help your body absorb the vitamins more efficiently.

6. Heal any underlying digestive issues:

Healing and supporting your gut is critical to improving methylation and bringing your body back to a state of optimal overall health. One of the best ways we can improve our gut health and digestion is with diet. Some possible beneficial changes include:
– Promote a healthy microbiome by eating fermented foods like kimchi, miso and yogurt to help maintain high levels of healthy bacteria in our gut and aid digestion. – Reduce intake of inflammatory foods such as sugar, gluten, trans fats and dairy.- Increase your fibre intake by consuming organic fruits and vegetables, flaxseed and chia seed, thereby increasing your prebiotic intake and supporting your gut microflora.
How working with a naturopath can help
Since everyone is different, there is no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to MTHFR mutation. Healing is a journey and unfortunately there are no quick fixes. A naturopath can take your entire health case into consideration along with DNA testing to create a tailored personal treatment plan to achieve the best results for you.
Serena Di Modugno, Adv Dip Nat, Adv Dip WHM, Currently studying BHSc Nutritional Medicine

Serena is a qualified naturopath with a focus on MTHFR, allergies, anxiety

Learn more about Serena here Book a session with Serena here

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