What you need to know about the MTHFR Gene Mutation & its relation to Inflammation

Erica Beine of Beine Wellness Building has created the first personalized nutrition program customized using genetics and lifestyle. She has helped athletes understand their genetics to make informed decisions about the food they put in their bodies. When you decide to work with Erica and her team you have the opportunity to get your DNA test. Along with that test, you learn so many valuable things about your genetics and more.

One of the biggest things I learned when deciding to do the DNA test with Erica was the importance of putting the right foods, full of vitamins and minerals, in my body to help my body train, race, and recover in the best way possible. Not only did I learn about the best food to put into my body, but I learned about my genes and what I might be deficient in based on my genetics. The biggest thing that stood out to me and what seems to always come up in our team meetings is the MTHFR mutation.

What is the MTHFR mutation?

Sounds like a swear word right? Well, it almost is like that… Just kidding. MTHFR is the acronym for methylenetetrahydrofolate. Woah.. ok another big word that I have a difficult time pronouncing. So what does it even mean? I know you’re dying to know. MTHFR is an enzyme that is involved in the way your body processes folate or vitamin B9 and vitamin B12 into a usable form for your body. MTHFR also is important in metabolizing folic acid. What is folic acid? Most women will know what it is. Folic acid is recommended to take during pregnancy and is found in most of the multivitamins we take. It’s actually a synthetic form of folate that is used in most supplements. 

Thanks to Erica’s DNA test most of our clients are able to learn if they have this gene or not. If you do not have this gene your body can methylate properly. So your body can produce the right proteins, and metabolize everything you put into it while getting rid of toxins as well as decreasing inflammation. If you have the MTHFR mutation, your body is not able to detoxify very well or “methylate” and this might be worth noting if you are interested in your health and well-being. 

Why is MTHFR so important?

Do you ever struggle with brain fog, fatigue, depression, or thyroid issues? Does your family have any pre-existing health conditions like heart attacks, cancer, and mental and mood disorders? If the answer is yes, then MTHFR mutation could be affecting the latter. You must be wondering, how? Well, let me tell you. 

The methylation process has to do with turning on and off your genes, detoxifying chemicals that go into your body, and creating energy, to name a few. As I said above, if you do not have the MTHFR gene your body is able to properly detoxify on its own. Unfortunately, not everyone’s body is able to methylate effectively and because of this, it can actually affect all those things I mentioned above.  This means your body is not able to break down folate or folic acid in supplements as well as in regular food. If it is not able to process folate, it can increase homocysteine levels. What is homocysteine? It is an amino acid in the bloodstream that is actually related to heart disease and even Alzheimer’s. Also, it can affect our body’s immune system as well as develop autoimmune diseases and food and chemical sensitivities. Not only does it affect the latter, but our body’s ability to synthesize brain neurotransmitters. That is where the mental and mood disorders come in and may rise. MTHFR can increase depression, anxiety, brain fog, ADHD, bipolar, and even schizophrenia. 

How does this relate to Inflammation?

Inflammation plays a key role in your body such as the healing process and is part of your body’s defense. For example, think of it as an injury or illness that creates inflammation. There can be many symptoms or signs of inflammation caused by injury or illness such as pain or swelling. Another type of inflammation can be due to sensitivity or allergy, exposure to irritants like chemicals that lead to autoimmune disorders, and diseases such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Signs of inflammation from these diseases can cause fatigue, brain fog, pain, difficulty breathing, joint pain, allergies, mood disorders, and even anxiety or depression. There can be many signs of inflammation as well as signs without any symptoms. You can sometimes feel tired, and typically unwell. If you have dealt with a lot of these symptoms for a while, your body will be under attack and exposed to tons of inflammation causing more fatigue, frustration, and stress in the body.

How does Inflammation & MTHFR relate?

If your body does not detoxify chemicals, hard metals, and synthetic forms of vitamins and supplements, then your body’s inflammatory response goes into overdrive trying to fight off all the free radicals in your body. This is how inflammation and MTHFR are correlated. So, how do we decrease inflammation, chemicals, and free radicals in our bodies if we have the MTHFR mutation? It’s simple but does require more time and effort. When you go to the grocery store, and shop for skincare products, regular household items, and cleaning supplies, this requires you to start looking at the labels! 

When you are shopping at the grocery store for food, start to choose foods that are less processed. What are processed foods? Most of the food on the shelf is processed to create a longer-lasting date. Processed foods contain omega 6 oils like canola, sunflower, safflower, soy, sesame, and corn oil. What you want to start doing while you’re out at the grocery store is to look at all the food labels. The better oils to look for in foods on the shelf are ones that do not contain the omega 6 oils and instead contain avocado, coconut, olive, flaxseed oils, or no oils at all. These are omega-3 oils that are not processed and help decrease the amount of inflammation in your body. Please understand that it is very difficult to cut out all omega 6 oils from your diet because they are found in everything from chips, to bars, cookies, and more. Just try your best to look at all the labels and make better choices when you can. Also, be sure to cook with those omega 6 oils as well. 

Not only can you start looking at the ingredients in your food, but you can also make sure your skincare products and household cleaning are all-natural and clean. It’s super important to be putting clean products on your skin and body because most of the products that aren’t clean get into your bloodstream creating more health issues. For example, making a simple switch to aluminum-free deodorant is a great swap for all the deodorants on the shelf. A deodorant that contains aluminum is said to increase your risk of cancer while also increasing inflammation in your body. Think about switching your laundry detergent, soaps, and household cleaners to all-natural products because the more toxins you use the more your body is going to have to work to detoxify these chemicals. Most of them end up staying in your bloodstream and aren’t able to properly detoxify. If you start making these small changes in the products that you use, you will start to notice a change in your energy levels and this will help keep your body healthy, and immune system strong, and reduce the risk of getting cancers. It is extremely important to switch these products over to all-natural products not only because they are better for you, but if you have the MTHFR mutation they do not detoxify from your body well creating more inflammation in your body. One thing to consider doing is weekly Epsom salt baths to help your body rid itself of toxins and decrease free radicals. 

Now don’t go out to the store right away and think you need to switch these products immediately as it can be costly. Use up what you have first and slowly make the switch to all-natural products. Soon enough you will start to reap the benefits of making healthier and safer choices. 

Examples of Food that Fight Off Inflammation

Here is a list of foods that you can try incorporating into your diet to help decrease inflammation and free radicals in your body:

  • Fruit & Berries
    • Cherries, Pineapple, Grapes, Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are full of antioxidants that help reduce the risks of diseases.
  • Fatty Fish
    • Salmon and sardines are full of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Kale
    • Cruciferous vegetables contain antioxidants, but be careful because they are hard to digest sometimes.
  • Avocados 
    • Full of potassium, magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
  • Green Tea
    • Has many anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Peppers
    • Bell and Chili peppers are loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants.
  • Tumeric
    • A spice that has warm and earthy flavors has been noted to help reduce inflammation when combined with black pepper.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • A healthier oil alternative that has better anti-inflammatory benefits compared to refined oils.
  • Dark Chocolate 
    • Is full of antioxidants that help reduce inflammation,

Be Sure to Avoid:

These Foods increase inflammation:

  • Processed foods like chips and fast food.
  • Refined carbs like white bread, white rice, and crackers.
  • Fried Foods like fries and fried chicken,
  • Sugar-Sweetened Beverages like pop, sweet tea, and sports drinks,
  • Processed Meats like bacon, ham, and hot dogs.
  • Trans Fats like shortening and margarine.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the MTHFR gene mutation and how it relates to inflammation created in your body. Be sure to reach out to the Beine Wellness Building team if you are interested in getting your DNA tested or if you have any questions. We are happy to help you make better and safer choices for your body based on your genetic testing. 

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