Ask the Expert: What is MTHFR and How Does It Affect Me?

Though I have addressed the topic of MTHFR on this blog before, I wanted to dive deeper into it and learn from someone who could explain how it relates to our mental health and overall wellness.

img_1492Dr. Tracey Stroup is a Naturopathic Doctor, Certified Natural Health Professional, certified Digestive Health Specialist, Master Herbalist who also has completed courses in Iridology.

An estimated 40% of the population has this MTHFR gene mutation, which prevents us from being able to effectively use B vitamins or convert folic acid, repair on a cellular level, and use antioxidants to properly detoxify.

Common health conditions like migraines, chronic fatigue, infertility, autoimmune issues, mental health or other neurological problems – even heart disease – all can be greatly impacted by MTHFR.

In this podcast episode, Tracey discusses dietary and lifestyle changes plus supplement recommendations that can help us biohack our genes. As I’ve mentioned before, your genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger!

Click to download to listen to this episode here or on iTunes here.

How Dirty Are Your Genes?

“Our genes load the gun, but our environment pulls the trigger.”

Have you heard this before? We are not stuck with our genes. We can change the expression of our genes with every bite we take, step we take, thought we think. This is the concept of epigenetics.

I recently found out I have a copy of a gene mutation called MTHFR. Because I refer to this in many of my recipes as my motivation for eating the way I eat, I want to break it down in an easy, Cliffs notes kind of way. There are many websites out there that can explain it in depth (like this and this), but here are the basics:

An estimated 30-60% of the population has at least one copy of this gene. When you have MTHFR, your body cannot fully convert folic acid into methylfolate, the methylated form of folate, and some experts suggest that ANY folic acid consumed will block the absorption of folate – even that which you consume in whole foods. This is detrimental to our brain health, because neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine need methylfolate for production.

Common health concerns sometimes associated with MTHFR include:

  • ADHD, autism, mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar)
  • Autoimmune disease/thyroid disorders
  • Digestive issues
  • Migraines
  • Recurrent miscarriages
  • Infertility
  • Hormonal issues, like PCOS
  • Blood clots, stroke, embolism
  • And many many more (it’s a rabbit hole)

Continue reading “How Dirty Are Your Genes?”

Spaghetti for Mutants

Have you heard of MTHFR? Nope, it’s not an abbreviation for a bad word (and yes that’s an overused joke). It’s a genetic mutation a large percentage of the population (estimated to be 40-60%) carries. I won’t get all science-y here since this is a recipe post, but this article breaks it down really well.

I have one copy of this mutation, and because of this, I have chosen to remove folic acid completely from my diet – and my kids’ diets. Because of my boys’ tongue and lip ties, I suspect they have it as well, so I don’t want to take any chances.

Here’s the problem – folic acid is in EVERYTHING. Bread, cereal, supplements, enriched wheat… and pasta. Even those beloved Cheerios, people!

We haven’t eaten traditional whole wheat pasta in a long time for the gluten and inflammation reason, and there are some really great gluten-free pasta alternatives out there, but I always feel like if a veggie can substitute, do the veggie.

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Continue reading “Spaghetti for Mutants”