The link might lie in your genetics and is called methylation. Methylation is a process that happens in every cell of your body. It protects your body by repairing damaged cells, optimizing DNA cell function, processing toxins and hormones, and regulating neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine that regulates mood, behaviour, sleep and overall mental health.
Each one of us has a unique genetic makeup. These genes regulate all your body processes and may contain defects or mutations. One of these are found on the MTHFR gene. This gene regulates our methylation as described above. One of the most important functions of methylation is to produce a product called glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s most potent detoxifier. Research has shown that those with autoimmunity and cancer has lower levels of glutathione.
So you are born with these genes but we know now that your genes are not static and mutation epigenetics exist, this means that our genes can be turned on and off by certain conditions occurring in our environment and in our bodies.
But firstly we need to understand how we identify a genetic mutation in our genes so that we can move forward in addressing the mutation so as to avoid all the related diseases. A SNP or “snip” refers to one building block on the DNA strand. One or multiple SNPs occurs on a gene and the more SNPs the more the impact on the body. The MTHFR SNP is very common and occur in around 50% of the general population.
Here is a practical example to demonstrate the impact the mutations have on your ability to detoxify.
Let’s say you eat a piece of tuna, which is a high mercury containing food, containing 10 parts of mercury. If you have no mutations on your MTHFR gene, you will excrete all ten parts of the mercury at 100%, totally detoxified. If you have one SNP or mutation, then your ability to detoxify is decreased by 50% with means 5 parts are detoxified and 5 parts are stored. It you have 2 mutations or SNPs, your ability to detoxify mercury is decreased by a whopping 90%!!!!This means that you keep 9 parts of mercury and only clear 1 part. This ingested mercury as well as other environmental mercury such as water, amalgam, water and air will with time build up to a staggering amount that remains in your body and then we are amazed when we develop some disease, autoimmunity, cancer or immune dysfunction.
At the NATUROPATHIC healthcare clinic we offer the option for you to have your genetics tested via a competent laboratory, DNAlysis. A comprehensive test, DNAhealth, will test all the MTHFR genes that are believed to have an impact on methylation. It will also test inflammation, detoxification, cholesterol metabolism, bone health, insulin resistance and food responsiveness i.e. sensitivities to lactose, caffeine and salt intake.
And more importantly than identifying the gene mutations is assisting the body to have enough helper building blocks, or co factors to have the ability to complete the methylation process. Various interventions, i.e. dietary changes, environmental changes as well as specific medications needs to be implemented.
A DNA test is a simple cheek swab and will open a different view to your health, how to treat current diseases as well as how to make lifestyle changes for the future to avoid any more chronic diseases from developing. Dr Marike de Klerk is trained in interpreting and treating these underlying mutations. Please contact the practice with any other questions and also for prices of various genetic tests.