MTHFR & The Weekly Menu #menuplanning

MTHFR!

Hi all!  Well as it turns out I have a few gene variants that would account for why I am so sensitive to chemicals, why I have been driven to eat so clean, and why changing so many things over the years has helped my health improve (filtered water, no chemical cleaners, concrete floors, using glass instead of plastic, and all the food stuff…).  As it turns out I am heterozygous for both MTHFR C677T and A1298C.  I also have several genotypes predisposing me to Celiac disease.  And several other variants affecting my metabolism.  And I’m positive for Factor V Leiden.

The only thing I can’t identify with my SNP information are the HLA markers associated with mold/lyme biotoxin CIRS per Dr. Shoemaker.  I’ll need a blood test to see how that plays out.  But for now I have a lot of very useful information and honestly, again a confirmation of several things I thought might be going on.

I feel less guilty about asking Brett to make so many accommodations to our lifestyle.  He is such a wonderful person and he trusts me.  And he really has been the best husband through all of this and I am so very grateful!  It has been hard to live with so many dietary restrictions.  I miss out on a lot these days.  And I feel like I should be so sad finding this out.  But I actually feel very validated that the hard work I’ve done to improve my health through our diet and lifestyle choices has some real scientific basis!  It finally makes sense!

Figuring It Out

We started by ordering DNA kits for health and ancestry from 23andMe.  The reports that come with your results are very helpful.  Plus you can download your raw genetic information.  Then there are a few websites that use the raw data to give you even more detailed genetic information.  One of those is Prometheus.  This program runs your genes against SNPedia.com, which is a database of known variants linked to different diseases and traits.  But you have two copies of each gene (one from each parent) and more than one gene is likely involved in biochemical pathways.  This doesn’t really sort any of that information out for you.

I also found Dr. Amy Yasko, and she runs a methylation pathway analysis with the raw genetic data to identify deficiencies and suggest supplements.  This report identifies the MTHFR genes.  But woah, there are a lot of stages and recommended supplements… I definitely need to see a doctor and have my blood tested before even trying to implement any of this.

I found several sites dedicated to living with these MTHFR variants.  From Dr. Lynch’s research, the body has trouble flushing out toxic substances as well as metabolizing folic acid.  So I also went through some of my supplements that I’ve been taking to see if folic acid was added.  Both the B-12 and liver detox supplements had added folic acid so I won’t take those anymore.  We don’t eat any wheat, gluten, flours or fortified grains with folic acid added – so that shouldn’t be an issue.  I will start checking rice cereal we use for breading in some recipes.  And looking for it on labels.

I’m still not sure whether I will start taking methyl-folate (5-MTHF).  It seems like there are some pretty bad side effects for some people, which would likely be me.  So this is definitely Dr. advisory territory.

The Found My Fitness website was also created by a biochemist to find potential metabolic issues from genetic information from 23andMe.  I actually like this one the best (it doesn’t scan for the MTHFR variants) from a nutritional aspect.  Of course, we should all consult with a health care physician.  However, lots of people take supplements and try different diets without doing so.  This report was helpful because with my genotypes I should not take Vitamin E, or go on a ketogenic diet because of abnormal fat metabolism.  And I have a poorer conversion of ALA into omega-3 EPA, vitamin D deficiency, and a slight risk for blood cancer.

So I have started taking a few supplements like microalgae oil for the EPA, vitamin D3 and resveratrol.  I also take a probiotic and spirulina, which I prefer to a multivitamin.  I drink a non-caffeinated dandelion root tea to help with liver detox, too.  And I actually feel better.

What should I eat?

Goodness.  Well this is complex.  The food choices we’ve made so far are based on many different factors that are always evolving.  We have learned to consider and will now also consider:

  • genetic predispositions (ex. Celiac disease, the MTHFR variants)
  • metabolism (especially now with my genetic information)
  • potential for toxic chemical exposure (glyphosate, heavy metals, pesticides, BPA, contaminated water)
  • actual physical reactions (brain fog, asthma, poop consistency, skin rashes, inflammation, pain)
  • gut microbiome health (probiotics and prebitotics)
  • food safety and proper handling to decrease potential pathogen exposure

Choosing whole foods and lean proteins (preferably grass-fed, no hormones, no antibiotics, humanely raised) and no fish (which contain heavy metals and toxins).  Lots of leafy greens, as well as a diverse rainbow of various fruits, veggies and nuts to feed the microbes in the digestive tract and provide nutrients and vitamins we need.

We’re gluten free and dairy/casein free (except for the goat cheese and some Parmesan) and pretty clean, organic and non-GMO (because of the glyphosate residue).  No preservatives, additives, nitrates, nitrites, or extra chemicals.  No xanthan gum, very minimal soy (actually only in an organic GF pasta we really like), and very limited yeast.  We try to mix up our whole grains, carbs and starches, too.  Avoiding types of rice that are known to be higher in arsenic content.  +Kombucha!

The less ingredients the better.

These dietary restrictions seem very consistent with living with these MTHFR genotypes from what I have read so far.  It is so crazy because I was just listening to my body and trying to figure out what was wrong and why I am so sensitive to everything.  But now I know about my personal genetics…

We are lucky there is such a strong clean eating movement and so many new “free from” foods available now.  And our personal food safety awareness has greatly increased since I took the food microbiology course and I’m much better at reducing potential sources of pathogens.

In the next few weeks I’m going to look at the natural foods I shouldn’t eat outside of those fortified with man-made folic acid that we already now know about.  If I’m not supposed to eat something, please, please tell me and help me!

Weekly Menu Planning

Okay so here is our menu plan for this week!  I’ve added a shopping list, too.  Several of the menu plans on this blog have shopping lists scattered throughout and you can find them by searching the tags for “shopping lists”.

This week’s menu is pretty typical of what I plan out for a week.  We usually have one or two salads, sometimes a soup, red meat once a week with roasted veggies and often potatoes.  We also like to use locally sourced ground turkey, chicken, and sometimes pork.  I’m backing off of roasts with fatty meats, which we were starting to do a little too often.  And I try to incorporate one vegetarian dish each week for Meatless Monday and most of my lunches.  Because it is better for the environment.  🙂

Sometimes the meals are quick and easy, but I do like to cook so at least once a week I’ll try to tackle a more challenging recipe.  And I’ve learned so much about the storage of leftovers, too.  How to minimize potential pathogen growth when freezing or storing prepared foods.  Keep the hot food hot and the cold food cold!

Because I hate wasting food, and really need to save money – I try to make sure that we aren’t going to throw food away.  The organic air-chilled chicken we like is expensive, so we usually share one large bone-in breast between the two of us (with a little for the dog, too).  When one recipe calls for cabbage, I try to use the rest of it in another recipe that week.  Or if we are going to make homemade mayo, I’ll use it in several recipes that week.  Keeping with the rule that refrigerated leftovers should be eaten within 3-4 days.  It’s a lot of work y’all.  But was and is actually worth it!!!

The Weekly Menu


It’s mostly non-GMO or organic, and totally “free from” gluten, dairy/casein (except goat cheese or Parmesan), xanthan gum, soy and more…

Meatless Monday –  Twice Baked Yukon Gold Potatoes

Tuesday – Italian Wedding Soup (kinda – because I need a little more spice, we are using Italian meatballs from last week and GF pasta)

Wednesday –  Apple Cider Brined Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apples, Carrots & Aparagus

Thursday – Salad (left over pork tenderloin, lettuce, veggies, nuts, EVOO & Balsamic

Friday – Dinner Out

Saturday –  Bison Shepherd’s Pie

Sunday –  Salad with Fried Chicken Tenders & Ranch Salad Dressing (using  Follow My Heart vegan sour cream and ranch spices)

Shopping List September 18-24

Have a wonderful week everyone!

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Deana Larkin Evans

Hi! I’m Deana. This food blog is all about cooking wholesome real food and developing gluten free recipes for some of our favorite comfort foods. I also create weekly menus to save time and money while reducing stress and food waste. I had to start eating gluten-free in 2010 and dairy/casein-free (except for the occasional Parmesan or goat cheese) in 2014. I’m kind of a science nerd, too. In the ’90s, I earned an undergrad degree in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin. Hook ’em! Then followed up with a PhD in biochemistry and a law degree from the University of Houston. I recently earned a certificate in genomics/sequence analysis from Johns Hopkins University, where I also took a very cool food microbiology course.

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2 Responses

  1. The difference between folate and folic acid explained: https://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid/
  2. Interesting discussion between Dr. Lynch and Chris Kessner: https://chriskresser.com/what-influences-methylation-an-interview-with-dr-ben-lynch/