MTHFR, Genetic Testing & What to Eat
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.
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. Once you have your results, 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.
The Found My Fitness website was created by a biochemist to find potential metabolic issues from genetic information from 23andMe. I actually like this one the best 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 learned that 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 (vegan omega-3), vitamin D3 and resveratrol. I also take an occasional probiotic and spirulina (which I prefer to a multivitamin). I drink non-caffeinated tea to help with detox, too. And I actually feel better.
I also used StrateGene for a MTHFR genetic report.
From Dr. Lynch’s research, when we have the MTHFR variants 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.
Update 2019: I have started taking a methyl-folate supplement 2-3 times a week and have noticeably improved overall with less aches and pains and increased energy. I have also started taking epsom salt and lavender baths to help with detoxing.
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)
- avoid folic acid added to food or supplements
- 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 milk 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. 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!
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.
Weekly Menu Planning
Okay so here is our menu plan for this week!
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, lean proteins and veggies. 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.
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. For instance:
- 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 or asparagus that usually comes in a large bundle, I try to use the rest of it in another recipe that week
- if we are going to make homemade mayo, I’ll use it in several recipes that week
- if I open a large jar of organic tomato sauce, I will freeze the rest in 1-cup containers
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!!!
A Weekly Menu for MTHFR
It’s mostly non-GMO or organic, and totally “free from” gluten, dairy/casein (except goat cheese or Parmesan), xanthan gum, and more…
Tuesday – Chicken Tortilla Soup
Thursday – Leftover Pork Tenderloin Salad
Friday – Dinner Out
Saturday – Juicy Bison Mushroom Burgers
Sunday – Seasonal Salad
Have a wonderful week everyone!