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Being diagnosed with an MTHFR gene mutation can feel overwhelming. However, genes are not your destiny and you can overcome the potential health risks associated with the MTHFR gene mutation through dietary, lifestyle, and supplement modifications.
The genes you are born with are not the end-all-be-all. In fact, gene expression proves this to be true. Gene expression occurs when your genes adapt and change according to their environment, which ultimately alters how they affect your body and health. That’s right, the way you live, eat, move, breathe, and more, all impact how your genes express themselves! That being said, making intentional changes in these areas of your life can significantly improve your health and well-being.
MTHFR is an essential enzyme in the body that is responsible for utilizing folate. A MTHFR gene mutation occurs when the body is unable to properly process and metabolize folate (vitamin B9) and other B vitamins.
Normal methylation in the body is not only responsible for activating folate and other B vitamins, but it also turns homocysteine into methionine. Methionine is what produces glutathione which is known as our master antioxidant that supports daily detoxification processes throughout the body. Therefore, having the MTHFR gene mutation can result in sluggish drainage and detox pathways.
It’s important to note that the MTHFR mutation can present itself as homozygous or heterozygous. The homozygous mutation consists of one mutated gene, while the heterozygous variation consists of two mutated genes. Depending on the variation, the MTHFR mutation can inhibit your body from metabolizing up to 70% of folate. If that seems like a big deal, it certainly can be. This is why being mindful and intentional about your lifestyle and diet is so fundamental, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with the MTHFR gene mutation.
Those without the MTHFR gene mutation are able to expel harmful waste from their body without really having to think much about it. Their body’s detoxing mechanisms are in full effect. This can be detoxing from something as simple as the mercury often found in water. Those that have the MTHFR mutation are only able to detox at a rate of 50%, versus someone without the mutation. In some cases, a person might carry two MTHFR mutations, in which case, their body is only able to detox at a rate of 10% that of someone without the mutation. This presents those with the mutation a distinct opportunity to be very aware of their toxin intake, and how to help their body detox naturally.
For natural and proper methylation to occur, your MTHFR gene puts its power enzymes to work. When the MTHFR is not functioning at full capacity, thus causing a gene mutation, it causes the autoimmunity that so many of us struggle with. What’s the correlation, you might be thinking? Well, on a day to day basis, our bodies intake many heavy metals that need to be properly disposed of. With the presence of the MTHFR mutation, the body is put at a disadvantage for having the tools to be able to properly process and detox from these heavy metals, thus causing autoimmunity. It is so important to work with a functional health practitioner to be able to test for these heavy metals in the body, and find simple and practical ways to come to your body’s aid in detoxing from them.
The biggest concern when dealing with the MTHFR gene mutation is a vitamin B deficiency. After all, this essential vitamin is used in various bodily functions, like producing energy, digesting optimally, supporting a healthy immune system, and more! A deficiency in B vitamins can lead to various symptoms, including:
If you are not sure if you have an MTHFR mutation and want to test, you can do this through a simple blood test. Helpful reminder: diagnostics are our friends. We can only be empowered to change through first having the full knowledge of what is going on. Remember, this is not where the story ends. There is SO much hope and healthy partnership WITH our bodies.
If you are a female in your childbearing years, I recommend that you consider testing. This mutation can often be the cause of birth defects, or miscarriages during pregnancy, and can also be passed on to children. I say these things, again, never to evoke fear, but so that we have the knowledge to be aware of our bodies and work with them in a powerful, educated way.
Once MTHFR is determined, the following labs can be helpful in monitoring MTHFR and making sure having the gene is not contributing to imbalances in the body:
Whether you’ve been clinically diagnosed or suspect a MTHFR gene mutation in your body, it’s important to understand your body’s specific nutrient needs. Luckily, there are many natural ways to support your body naturally using food, supplements, and lifestyle hacks.
There are many ways you can treat your MTHFR gene mutation at home, starting with a nutrient dense diet that reduces inflammation.
Many fortified packaged and processed foods include fake nutrients, including folic acid. Folic acid is a synthetic and inactive form of folate. With the MTHFR mutation, your body cannot appropriately detox and expel this form of vitamin. This can lead to elevated homocysteine and inflammation throughout the body.
To avoid folic acid in foods, minimize your intake of processed and packaged foods that are typically fortified such as breads, baked goods, crackers, cereals and grain products. Nutritional yeast is a common source of folic acid that sneaks its way into many “health foods” such as kale chips or vegan dishes.
Since your body requires more folate if you have MTHFR, it is helpful to incorporate more of this B-vitamin into your diet on a daily basis. To increase your folate levels, opt for plenty of dark deep leafy greens, chicken liver, beef liver, pasture-raised whole eggs, asparagus, tomatoes, banana, and avocado.
The liver plays a vital role in methylation and detoxification. Methylation is the magical process that helps regulate gene expression. The liver is the goldmine that contains the enzymes to facilitate this process. Additionally, the liver detoxifies harmful substances by converting them into less toxic forms and making them easier to eliminate from the body. This tiny little organ can often be overlooked, but its role in the body, especially as it pertains to the gut, is absolutely crucial! Tip! Foods that support the liver include beef liver, beets, brussels sprouts, dandelion greens, and garlic.
Vitamin C plays an impactful role in supporting your body’s daily detoxification processes. I recommend making your best effort to include it as part of your daily regimen! Vitamin C acts like a shield that protects your cells from harmful toxins. Vitamin C also helps boost your immune system, giving it the power to fight off toxins and sickness, to keep your body healthy and happy. Adding a daily dose of Vitamin C to your routine is a surefire way to help take care of your body and keep you firing on all cylinders! Foods high in vitamin C include papaya, strawberries, citrus, kiwi, broccoli, and superfood powders such as camu camu, acerola cherry, and acai.
We all love a good grilled salmon or some tasty shrimp cocktail. While that’s great to enjoy in small portions, I always cautions those with the MTHFR mutation to limit your intake of fish due to the heavy metals (ie. mercury) it contains. Remember, with this mutation, your body struggles to expel the heavy metals these fish contain. Set yourself up for success by steering clear of these fishy friends! Fish high in mercury to limit include tuna, mackerel, sea bass, shark, and swordfish.
A great way to define food toxins is any harmful substance present in certain foods that can have adverse effects on our health. It’s important that we are aware that certain food toxins can interfere with the proper functioning of the MTHFR enzyme, impairing methylation processes and can lead to greater health issues (like leaky gut and autoimmunity). Food toxins to avoid include GMO’s, pesticides, vegetable and seed oils, excess refined sugar, preservatives and additives, BPA canned foods, plastics and alcohol. These toxins can disrupt the MTHFR pathway, contributing to increased toxic burden and impaired detoxification capabilities. Minimizing exposure to food toxins and adopting a healthy diet can be particularly game changing for individuals with MTHFR mutations.
Supporting gut health is essential for MTHFR. In fact, those prone to a leaky gut are more likely to have MTHFR. By consuming gut-supportive foods, such as probiotics, fermented foods, and fiber-rich foods, we can work to promote a healthy gut microbiome and improve digestion. Probiotics help replenish beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can aid in nutrient absorption and reduce inflammation. Gut supporting foods include fermented vegetables, bone broth, healthy fats, animal proteins, antioxidants, and resistant starches. By nourishing the gut with these supportive foods, individuals with the MTHFR gene mutation can nourish their overall well-being and potentially mitigate some of the challenges.
For a complete gut healing diet, check out this article here.
Choosing high-quality and organic foods can be highly beneficial for those struggling with the MTHFR mutation because these foods are (typically) free from synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and GMOs which are known to accentuate symptoms associated with the mutation due to the body’s limited ability to process them. I encourage you to opt for high-quality foods that can provide the essential nutrients and antioxidants that support your body’s natural detoxification processes such as wild caught fish, pasture-raised chicken, grass-fed beef, and raw organic dairy over conventional dairy.
Limiting common food triggers that your body does best without can support MTHFR. If you aren’t sure what your unique triggers are, it is best to work with a qualified health practitioner who can help support you through functional testing and customizing a plan that works best for your chemistry. The most common food triggers include conventional dairy, processed soy, corn, gluten, peanuts, and coffee
There are many ways you can support your MTHFR gene mutation through living a healthy lifestyle. Even small changes overtime can make a positive impact!
Removing household and environmental toxins is ALWAYS a good idea if you are struggling with the MTHFR mutation (and those who aren’t as well, let’s be honest!), as they may have reduced capacity to detoxify from these harmful substances. Swapping out candles, fragrance and harsh cleaners can help clean up your living environment, along with using air filters, EMF protection, and houseplants. This reduces the burden on your body to detoxify these harmful chemicals and can even help minimize other symptoms you may be having. For my top recommendations on healthy household swaps, check out my resource page.
The average woman uses thousands of harmful chemicals on their skin and body daily. These toxins are known as endocrine disruptors that not only alter hormones, but can make it harder to live a healthy life with MTHFR since detoxification is already reduced to begin with. Swapping out skincare, cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, and sunscreens, and other topical products can support MTHFR and hormones similarly. For my top recommendations on healthy skincare and cosmetic swaps, check out my resource page.
Supporting detoxification ensures your body is regularly flushing out toxins and waste products. The best ways to support daily detox is to drink plenty of filtered water, sweat 4+ times per week, walk 10,000+ steps per day, ensure daily bowel movements (at least once per day), spend some time in a sauna, and soak in an Epsom salt bath a few times each week.
To really maximize detoxification, I recommend this 7 day reset and reboot at the change of every season.
It’s important to be mindful of overall inflammation in the body. Not only does reducing your toxic load naturally reduce inflammation, but so does modifying how we move our body and support recovery. Gentle movements such as yoga, walking, and stretching are great examples of activities to reduce inflammation. Bonus points if you can get these movements in during morning or midday sunlight. In addition, it’s best to avoid heavy weight training or workouts such as crossfit if it leaves you feeling depleted afterwards.
Stress is the root cause of practically all illnesses. The importance of managing mental and physical stress is undeniable. Learn effective stress management mechanisms, like breathing techniques, meditation, prayer, and more to reduce unwanted symptoms and effectively manage any gene mutation. In addition, getting at least 8 hours of quality sleep each night is essential for not only stress reduction but for detoxification and healing when we have something such as MTHFR.
Water quality and detoxification through hydration are crucial considerations for those with the MTHFR mutation. Investing in filtered water is essential to reduce exposure to contaminants that can inhibit the body’s detoxification pathways. Not to mention, tap water often contains chemicals and heavy metals that may exacerbate symptoms. Investing in a high-quality water filter can help remove these toxins, providing cleaner water for drinking and cooking, and supporting the body’s detoxification processes. Aim for half your body weight in ounces and consider adding electrolytes or at the least a pinch of sea salt to your water to help you absorb more minerals that we need to support detoxification and overall health.
For even more hydration tips, check out this tactile about the top hydrating foods to include in your diet.
There are many supplements that can support and help manage MTHFR. It is worth noting here that these supplements should be customized to your unique needs through functional testing and working with a qualified healthcare professional.
Many prenatal and multivitamins are jam-packed with fake nutrients, including folic acid. Folic acid is a synthetic and inactive form of folate. With the MTHFR mutation, your body cannot appropriately detox and expel this form of vitamin. This can lead to elevated homocysteine and inflammation throughout the body.
As opposed to folic acid, there are many pre-methylated vitamins available, such as folate. Folate is bioavailable and active. Meaning, your body is able to properly metabolize and utilize this essential nutrient.
In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, supplementation is a way to support the MTHFR gene mutation. The supplements below are useful with MTHFR and can help open detox pathways and appropriately use essential nutrients in the body:
My most heartfelt encouragement, my friend, would be to take the time to partner with a functional health practitioner and invest in testing. Your health and your future is worth those few moments and dollars spent. If you find that you do have this mutation, you can work together to equip you for a life of vivacious health and freedom.
There can be such a personalized approach to your health that you can receive a diagnosis, and yet still feel so encouraged, empowered and READY to continue forward boldly. More so, they can help guide you in supporting healthy gene expression and recognizing your nutrients needs for proper methylation. I am ready to be that resource for you. I’ll meet you RIGHT where you are at, and get you off and running to a BEAUTIFUL life of freedom and healing. I encourage you to reach out. There is so much hope in your health journey. Today is YOUR day.
"When it comes to balancing our body, healing the gut, reversing autoimmunity, and achieving optimal health—we are a lot like a car that won’t run right. In order to fix the problem once and for all instead of relying on jumper cables, we must get underneath the hood, run the diagnostics, and replace the battery so that it runs good as new."
-Nikki Yelton, RD
If you are ready to stop wasting precious time, get off the never-ending hamster wheel, and finally surrender trying to figure things out on your own—this is your moment.
You don’t have to settle for just getting by and hoping tomorrow is a better day. We both know you are a woman who deserves better and are made for so. much. more.