Like many Nutritional Therapy Consultants I decided to study nutrition due to my own health concerns in which I was curious as to why I experienced symptoms even though I was and am fairly healthy especially when compared to the standard American diet. I also learnt so much along the way with my own success in specific areas of my health that I wanted to share this passion to help others as I truly believe the answers are out there for everyone….we just need to find those answers. I looked to genetic testing to help me find those answers as the benefits to genetic testing include understanding yourself better on a very personal level.
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While I learnt so much going through the Nutritional Therapy Program and was able to get results for my practice clients with the general yet profound process of optimizing the foundations to health, something was missing in my own protocol and I couldn’t quite figure out what was driving inflammation in my skin (redness), random itchiness which was new, puffiness in my hands if I ate the wrong foods (which I have pinpointed to being histamine related) along with very random and inflamed joint pain(minor) and congestion in my skin.
I also always felt like my liver was struggling…. And it was as it always came up a little inflamed during my bioresonance therapy sessions but I didn’t know why as I had done liver gallbladder flushes, supported with liver nutrients, ate a whole food diet, done parasite cleanses, removed food sensitivities, kicked my candida, did the HCL stomach acid challenge, probiotics, gut healing …. You name it, I felt like I had done it.
I was also not digesting my fats even with extra digestive enzyme support and my favorite liver cleansing beetroot superfood. In fact at one point right before I discovered the work of Dr Ben Lynch and his book Dirty Genes, my bowel movements were getting worse… and by that I mean I just had loose stools that were sometimes close to diarrhea and lighter in color and they always were floating due to the poor fat digestion.
I was also still prone to heartburn if I ate my trigger foods such as wheat and resistant starches such as potatoes, corn chips and bananas. I knew something was still up and that somehow it was all connected to my liver….
At this point I had started to hear about MTHFR and I figured I must have this because something is going on but did I really want to test for 1 SNP only when there many other relevant SNP’s correlated to our health and liver. Instead I typed MTHFR into the podcast search and downloaded my first podcast recording with Dr Ben Lynch and Shawn Stevensen. After listening to my first podcast on MTHFR I was blown away about all the connections between MTHFR and our health.
In the podcast Dr Ben Lynch also mentioned that SIBO is connected to PEMT SNP’s as SNP’s in the PEMT gene can result in poor bile production and flow, thus contrbuting to SIBO as bile is ANTIMICROBIAL and helps to keep the small intestine clean and free of excess bacteria. I knew that this was related to me as SIBO can cause heartburn which I was prone to if I ate to many resistant starches.
That night after listening to my first podcast with Dr Ben Lynch I went home and purchased his book Dirty Genes where he outlines the function of the top 7 “dirty genes” how they get dirty, what symptoms and health conditions can be associated with each gene, personality traits associated with genes, along with the best foods, nutrients and lifestyle changes needed to clean up your dirty genes. WOW was that book ever an amazing read that has changed the course of my nutritional studies. The empowering part is knowing that our genes are not our destiny and that these genes need nutrients from food to act as co-factors for these genes to function optimally.
One of the primary genes that I targeted right away before any testing was the PEMT gene which is associated with fatty liver, gallbladder issues and SIBO. The function of the PEMT gene is to make phosphatidylcholine which helps to promote bile flow and needs to be in balance with cholesterol otherwise gallstones, fatty liver and gallbladder problems can occur.
Bingo this was my problem. I had poor bile flow, thus poor fat digestion and SIBO. As my diet was good and I was already eating foods to support a dirty PEMT gene I decided I must need extra support so I went out to the health food store to purchase sunflower lecithin capsules which contains phosphatidylcholine.
Never in my life have I had a supplement seem to work like “magic” overnight the way sunflower lecithin did. Within 1 day of taking lecithin my bowels changed from light in color to very dark (almost black) and well formed. It was like my gallbladder was finally able to rid itself of built up toxins which resulted in a very dark stool for a couple of days before returning to a normal brown color.
I also experienced a little die off reaction in which my skin got cracked and a little inflamed on the corner of my mouth which would have been a result of antimicrobial properties of bile kicking in and getting my SIBO down. As a result of supporting my PEMT gene which helped in reducing my SIBO I can now enjoy the healthy resistant starches without experiencing heartburn… pretty amazing to me!
This is just one gene but there is so much more to the story. While I was good at guessing what genetic SNP’s I must have, I wanted to test to make sure, plus it was all so fascinating, so I ordered my at home saliva test through ancestry DNA which took approximately a month for my results. I then downloaded the raw data from the Ancestry DNA website and ran it through the stratagene report put together by Dr Ben Lynch and his team.
The strategene report uses your genetic data to then give you a personalized report of your genetic SNP’s, such as the normal wild type, homozygous or heterozygous along pathway planners which show what inhibits that specific SNP, what the cofactor and function is along with extra bonus snps.
If your new to all of this you may want some help interpreting your genetic report and how this can relate to your health.
For me I discovered so much about myself that made a lot of sense in relation to my symptoms. I have a homozygous (double mutation or polymorphism) SNP in my SOD2 which is responsible for producing superoxide dismutase to help break down oxygen free radicals. Because I have a reduced ability to produce superoxide dismutase I am prone to inflammation from oxidative stress which is part of the reason as to why I could never seem to fully get inflammation down in my skin.
A gene that makes sense of my histamine symptoms is the heterozymgous SNP of the MOA B in the histamine pathway. The stratagene report showed which foods were high in histamine and overwhelmed this particular gene along with vitamin B2 being the cofactor for this gene to function optimally. This gene must be overworked in my system or I am in need of some foods high in B2 while eliminating the histamine stimulating foods that were causing my itchy skin after eating some of the foods high in histamine.
I also discovered a little bit of a scary genetic SNP of the APOE gene which has been associated with a higher risk for alzheimers and cardiovascular disease…. both have been in my family history. According to Dr Dale Bredesen, alzhiemers is driven by inflammation among others, so managing and identifying where inflammation is coming from for me is super important.
The function of the APOE gene is to transport fat. Funny I have so many difficulties with fats, which I love healthy fats and can lean towards a ketogenic diet but for me a high fat diet may not be as beneficial. L-carnitine is a nutrient that helps to transport fat in the body and in this study was shown to improve cognitive function.
I also have an upregulation of the FADS1 gene of converting omega 6 fatty acid into pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid and a reduced ability with the FADS2 gene to convert plant based omega 3 in into DHA which are anti- inflammatory.
Getting more fish into my diet while watching my intake of omega 6 fatty acids is super important for me to help manage and keep inflammation in balance.
Another important gene that I have a homozygous SNP is the BCO1 gene where I have a decreased ability to convert beta carotene into the active form of vitamin A. A funny but true story is that I used to love carrots as a kid and I ate so many that my nose actually turned orange. I look back now wondering if my body was giving me healthy cravings in order acquire more vitamin A.
In regards to my methylation I have single heterozygous SNP’s in several of the genes along with a PEMT SNP. 70-80 percent of methylation is used to produce creatine and phosphatidylcholine. The phosphatidylcholine is key for keeping my bile flowing from my gallbladder and preventing fatty liver. Knowing this helps to understand why my liver and fat digestion has always struggled. Eating leafy greens, beets and getting B12 in my diet is key to supporting these genes.
Now you know me on quite a personal level…. the genetic level. Are you curious if genetic testing is a good idea for you, what SNP’s you may have and how your genes are affected by diet, lifestyle and nutrition? Everyone is bio chemically unique and by reading your strategene genetic report you can tailor your diet to include the foods and nutrients to support your unique biochemistry.
While sometimes utilizing additional nutrients can be supportive there are too many pathways and SNP’s to ever try to treat every SNP with a supplement and it will not work. Instead looking at your genetic susceptibilities helps to reveal your personal story and how you can support your genes by first considering environmental factors, stress and dietary choices.
We have each been dealt our hand of cards with our unique genetics but it is up to us to play the cards we have been dealt well.
If you have done genetic testing through 23 and me or ancestry DNA you can upload your raw data through strategene and get your personalized genetic report with additional pathway graphics to help your understand your unique biochemistry.
Is genetic testing worth it?
In my opinion it was 100% worth doing my genetic testing. What is great with genetic testing is that you understand yourself at a much deeper level. Plus genetic testing is a one time test..... your genes don't change but how they are expressed is a whole other exciting story that is up to you and how you live your life.
If you are curious about genetic testing but new to this exciting field I highly recommend reading Dirty Genes by Dr Ben Lynch. He provides profound information on the top 7 genes that are likely to be "dirty" with questionnaires to help you determine which genes need some support and "cleaning" along with foods to help support those "dirty genes". Such profound information all without needing to actually do genetic testing... but if your like me you will want to do genetic testing as well:)
MTHFR Sounds Like Mother Fucker and It Sure Can Be If You Have This Genetic Mutation