I'm Ready to Address my Methylation Issues... Ummm....Now What...???
So, you've tested your genes, decided you are a mutant, and are ready to minimize your "mutant-y-ness" as much as possible. You've read about folate and B12 and are ready to jump on the bandwagon, although you are still trying to understand exactly which types, how much, etc. Well, before you get in to all of that there are actually three important steps that should always be taken first. Just like you wouldn't start speeding down the highway at night without shutting the car door, buckling your seat belt, and turning on the radio (ok, fine... headlights), there is initial preparation that should be done to ensure a smooth ride on your journey to optimizing your methylation pathways. If you skip ahead, it really makes the whole process so much harder. This whole process can take months or even longer to reach a balance so patience is important. (I know, it's not one of my strong suits either, but try to keep the big picture and long-term goals in sight.) The first three steps get your body into the healthiest state that it can be in, given your methylation issues. From there you can get a better view of where the issues truly are.
1) ENGINE CHECK In order to gain the most benefit from treatment the GI tract must be functioning properly. Bowel movements should be occurring at a minimum of once a day and should be without effort, formed, and contain minimal undigested food. If this is not the case, a 2-3 month GI protocol first is highly advised. Work with a practitioner to find the best plan for you and if your digestive issues are severe then likely testing will be beneficial. Eliminate common allergens, as well as any foods you personally react to and work with your doctor to come up with a protocol that will work best for you to heal your gut (my standard includes glutamine, demulcent herbs, probiotics, and digestive enzymes with additions/subtractions on a case-by-case basis).
2) GET FUELED UP Begin reading labels before you begin your protocol to help make the transition as easy as possible. Folic acid / folate should be avoided completely. Look for it in foods, especially breads, pasta, cereals, and grains like rice. It can also be found in a number of supplements, especially multivitamins and in supplements with b vitamins or iron. Avoid refine grains and potentially most or all grains, depending on your digestion. Even if your digestive tract appears to be working well, it’s important to eat a whole foods diet for overall optimal health. Eliminating dairy and gluten, along with anything else that appears to be causing issues, is typically a good starting point for most. Certain food substances like caffeine and alcohol can have a huge impact on methylation and detox pathways and it’s important to understand how you personally react to them.
3) ALL SYSTEMS GO While addressing your pathways your body will be undergoing a lot of changes and detox reactions will be a part of that. By making sure that you are getting enough rest, exercising regularly, drinking enough water, and taking time to relax it will make this process much easier. Saunas are a great way to get things set up, as sweating is a wonderful form of daily detoixfication. However, many individuals with methylation issues will find that they cannot tolerate saunas initially and will need to limit their time to even as little as 1-2 minutes, if at all. Otherwise, progress can definitely happen but it’s a longer and more challenging process.
If you already have all of these in place, great! You are already ahead of the game! Buckle up and prepare for the ride!
Hi, I'm Dr Sarah Strong, ND., a naturopathic physician living and practicing in Hilo, HI. I have spent a lot of time optimizing my own methylation pathways, as well as helping many others with theirs. As far as methylation goes, I'm about as mutant-y as they come :) I have two beautiful mutant daughters, as well, and love helping families better understand how to help their children with methylation concerns. Feel free to join my new facebook page- Dr Sarah Strong, ND (MTHFR Mama) for info and support, as well many recipes and tips for addressing the steps listed above. You can also join my mailing list for exclusive tips and offers here!