Dr. Doni outlines 8 steps for ensuring a healthy methylation cycle and explains how taking them can optimize your overall health even at the most stressful times.
In the first three parts of this series, we explored how genetic mutations (or SNPs) can affect your health, and how we go about finding out which SNPs you have as the first step on the road to optimal health. Then last week, in Part 3, we covered the methylation cycle, the enzymes involved in methylation and how mutations in the genes related to methylation can affect your health. If you haven’t read that article yet, or you are unfamiliar with what I mean by ‘methylation cycle’ and its relation to MTHFR, genetics, SNPs, etc., I encourage you to read last week’s article before you read today’s. You can do that by clicking here.
This week we get to talk about what you can do to support methylation in your body, whether you have SNPs that affect methylation or not! In some ways, it is simple to ensure that your body has what it needs to function well. It always comes back to some of the same basic things you hear me talk about all the time: healthy food, sleep, stress remedies, and supporting your body to recover from exposure to stress. Let’s get into the details of those steps today, and we’ll also look at possible next steps you can take if your methylation cycle and body need more support.
8 Steps to a Healthy Methylation Cycle!
Steps 1 to 4: Self-Help Strategies
Step 1: Support Methylation with Food
Because the methylation cycle turns nutrients into energy, it’s important to eat a healthy, organic diet, with plenty of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods. If you would like help getting started, check out The Stress Remedy Program (not just the shake) that I designed with exactly this purpose in mind.
The key is to eliminate sugar and alcohol from your diet as well as folic acid, pesticides and other non-important extras in packaged/processed foods—all of which put stress on your methylation cycle. At the same time, choosing foods that are packed with active folate (uncooked leafy greens) and antioxidants (think colorful fruits and veggies) will support methylation and help decrease your oxidative stress. Go back to the basics and think protein (fish/meats or nuts/seeds/beans/lentils) + carbs (veggies/fruits/gluten-free grains) + healthy fats (in nuts, seeds and oils) spaced evenly through your day (aim to eat something every couple of hours or so).
Step 2: Sleep Your Way to Methylation
Get good sleep! Sleep is your time to rest and restore, and without it, you are more susceptible to genetic mutations causing health issues. If you are not sleeping well already, check out my series on sleep here and contact me if I can help you restore your sleep!
Step 3: Remedy Your Stress Response
As I explained last time, the methylation cycle is super-sensitive to stress, slowing right down when we are at our most stressed and making us feel horrible. We all experience stress; it is not a matter of simply eliminating it although we can certainly aim to minimize it by making room for stress remedies in our day. We all have our favorite stress remedies including activities such as yoga, meditation, going for a walk, enjoying the outdoors, calling a friend and listening to music. To help guide you to integrate stress remedies into your life, I have written a 40-page ebook, aptly called Stress Remedies, which you can find here for just 99 cents.
Step 4: Assess and Address Your Stress and Cortisol
As well as practicing daily stress remedies to reduce your stress levels, you might want to assess how your body has been affected by stress. If you haven’t done this lately, you can take my online stress quiz by clicking here. Alternatively, you can complete the full stress assessment in my 380-page book, The Stress Remedy, which also goes into much more detail about stress, its effects on the body and what you can do about it.
Once you assess the effect that stress is having on your body, you’ll be ready to address it. You can do that by meeting with me in-person or by phone/Skype for a one-to-one health breakthrough consultation where I’ll explain how the health issues you are experiencing are both related to one other and caused by stress. Then I’ll give you some next steps you can take to turn things around and get your body back to optimal. Or, if you need to start from scratch with a genetic panel and panels to assess for stress and food sensitivities, plus have consultations with me to support you with integrating all of this information into you life, you may want to choose my Genetic Profiling Solutions Package.
Keep in mind, if you are exposed to high levels of stress on a daily basis (and most of us are), or if you are experiencing chronic fatigue, anxiety, pain and/or autoimmunity, then your body may need more specific support. It is not easy to figure out exactly what your body needs on your own, especially when you don’t feel well. It is important to seek the help of a practitioner who is trained to help. With your practitioner, you can then move on to the next 4 steps for supporting your methylation cycle.
Steps 5 to 8: Work with Your Practitioner
Note: These steps may not occur in this exact order!
Step 5: Prep with Basic Bs and Minerals
As I mentioned last time, folate (specifically 5MTHF) and B12 (methylcobalamin) are key nutrients for the enzymes involved in the methylation cycle so taking them in supplement* form would seem like a good place to start. However, some people actually feel worse if they start straight in with methylfolate and/or methyl B12 because their bodies are not ready for them quite yet. So, for them, the first step would be to start with a multivitamin or B complex and electrolytes that do not contain folate or B12 before graduating onto folate and B12 once your body is able to deal with them. Here are a couple examples:
Important: If you are able to start taking folate and B12 straight away then you’ll still want to add in the other B vitamins and minerals.
Step 6: Cofactors to the Rescue
Next you’ll want to support the cofactors in the methylation cycle. Cofactors are other nutrients that the enzymes need to do their job properly. Your practitioner will be able to advise which cofactors you need. Cofactors for the methylation enzymes are:
- Riboflavin (B2 or R5P)
- TMG (in other products)
- Vitamin B6 (or P5P)
- Lithium (to help bring B12 to your cells)
- Magnesium (with B6)
Step 7: Time for Methyl Groups
Then, when you are ready to start with folate and B12, your practitioner may have you start slowly and observe for aggravations such as anxiety, joint pain, irritability, nausea, and/or palpitations. Niacin may be used (usually temporarily) if you experience aggravations when adding in methylfolate and/or methylcobalamin because it helps to use up methyl groups. Here are examples of folate (5MTHF) and B12 (methylcobalamin):
Eventually your practitioner may suggest that you only take 5MTHF and/or methyl B12 when you are under stress. Or she may suggest a product that contains a lower dose (because too much is not a good thing either), perhaps in combination with the other nutrients that are needed for the methylation cycle. A few of my favorite products that contain folate (5MTHF), B12 (methylcobalamin), and provide methylation support are:
Step 8: Other supplements
Your practitioner may also recommend SAMe, glutathione (liposomal for best absorption), methionine, molybdenum, hydroxocobalamin and/or adenosylcobalamin. These supplements can be used to support your methylation cycle as they can allow you to support or bypass the enzyme processes especially when they are stuck or off-track. This can be useful if you have certain SNPs (see the previous article in this series for more information). Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium, as well as DHA (omega 3 fat) and probiotics are also critical to supporting the methylation cycle.
Summary of Methylation Support
It is important to keep in mind that our bodies are constantly changing and adapting to our environment, our stress levels, and the toxins to which we are exposed. Don’t expect that your body will need the same amount of support day in and day out. There may be some days where eating a healthy diet, with plenty of folate and B12 from your food, will be enough to keep everything running smoothly. Then there will be other days—whether due to a big event in your life, travel, lack of sleep, or extra demands of some sort—when your body will run through nutrients much faster than you could possibly keep up with food alone. And it is on those days that you’ll want to know what to turn to in order to keep your body healthy.
And if instead you have a rather constant, stressful schedule, you’ll want to determine what you can do on a daily and weekly basis that works for you and supports your health. You’ll know when you get the right mix because you’ll feel good. It’s that simple. ☺
I’m hoping Spring break will allow you all time to rest and restore your methylation cycle. I’ll be back to writing this blog series the week after next with an article about the SNPs that affect mood and what you can do to support them. To make sure you receive my blog articles, please subscribe to the RSS feed and/or my weekly e-mail newsletter.
2nd April 2015
*Please keep in mind that any and all supplements—nutrients, herbs, enzymes, or other—should be used with caution. My recommendation is that you seek the care of a naturopathic doctor (with a doctorate degree from a federally-accredited program) and that you have a primary care physician or practitioner whom you can contact to help you with individual dosing and protocols. If you ever experience negative symptoms after taking a product, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor right away.