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About Dr. Ben Lynch
Dr. Ben Lynch is a naturopathic physician and methylation expert. In this episode, he discusses life beyond MTHFR genetic variants and common gene SNPs. It’s all about paying attention to your environment, he says. We also discuss ways to overcome exercised-induced asthma and seasickness, and how to handle over/under methylation.
Resources discussed in this podcast
StrataGene helps to simplify the 23andMe genetic data. Learn about the key factors that influence your genetic SNPs and potential health implications.
Podcast Show Notes
01:55 Folic Acid: If that’s all you have, take it. In rat studies a small amount of the folic acid was able to be processed. The maximum that can be processed is much less than human bodies require.
03:52 Harms of Folic Acid: Folic acid blocks folate receptors. These receptors are designed to bind to methylfolate, but folic acid will bind preferentially over methylfolate. Folic acid will bind to transport proteins, again blocking the binding of methylfolate. Too much folic acid will downregulate the folate binding proteins. Try to limit intake of folic acid by avoiding enriched foods. Eat your leafy greens, which are part of a diet rich in natural folate and you can take methylfolate supplements rather than folic acid. Folic acid is prevalent in children’s multivitamins.
05:49 Folic Acid Link to ADD/ADHD: Folate makes neurotransmitters that help with focus and attention. Consuming processed food is linked with ADD/ADHD and blood sugar crashes. There may be a link to the synthetic folate in the food, causing aberrations in methylation. The enzyme which was studied to see of folic acid could get through, DHFR, is slow in humans. DHFR can become preoccupied and overwhelmed with folic acid, rendering it unable to perform other tasks important to neurotransmitter function, like the recycling biopterin. Biopterin becomes oxidized and can be useful again. This reduced biopterin supports your dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and nitric oxide for your cardiovascular system. Supplementing with biopterin (as with nitroglycerin and arginine) is a crutch and dosage must be increased continually to get the same effectiveness.
10:46 Supplementation: A supplement is to add or enhance. We think that we need to take them every day. Dr. Lynch strongly believes that a supplement should be to add or enhance. The majority of supplements should not be used every day.
11:45 Dirty Genes: Dr. Lynch has written a book about genes that are perceived to be bad. MTHFR is seen as negative, but it may help with DNA synthesis and possibly repair. For generations, polymorphisms have been passed down. Rather than doing genetic testing for “bad genes”, do it to see what genes you have and how they are functioning in order to modify your lifestyle to get the most out of them. Dr. Lynch no longer says that MTHFR is bad. MTHFR is the last step in the process to make methylfolate, only one type of folate.
13:44 Folinic Acid and MTHFR: Take folinic acid for hair growth. Methylfolate is for methylation. Folinic acid does DNA-based repair or DNA-based production and works with adenosine, which is used in ATP, energy. Dr. Lynch has a theory that environments that have a lot of sun exposure, have a lot of skin damage, which requires a lot of DNA repair, which requires a lot of DNA- based production, and that requires a lot of folinic acid. These populations may be higher in MTHFR to protect DNA-based production. In other environments where a lot of green leafy vegetables are consumed, people may be at more risk for the MTHFR 677T homozygous, the more common serious form of MTHFR. It represents a slowing of the enzyme by 80%. Twenty percent capacity is all you have left. The job of MTHFR is to make methylfolate. If you are eating lots of leafy green vegetables rich in methylfolate, it can make up the difference.
17:05 Genetic Polymorphisms: We all have genetic polymorphisms, about 1 ½ million of them. They are not bad. They are just different. They can cause negative things to happen. If we know what they can cause and we alter our diet, lifestyle, mindset and environment, those SNPs can be favorable for us.
17:45 Folate Needs during Pregnancy: Pregnant women need a combination of folinic acid and 5-MTHF. Creation and maintaining a placenta creates a great demand for folate. Prenatal vitamins should have folinic acid and methylfolate, as well as choline.
18:31 Choline in Pregnancy: Seventy percent of pregnant women are choline deficient. Choline, found in meat products, egg yolks and animal liver, is the primary methyl donor backup to folate. Perhaps our ancestors who did not have access to green leafy vegetables received methylation support indirectly through choline. Transmethylation goes from homocysteine to penthianine directly and choline feeds into this. Transmethylation is found primarily in the liver and the kidney, but not much in the brain. Eight-five percent of methylation reactions occur in the liver. Gallbladder dysfunction is a common condition in pregnancy. With the depletion of folate and choline from the liver during pregnancy, the liver struggles, causing gallbladder stasis and thus SIBO, constipation and other symptoms of gallbladder problems. Taking SAMe or phosphatidylcholine during pregnancy can reverse liver problems.
21:51 COMT Polymorphism: Women should have way more estrogen than men. Estrogen is demanding of liver function. It uses the liver for transformation. Estrogen, dopamine and norepinephrine comes through the COMT enzyme, which is hugely polymorphic. If a woman’s estrogen and dopamine sluggish, she will be quick to become irritable. Research shows that women who have the COMT polymorphism have a greater risk of estrogen based cancers and PMS. The co-factor for the COMT enzyme is SAMe, which also needs methylation, which needs folate, B12 and choline.
23:15 Liver Dysfunction: Non-alcoholic liver disease is pervasive and growing in prevalence. Carbohydrate intake is a heavy contributor to this. The fatty deposits in the liver from liver dysfunction impacts methylation. Liver function testing range is a sick person range. Studies show that on ALT and GDT, when your levels are above 28, you begin to see histological damage within the liver, cellular damage within the “normal” range. Indications of gallbladder problems can be: feeling heavy in your middle, getting more constipated, getting referred right shoulder tightness and pain, eating fatty foods and not feeling good from it, itchy skin, lethargy, and more irritability.
25:50 Fatty Liver: It may be an early sign that we are shifting metabolism from aerobic to anaerobic. Cancer cells love lactate from anaerobic metabolism.
26:32 SIBO: Papers coming out now show SIBO is a metabolic disorder, not a dysbiotic disorder. The trigger for SIBO could be dysbiosis, but the primary trigger could be metabolic. Bile acids are antimicrobial, keeping dysbiotic bacteria in check. If you have liver dysfunction, you will have insufficient bile acids which may trigger SIBO or dysbiosis. The bile dumps into the small intestine. Bile is 70% phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine uses up about 70% of methylation.
29:07 Supporting the Bile: Ox bile supplements are useful for treating SIBO. When it causes fast major die off, it shows that you not only have SIBO, you probably have gallbladder stasis.
30:09 Ketogenic Diet: An improperly constructed ketogenic diet (no fiber, no phytonutrients) causes the absorption of bacterial endotoxin, which can cause fatty liver formation, effecting methylation.
30:47 Gene Testing: We all have the same core DNA, but there are polymorphisms, variances, in the alleles of that DNA. The 23 and Me test identifies genetic polymorphisms in the genes. This test checks about 780,000 bases. Genos Research is developing a test that checks 50 million.
32:26 Addressing SNPs/Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms: The majority of SNPs are in regions of the gene that have no effect on your body or genetic function. It is important to assess the clinical relevance of the SNP and functionality of the gene. Your lifestyle impacts functionality of your genes. If you have a sluggish MTHFR and you are going out drinking, you should think about supplementing with B12 and folate. Sometimes supplements have side effects. The number one article read by far on the MTHFR.net website is Methylfolate Side Effects. As you improve your lifestyle and environment, you may not need as much methylfolate. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet about supplementation.
42:56 StrataGene Tool: Dr. Lynch’s StrataGene translation program only uses 23 and Me data, but will expand to include Genos. Ancestry.com looks at ancestral DNA, not health related DNA. This means that some clinically relevant SNPs are not tracked. StrataGene reports 50 clinically relevant SNPs. SNPs cannot be viewed in isolation. StrataGene does not make supplement recommendations. It provides co-factors and genetic controls and places the SNPs in pathways so you can understand the bigger picture. It empowers root cause resolution.