#217: Ben Lynch, ND: Dirty Genes, Methylation & Fat Adaptation

by Deanna Mutzel, DC




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About Ben Lynch

Ben received his doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University. He has supported thousands of clients and trained thousands of physicians and health professionals across the globe in using insights from epigenetics to optimize health. He is the founder of Seeking Health, a company that helps educate both the public and health professionals how to overcome genetic dysfunction through diet, lifestyle, and supplements. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and three sons.

Connect with Ben

Books Mentioned Herein

Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness and Optimize Your Health

Optimal Electrolyte | Berry Flavor | 30 Powder Servings | Mix In Juice or Water | Non-GMO | Soy-Free | Physician Formulated | Seeking Health

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Show Notes


05:21 Methylation occurs in every cell all over the body. In the brain it makes neurotransmitters. In the liver it gets rid of arsenic and makes carnitine. It also supports carnitine production in your mitochondria. It indirectly stimulates and supports glutathione production. Methyl groups are also involved in histamine release.

06:23 Carnitine is needed to transport fats across cell membranes to be burned as fuel. Carnitine is synthesized from lysine and methionine. Methylation and 3 methyl groups are needed to convert the lysine.

07:25 Individuals whose methylation is not working well may have lower carnitine levels and may struggle with intermittent fasting or fat adaptation.

07:39 One sign that you are not methylating well would be an active startle reflex. Methylation dampens adrenaline and norepinephrine firing (fight/flight response).

09:24 Methylation’s primary job is to turn genes off. It does turn some on. We need methylation reactions to metabolize fat. A high fat/low carb diet indirectly effects the unwinding of genes as well.

10:17 Most methyl groups are found in protein. We need 3 millimolars of SAM-e to synthesize carnitine. Methionine is a major precursor for methylation.  Research states that low methionine diets increase lifespan. Vitamin B12, also found in meat, is required as well. B12 is more bioavailable from meat. Our microbiome produces B12, but it is not the methylcobalamin that we need. The cobalamins produced by gut bacteria is used only by our gut bacteria, yet they appear on our labs and skew the results.

12:36 Your vegetables should be a carrier for you fat. We need methylcobalamin folate from green leafy vegetables.

13:40 Folic acid is synthetic. It is not methylfolate. It can slightly support folate levels, but it blocks your real folate metabolism by blocking the function of our folate transporters and our folate receptors, causing us to be functionally folate deficient.

14:44 Stop taking folic acid. Folic acid slows folate metabolism. Folic acid has to go through a gene called DHFR (dihydrofolate reductase). When folic acid was tested for use in humans, they used rats. It was later found that in rats the gene that synthesizes folic acid into methylfolate is over 200 times faster than in humans. This means that the processing of folic acid backs up. Folic acid becomes stuck on folate transport proteins and folate receptors. However, folic acid cannot be used in that form. Folic acid looks and acts more effective than real folate. Over time the receptors become desensitized and folate transport proteins will be downregulated. Symptoms of this can be feeling stupid, brain fog, and chemical sensitivity. Folic acid is used in bread, cereal and other grain-filled processed foods.

21:24 Methylation plays a minor, but significant role in detoxification. You also have glucuronidation, sulfation, N-acetyltransferase, acetylation and other processes working for you as well. Methylation helps synthesize and produce glutathione, your body’s number one antioxidant, which is the most concentrated antioxidant within our mitochondria.

23:49 Foods to support detoxification include cruciferous vegetables, eggs, and broccoli and radish sprouts eaten together. If you are reacting to these sulfur containing foods, you may have high levels of hydrogen sulfide, sulfites, high reactive oxygen species, high rates of inflammation, low molybdenum or reactive nitrogen species.

27:05 If you are having high reactive nitrogen species or high reactive oxygen species, your attempts at keto will fail. Glutathione plays a minor role in detoxification, but a major role in oxidation prevention. Your body has many backup systems. NQO1 is important for recycling our CoQ10 and recycling our vitamin E. High levels of high reactive oxygen species, from smoke or UV radiation or X rays, stimulate NQO1, which also helps reduce your superoxide which is connected to the SOD (superoxide dismutase) gene.  These keep reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species at bay so your cellular metabolism and your fuel systems work well.

29:04 If NQO1 is not functioning well, CoQ10, vitamin C, glutathione and vitamin E supplements may do harm because these antioxidants also become oxidized and damaging.

29:46 Estrogen dominance and poor estrogen metabolism impact fat for fuel adaptation. Quinone reductase is associated with dopamine and estrogens. People with ADHD take methamphetamine medications to stimulate dopamine production. If your brain is unhealthy, the dopamine may be converted into dopamine quinone. If NQO1 is poorly functioning or has a SNP, the dopamine quinone will be high. High dopamine quinone levels are found in those of us with dementia, neurological disorders, and Parkinson’s. The vitamin needed to run NQO1 is riboflavin.

32:00 Estrogen quinones lead to estrogen sensitive cancers. Estrogen fractionation is an important test. NQO1 is associated with estrogen based cancers.

32:26 Excessive levels of dopamine in your brain will lead to more norepinephrine and epinephrine, because dopamine breaks down to both of them. Dopamine gives us attention, love, and joy. If you do not focus well,  you are addicted to something (perhaps your electronics), and are inattentive, you are in a low dopamine state. A low dopamine state indicates a faster COMT gene.

40:30 Folks with a faster COMT tend to be more relaxed, more active and outgoing and more adept in stressful situations. If you have a faster COMT, eat more protein and perhaps supplement with more tyrosine, a precursor to dopamine and norepinephrine.

42:00 Fast COMT/inattentive folks fidget and move to stimulate their brains to make dopamine. If tyrosine turns lights on in your brain, you are probably a fast COMT at that moment.

43:37 Those of us with a slower COMT are type-A, driven, hardworking, night owls who don’t take vacations and become irritable quickly and calm slowly afterward. Slower COMT is associated with PMS, estrogen based cancers, insomnia and higher blood pressures.  Monitor sleep and reduce protein before bed. Perhaps eat a salad for dinner.

46:23 A stressed out woman eating high protein, born a slower COMT, and cycling may want to eat less protein, do some breathing exercises and take some adaptogens to further process estrogen, supporting gut and liver.

50:15 A fast MAOA depletes your serotonin levels more quickly and burns through your tryptophan more quickly. Serotonin moves to melatonin. An inability to stay asleep may be a sign of fast MAOA.

56:34 You don’t have to be on a ketogenic diet to burn fat. You have to be fat adapted. Being fat adapted requires healthy cell metabolism. Intermittent fasting and time restricted feeding will get you there.

57:00 If you are Hangry, you are not fat adapted.

01:00:03 Excessive exercise and overtraining causes inflammation, which causes increased blood sugar, which kicks you out of ketosis. Overtraining creates highly reactive oxygen species production. NRF2 is great for exercise. It stimulates glutathione and mitochondrial production. Too much will increase reactive oxygen species and deplete glutathione and damages mitochondria, which negatively affects athletic performance. Fast COMT folks tend to over train.

01:03:40 The other Super Seven Genes: PEMT is good for cell membrane formation and bile production. DAO relates to histamine and the gut. MTHFR, the methylation master, relates to folate. NOS3, nitric oxide synthase, relates to vasodilation. A dirty NOS3 greatly increases cardiovascular and neurological risk. GST and GPX are glutathione genes. Glutathione peroxidase neutralizes your hydrogen peroxide (a free radical), turning it into water. Glutathione transferase, which processes compounds and removes them from your body.

01:05:28 Check your arsenic levels. We have high exposure through our water, even filtered water if the filter is of poor quality. It is also in our soil, so it is in our vegetables and fruit. Sauna therapy is a great detox.

01:06:20 Stop thinking disease and focus on function. The super 7 genes need to be optimal (clean) or you will have symptoms and disease.

01:09:35 Every action you take cleans your genes or dirties your genes. Genes can be dirtied by poor mindset, not moving, mold exposure, endocrine disrupting chemicals and more. Make sure that 80% of your activities are those that support your genes.

01:10:45 Dr. Lynch’s morning routine is one of personal growth and deep work. He uses Brian Johnson’s Optimize Me app. He stays away from social media in the morning. He always has a glass of electrolytes from Seeking Health. We need 4 grams of potassium a day. It is important to say “no”.

01:16:00 Dr. Lynch’s desert island nutrient is liposomal glutathione. If your glutathione levels are not working, you cannot be fat adapted and you will be more vulnerable to UV radiation and cellular damage.

01:17:05 Dr. Lynch’s elevator pitch: Prevention matters. Our focus should be on disease prevention instead of treating disease. The cure for all conditions is preventing it.