7 Reasons to Avoid Coffee

We all like (like, or have to?!?!) start our day with a coffee. Unfortunately, this habit of ours might be causing some damage to our health (especially if you are sensitive to caffeine). Here are seven reasons we are avoiding coffee.

coffee beans

1. It wreaks havoc with your gut

As you know, we’re firm believers in the saying ‘health starts in the gut’. And a healthy gut is dependent on its acidic level. Changes in gut acidity can be caused by coffee (among other things). Your stomach creates hydrochloric acid, which is essential for digestion. However, if hydrochloric acid is chronically over-produced (i.e. from drinking too much coffee) it can eventually reduce the body’s ability to create it, resulting in low stomach acid. If you have read our previous posts on low stomach acid, you would know that low stomach acid means poor digestion and malabsorption of protein and minerals.

2. It impacts your thyroid meds

The standard drug treatment for hypothyroidism, L-Thyroxine, is absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract. Studies have shown that drinking coffee shortly after taking your thyroid medication can lower the absorption of it. This means that even if you have been prescribed the optimal amount for your health, your body might not be receiving the optimal amount.

3. It can expose you to BPA

The plastic lids on takeaway coffee cups contain BPA. BPA is a chemical which binds to hormone receptors and impairs all kinds of endocrine functions, hence the name endocrine disruptor (read more about endocrine disruptors here). When you drink your hot coffee through the plastic lid, BPA leaches out of the plastic.

4. It boosts stress hormones

When we enter our fight or flight mode, our body releases cortisol to combat the stress we are occurring. If the stress is acute, our body returns to normal once the stressor has passed. However, if the stress becomes chronic, as it can with drinking coffee regularly, our body is continually exposed to high levels of cortisol. High levels of cortisol can result in compromised immune function, among other things.

5. It can worsen Th-2 dominant illnesses

All illnesses are either Th-1 or Th-2 dominant. In a healthy person, with an optimal functioning immune system, T-helper Cells (Th) 1 and 2 recognise foreign toxins and signal to hormonal messenger proteins to go to the source of the inflammation and reduce the inflammation, working together to make your body healthy again. However, if you suffer from an autoimmune disease, drinking coffee can interact with your Th-1 and Th-2 and affect their function.

6. It can ruin your blood sugar

Caffeine impairs your reaction to insulin. One or two coffees a day is unlikely to affect blood sugar levels significantly in healthy people. However, for us who suffer from autoimmune diseases, drinking coffee can lead to both blood glucose and insulin spikes after meals. The more coffee you drink, the more your insulin sensitivity is reduced. This makes it harder for the body to respond to blood glucose spikes when they occur.

7. It disrupts your sleep

If you read our series of posts about copper toxicity, you would know that last year I didn’t sleep. At all. Unfortunately, it is when we are sleeping that our body repairs all of the cell damage that occurred during the day. For us suffering from an autoimmune disease, our sleep is hampered at the best of times and drinking coffee can just exacerbate the problem.

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MTHFR

MTHFR – it’s not our abbreviation for a swear word! MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene. But since the scientists who discovered this gene didn’t think that was confusing enough, they went on to label both the gene and the enzyme the gene produces MTHFR.

dna

What is MTHFR?

Really simply, we have two MTHFR genes – one from our mum and the other from our dad. MTHFR is a gene that produces the MTHFR enzyme. This enzyme is responsible for regulating our methyl cycle – the biochemical pathway that helps our body detoxify, produce energy, balance our mood, control inflammation, manage our immune function and maintain our DNA.

When the MTHFR gene is healthy, it produces sufficient, highly functioning amounts of the MTHFR enzyme. However when the gene is mutated, the enzyme isn’t produced correctly. Since we have two MTHFR genes, none, either one or both can be mutated.

Why does it matter if the MTHFR gene is mutated?

If both MTHFR genes are healthy it doesn’t matter. However mutated MTHFR genes can cause a range of health problems. Common health problems include:

  • Autism
  • Addictions
  • Miscarriages
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Chemical Sensitivity
  • Bipolar
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Low HDL
  • High homocysteine
  • Asthma

For a more detailed list of medical conditions relating to the MTHFR gene mutations, check out MTHFR.net.

The Thyroid, Your Hormones and Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors hormones thyroid BPA

You’ve eliminated gluten, started eating more saturated fat, stopped eating that white poison, sugar, and tried to minimise stress, yet you’re still feeling crappy. Maybe it’s time to look at how your thyroid and hormones are being effected by the environment you live in?

Ok so it’s not feasible to live in a bubble of fresh air, free from toxins and chemicals, eating only organic food and drinking pure water (you know, that fancy, wind dried stuff that you pay $50 a bottle for at your local artisanal juice bar…). But realising what sort of chemicals and toxins you are exposed to everyday can help you minimise the bad of the bad and hopefully quick start your hormones into doing their job properly.

You’ve probably come across the term ‘endocrine disruptor’ before, or at least heard of the negative effects chemicals can have on your health. So what is an endocrine disruptor we hear you ask? Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with our body’s endocrine system, producing adverse reproductive, neurological, developmental and immune effects in both us and wildlife.

As the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says:

“…there is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signalling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones”.

Simply, endocrine disruptors mimic our naturally occurring hormones, tricking our bodies into thinking they actually are them. But once we start to use these ‘hormones’ are body reacts differently to how it would if they were the actual hormones.

BPA Hormones thyroid

When absorbed in the body, an endocrine disruptor can decrease or increase normal hormone levels (left), mimic the body’s natural hormones (middle), or alter the natural production of hormones (right).

Endocrine Disruptors and the Thyroid

Given the essential role the thyroid has in our hormone production, exposure to endocrine disruptors can significantly impact its functioning. In fact, endocrine disruptors can interfere with nearly every step in the thyroid system.

Examples of Endocrine Disruptors’ impacts on the thyroid:

  • Endocrine disruptors can alter the thyroid-pituitary-hypothalamus axis through increasing T4 and stimulating the thyroid which can result in thyroid follicular cell proliferation, and in some cases, result in thyroid cancer.
  • It is well established that thyroid hormones are of special importance in the development of the brain, which, in utero, is dependent upon normal levels of thyroid hormones. Studies have shown that exposure to endocrine disruptors during pregnancy can result in significant cognitive problems for the unborn child.
  • Dioxin-like compounds and certain flame retardants, have a high degree of structural similarity with the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. When we are exposed to these chemicals, they compete with our naturally occurring hormones for the thyroid hormone receptor and transport proteins.
  • Exposure to PCBs (or fire retardants) can reduce circulating levels of thyroid hormone, resulting in hypothyroidism.
  • Studies have shown that endocrine disruptors such as PCBs (or fire retardants) interfere with the way the thyroid hormone functions, but they don’t actually change the amount of the hormone found in the body. This is of interest as we know, our thyroid function is measured by hormonal tests.

Unfortunately, chemicals are not currently tested specifically for their ability to mimic, disrupt, or otherwise act as hormone disruptors.

Here are the most common endocrine disruptors and what you can do to best minimise your exposure to them.

Why I Love…MCT Oil

Fat is probably the most important nutrient for weight loss, healthy cholesterol, brain function and overall health!

Including more healthy fat in your diet is a great start to improving your health.

However, some people find it difficult to increase the amount of fat they’re eating a day (if you’re following a keto diet, fat should make up 60% to 75% of your diet).

That’s where MCT oil comes in.

MCT oil is oil made up of Medium Chain Triglycerides. Medium Chain Triglycerides are healthy, easily digestible fats that are metabolized in our liver (as opposed to other foods which are metabolized through digestion). There are 4 types of MCTs and the shorter the chain of carbon molecules in them, the faster the transformation to ketones for energy.

Here are 5 reasons why you should incorporate MCT oil into your diet.Why I love MCT Oil1

1. Hormone Support
If you’ve read our posts on fat and cholesterol you will know that fat is required for the production and balance of hormones. As MCT oil is so easily metabolised and used by the body, it can assist with maintaining a healthy level of hormones in our body.

2. Energy
MCT oil is metabolised in our liver which means they are absorbed faster and used by the body quicker (as they don’t need to be processed through our digestive system). MCT oils help with the production of ketones (read our Keto 101 post here). When we convert fat into ketones, our body has access to a more stable energy source. But also, when we use this as energy, it doesn’t create the same blood sugar and insulin spike as when we use carbs as energy.

3. Healthy Immune System
Healthy fats are required for proper immune function. The antiviral and antibacterial properties of MCT oil make it a great support for a healthy immune system.

4. Gut Health Support
MCT oil helps to give our digestive system a break because they are easily metabolised by our body. MCTs also have antibacterial properties which can help to balance gut bacteria. Just be careful with how much you take…take too much and you could be running to the toilet!!

5. Brain Health
MCT oil provides significant neurological benefits. Consumption of MCTs can delay brain aging by providing easily accessible energy to repair brain cell damage, increasing mental performance and slowing the aging of brain cells.

9 Reasons to Eat More Fat

Fat; what sort of chance does it have when it’s both the name of a macronutrient and a term to describe the nation’s ever increasing waistlines. Ever since we’ve been old enough to understand, we’ve been told by nutritional ‘experts’ and dietitians to decrease our fat intake (especially the dreaded saturated fat) and replace these fats with ‘heart healthy’ wholegrains, because, well, fat makes us fat. (Read the truth about fat and the food pyramid here).

Forget everything you know about fat!

In this post, we’re going to show you why you should be eating more saturated fat.

The Truth About Fat

1. Curb sugar cravings
Good quality saturated fat is more filling than carbs. Constant hunger, or cravings, is our body’s way of telling us that it is not being fed correctly. Consuming more saturated fat can help to fuel your body properly and provide you with an instant source of energy that, unlike sugar, won’t cause a spike in insulin and then an energy crash.

2. Reduce insulin spikes
Fat has the lowest impact on insulin level of all the macronutrients. Your body releases insulin in response to high blood sugar. When the body is continually required to do this, it can burn out, resulting in diabetes. Eating higher fat diets reduce the amount of insulin your pancreas has to pump out.

3. Control blood glucose levels
Fat helps to control your blood glucose level by slowing the absorption of carbs.

4. Helps with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins
Hard to believe, I know, but fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K need fat to be absorbed! Following a low fat diet reduces our ability to absorb these key vitamins.

5. Keeps you feeling fuller for longer
Fat is the most energy dense macronutrient. And because fat is filling, high-fat dieters often aren’t left feeling hungry (or grumpy like low-fat diets). On a high fat diet, appetite tends to be suppressed and dieters end up eating fewer calories without even trying.

detox copper eat meat

6. Weight loss
When you reduce your carb intake and replace it with fat, your body goes into a metabolic state called ketosis. In ketosis, instead of using your glucose stores for energy, your body taps into its fats stores and burns those for energy instead. Studies have shown that people on low-carb/high-fat diets tend to lose more weight (and faster), than people on low-fat diets.

7. Reduce inflammation
When our bodies are placed under chronic stress from things such as elevated blood glucose levels, high triglycerides, low HDL levels, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, our bodies can’t react with a proper immune system response. This ultimately leads to inflammation in our body. A number of studies have shown that diets high in refined carbohydrates can lead to oxidative stress and high levels of inflammation.

8. Improves brain function
our brains are made up of 60% saturated fat and 25% of our cholesterol is found in our brain. Following low-fat diets that restrict saturated fat consumption and focus on lowering cholesterol starves our brains of the nutrients it needs to function. Saturated fat helps to form myelin, the substance that helps to connect brain cells to each other. Low-fat diets literally starve your brain!

9. Balance hormones
Saturated fat is an essential building block for a variety of hormones in our body. Hormones have a much larger impact on us than we give them credit for. In fact, hormones control all the metabolic processes in our body. The fat in our body is saturated fat, with only 3% of our fat made up of other types. This ratio is critical for our health. The more man-made chemical fats (such as canola and soybean oil) we eat, the more this ratio gets out of whack. The further this ratio gets imbalanced, the more our endocrine system is impacted and the further hormonal disturbances are exacerbated.

Read our post Keto Diet 101 for how to include more fat in your diet.

5 Dangers Lurking in your Deodorant

hair-spray

Have a think about your morning routine: wake-up, exercise, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and get dressed. Seems harmless enough right? Unfortunately, the step between brushing our teeth and getting dressed often involves putting on deodorant.

Our skin is our biggest organ, absorbing anything we expose it to. This includes the deodorant we rub under our armpits to stop us smelling, every single day. For healthy people, using deodorant won’t have a huge impact on their health. However, for us with an already compromised immune system, any excess exposure to toxins can be damaging.

Deodorants are designed to work outside the body (i.e. stop us smelling). However, they contain chemicals that can pass through our skin and in some cases, leach into our bloodstream. What’s scary about this is that, unlike when we eat toxins, chemicals absorbed through our skin aren’t broken down and expelled as waste through our liver and digestive system. Rather, they enter our bloodstream without being metabolized.

Here are the 5 most common deodorant/antiperspirant* ingredients that may be dangerous to your health:

  1. Aluminium

Aluminium may cause increased gene instability in breast tissue, which may be linked to changes in tumour growth. It has also been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminium is used in antiperspirants to block your sweat glands, reducing the amount you sweat. So it doesn’t actually reduce the amount of sweat you produce, it only blocks it from coming out! Also, aluminium can kill off the bacteria under your arms that doesn’t produce smelly sweat, meaning that the bacteria that does make you pong, can proliferate.

  1. Phthalates

Phthalates are toxic to our reproductive organs. This chemical disrupts the androgen functions in our body and impacts our ability to build and maintain muscle. Phthalates can actually trigger signals to cells to make them die faster and earlier than they should. Avoiding this chemical is particularly important for sufferers of thyroid problems as some studies have linked phthalates to thyroid irregularities as well as hormone changes, fertility problems, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity and diabetes (read how to minimise your exposure to this chemical here).

Phthalates are used in antiperspirants/deodorants to help the product stick to your skin or hair. Shampoo, moisturiser, perfume, body wash and soap all contain phthalates and this chemical can build up in your body over time.

  1. Parabens

Parabens have been linked to changes in the production and regulation of hormones, and in particular estrogen, in our body. Like other endocrine disruptors, parabens penetrate your skin and mimic the actions of estrogen, increasing the estrogenic effect in your body. Parabens are used in antiperspirants/deodorants as a preservative.

  1. Fragrances

Scary: the chemical ingredients in fragrances are concealed and protected by trade law! So much for transparency. This means no one, besides the maker, knows exactly what goes into the product…or even worse, what the reactions could be. And just to make things worse, fragrances are usually used in products with phthalates to make them long lasting.

  1. Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is a petroleum based chemical that is used to soften cosmetic products, making it easier to apply to the skin. This chemical has been associated with causing damage to the liver, central nervous system and heart. While manufacturers generally argue that propylene glycol is only harmful at high doses, studies have shown that it can be harmful at as small a percentage as 2%. Deodorants generally have a dose of 50% propylene glycol.

*These ingredients are also extremely common in other health care products, such as shampoo and conditioner, moisturisers, shaving gels and make-up – just to name a few!!

Grab the 2017 bull by the horns

Happy New Year! As our weekly readers will know, Healed by Bacon is dedicated to helping you overhaul your health and optimise how you feel – and January is the perfect time to start!

This week’s article is a repost of one we wrote at the start of last year – 5 health tests to start the new year. We’ve chosen to repost this article as we think it’s important to create a baseline for your health by providing you with the necessary health checks you need to do.

Health Tests for the New Year

Ok, put your hand up if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to improve your health or lose weight? And put your hand up if you know how you are going to do this?

Well done for taking the time to set a health goal, but let’s take a step back. Obviously you have made this resolution because you’re not happy with something, in particular, the way you feel. But how do we really measure how we ‘feel’? Is it by the number on the scales? Is it by the number of times we laughed today? Below are the top 5 health checks to help you create a baseline for your health.

  1. Tests for thyroid dysfunction

Are you struggling to lose weight? Feeling low or depressed? Struggling with everyday functions – like thinking clearly? If yes, then your thyroid might not be functioning efficiently.

If you have read our Initial Tests page, you will know that the most important thyroid function tests are:

  • TSH,
  • Free T4 and Free T3,
  • Reverse T3,
  • Thyroid Antibodies,
  • Iron,
  • Adrenal Cortisol Levels,
  • Sex Hormones and a number of other blood tests.

These blood tests will help you gain a full picture of your endocrine health. However it is important that the doctor who completes these tests for you has a deep understanding of the thyroid. If we had a dollar for every time a doctor said our bloods were ‘in the healthy range’….

Thryroid Brain Fog

  1. Tests for Adrenal Fatigue

Autoimmune diseases, like hypothyroidism, go hand in hand with Adrenal Fatigue (AF). AF is becoming increasingly common as a result of the stressful western lifestyle; we are constantly stressed from study, work, family, money and never take the time to de-stress, relax and heal our bodies. So if you are struggling to even get up in the morning, your adrenal health might be compromised.

In the early stages of AF the blood tests you should be having include:

  • Insulin,
  • Cortisol (although a Saliva test is much better than serum),
  • DHEA,
  • Sex hormones, and
  • Blood sugar levels.

In order to interpret your bloods and understand what stage of AF you are suffering from, read our 4 Stages of Adrenal Fatigue post.

adrenal-gland-chart

  1. Tests for sufficient stomach acid

Stomach acid – let’s face it, it’s not really something you give much thought to. Yet stomach acid is actually one of the most important aspects of our digestive system. Low levels of stomach acid means the body can’t protect itself against bad forms of bacteria which can cause inflammation in our stomach.

A quick and easy test you can do at home to test your stomach acid levels is the baking soda test.

  1. Gluten Sensitivity/Intolerance

Without sounding too extreme – wheat and other gluten containing grains really should be avoided at all costs for us suffering from autoimmune diseases. However if you have previously been able to tolerate them and only recently developed gluten sensitivity symptoms you can have a doctor run a number of blood tests, including:

  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies,
  • IgG anti-gliadin antibodies,
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies,
  • Tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA and IgG in questionable cases),
  • Total IgA antibodies, and
  • HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genotyping for celiac disease (used occasionally to detect genetic susceptibility).

Why you shouldn't eat gluten

  1. Triglyceride levels

We all know how the story goes – eating foods high in that horribly bad saturated fat leads to high cholesterol which leads to atherosclerotic plaques that causes a clot which then results in a heart attack or stroke. And that’s why most doctors like to test our LDL/HDL cholesterol levels to make sure they are sufficiently low.

BUT we really shouldn’t be worrying about our high cholesterol, instead, we should be focusing on lowering our triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are a good predictor of a very high risk for cardiovascular disease and the more processed, high-carb foods we eat, the higher our triglyceride levels go.

Therefore, in order to gain a good picture of your heart health, you should have your doctor test your triglyceride levels – a healthy range is below 1 according to your doctor, however below 0.6 is the goal.

Good luck on your path to optimising your health!!

7 Reasons to Avoid Coffee

We all like (like, or have to?!?!) start our day with a coffee. Unfortunately, this habit of ours might be causing some damage to our health (especially if you are sensitive to caffeine). Here are seven reasons we are avoiding coffee.

coffee beans

1. It wreaks havoc with your gut

As you know, we’re firm believers in the saying ‘health starts in the gut’. And a healthy gut is dependent on its acidic level. Changes in gut acidity can be caused by coffee (among other things). Your stomach creates hydrochloric acid, which is essential for digestion. However, if hydrochloric acid is chronically over-produced (i.e. from drinking too much coffee) it can eventually reduce the body’s ability to create it, resulting in low stomach acid. If you have read our previous posts on low stomach acid, you would know that low stomach acid means poor digestion and malabsorption of protein and minerals.

2. It impacts your thyroid meds

The standard drug treatment for hypothyroidism, L-Thyroxine, is absorbed in the gastro-intestinal tract. Studies have shown that drinking coffee shortly after taking your thyroid medication can lower the absorption of it. This means that even if you have been prescribed the optimal amount for your health, your body might not be receiving the optimal amount.

3. It can expose you to BPA

The plastic lids on takeaway coffee cups contain BPA. BPA is a chemical which binds to hormone receptors and impairs all kinds of endocrine functions, hence the name endocrine disruptor (read more about endocrine disruptors here). When you drink your hot coffee through the plastic lid, BPA leaches out of the plastic.

4. It boosts stress hormones

When we enter our fight or flight mode, our body releases cortisol to combat the stress we are occurring. If the stress is acute, our body returns to normal once the stressor has passed. However, if the stress becomes chronic, as it can with drinking coffee regularly, our body is continually exposed to high levels of cortisol. High levels of cortisol can result in compromised immune function, among other things.

5. It can worsen Th-2 dominant illnesses

All illnesses are either Th-1 or Th-2 dominant. In a healthy person, with an optimal functioning immune system, T-helper Cells (Th) 1 and 2 recognise foreign toxins and signal to hormonal messenger proteins to go to the source of the inflammation and reduce the inflammation, working together to make your body healthy again. However, if you suffer from an autoimmune disease, drinking coffee can interact with your Th-1 and Th-2 and affect their function.

6. It can ruin your blood sugar

Caffeine impairs your reaction to insulin. One or two coffees a day is unlikely to affect blood sugar levels significantly in healthy people. However, for us who suffer from autoimmune diseases, drinking coffee can lead to both blood glucose and insulin spikes after meals. The more coffee you drink, the more your insulin sensitivity is reduced. This makes it harder for the body to respond to blood glucose spikes when they occur.

7. It disrupts your sleep

If you read our series of posts about copper toxicity, you would know that last year I didn’t sleep. At all. Unfortunately, it is when we are sleeping that our body repairs all of the cell damage that occurred during the day. For us suffering from an autoimmune disease, our sleep is hampered at the best of times and drinking coffee can just exacerbate the problem.

MTHFR and the Thyroid

As you will know from our other posts on this topic, the MTHFR gene is responsible for producing the MTHFR enzyme. When the gene is mutated, the enzyme produced does not function correctly. This incorrect function has an impact on our thyroid health and our ability to heal (because managing hypothyroidism or any other autoimmune disease isn’t tough enough!).

Conversion of T4 to T3

The Thyroid System

Unfortunately the relationship between MTHFR and the thyroid, once out of whack, can be a vicious cycle of negative impacts.

At its most basic level, hypothyroidism means low levels of thyroxine (T4) in the body. When we have a MTHFR gene mutation, it becomes more difficult for the body to convert T4 into T3.

But that doesn’t matter right? The doctor will just prescribe T3 to address the problem of an underactive thyroid…Unfortunately, this is not the case. Taking T3 in isolation ignores the body’s problem with producing T4. It’s almost like a band aid affect, as T4 is important for a number of bodily functions (but you need to make sure your body can convert the T4 to the right T3. If it converts to reverse T3 you could experience even worse problems).

T4 is responsible for producing our body’s active form of Vitamin B2, FAD (or flavin adenine dinucleotide if you want to get technical). In order for our body to use Vitamin B2 it must be converted to FAD, but if we don’t have enough T4 then we can’t convert it. Consequently the levels of FAD in our body is reduced.

FAD is important because the MTHFR enzyme relies on adequate levels of FAD to do its job properly! When FAD levels are reduced, the MTHFR enzyme slows down. A sluggish MTHFR enzyme leads to low levels of methylfolate and low SAMe.

SAMe is responsible for maintaining immune responses. Therefore when SAMe gets low, the immune responses start to get out of control. And the cycle starts again.

Adrenal HealthWhat is Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal health, thyroid problems and methylation are all interrelated. When one doesn’t function properly, the others also won’t function properly.

As we discuss above, T4 is required to convert Vitamin B2 into FAD. And FAD is important because it controls the functioning of the MTHFR enzyme. When you can’t convert Vitamin B2 into FAD, you can become Vitamin B2 deficient.

Vitamin B2 is important for adrenal health as it helps to support the strong functioning of them in the face of thyroid issues. So not only does MTHFR impact thyroid health, it also has an impact on adrenal health.

Glutathione

Methylation is also important for the production of glutathione. Glutathione is our body’s protector – it is responsible for controlling the level of inflammation in our body and detoxifying any toxins we have come across. It also helps to regulate our body’s nitric oxide cycle which is essential for a healthy functioning immune system.

When there is a MTHFR gene mutation, synthesis of glutathione is compromised. As a result, the level of glutathione required to maintain its optimum functioning is reduced. Lower glutathione means a reduced ability to detox and fight inflammation, which all have an impact on thyroid health and our ability to heal and manage autoimmune diseases.

MTHFR, Undermethylation and Overmethylation

As we have discussed in our other posts, the MTHFR gene is responsible for the MTHFR enzyme which regulates the methyl cycle (aka all of the important functions our body needs to survive). When this gene is mutated it can lead to the methyl cycle functioning abnormally. These abnormal functions can be related to highly efficient methylation or poor methylation.

Undermethylation

As the name suggests, undermethylation is when there is too little methyl. Undermethylation is related to perfectionism, high levels of self-motivation and desire for high achievement. I bet you’re thinking ‘wow, how can I be an undermethylator?’…but before you get a head of yourself, undermethylation has also been associated with negative health issues such as:

  • Addiction/Addictive personalities
  • Competitive nature
  • Delusions
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders
  • Inner tension
  • Ritualistic behaviour
  • Social isolation
  • Phobias
  • Higher levels of allergies
  • Low serotonin
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Depression

Undermethylation can also result in a number of nutritional deficiencies including low levels of calcium, methionine, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, homocysteine and SAMe.

Overmethylation

Overmethylation is the opposite of undermethylation. It is when the MTHFR enzyme produces too much methyl. Overmethylation has been associated with:

  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration/Anger
  • Low motivation
  • Paranoia
  • Self-harm
  • Food sensitivities
  • Sleep disorders

Overmethylation can also lead to elevated levels of serotonin (which is not always a good thing), low levels of histamine, low levels of zinc and high levels of copper.

Testing for Under or Overmethylation

As with anything, it’s important not to rely on Dr Google, or the internet, for diagnosis. MTHFR gene mutations and Under or Overmethylation can be tested by your doctor or by 23andMe.

Treatment for Under or Overmethylation

Once you have been medically diagnosed with a MTHFR gene mutation and a methylation problem, you can look to nutritional supplement regimes for treatment. The goal of these supplement programs is to offset the effects of the Under or Overmethylation. Addressing the methylation imbalance is a good start to improving your health.