This page contains general information and my personal experiences. For more articles and specific information, go to the Nutrigenomics Category on my blog.
According to Dictionary.com, nutrigenomics is “the scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially with regard to the prevention or treatment of disease.” It is a relatively new area of study, but the research regarding how your DNA interacts with whatever you put into your body could be a huge key to optimizing your health.
Part of what led me to my “quest for health” was watching what was happening in my own family: autoimmune disorders like Sjogrens, ulcerative colitis, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. And I also didn’t understand why some foods, touted as ‘superfoods’ or things most of need more of, seemed to make me feel worse. But once I started to understand more about my genetic makeup, it all started to make sense.
I signed up for 23andMe genetic testing shortly after it came out, so it was easy for my holistic health practitioner to analyze my DNA. (I didn’t even know this was a thing till I lived in Santa Fe.) She told me that my genetic mutations were:
- CBS > can lead to sulfur intolerance
- COMT > can lead to trouble metabolizing estrogens and methyl donors, also affects mood
- VDR > vulnerability to low vitamin D levels
- MTHFR > problems with methylation
- BHMT > converts homocysteine to methionine; can lead to high glycine levels
- MAO > can potentially lead to neuropsychiatric conditions and symptoms such as mood swings
Many of us have these variants, but they don’t express and become problematic until they’re triggered. Triggers can include stress, environmental factors, and improper diet, to name a few.
For me, once I came to understand these things a lot of my weird health issues that seemed totally unrelated began to make sense. I can only assume these genes expressed due to a lifetime of stress, eating the wrong foods out of ignorance, antibiotic use, etc. So…here’s how my mutations affected me and showed up:
- CBS > Inability to take sulfa drugs (nausea). Onions and garlic have an extremely excitatory affect (I can’t sleep) and also make me nauseous. Irritablility
- COMT > brain fog; menstrual issues; phytoestrogens like soy (and so many others foods and supplements that I needed to learn about!) affect my mood and my menstrual cycle. I also get an ‘estrogen taste’ in my mouth if I accidentally overdo it on an estrogen heavy food like chickpea hummus (and pretty much all legumes).
- VDR > seasonal affective disorder
- MTHFR > extreme achiness after taking methylated b-vitamins or any product containing supplemental folic acid which is added to A LOT of packaged products. Mood swings. Brain fog
- BHMT > not sure how this one is affecting me at this point, if at all
- MAO > depression, anxiety
Currently, I try to limit my sulfur intake and avoid as many estrogen containing foods and supplements as I possibly can. I also take DIM to help remove unprocessed estrogen from my body. I take additional vitamin D in the winter. I also try to avoid foods that have been supplemented with folic acid. I have to avoid most B vitamins and multivitamins that you find at the store because of the methylated B vitamins they contain. I have found hydroxocobalamin to be the best form of B12 for me. Ultima Replenisher, fresh pressed vegetable juices, and a mostly vegetarian diet also seem to do my body good.
If you’ve been suffering from mysterious symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, muscle and joint aches and pains, etc. and no doctor has been able to help you, you may want to consider genetic testing. If you’d like someone to help guide you through the process, I would be more than happy to share with you what I’ve learned so far.