Friday, May 8, 2015
Methylation 101 - Dr. Kresser
Dr. Amy Nett: OK, so now that everyone’s in agreement that we’re not going to treat methylation based solely on genetic predisposition, probably the more important factors affecting methylation are largely under our control, diet and lifestyle related. Of course, poor diet is something that’s going to impair methylation or tax the methylation system, and this is in part because if you’re eating a standard American diet or a diet that includes a lot of processed and refined foods, that’s going to be contributing to inflammation. You’re probably going to have inadequate nutrients, maybe insufficient B vitamins, zinc deficiency, or even magnesium deficiency, and all of these vitamins and minerals are important cofactors in supporting the methylation cycle.
Chris Kresser: Yeah, that’s crucial. And we know from studies that a shocking percentage of Americans are deficient in all kinds of different nutrients, so this is a real problem and, I think, one of the biggest. And even people who are doing really healthy diets can often be deficient, as we’ve seen, Amy, and that’s because of things like SIBO, low stomach acid, leaky gut, which impairs nutrient absorption and increases inflammation in the gut barrier, so even those of us who are following a really great diet, if we have one of these gut issues going on, we’ll see deficiencies of nutrients. And we do organic acids testing and other kinds of nutrient status testing where we do see this even with people who are following a good diet.
Dr. Amy Nett: Absolutely, and any sort of chronic gut issue, as you mentioned, leaky gut, chronic infection, will impair nutrient absorption and also impair methylation. Similarly, having a chronic infection is also going to contribute to an overburdened detoxification system. Having an overburdened detoxification system is something else that might impair methylation. That could be coming from environmental toxicity, heavy metals, maybe mercury toxicity, or high copper levels.
Chris Kresser: Mm-hmm. Yeah, pesticides, fungicides, volatile organic compounds, phthalates — there are so many things now that we’re exposed to that we really weren’t for the vast majority of our evolutionary history. And because of that, we didn’t really evolve efficient defense mechanisms to deal with those kinds of toxins, whereas with some of the food toxins, we’ve been exposed to them forever, and so we have fairly effective ways of dealing with them, and that’s not really the case with environmental toxins.
I know we’re getting a little short on time here, so there are a few other things I’m going to quickly go through. Stress and lack of sleep — big surprise! Pretty much any discussion of any health problem, we know that stress and lack of sleep are going to make those worse. We have a variety of medications, like antacids because of their effect on stomach acid and nutrient absorption. Methotrexate, metformin, contraceptives, blood pressure meds — all of these can affect levels of B vitamins, which play a crucial role in methylation.
The last thing we should probably talk about — and this is a relatively new cause of methylation issues — is taking too much methylation support, too many methylation supplements. This can cause over-methylation, where you end up with feedback inhibition and reducing the body’s internal production of methylfolate. It’s kind of like if you take testosterone cream and you’re a guy and you eventually reduce your body’s own ability to produce testosterone. It’s a similar kind of mechanism.