Today I want to talk about a special subject…
MTHFR and Gut Health
Why is it special, you wonder…
Gut health is largely underestimated, but it’s something you need to focus on.
Especially if you have an MTHFR gene variant.
A healthy gut equals healthy you.
How does the MTHFR gene mutation affect gut health and how to improve it?
You’ll find out below.
Why Does Gut Health Matter?
First, I’m going to address a thing or two about the importance of gut health since we can easily take it for granted.
What most people don’t know is that 70% to 80% of the immune system resides in the gut.
So, gut health is crucial for a strong immune system and protection against viruses and infections.
A healthy gut also contributes to heart health, brain health, effective digestion, healthy sleep, emotional health, you name it!
For these reasons, and many others, it’s crucial to take care of gut health.
And this is especially the case if you carry the MTHFR gene variant.
How MTHFR Gene Mutation Affects Gut Health
The relationship between MTHFR gene mutation and gut health is poorly misunderstood and requires further research.
I always get surprised when I see that studies on this subject are limited.
Especially because MTHFR gene mutations are common, and gut health is crucial.
Anyhow, just because studies are limited, it doesn’t mean they’re non existent.
For example, a study from the journal Medicine showed that the C677T MTHFR gene variant is a relevant genetic risk factor for inflammatory bowel diseases.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a term used mainly to describe two conditions:
Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
Both diseases are characterized by chronic inflammation in the gut.
Digestive complaints are common in people with MTHFR gene mutations, including the second most common polymorphism A1298C.
These digestive complaints are usually associated with irritable bowel syndrome, and they may include;
- abdominal pain,
- diarrhea, or constipation
Weak methylation is a potential mechanism of action through which MTHFR gene mutations can impair gut health.
Methylation problems, which happen in MTHFR gene variants, can weaken the gallbladder and even promote gallbladder carcinogenesis.
Once the functionality of the gallbladder decreases, digestive problems may occur.
When the gallbladder doesn’t function properly, the process of detoxification is impaired too.
Pathogens and toxins accumulate and may impair digestive health and cause other problems.
This may also weaken intestinal walls and lead to leaky gut syndrome.
Increased inflammation can also lead to these problems because it may cause a chain of reactions that don’t allow the production of healthy cells in the intestine.
Be Proactive If You Carry The MTHFR Gene Variant
Digestive problems are common and uncomfortable.
But it’s a mistake to ignore them, hoping they’ll go away on their own.
If you carry the MTHFR gene variant, you can be prone to conditions such as the leaky gut, IBD, irritable bowel syndrome, and they have frustrating symptoms that affect your quality of life.
The first, and most important thing to do is to be proactive and manage these health problems immediately.
You may want to consult a healthcare provider who will recommend an adequate treatment option for your specific digestive issue.
The treatment usually requires taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, fiber-rich foods, and certain medications.
Since some medications may not be a good choice for people with MTHFR, if you know you carry this gene variant, feel free to discuss the treatment course with your doctor.
Protecting Gut Health
There’s a lot that men and women with MTHFR gene variants can do to protect their gut health.
For starters, you can:
- Decrease or entirely avoid intake of inflammatory foods and ingredients such as added sugar, gluten, preservatives, synthetic chemicals, trans fats, etc.
- Avoid or reduce intake of processed foods (including processed meats) because they can promote inflammation and contribute to nutritional deficiencies (they have little to no nutrients and your body needs them)
- Try not to consume fortified products that contain folic acid
- Increase the consumption of probiotics and prebiotics, which are good bacteria and are crucial for the balance of gut microbiota and optimal gut health and digestion. Plus, they are anti-inflammatory.
- Instead of trans fats, you may want to increase the intake of healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, wild-caught fish, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
- Add other gut-friendly foods to your diet include bone broth (or vegetable broth), organic fruits and vegetables, seeds, and fresh fruit juices (not store-bought because they are laden in sugar)
- Enrich your diet with fiber-rich foods because fiber is vital for digestion and weight management
Other Ways To Protect Gut Health
Having an MTHFR gene mutation doesn’t automatically indicate there’s nothing you can do about gut health.
You can improve your digestion and reduce the risk of developing gut problems in many ways, and some of them include:
- Drink a warm cup of hot water with fresh lemon juice every morning
- Stop eating before you are full
- Reduce or entirely avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine
- Manage stress because when left unresolved, stress can harm your gut
- Eliminate toxic foods from your diet, such as GMOs, hormone-laden foods, additives, etc.
- Enrich your diet with a plethora of nutrient-rich foods, especially dietary sources of folate such as kale, spinach
- Exercise regularly
- Drink plenty of water
- Consider taking digestive enzyme supplements
If you don’t consume important vitamins through diet, you may want to use supplements, especially because you need them for gut health too.
Summing Up MTHFR and Gut Health
Gut health suffers due to a number of reasons, and MTHFR mutations can be one of them.
But gut health can easily be improved with simple steps and a proactive approach.
In this post, I discussed MTHFR and gut health to show you why it’s so important to modify your lifestyle to support gastrointestinal health and function.