Monthly Archives: June 2015
The benefits of red wine have often been reported, but do they really exist. To me, the question is not so much about whether or not red wine has benefits. I think the evidence is pretty clear that it does. The question is whether or not the benefits cease to exist beyond a particular amount of alcohol consumed. After all, we are all human and as the proverbial saying goes, “We want to have our cake and eat it too.” Or in the case of wine, we want to have all the benefits of red wine without any of the negative consequences. Of course this is a bit idealistic, but there is a middle ground.
Benefits of Red Wine
The benefits of red wine are often linked to its antioxidant effects. So therefore, if we are interested in its antioxidant effects, that means that oxidation, or pro-oxidants are what we are trying to combat. Oxidation is also referred to as inflammation. Though often considered negative, not all inflammation, or oxidation is bad. For example, when you eat a meal, oxidation occurs to help you make energy from the meal. So as an antioxidant, one of the primary benefits of red wine is to keep this oxidation under control.
Cardiovascular disease has long been one of the conditions most impacted by the benefits of red wine. Red wine through its antioxidants, often called polyphenols, reduces the inflammatory onset that often puts this disease in motion. The benefits of red wine don’t end with inflammation reduction though. It also has the ability to improve the ratio between the LDL and HDL cholesterol, what some often refer to as “bad” and “good” cholesterol, respectively. Likewise, it is also worth mention that red wine supports a moderate reduction in blood pressure, which may be related to both the antioxidants and alcohol. Collectively, red wine appears to halt cardiovascular disease onset, improve cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.
The benefits of red wine are not limited to the cardiovascular system. In fact, they are noted in multiple areas of the body. The immune system is more efficient and suffers less damage when challenged if it has sufficient antioxidants. This is in part because its DNA is protected. These benefits can come from diet, but red wine also shows them. Long term this has the possibility of reducing cancer risk.
Benefits of Red Wine Summary
- Protects against cardiovascular disease and reduces blood pressure
- Reduces LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol, even if on a cholesterol lowering medication
- Increases the resistance to damage against the immune system
- Lowers blood inflammatory indicators
- Protective against cancer
- Protects the red blood cells
Benefits of Red Wine Extract
There are instances when the benefits of red wine are negated by the presence of alcohol. If I state this differently, the benefits of red wine are not coming from the alcohol, but from the antioxidants in it. However, red wine extracts, often containing the potent polyphenols resveratrol and quercetin, can show profound benefit. The benefits of red wine extract include:
- Reduces intestinal inflammation
- Shuts down the inflammatory cascade associated with some autoimmune conditions
- May prevent or delay the progression of intestinal diseases
- Possible prevention and therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease
When do you Lose the Benefits of Red Wine
If you are drinking wine, then you are also consuming alcohol. This is not without consequence. In fact, alcohol increases oxidation. This effect is more pronounced when drinking away from a meal. So I told you early on that there was a way to get the benefits of red wine and consume it without it being a problem. The obvious part is to consume a reasonable amount of 1-2 drinks. The less obvious way to get the benefits of red wine is to consume it with a meal. It appears that the oxidation created from a meal is negated when consuming red wine. More available antioxidants equal less oxidation which results in less chronic disease and slower aging.
Again, you can go too far. In fact, many of the benefits of red wine are completely lost when drinking more than 1-2 drinks per day. Actually it is worse than that. Not only do you lose the benefits, but you also begin to create problems. For example, cardiovascular disease risk increases in those that consume a higher amount of alcohol.
Get the Benefits of Red Wine without the Red Wine
Given some of the inherent risks associated with alcohol consumption, it is not generally recommended that someone who abstains from drinking start drinking to derive the health benefits. Rather the use of red wine extracts is a suitable alternative. After all, it is the antioxidants in the red wine that are responsible for the benefits of red wine, not the alcohol. Fortunately most of these antioxidants can be found in a supplemental form now. The use of a combination of these antioxidants is often best as that is how they are derived in nature, but even when studied separately, they show profound benefit. Lastly, don’t forget that while antioxidants can be found from red wine and its extracts, a diet rich in colorful plants like the Paleo Diet is the best starting point to enhance your antioxidant abilities and reduce inflammation.
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A folate deficiency is likely one of the biggest thieves when it comes to your health. Folate, also known as B9, is a significant player in how your body produces energy. Folate is sometimes called folic acid, but this is not technically accurate (more on this to come). For the purpose of our conversation, a folate deficiency robs your body of energy. We often think about energy as just how we feel on a day to day basis. If we feel good, then we say we are energetic. If we wake up tired, we say that we are fatigued. Most the patients that I see come in complaining about some levels of fatigue. It is common. Since a folate deficiency is often a cause of fatigue, this is one of the first things that are we look for. The good news is that a folate deficiency is generally pretty easy to fix.
What is a Folate Deficiency?
A folate deficiency is simply nothing more than a lack of sufficient levels of B9. That is the simplified answer. If all you are interested in is optimizing your health, then correcting a folate deficiency is nothing more than taking some folate, or B9. Folate is a vitamin that is safe to take, especially if taken with B12. However, if you want to understand a folate deficiency at a deeper level, it can have many significant effects that have the potential to cause lasting damage to the body. The most common example of this is altering your DNA. Having a folate deficiency can change your genetic makeup and cause mutations in your genes. Such mutations produced damaged tissue and you don’t heal well. This is one of the reasons that a folate deficiency can be associated with cancer. A folate deficiency is also associated with depression, anemia, heart disease, high blood pressure, poor detoxification and anxiety.
How a Folate Deficiency Robs Your Energy
As I mentioned, folate is needed for energy production. Without it, you don’t efficiently deliver oxygen to where it needs to go to be burned for energy. Think of this like the air filter on your car. If you cannot get air through the air filter because it is dirty, then you don’t have enough oxygen to burn with your gas to make the motor work efficiently. As a result your gas mileage suffers and your engine has less performance. Having a folate deficiency is like having a dirty air filter. Lack of oxygen equals an inefficient burn for your “metabolic engine”. When your metabolism is not producing enough energy, not only do you feel tired, but you also don’t think clearly, you don’t lose weight as easily and you are more prone to holding on to toxins that are going to make you fat. Clearly you do not want a folate deficiency robbing your energy.
Is a Folate Deficiency the Same as a Folic Acid Deficiency?
In short, a folate deficiency is not the same as a folic acid deficiency. In fact, there is actually no such thing as a folic acid deficiency. The reason is that the body does not have a need for folic acid. The body has a need for folate. This may seem like a small difference, but it is actually quite large. How large you might ask? Well, too much folic acid, as opposed to folate, could be the difference between developing colon cancer. That is significant. Folic acid is synthetic. Folate is natural. The bottom line is that if you are trying to correct a folate deficiency, do not use folic acid. It is best to use only folate to correct a folate deficiency.
Folate Deficiency Linked to Poor Diet
The standard American diet is a significant contributor to a folate deficiency. Folate should easily be found in the diet. In fact, folate gets its name from foliage, or plants. Plants are where we find folate. Unfortunately, plants with color have become deficient in the standard American Diet. As a result, this dietary pattern sets one up for a folate deficiency. A folate deficiency can be easily avoided by eating a Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet is high in foliage and supplies an ample amount of folate among its many other benefits. And for those that want to correct their folate deficiency faster and start feeling more energy right away, a high quality folate supplement is the best solution.
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The MTHFR test and the significance of MTHFR had little meaning in healthcare until recently. And while many patients and clinicians are seeing the benefits of undergoing an MTHFR test, it is still not order often enough. The MTHFR test can change the course of care and the decisions that providers make for their patients. In my own experience, I have found the MTHFR test to be a valuable tool that can support the decision making process for treatment. Without it, there is not a full understanding of the influences on one of the most common nutrients, folate (B9).
What Can I Learn from an MTHFR Test?
The MTHFR test provides direct information about the genetic influence on arguably the most important enzyme related to folate. MTHFR, or methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, is the enzyme responsible for carrying out the last step in production of active folate, or 5-MTHF. (It’s not hard to see why acronyms are used most of the time as long as some of these names are.) Most dietary and supplemental folates, as well as folic acid, have to be converted to active folate. If you are unable to manufacture active folate, the crucial process of methylation is impaired.
The value of the MTHFR test is in helping you understand how your genetic influence the activity of this conversion process. When ordering the MTHFR test, the primary goal is to determine if there are mutations. A mutation alters the function of the enzyme and slows the conversion process. This is generally a concern as the number of stressors we endure increases and we have a higher demand for active folate. In today’s world, the demand for active folate is very high. This means that the results of the MTHFR test are extremely relevant. The more mutations the MTHFR test uncovers, the more difficult it is to produce active folate and the more impact the environmental stressors have.
Understanding the Results of the MTHFR Test
There are two areas that are often assessed on the MTHFR test known simply as 677 and 1298. These are referring to locations in your genome. At each location you have a pair of amino acids, one from mom and one from dad. Depending on the combination of them, you can be said to have a mutation if your profile does not meet the optimal pattern for normal function of the enzyme. If you have one wrong amino acid at 677, you have about 60% normal function of the MTHFR enzyme. If your MTHFR test shows that you have two amino acids that are wrong at the 677 location, then you are down to about 30% normal function.
When the MTHFR test shows that 1298 has the wrong amino acids in place, the outcomes are less significant than 677. However, this does not mean that they do not have profound effects. One wrong amino acid at 1298 and you are at about 80% efficiency of MTHFR. Two wrong amino acids create an enzyme of about 60% efficiency. Now here is the eye opening part. When you combine the effects of 677 and 1298, the results are amplified. The efficiency of the enzyme becomes even less depending on the outcome seen on the MTHFR test. Of course as I mentioned early, this has to be looked at in the context of the environmental influences. Just a short list of these is the amount of toxins in your environment, the foods you eat, especially the standard American diet, the balance of your hormones, and your nutritional status.
Undergoing a MTHFR Test
The MTHFR test is not a difficult test. Samples for assessment are either collected through saliva or blood, with both yielding equally good results. The thing that many of my patients like about the MTHFR test, as well as any other genetic test that we offer, is that it is a one-time test. Your genetics do not change, so once you perform the MTHFR test and work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to help you understand the results, you have a pretty good idea of how to manage it long term. The success in managing the results from the MTHFR test is in large part aided by knowing your folate levels inside of the cell. Since this is much different than a standard folate blood test, I often recommend looking at micronutrient levels. Conveniently, the lab that performs the micronutrient assessment is also the one I use for the MTHFR test. With the simplicity of the test and the ability to literally use the information for a lifetime to help offset chronic disease and feel better, why would you not undergo a MTHFR test?
The worst dog food label is often the one that can seem the most difficult to read. Even when the foods are names you recognize, you are still left wondering about some of the ingredients. I know for me, when I the worst dog food label, I was often left wondering, are dogs actually supposed to be eating this stuff. For the most part, the answer is NO!
As I have proclaimed in other articles that I have written, dogs are supposed to be just as Paleo as we as humans are. Your inside dog may eat his quarry out of bowl in the kitchen these days, but his demand for high quality real food as close to that found in nature is still there. So to that end, I visited with my friend Christine Gietzen over at Paleo Pet Goods again. I am always amazed at what she has to teach me about what can be found on the worst dog food label. Here is what I learned on my last trip to the store.
Grains are Often the First Ingredient on the Worst Dog Food Label
Grains are often the first ingredient on the worst dog food label. Now wait a minute. I am be missing something, but I don’t ever recall my dogs having a “grain tooth”. In fact, if you have seen some of my videos shot on the farm you will see my dogs walking in wheat and corn fields with zero interest in eating anything. Moreover, while hunting I have watched a close relative of the canine, the fox, walk all over soybean and corn fields and never pay any attention to the grain. Clearly dogs don’t need grains; which begs the question, why is grain the first ingredient on the worst dog food label? The most common grains are wheat, oats, rice, barley, and corn. They are included for two reasons. They are cheap and a filler. Keep in mind that this is often the first or second ingredient on the worst dog food label. That means that it is the first or second most abundant ingredient in the product.
Worst Dog Food Label Ingredient as a Cause of Allergies
Just as with humans, the further that our dogs get away from their natural diet, the more likely they are to develop health problems. The most common example of this is allergies. So often, the inclusion of the worst dog food label ingredients such as wheat and corn are the stimulus for allergies to develop. When the dog’s immune system recognizes a food as unnatural its inherent response is to develop a response. This is what we witness when a dog scratches or chews on its feet. Since these worst dog food label ingredients are the primary cause, avoidance of these allergens is the first step to helping your furry friend.
Worst Dog Food Label Reveals Artificial Ingredients
Worst dog food labels will often reveal ingredients that are manipulative to our animals. Our pets use their instincts to eat. They are not like humans. We use logic. However, God designed dogs to use their senses to guide their dietary choices. Dog food manufacturers understand the instinctual intelligence of animals and realize that without adding artificial flavor enhancers, sometimes called palatizers, dogs would not eat grains and other natural ingredients easily found on the worst dog food label. I don’t know about you, but this just torques my chain. After all, let’s just call it what it is. They are putting something in the dog food to fool the animal’s senses so that they can make higher profits on unhealthy, non-nutritive ingredients. This affect can be so strong that some dogs have trouble switching back to the diet their instincts tell them to eat.
Options to Avoiding the Worst Dog Food Label Ingredients
Many of my patients find that when transitioning to a Paleo Diet they are shopping at different locations. The same is true when trying to avoid the ingredients seen on the worse dog food label. The pet supply chains are not going to carry the food you are looking for. Many of the worst dog food label ingredients mentioned above can be found in these stores. You have to think outside of the box. This is where specialty vendors like Paleo Pet Goods with conscientious owners like Christine come in.
Start with the first ingredient. As we mentioned, the first ingredient on the worst dog food label is often grain. Rather than grain, this should be a human grade meat source. Our dogs need sufficient amounts of protein. Meat meets these criteria, not items like wheat and corn. And if you are looking for a safe palatizer to entice your dog to eat, adding meat to a quality kibble is a great stimulant. Or better yet, there is always the option of feeding wild and domesticated meats in its raw form. This is a real treat for your dog. Just ask my yellow lab collie mix who will eat just about anything when you add pheasant to it. It puts them back in touch with their primal instincts. After all, nothing says Paleo like raw.
If you are looking for additional information to stay away from the ingredients on the worst dog food label, a great resource is Dog Food Advisor.
If you are considering MTHFR testing, one of the following probably applies to you.
- You are dealing with a symptom or disease that you have learned may be correlated to MTHFR
- A family member has a MTHFR variant and you are wondering if it applies to you
- You have learned about MTHFR from others and you are now curious if MTHFR testing can reveal that you have a gene variant
MTHFR testing provides great insight into many aspects of our health, so knowing your risk can be valuable.
What Will MTHFR testing Tell Me?
Before we can understand exactly what MTHFR testing will tell us, we have to first understand what MTHFR is. MTHFR is an enzyme; therefore it carries out a metabolic, or bodily, process. The full name of MTHFR is methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. The reductase is the critical part of this name. Simply, it allows for the conversion of inactive forms of folate over to the active form of folate known as 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate). State another way, it reduces, hence the name reductase, inactive folates down to active folate. The inability of this enzyme to function adequately is sometimes thought of as a MTHFR deficiency, but this is not accurate. The enzyme is present, so it is not truly deficient. Rather the enzyme is not able to carry out its function at the highest capacity. It is better stated as an efficient enzyme.
MTHFR testing will provide two pieces of information. The first is your genetic profile. Your genes dictate the activity of MTHFR. With most MTHFR testing, you are concerned about two primary locations within your genes conveniently named 677 and 1298. These two gene locations appear to have the most influence over the activity of MTHFR. MTHFR testing allows you to see the makeup of these two locations and if a variant exists. Variants found on MTHFR testing are also called mutations or SNPs (pronounced “snips”). At each one of these locations you can have 3 outcomes, often referred to as negative (the ideal profile meaning that you are negative for a mutation), heterozygous (one amino acid has been misplaced in the coding), or homozygous (both amino acids have been misplaced in the coding). The location at 677 can have any of these outcomes and the 1298 location can have any of these three outcomes. MTHFR testing can suggest the cumulative impact of mutations from both of these locations.
This leads to the second point that MTHFR testing can illustrate. If you have a mutation or combination of mutations, the efficiency of your enzyme is going to change. If you have no mutations on your MTHFR testing, you have 100% efficiency of your MTHFR enzyme. However, if you have mutations at 677, the activity of the enzyme decreases. If this is compounded by adding in 1298 mutations, now the enzyme is even less efficient. The more mutations that are present, the less efficient the enzyme and likely the more critical that you know about them so you can compensate for it as needed.
Is MTHFR Testing Worth the Time?
Without question MTHFR testing is worth your time. MTHFR testing provides you with the information about the most critical part of an important process known as methylation. Methylation is important for several processes including replicating new DNA, repairing tissue, keeping some aspects of inflammation under control, detoxification and production of chemicals within the brain. Many steps are involved in methylation, however the one that appears the most critical is at MTHFR. If MTHFR testing concludes that MTHFR mutations are a part of your genes, there is a strong chance that you may not be methylating adequately. This is important because with all of the challenges that our environments present us with in this day and age, the ability to methylate has never been more essential. No methylating could mean the difference between replicating healthy DNA or dysfunctional DNA. It could also be the difference between removing toxins that can damage your health and create inflammation or accumulating them.
How Do I Undergo MTHFR Testing
The process of undergoing MTHFR testing is fairly simple. It can easily be assessed from a blood test or saliva sample. Several companies offer this type of testing now due the importance that has been placed on MTHFR. All of these companies do a good job, however my preference is SpectraCell Labs. Their report is very straightforward and provides clear points as to the effects of MTHFR mutations and while also showing an estimate of what the decline in function of the enzyme is.
What To Do with MTHFR Testing Information
MTHFR testing is best reviewed with a qualified healthcare provider. By its nature, genetic information is complex and outcomes from gene mutations are not generally “black and white”. There tends to be a lot of gray due to the effects of other genes and environmental triggers. In my practice, MTHFR testing is accompanied by nutrient testing and assessment of the environmental triggers that can have direct impact on not just MTHFR, but the whole methylation process. Looking at all of this information together allows for the greatest utilization of the information from MTHFR testing. Moreover, it also helps prevent the application of the wrong therapy that can sometimes make symptoms worse.
A folic acid deficiency seems like something you would want to pay attention to. After all, folic acid is a B vitamin, and B vitamins are among the most popular supplements. The nutrient folic acid has gotten attention in years past. Most of this attention has been generated as a result of the need to prevent a folic acid deficiency and the complications that can occur with it.
What is a Folic Acid Deficiency?
In short, a folic acid deficiency is a bit of a misnomer. A folic acid deficiency is really a folate deficiency. Folic acid deficiency and folate deficiency sound similar, and they are, but the difference is huge.
There is some history to understand here, mostly as it relates to pregnancy. Neural tube defects, or incomplete closure of the tube that contains the spinal cord, were becoming more prolific. As a result, the government felt the need to intervene and attempt to prevent this from happening. Since the cause of this was linked to folate, the government solution was to use synthetic folic acid as a replacement for the folate. This seemed like an ideal solution. In fact, it was good enough that it decreased the number of infants born with neural tube defects dramatically. And of course you know how we as humans think. If a little is good, a whole lot more must be better.
Well it turns out that more folic acid is not a good thing, especially when you are not really treating a folic acid deficiency, but a folate deficiency. You see, folic acid is not a naturally occurring substance. You do not find it in nature anywhere. There is not a true place for it in the human body. In fact, the only source of folic acid is synthetic. In contrast, folate is a bioidentical nutrient. There are several systems in the body that are dependent on folate, just not folic acid.
Correcting a Folic Acid Deficiency Should be Easy
If you actually had a folic acid deficiency, correcting it would be very easy. All you would have to do is eat the standard American diet that is loaded with refined grains, and for the points I am making here about folic acid, probably better stated fortified grains. The whole idea that the food you are deriving from nature is so incomplete that you have to add things to it to make it “better” or “sufficient for human health” should on its own raise red flags. Since 1998, the United States has been fortifying food with folic acid, to correct the supposed folic acid deficiency, which you now know is actually a folate deficiency. Not only is this taking place in the United States, it is also taking place in around 50 other countries across the world. While neural tube defects have decreased, there is a less talked about dark side to folic acid fortification, especially if you are exceeding around 400mcg per day. Ironically the amount of folic acid recommended for child-bearing women is 400-800mcg.
The Result of Correcting a Folic Acid Deficiency
Correcting the supposed folic acid deficiency by supplementing the entire population seems risky. Rarely does a “one size fits all” approach make for good health care. In fact, in the case of supplementing folic acid through mandatory fortification of foods, it is a bad idea. The reason is that universal fortification increases the risk of some cancers. According to medical literature the progression of pre-existing cancers through the stages of severity is increased by the availability of folic acid. The form of cancer that appears to be the most impacted is colon cancer. In fact, in the United States and Canada, a rise in colorectal cancer was seen the following three years after the initiation of the fortification of foods. Clearly there is an upper limit to the amount of folic acid that you should be used.
Apart from affecting cancer outcomes, folic acid has the additional concerns of masking a B12 deficiency with the possible implication of affecting the red blood cells and anemias as well as degeneration of the nervous system. There is some concern also about interactions with certain classes of medications.
How to Address Your Folic Acid Deficiency
First, understand that you don’t have a folic acid deficiency. If you have a deficiency of B9, what you have is a folate deficiency. A folate deficiency is not uncommon and is something that I observe on testing routinely. As all of the aforementioned information lays out, if you are going to supplement for a “folic acid deficiency”, then you need to avoid folic acid and use folate for repletion. Folate has not been shown to have an upper limit to use. That seems fairly logical since it is a bioidentical nutrient that we easily find in nature. If you really want to easily avoid of folic acid and only ingest folate, this can be accomplished by limiting your diet to Paleo principles and staying clear of all processed foods.
Have you been feeding your family friend the worst dog food? It is actually easy to feed “man’s best friend” the worst dog food these days and not even realize it. Our animals are members of our family and lifelong companions to us that deserve better than eating the worst dog food. But if you are not aware of what is being put in dog food these days, you may not even be aware that you are putting your dog at risk.
Worst Dog Food Revealed
Not long ago, you will remember I posted an article with a picture of one of my sweet pups talking about the similarities between the diets of humans and dogs. We don’t eat exactly like they do and for the most part dogs are designed to eat a lot more protein than humans. The unfortunate thing that I uncovered was that many of the negative changes that have happened to the human food supply have spilled over into the dog food supply. As we all know, the human food supply is far from being ideal these days. The standard American diet is the norm, but a Paleo diet is ideal. The food industry has sacrificed food quality for profits. If you think this has stopped at the end of your fork, you would be wrong. Even worse, this same mindset is being applied to innocent animals that eat instinctively. That is why I can without hesitation say that if you are not up to speed on this topic and aware of what the dog food industry is doing, you are probably feeding your dog the worst dog food.
How do I know that your dog food is the worst? Well if you are feeding your dog subpar ingredients that are not fit for human consumption, then does the name of the brand really matter? No! All that matters is that it is not up to the quality that you should be feeding them.
What is in the Worst Dog Food?
What is in the Worst dog food? This may be one of those questions that you don’t really want to know that answer to. The worst dog food is the worst dog food for a reason. When I started my journey to find my dogs the best nutrition I could, I was blown away by what some manufacturers were out there passing off as dog food. My search landed me at my good friend Christine Gietzen’s store, Paleo Pet Goods. What an appropriate name! It was not long after striking up my first conversation with Christine that I knew she got it. She understood the Paleo concept and how to apply it to my dogs. Score! This is exactly what I was looking for.
Here are a few of the highlights that Christine shared with me that prevented me from feeding my beloved dogs the worst dog food.
- Most pet foods are not Paleo and contain a lot of grains. Dogs in nature do not eat grains!
- Dogs thrive on protein. The first ingredient should be animal based, not grain based.
- Mainstream pet foods can cause allergies due to consumption of common proteins. Having a non-traditional protein is a good option and not something that you are going to find in the worst dog food.
- Mainstream pet foods can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract. This may even include some of those recommended by veterinarians. These foods may travel through the GI tract too fast or be thrown up.
- Complaints to the veterinarian such as biting at the paws, “hot spots” and itching may be a sign of a problem with the dog’s food. This can be associated with the grains and corn found in the worst dog food.
- There are many more as well.
Needless to say now, my hounds eat Paleo like I do now.
How Can you Feed “Man’s Best Friend” the Worst Dog Food?
Do you not have a conscience? It seems like those that keeping pushing the big name brand foods to our animals don’t. With just a few of the things that Christine was able to share, it is clear that your animals are not eating Paleo if you are feeding them the worst dog food. I shake my head sometimes when I am at the veterinarian and I see dogs and cats coming in that are overweight and need to be on insulin or have thyroid disorders that are caused by immune reactions. Are you serious? These are not conditions animals should have. It is clearly a result of their food intake. You have come to this site to learn about Paleo and stay up-to-date on the latest information to maintain your health. Don’t stop with just you and your family. Apply this same information to your pets as well. After all, they are family.
MTHFR deficiency can play a significant role in your health. In fact, many of the most common symptoms and diseases that individuals experience are often greatly influenced by a MTHFR deficiency. However, a MTHFR deficiency is a bit of an inaccurate statement. So I would like to start off by explaining what an MTHFR deficiency actually means.
MTHFR Deficiency Explained
A MTHFR deficiency is not really a deficiency at all. A deficiency implies that there is an inadequate availability of something, for example a vitamin deficiency. If you have a vitamin deficiency there is not enough of that vitamin to make your body function efficiently. But when it comes to MTHFR, it is not a matter of whether or not it is present in sufficient quantities. MTHFR is always going to be present in the body. The real question is if MTHFR is working for you. As an enzyme, MTHFR is necessary for multiple bodily processes to be completed. Every human has genes that allow them to make MTHFR. The question is if your enzyme is efficient. Is it working for you at full capacity, or does your genetic makeup not allow MTHFR to work well? So rather than being a true deficiency, it is actually a genetic variation that causes the enzyme not to work efficiently. Yet for the sake of conversation here, I will stick with the term MTHFR deficiency.
The Role of a MTHFR Deficiency
In working with patients, I can certainly attest to the point that a MTHFR deficiency plays a role in preventing and managing many symptoms and diseases. As an enzyme, the main role of MTHFR is to convert inactive forms of folate over to the active form of folate that is simply known as 5-MTHF. (L-5 methyltetrahydrofolate) The importance of being able to do this is related to a bigger process known as methylation which is responsible for developing new tissues in the body, detoxification, gene replication, and reduction of the inflammatory substance homocysteine just to name a few. If you cannot get folate to its active form in sufficient amounts because of a MTHFR deficiency, then your methylation process is slower than what is considered ideal and reduction of the methylation process begins to take place. This is often noted as symptoms that can range from anxiety and depression to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Clearly the impact of a MTHFR deficiency can be far reaching in its effects.
Know Your MTHFR Deficiency
Do you have a MTHFR deficiency? Answering this question is not difficult. A simple blood or saliva test can often provide this information. While there are between 40-50 genes that often are responsible for the production of MTHFR, the two genes that seem to have the most impact are labeled as 677 and 1298. If you are wondering why the number is between 40 and 50 and not a consistent number, the answer is that not all genes are present for all people. Some individuals don’t have some genes as part of their genome. However, 677 and 1298 appear to be consistently present which likely emphasizes their importance. Just as an example of the significance of these two, if you have a partial mutation at just 677, your enzyme is only working at 677. A full mutation at 677 takes you all the way down to 30%. Now that is an MTHFR deficiency that you want to know about.
One of the things that my patients like to hear when we test for a MTHFR deficiency is that it is a one-time test. Genes do not change. So once you have been tested for a MTHFR deficiency, you never have to be subjected to this again. That is great news if you are not a fan of blood tests. And if needles really spook you, no worries! This information can also be obtained non-invasively by saliva.
Should I care if I have a MTHFR Deficiency?
A MTHFR deficiency is important for you to know. Knowing how this enzyme is working for you may be the difference between you feeling your best and you feeling miserable on a daily basis. Does this seem dramatic? It should because for some people the effects of a MTHFR deficiency are dramatic. A MTHFR deficiency can make the effects of depression much worse. It can cause anxiety that makes you feel like you are crawling out of your skin. Not only that, if you have a family history of two of the most scary diseases, cancer and cardiovascular disease, a MTHFR deficiency may place you at greater risk of developing these diseases also. No one wants to be plagued with a stroke or be told that they have cancer. Should you care? How could you not care if you have a MTHFR deficiency?
Correcting an MTHFR Deficiency
Given the significance of a MTHFR deficiency, you may be thinking that correcting this problem is extremely difficult and complicated. It can be depending on the influence of other genes and lifestyle factors. However, there are some things that I have found as a doctor that consistently work for many people. First, if you have a folate deficiency, which can also be referred to as a folic acid deficiency sometimes, you have to correct the deficiency of this nutrient. This is a true deficiency and not a state of inefficiency as we alluded to at the beginning of this article. The presence of a folate deficiency makes genetic variations of MTHFR, what we have been referring to as a MTHFR deficiency, even more pronounced. The easiest way to address this is by using an active form of folate that is complemented by the nutrients B12 and B6. As many of my patients will verify, having the right form of folate available with B12 and other critical nutrients can make a big difference in the way you feel on a daily basis.