Dietary & Lifestyle Strategies to Support Methylation (Part 3 of 3)

To build on the information presented to you in Parts 1 and 2 of this blog post series, today’s focus is on those dietary and lifestyle strategies that support more optimal methylation processes in the body.

Firstly, beyond introducing many toxins to the body, smoking contributes to low blood folate and hyperhomocysteinemia (high blood homocysteine level), by inhibiting methionine synthase (an methionine-regenerating enzyme) and lowering internal vitamin B12 production.[i]

Reducing caffeine intake and engaging in regular exercise would also contribute to a well-balanced lifestyle plan. Physical activity may be particularly important, as those with polymorphism C677T SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.[ii] Individuals with this genetic variant are also likely at increased risk of greater stress reactivity and depression, so some sort of mindfulness or yoga practice as part of their regular physical activity practices may also be beneficial.[iii]

Those with A1298C SNPs may be at increased risk for ischemic stroke[iv], which occurs when the arteries leading to your brain become narrowed or blocked. As such, nutritious dietary choices, in combination with physical activity to ensure overall cardiometabolic disease markers are appropriate, is of increased importance.

Ensuring adequate stomach acid, so as to help split vitamin B12 from proteins and break down the proteins in general, is also important. Using betaine hydrochloric acid (betaine HCl) may really benefit methylation patterns, because it can help reduce homocysteine levels via methionine[v], both of which are amino acids (the building blocks of protein in the body).

Alcohol consumption and use of oral contraceptives and mood stabilizers may also affect the rate and efficiency of methylation.[vi] Discontinued use would likely benefit those genetically predisposed to less-than-optimal methylation (hypomethylation). Generally, we wouldn’t want to promote any behaviours that introduce excess xenobiotics (foreign chemical substances) into the body, thereby decreasing requirements and methylation inhibitors and competitors.

Probiotic supplementation should also be investigated. One study demonstrated that, when isolated, bacterial strain Lactobacillus helveticus CD6 produced 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (the metabolically-active form of folate) as a by-product of fermenting milk.[vii] Several probiotic strains of bacteria, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, have been shown in animal studies to promote increased S-Adenosyl methionine (SAM-e) and catecholamine metabolism by the liver[viii], which are a naturally-occurring compound and adrenal gland hormone, respectively.

ENDNOTES

[i] Nielsen, G., Congiu, C., Bortolomasi, M., Bonvicini, C., Bignotti, S., Abate, M., …, & Minelli, A. (2015). MTHFR: Genetic variants, expression analysis and COMT interaction in major depressive disorder. J Affect Disord. Epub May 11.

[ii] Oberg, E., Givant, C., Fisk, B., Parikh, C., & Bradley, R. (2015). Epigenetics in Clinical Practice: Characterizing Patient and Provider Experiences with MTHFR Polymorphisms and Methylfolate. J

[iii] Oberg, E., Givant, C., Fisk, B., Parikh, C., & Bradley, R. (2015). Epigenetics in Clinical Practice: Characterizing Patient and Provider Experiences with MTHFR Polymorphisms and Methylfolate. J

[iv] Oberg, E., Givant, C., Fisk, B., Parikh, C., & Bradley, R. (2015). Epigenetics in Clinical Practice: Characterizing Patient and Provider Experiences with MTHFR Polymorphisms and Methylfolate. J

[v] Medici, V., Schroeder, D., Woods, R., LaSalle, J., Geng, Y., Shibata, N., …, & Halsted, C. (2014). Methylation and Gene Expression Responses to Ethanol Feeding and Betaine Supplementation in Cystathionine Beta Synthase-Deficient Mouse. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 38(6).

Melse-Boonstra, A., Holm, P., Ueland, P., Olthof, M., Clarke, R., & Verhof, P. (2005). Betaine concentration as a determinant of fasting total homocysteine concentrations and the effect of folic acid supplementation on betaine concentrations. The Am J of Clin Nutr. 81.

[vi] Nielsen, G., Congiu, C., Bortolomasi, M., Bonvicini, C., Bignotti, S., Abate, M., …, & Minelli, A. (2015). MTHFR: Genetic variants, expression analysis and COMT interaction in major depressive disorder. J Affect Disord. Epub May 11.

[vii] Ahire, J., Mokashe, M., Patil, H., & Chaudhari, B. (2013). Antioxidative potential of folate producing probiotic Lactobacillus helveticus CD6. J Food Sci Technol. Epub Feb 2014.

[viii] Tillman, S., Awwad, H., Eskelund, A., Treccani, G., Geisel, J., Wegener, G., & Obeid. (2018). Probiotics Affect One-Carbon Metabolites and Catecholamines in a Genetic Rat Model of Depression. Mol Nutr Food Res. 62(7).

Travis Cox