Do you know your MTHFR status? If you know you have a variant of the MTHFR enzyme/gene, this lifestyle guide is for you! This foundational nutrition tip can be used as a launching point as you begin to incorporate more healthful habits in supporting your methylation pathways.
Nutrition & MTHFR:
Food is medicine! If you know your MTHFR pathway may not be functioning at its best, it’s important to nourish that pathway with food. Unfortunately, many commonly consumed foods make the MTHFR pathway function slower. This includes any food with folic acid added in.
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is the chemical compound of folate that was approved by the FDA in 1996. Beginning in 1998, the food industry was required to add, or enrich, all cereals and processed flours with folic acid. This was done with good intention as folate deficiency during pregnancy was found to be a leading cause of neural tube defects in infants.
Now, nearly 20 years later, we know more. The body’s biochemical process to convert folic acid into folate can be difficult for individuals with specific genetic defects, such as the MTHFR or other Methylation defects. This results in 2 problems: those with impaired folic acid conversion are often still low in folate AND folic acid takes the place of useable folate on the cell’s receptor, further blocking and slowing folate’s function in the body.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but for the purpose of this lifestyle guide:
avoid consuming folic acid and eat abundant foods rich in folate.
Common sources of folic acid (PASS ON THESE):
Any food with “enriched” flour in the ingredients list. This often includes:
Baked goods (pastries, cookies, breads)
Boxed/processed rice mixtures
Some gluten free products
Common sources of folate (EAT UP!)
Leafy greens (lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, collards)
Legumes (beans, lentils, edamame, peanuts)
We have compiled a couple of very accessible, folate rich recipes to try today!
Folate Rich Kale Salad
1 bunch organic lacinato kale (can also be green be green or purple)
2 roasted organic beets
2 boiled pasture-raised eggs
1 small head organic broccoli
1 small avocado
1 small orange
½ cup organic olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Wash and dry kale. Remove stems from leaves. Chop kale to desired thickness.
For beets: slice beets thinly, about ⅛”. Toss in coconut or avocado oil, roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook in pressure cooker. Set cooker to high pressure, select “high” setting and time at 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then release.
Chop broccoli. Embrace the mess and add all the broccoli pieces to your salad!
Toss remaining ingredients!
For dressing: slice orange & lemon, juice onto bowl, add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Drizzle on salad & enjoy!
¼ cup organic almond butter
2 cauliflower florets
1 cup blueberries (frozen)
½ cup mango (frozen)
1” knob fresh ginger, just peeled
2 large handfuls kale, spinach or greens of choice
2 cups organic apple juice
Throw into your high speed blender and blend well.
Additional add-ins for extra nutrient boost:
Ground flax seeds
Adopting a lifestyle and nutrition plan that helps nourish your MTHFR SNPs is a foundational aspect of improving health. A broad way to think of this lifestyle change is avoiding processed foods and eating as much whole, plant-based foods as you can. Those foods will contain the natural form of folate, be more readily absorbed in the body and help your MTHFR pathways function more optimally.
We need folate to make our DNA, that is - we need healthy amounts of folate for cellular repair, regeneration and overall function. Knowing that your body may not convert folic acid to folate well enough means you can take matters into your own hands and consume healthy amounts of folate to serve your optimal health, down to the root cellular process - your DNA.
Keep an eye out for more resources on this topic to come. We are incredibly passionate about spreading our knowledge, research and experience with as many people as we can, optimizing health one person’s pathway at a time!
Optimal health to you,
Dr. Kelsey & Dr. Jen