Five Tips to Get Back on Track with Exercise

Sara Yadlowsky, FMHC

There are many reasons exercise may fall to the wayside:  injury, surgery, a major life event such as a divorce or death, demands of work or simply losing interest in an exercise routine can all disrupt your exercise schedule.  Life is full of ups and downs and sometimes things gets in the way of consistent exercise and movement.

Here are five tips to help you get back on track: 

Choose a Type of Movement
You don’t have to stick with the same type of exercise you have done in the past.  Perhaps it’s time to try something new – maybe something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t.  Think about your current lifestyle and what exercise would suit you best.  There are so many different types of exercise.  You may want to sample a few before you decide on an exercise plan.

 Set Realistic Expectations
Don’t attempt to go from the couch to exercising 7 days a week overnight.  This will often end up in injury and put you BACK on the couch.  Instead come up with a plan that eases you back into consistent movement such as walking 2-3 days a week for 15-20 minutes.  This primes your muscles and joints more effectively.   It also gives you a “win” because it is manageable and you will succeed.  This is great for your mindset and will keep you moving forward with your goals.

Focus on Consistency
One of the most important aspects of forming a new habit is to be consistent.  So rather than working out once a week for 2 hours (and ending up sore and possibly injured) it is much better to exercise 5 days a week for 30 minutes.  Make a commitment to yourself to exercise a specific number of days a week and keep that commitment.  

Get Support from Family and Friends
Let your family know what your new fitness goals are so they can support you.  You may need others to take over some of the tasks around the house so you have time to exercise. Enlisting a friend to exercise with you can help keep you focused and can make exercise more fun.

 Fuel Your Body with Nutritious Foods
You’ll need to make sure you are fueling yourself well when adding exercise back into your routine.  Depending on what type of exercise you are doing you may need more protein than you are currently eating.  Focusing on whole foods with adequate protein, lots of veggies and healthy fats will give you the energy you need to get through your workouts. Exercise is hard sometimes but it should be fun!  Find something you enjoy doing and see how good it makes you feel to move.
 
 Your Partner In Health!
Sara Yadlowsky, FMHC

Kids and Mindfulness

Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC
 You may be thinking that kids and mindfulness are not two things that naturally go together. But as anxiety continues to become an epidemic for our children and teens, we must find ways to help them make mindfulness a part of their lives.

So, what is mindfulness? 

A great definition by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction describes it well:

 Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. 

Stopping, paying attention, and noticing what’s happening around you, and everything you’re feeling, thinking and doing in that particular moment with honesty and without judgment is being mindful.  Sounds easy enough, right?

Actually, this Harvard study found that we spend almost 50% of our time thinking about something else and NOT what we’re actually doing!

Here are just a few of the health benefits of mindfulness that have been researched:
Increased focus and attention
Improved memory and learning
Less anxiety and depression
Better emotional self-regulation
Stronger immune system
Reduced inflammation 

Here are a couple of my favorite mindfulness exercises that you can do with your kids:
 
STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN
 
You and your kids can practice mindfulness anywhere and anytime.  A great way for kids to learn how to be mindful is by using the STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN method.  This involves, STOPPING what you are doing, LOOKING around you and using all 5 senses (what are you seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and even tasting) and LISTENING (listen to your body and mind and how it feels in that moment).

THE FIVE SENSES EXERCISE

Another quick exercise that can be done anywhere is the 5 senses exercise.  Notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.  This exercise can bring you to a mindful state quickly.
These are just a couple of examples of how you can practice mindfulness with your kids.   

Your Partner in Health!
Caroline Wilson, M.Ed., FMHC

Tips To Slow Down

Clarissa A. Kussin, ND, RYT-500

It has never been easier to connect with someone on the other side of the world, yet it’s so easy to feel disconnected from the people closest to us.  We have more tools than ever to simplify tasks and accomplish more things quickly, yet our to-do lists have never been longer. Life is short, and time flies, especially in today’s fast-paced world.  

These exercises are meant to help you slow down, enjoy life, and focus on the most important parts of your day.  Take the time to prioritize daily objectives.
 By focusing on the most important tasks to get done, we eliminate the hustle and stress of trying to accomplish everything at once. 
Cut personal Internet use by half.
Technology has become a major element in most of our lives. Social networking, email, and web-surfing can occasionally cause our minds to lose focus and wander through hundreds of topics, thoughts and ideas.
Try to use half your designated Internet time to explore new hobbies, exercise, or meditate.

 Enjoy nature.
When time permits – take a five to ten minute break to step outside and breathe in some fresh air. Disconnect from the rest of the world and concentrate on the beauty of nature.

Eat slower.
A lot of us tend to speed through meals – missing the chance to appreciate different textures and flavors. Start to chew foods slower and distinguish new tastes, aromas, and consistencies. 
 
Connect and make time for yourself.

Acknowledge and consciously thank yourself for taking care of YOU.  When did you last spend valuable time with yourself? Take a night to find a new book, watch a favorite movie, try yoga, meditate, or cook a new recipe.

Give yourself more time.
Some of us like to stick to a tight schedule and plan all our daily events. Next time you’re jotting down new tasks in your planner, try to factor in a few extra minutes when estimating how long things will take. This will help you not rush through daily tasks.

Take the scenic route.
Next time you’re driving a somewhat long distance – try taking the scenic route. Driving through open fields, mountains, or viewing a city skyline can be very relaxing.

Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer. Even just a few moments of meditation can set the tone for the rest of your day. Try to empty your mind and take deep breaths before jumping into your day’s tasks.

Remember your goals and aspirations.
Each morning when you wake up, take a few moments to think about your life goals and aspirations. Try to recall the milestones you’ve already made in your life, and your drive to achieve new ones. Try doing this for about five minutes before getting out of bed to start your day.

Take the time and share this with someone you love that may need some support in slowing down…

 
Your Partner in Health!
Clarissa Kussin, ND, RYT 500

Health Benefits of Napping

Susan D. Denny, MD, MPH
“No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.” — Carrie Snow

With the hectic pace of day-to-day life, many people don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults typically need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night in order to function at their best. Getting a few less hours for even a few nights in a row can have the same effect as staying awake for 24 hours straight. And, over time, chronic sleep debt can contribute to fatigue, increased stress levels, reduced attention span, and declined cognitive performance.

One way to combat the effects of sleep deprivation—and repay some sleep debt—is to incorporate daytime napping into your schedule. The length of the nap and type of sleep you get during that nap help determine its potential health benefits. The table below identifies these benefits.

Nap Duration  and  Potential Health Benefits

10-20 minutes:
 Reduces sleepiness; improves cognitive performance; increases alertness, attention, and energy levels; improves mood; improves motor performance; reduces stress levels

20-30 minutes:
Enhances creativity; sharpens memory

30-60 minutes:
Sharpens decision-making skills, including memorization and recall; improves memory preservation

60-90 minutes:
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is critical for problem solving; helps make new connections in the brain; enhances creativity; reduces negative reactivity; promotes happiness

  The following is a list of tips and tricks to help you make the most of naptime:

Choose a dark, quiet, comfortable place where you can relax. Try to limit the amount of noise and light in the room, and make sure the temperature is comfortable. Choose a time that works for you, and aim to nap at that time each day to establish a routine. You may find that restricting your naps to early afternoon (between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, or an hour or two after lunch) is less likely to interfere with your nighttime sleep patterns. Set an alarm on your cell phone, watch, or computer so you don’t sleep for too long. If you’re napping at the office, try closing your door and hanging a sign that says, “will return in 20 minutes.” Alternatives to this are napping in your car or on an outdoor bench.

Wherever you nap, bring along something that you associate with sleep. Some ideas include a sleep mask, neck pillow, relaxing playlist and headphones, cozy blanket, warm socks, and lavender essential oil to dab on your pulse points.

Keep in mind that longer naps may be accompanied by sleep inertia, or a period of grogginess that sometimes follows sleep. Give yourself time to wake fully before returning to any activity that requires a quick or sharp response. 

Your Partner In Health!
Susan D. Denny, MD, MPH

Tips To Slow Down

By: Clarissa Kussin, FMHC, RYT 500, ND

It has never been easier to connect with someone on the other side of the world, yet it’s so easy to feel disconnected from the people closest to us.  We have more tools than ever to simplify tasks and accomplish more things quickly, yet our to-do lists have never been longer. Life is short, and time flies, especially in today’s fast-paced world.  

These exercises are meant to help you slow down, enjoy life, and focus on the most important parts of your day.  Take the time to prioritize daily objectives.
 By focusing on the most important tasks to get done, we eliminate the hustle and stress of trying to accomplish everything at once. 


Cut personal Internet use by half.
Technology has become a major element in most of our lives. Social networking, email, and web-surfing can occasionally cause our minds to lose focus and wander through hundreds of topics, thoughts and ideas.
Try to use half your designated Internet time to explore new hobbies, exercise, or meditate.

 Enjoy nature.
When time permits – take a five to ten minute break to step outside and breathe in some fresh air. Disconnect from the rest of the world and concentrate on the beauty of nature.

Eat slower.
A lot of us tend to speed through meals – missing the chance to appreciate different textures and flavors. Start to chew foods slower and distinguish new tastes, aromas, and consistencies. 
 
Connect and make time for yourself.

Acknowledge and consciously thank yourself for taking care of YOU.  When did you last spend valuable time with yourself? Take a night to find a new book, watch a favorite movie, try yoga, meditate, or cook a new recipe.

Give yourself more time.
Some of us like to stick to a tight schedule and plan all our daily events. Next time you’re jotting down new tasks in your planner, try to factor in a few extra minutes when estimating how long things will take. This will help you not rush through daily tasks.

Take the scenic route.
Next time you’re driving a somewhat long distance – try taking the scenic route. Driving through open fields, mountains, or viewing a city skyline can be very relaxing.

Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer. Even just a few moments of meditation can set the tone for the rest of your day. Try to empty your mind and take deep breaths before jumping into your day’s tasks.

Remember your goals and aspirations.
Each morning when you wake up, take a few moments to think about your life goals and aspirations. Try to recall the milestones you’ve already made in your life, and your drive to achieve new ones. Try doing this for about five minutes before getting out of bed to start your day.

Take the time and share this with someone you love that may need some support in slowing down…

Stress And The Body

Blair Cuneo
By: Blair Cuneo PA-C

As the world brings unprecedented change, we at Carolina Total Wellness remain dedicated to offering resources for your overall health and well-being.

Stress is an inevitable part of life — we can certainly agree on that, can’t we? There are some things in life that we just can’t dodge, no matter how much we want to, and stress is one of them. There’s always a few too many things on our to-do lists, a big project at work that is due next week, or a virus that has literally shut our nation down.

Overwhelming stress can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing — including sleep issues, headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, digestion problems — the list goes on. It’s incredible the amount of influence stress has on how our bodies function.

Even though you cannot avoid stress, equipping yourself with practical tools to combat stress can make a drastic difference in your life.

Here are a few practical ways to cope with symptoms of increased stress:

Poor Sleep. Being consistent and going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends even when we don’t have to, is extremely helpful for regulating the quality of our sleep. Avoiding large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime in addition to removing electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom are helpful. Adding in a guided sleep mediation or a sleep story while diffusing aromatherapy can help deepen the relaxation process. Rose, geranium and valerian are some essential oils you can diffuse.

Headaches. A tension headache is generally a diffuse, mild to moderate pain in your head that’s often described as feeling like a tight band around your head. They are also described as snugness or weight around the temple of your head or the back of your head and neck. The headaches are also commonly called tension headaches and they are the most widely recognized among adults. Applying peppermint essential oil to the temples has been shown to reduce the symptoms of tension headaches and applying lavender oil is also highly effective at reducing migraine pain and associated symptoms when applied to the upper lip and inhaled. Using a specially formulated CBD-infused roll-on that contains all the plant power of Premium Hemp Flower Extract combined with an array of healing herbs to help soothe and comfort, packed into a convenient roll-on applicator. Ideal for use on the go or anyone looking for targeted results. Roll it on, anywhere – pressure points, temples, knees or wrists – for pinpointed relief, on the spot. We offer the Ananda Hemp Roll On through our webstore.

Muscle Tension. If you suffer from muscle tension, stiffness or soreness, then the first step is a hot bath with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts added to the water. It can relieve back pain and swelling of muscle tension. Follow this with the application of a topical CBD salve or lotion, and you might feel a dramatic relief. Myofascial release with a foam roller is also very helpful. In addition, you can use a lacrosse ball. Simply place your body against a wall and then place the lacrosse ball on your upper shoulders and release any pain points.

Fatigue. While the main symptoms of fatigue are a general feeling of weariness or being tired or drowsy, stress-related fatigue is usually accompanied by other symptoms: sore or aching muscles, or feeling of muscle weakness, headache, moodiness, irritability, or easily being agitated. Dizziness and blurred vision and loss of appetite can also be symptoms. An effective solution is deep breathing. The majority of people do not naturally breathe deeply, but instead, breathe very shallow breaths. Stop and notice how you are breathing right now. Chances are, you are not breathing deep enough to fill your lungs to the point your stomach extends. It can be quite a hard habit to change since our bodies do the breathing for us without having to think about it. Deep breathing provides the brain with optimal levels of oxygen which has many health benefits. Practicing deep breathing three times a day will help re-train this habit and will help decrease stress levels thus elevating overall fatigue.

Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. With deep “belly” breathing, your abdominal hand will move more than your chest hand. This will make sure that you are breathing deep into the bottom of the lungs.

Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath at the top of inhalation for a count of 4 and exhale through your nose for a count of 6-8. Do this slowly. Contract your abdominal muscles at the bottom of exhalation to make sure that you have expelled all the air out of your lungs.

Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breaths and try to breathe at a rate of one breath every 10 seconds (or 6 breaths per minute). At this rate our heart rate variability increases which has a positive effect on cardiac health.

With daily practice, this breathing will become more second nature and done without thought.

Digestive Issues. Some teas such as ginger tea, chamomile tea, fennel infusions and lavender tea help to relieve stress as well as many symptoms of indigestion. These teas have antispasmodic properties that can greatly relieve stomach upset. The best teas for digestion help to relive excess gas, bloating and stomach discomfort. Another reason to drink herbal teas for digestion is that the increase in fluid boosts digestive health.

Regular Crafting Helps Undo Damage From Screentime

927 crafting improves health and brain

If you’re like most people today, you spend hours a day in front of a screen. Americans now spend at least half their lives in front of a screen, five times as long compared to 50 years ago. This excessive screen time has been linked with neurodevelopmental issues in children and “digital dementia” in adults, not to mention depression, isolation, sleep disorders, and anxiety.

While the answer is to spend less time using screens, the problem is screen time also appears to be uniquely addictive for us all.

Is there an antidote? Studies show spending time working with your hands crafting, building, gardening, etc. can provide unique qualities that boost your physical and neurological health. If you’re working to manage a chronic condition such as autoimmune disease of gastrointestinal disease, regular craft time can be a fun and beneficial tool in your health toolbox.

For instance, knitting, crocheting, sewing, and other textile crafts have been shown to have the same neurological benefits as meditation and mindfulness.

Regular knitters have reported knitting makes them feel happy and they are drawn to the craft for its stress relief and anti-anxiety effects. People who knit three or more times a week reported more benefit than those who knitted less frequently.

What’s more, people who knitted in a group or did some other type of group craft activity were even happier than those who knitted solo, thanks to the proven health benefits of socialization.

About three quarters of patients with anorexia nervosa reported knitting distracted them from obsessive, ruminating thoughts about food and weight and helped them feel more relaxed.

Oncology nurses reported knitting reduced compassion fatigue and stress in one study, and another found people with chronic fatigue, depression, and other chronic health disorders experienced increased positivity and well being engaging in textile crafts.

While these crafts are associated primarily with women, research has also found traditionally male crafts, such as woodworking, repair jobs, and “tinkering” impart the same benefits.

The benefits of crafting are believed to be derived from the “flow state” of repetitive mindful action crafts require.

Working with your hands is good for the brain

Although crafting delivers psychological benefits that translate into biochemical mood boosts, there is another important aspect of crafting — working with your hands is great for the brain.

In an era when many of us use our hands primarily for texting, typing, and swiping, handiwork and crafting can activate long dormant areas of the brain. And healthy brain activity in one area, such as the “hands” area, will help improve activity throughout the rest of the brain, contributing to overall improved brain health.

Working with your hands on something physical boosts reward circuits in the brain in ways working abstractly only with your brain doesn’t. This in turn triggers a cascade of neurochemical reactions that improve motivation and self-esteem and relieve depression.

The repetition, memory, and learning required when engaging in a task keeps the brain engaged in a mindful manner while freeing up the “thinking” centers of the brain that are engaged for knowledge tasks. This is not only calming and therapeutic for anxiety and obsessive thoughts, but many people report that this cognitive brain break allows problem solving and creative solutions to spontaneously arrive while crafting.

Knitting, woodworking, scrapbooking, and other crafts may seem like an odd recovery tool when you’re working to manage autoimmunity, gastrointestinal disease, or other chronic health disorders, but once you understand their physical and mental benefits, it makes perfect sense to ditch the screen for some handiwork on a frequent basis.

How To Avoid Autoimmune Flares During Holiday Travels

920 staying healthy while traveling

As if managing an autoimmune condition isn’t hard enough, traveling and holiday schedules can make it downright daunting. Staying with relatives, life on the road and in airports, trying to prepare a good meal in a hotel room, and constantly being offered foods that will throw your autoimmune symptoms into a tailspin all present constant challenges. However, sticking to your autoimmune protocol and diet as much as possible will help prevent flares and relapses so you don’t spend the holidays crashed in bed.

So how do you manage? First, check in with your stress levels. Stress is one of the most potent triggers for flare ups, so commit to a no-stress, can-do attitude. You simply need to invest in a little advance planning and strategic thinking.

Following are tips to stick to your autoimmune protocol and diet while traveling.

Don’t let yourself get too hungry! Letting yourself get overly hungry is the biggest saboteur of the best laid plans. It’s only natural to want to eat when your energy is flagging and you’re starving. This will make you more likely to eat trigger foods, such as gluten or dairy.

Map out your options at your destination before you arrive. Is there a Whole Foods or other health food market in the area? Will your hotel room have a fridge?

You can also travel with frozen food you have insulated to heat up at your destination. Some people even bring their own hot plate and cookware.

Also, make sure you have plenty to eat on long flights, such as beef jerky, celery, sardines, olives, coconut meat, and other filling snacks.

Pack plenty of anti-inflammatory support. Traveling during the holidays is stressful. As much as we love them, sometimes our family members can be stressful. Make sure to save space in your check-in luggage for your go-to anti-inflammatory supplements, such as liposomal glutathione, resveratrol, and turmeric. Glutathione is the body’s most powerful antioxidant and essential for preventing and taming autoimmune flares. Liposomal resveratrol and turmeric in high doses are also great.

Early morning flights, long travel days, overstuffed flights, Aunt June’s air freshener, uncomfortable guest beds, and so on — these stressors can deplete glutathione and raise inflammation, so have your arsenal handy.

Effective anti-inflammatory supplements include glutathione precursors such as N-acetyl-cysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, cordyceps, and milk thistle. You can also take s-acetyl-glutathione, or an oral liposomal glutathione. Note that taking straight glutathione is not effective. You also may want to bring a bottle each of a powerful liquid liposomal resveratrol and turmeric — ask my office for more info.

Search ahead for unscented hotel rooms. Sadly, some hotel rooms can knock you over with the sickly perfume stench as soon as you walk through the door. Or the rooms are dusty and stale. Look for hotels that offer scent-free, allergy-friendly rooms with hypoallergenic bedding, air purifiers, and windows that open. Or at least ask them to air out the room for you before you arrive.

Carry a mask to avoid inhaling triggers. Sometimes you’re simply trapped in an environment that is overly scented, smoky, or potentially triggering in some other way. Just in case the woman next to you on the plane reeks of perfume, keep a face mask with you so you can breathe safely. Invest in a quality face mask that allows you to breathe comfortably. If you wear glasses look for one that won’t fog them up. Some companies also make face masks for children.

Schedule in alone time, time away, and time to rest. It’s too easy for a vacation to feel like an overbearing job. Make sure you take naps, read, meditate, or go for peaceful walks. Stress is one of the most powerful inflammatory toxins, so create and enforce boundaries to keep yours as low as you can.

How You Were Born Could Shape the Rest of Your Life

916 microbiome and birth

Whether you’re fat or thin, anxious or relaxed, sickly or resilient — this could all stem from the way you were born thanks to the effects of bacteria in our first few seconds of life. Babies born via c-section are shown to have less desirable gut bacteria, or a gut microbiome, compared to babies born vaginally, who have healthier microbiome “signatures.”

Results from the largest study of the newborn microbiome were recently published. The study found that newborns delivered via c-section lack the healthy gut bacteria found in vaginally delivered babies. Their guts also contain strains of harmful microbes — Enterococcus and Klebsiella — commonly found in hospitals.

In fact, the lead researcher said the levels of harmful hospital bacteria in the c-section newborns was “shocking.” These babies were also deficient in the healthy bacteria that made up most of the guts of the vaginally born babies.

The difference was so profound that he said he can tell you how the baby was born simply by analyzing the bacteria in their stool.

C-section babies missing strain vital for health, weight management, and immune resilience

After several months the gut microbiomes between the two set of infants became more similar with one striking difference — the c-section babies had significantly lower levels of Bacteroides, a strain vital to human health.

Bacteroides are a key strain when it comes to health challenges modern societies face. A number of studies have shown Bacteroides levels are lower in people with obesity. Studies in both mice and humans show that when gut bacteria from thin subjects are transplanted into the colons of obese subjects, most subjects lose weight.

Bacteroides has also been linked with preventing anxiety, and boosting and regulating immunity to prevent inflammatory disorders. This may explain why people who were born via c-section are at increased risk for obesity and asthma.

The study is part of a larger Baby Biome study that is following thousands of newborns through childhood.

Why method of birth affects the gut microbiome

Research suggests that the vaginal canal imparts beneficial bacteria to the infant during birth, while c-section babies are deprived of that and instead immediately exposed to the bacteria of the hospital and the people attending the birth. Studies are underway in which babies born via c-section are swabbed with the mother’s vaginal microbes.

Other factors to consider beyond birth

It may not just be the birth that determines a c-section baby’s poorer microbiome status. Women who undergo c-sections also receive antibiotics, which may transfer to the newborn through the placenta and later through breast milk. These babies also tend to stay in the hospital longer and thus are exposed to more hospital bacteria.

How to develop healthy gut bacteria

Developing good gut bacteria is not neccesarily as simple as taking probiotics. You may also be overrun with detrimental bacteria that need to be “weeded.”

Perhaps most important is whether your diet supports a healthy gut microbiome.

What the gut microbiome needs most is an ample supply of vegetables and fruits on a regular basis in a wide, ever changing variety. Eating a diverse and abundanat array of plant foods will help create a diverse and abundant gut microbiome.

Ask my office for more advice on how we can help you improve your gut microbiome and overall health.

What is MTHFR and Why Should You Care?

915 MTHFR

Have you been googling for ways to improve your hypothyroid or brain condition and come across suggestions to test MTHFR? What is MTHFR and what does it have to do with hypothyroidism or the brain? If you are one of the 60 percent of people with a genetic defect in the MTHFR gene, it could affect your ability to successfully manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or brain-based symptoms.

MTHFR is the acronym for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme involved in processing folate, or vitamin B9, into a usable form the body can assimilate. It’s also necessary to metabolize folic acid, a synthetic form of folate used in supplements.

Thanks to the popularity of gene testing, people can now learn whether they have a mutation in the MTHFR gene. If so, it means their methylation pathways are impacted and contributing to health challenges.

Methylation pathways govern detoxification and many important metabolic processes in the body, which makes a MTHFR defect something worth paying attention to. If you are struggling to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or brain-based symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, or depression, you may find the MTHFR test valuable.

Methylation is a process of adding a methyl group to a molecule. Methylation’s roles jobs include the following:

  • Turning genes on and off
  • Detoxifying chemicals and toxins from the body
  • Building brain neurotransmitters
  • Metabolizing hormones to maintain hormonal balance
  • Building immune cells
  • Synthesizing DNA and RNA
  • Creating cellular energy
  • Producing a protective coating that sheathes the nerves
  • Metabolizing histamine
  • Supporting eye health
  • Burning fat
  • Supporting liver health

Proper methylation means one can efficiently make proteins, use antioxidants, metabolize hormones, enjoy more balanced brain chemistry, detoxify toxins and heavy metals, and dampen inflammation. All of these factors are vital to managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and brain-based symptoms.

However, if you’re one of the 60 percent of people with a MTHFR genetic defect, you may not be able to properly break down folate in foods or folic acid in supplements.

An inability to properly process folate can raise levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid in the bloodstream that can be dangerous when levels are too high. High homocysteine is linked to an elevated risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Poor methylation also impacts another vital process — the production of glutathione, the body’s main antioxidant. When we become deficient in glutathione, we lose our natural defenses and are at higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases, food sensitivities, and chemical sensitivities.

An MTHFR defect can also impair the body’s ability to synthesize important brain neurotransmitters, so that brain-based disorders may arise. An MTHFR defect has been linked to depression, anxiety, brain fog, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia.

Because methylation is involved in so many important processes in the body, an MTHFR gene defect has been associated with many health conditions, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Venous thrombosis
  • Cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Mental and mood disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

If you are trying to manage a condition like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or brain-based symptoms, it’s imperative that you be able to dampen inflammation and raise glutathione levels. An MTHFR defect can work against you.

Fortunately, it can be easy to address.

First of all, you can test for MTHFR gene mutations through genetic testing companies such as Spectracell or 23andme.com, and get an interpretation at geneticgenie.org.

More than 50 MTHFR genetic mutations exist, but the two considered the most problematic are C677T and A1298C (written as just 677 and 1298).

Also, keep in mind gene defects don’t always become activated. If you show those genes on a test it doesn’t necessarily mean they have been expressed and are causing symptoms.

To address a MTHFR enzyme defect, support your methylation pathways with methylfolate and methylcobalamin (methyl B12). Avoid supplements with folic acid, boost your glutathione levels with high quality oral liposomal glutathione, and minimize your exposure to toxins. These are also beneficial strategies to aid in the management of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and brain-based symptoms.