Dr. Jennifer Luis ND

Nutrition and Detox Based on Genetics

The future of medicine is here! Personalized diet, nutrition, lifestyle and supplementation based on your genetics. The ability to efficiently detoxify hormones such as estrogen, chemicals such as scents and pesticides and microbiology byproducts such as mycotoxins can be affected by your genes.

Genetics and Nutrition

Do you get migraines? Respond poorly to alcohol or caffeine? What about weight gain, hair loss, body swelling, insomnia and skin issues? These can be explained by defaults with complex detoxification processes in the liver. If you have researched this before, terms such as MTHFR, COMT, CBS and PONS might be familiar. These are what we call genetic variants (or SNPs) that some people carry.

Checking Your Genetics

The most comprehensive (and the least expensive) way to look at your genetic variants is a two step process. First, go online and order a test kit from 23andMe, which will cost $250 unless you are watching for sales that go as low as $125 about twice per year (Black Friday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day). The report that follows in roughly 4-6 weeks is a lot of fun to read. One section covers ancestry and the other has the genetic traits such as ability to roll your tongue, dislike for the spice cilantro, average or higher than average risk of diabetes and higher risk of tendon ruptures. Genes that have to do with body fat composition, athletic ability, general inflammation are coded too. You can choose to opt out of learning if you carry a breast cancer gene or are a carrier for diseases of the elderly.

Interpreting the Genetics Report

Next, what we want is the raw data from the report. This is the sequencing of your genes in a zip file. Once downloaded, the office staff can instruct you how to upload into a secure medical genetics program (cost $160). The practitioner report is created for interpretation and a specialized treatment plan is created to support deficiencies and bodily processes that are found to have weaker variants. The generated document is over 30 pages long, filled with genetic details and how this may impact the ability to detoxify as one of many areas.

Effects of Genes

Some genetic variants can cause a higher than average requirement for important nutrients and dietary consumption. Examples of the information extracted from the report includes:

  • Vitamin D and Vitamin A processing and transport abilities
  • Metabolic traits such as higher than average requirement for protein or difficulties with glucose metabolism
  • Ability to use Vitamin B12 and folic acid for detoxification
  • A shift in gut flora which would benefit from regular probiotics
  • Difficulties processing estrogen which could suggest prescribing resveratol, glutathione and/or DIM
  • Higher requirement for dietary fibre to prevent elevated cholesterol or hormone imbalance prone to muscle injuries which can be supported with strengthening, stretching, protein and nutrients

Links Between Genes and Health Issues

In the thyroid world, there is a correlation between Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and the MTHFR variant. This is helpful to know and often simple B12 injections can make a huge difference to support detox. The ability to methylate well is important. In the liver, toxic and unwanted substances are broken down or changed to become less harmful and easier to excrete. This is done by several different chemical reactions like methylation, sulfation and glucuronidation. One specific type of estrogen is methylated and then excreted from the body, and when a urine hormone test is completed, we can see the rate of methylation to give a clue about detox ability. With genetic reporting, these genes can be identified and correlated to the labs. It is a fascinating area and gives excellent information to explain symptoms and health challenges. Another important detox variant that I have seen before has to do with the nutrient choline. It isn’t a vitamin, but more similar to an amino acid. Choline is found in food like eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds and organ meats and humans require dietary sources but can make some (not enough) on their own. Choline goes on to make acetylcholine, an important part of our nervous system and phosphatidylcholine which is involved in cell membranes. Cells excrete unwanted substances through the membranes and a lack of choline can result in difficulties detoxing. choline is also the most abundant salt in bile meaning bile can’t be made without it. Bile carries away waste from the liver so here is another way that detox abilities can be poor. The PEMT variant is present in 23andMe testing and it relates to the ability to make both choline and phosphatidylcholine. Supplementing with extra helps to enable proper elimination of detox materials in those with this genetic variant. Vitamin D serum level is another area that has a strong genetic component. Medical scientists have identified 3 genes and variants that relate to the ability to absorb Vit D from the environment, change between the in-active and active form and to transport through the body. Vitamin D is a pro-hormone which helps regulate and is involved with multiple other hormones It is one of the most important vitamins. I often check Vitamin D25OH levels in blood through Lifelabs to determine D-status. If very low, high doses can be prescribed through a pharmacy to bring levels into a healthier range. However, sometimes when re-testing Vitamin D it is noted that levels are still not where they should be at. I aim to get my patients around 125 nm/L, and when that hasn’t happened with high supplementation, there is often 1 or more variant present. Knowing this means higher daily doses are required and safe for this individual.

These are just some examples of the medical report information based on your 23andMe raw data. The document is 30 pages in length and outlines nutrition strategies to support genetic variants detected. If you are interested, go to 23andMe online and either buy the kit or subscribe to their newsletter. The last Flash-Sale of 50% off was in April 2022, but I have regularly seen other discounts throughout the year. I look forward to creating your personalized genetic program.