Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Genetic Testing - 23andme

The topic has gained a lot of press lately with the announcement that Angelina Jolie had a preventative mastectomy because she has a rare gene that increases her risk of ovarian and breast cancer. I say good for her and I think we can all benefit from knowing what genes we are carrying and taking action to prevent them from being expressed. It's important to understand that just because you have a gene that increases your risk doesn't mean that it will. It has to be expressed or turned on first.  What turns on various genes can be anything from environmental factors, physical and/or emotional stress and food/supplements you eat or don't eat.

There are several different genetic tests out there, many of them only test for specific genes but there's one I did at 23andme that tests for hundreds of thousands of genes and their website has all kinds of information and reports that tell you if you have increased risk of certain diseases or any inherited conditions. It even has a relative finder. The test used to be $299 but they lowered the price to $99 at the beginning of the year which is one heck of a deal. They also recently started a referral program so if you're interested in the test, I encourage you to use this 23andme link and I get a $10 Amazon gift card. :)

23andme provides you with the raw data too which is a text file you can import into various applications that will provide you with more detailed reports.  Some of these applications have a small fee and others are available for free. I did this test for the methylation genes which are important for detoxification, immune function, mood and just general health. Without a good functioning methylation pathway, you are at high risk for getting very sick. Knowing which genes you have in this methylation pathway can help you avoid health issues. If you already have health issues it becomes an important tool in figuring out what genes may be turned on and causing them. Below are a couple of good apps I would recommend that pulls the methylation and other genes from your raw data and some provide health reports.
  • Genetic Genie - free and includes 31 genes related to methylation. See a sample report.
  • MTHFRsupport - $20 and includes genes related to methylation, allergies, mitochondrial, thyroid, detox, clotting and more. You can also contact them and they will go over the report with you and tell you what each gene's function is in more detail. If you don't want to pay for a consultation, another option is listening to this BlogTalkRadio interview where they go over many of them in detail. See a sample report.
  • Livewello -  The Livewello Gene Reporting tool uses your Raw Data Genome from 23andme to generate a Gene Variance report which contains information on thousands of disease related genes.Cost is $19.95
  • Promethease - For $5 offers a variety of health information based on your 23andme results. See a sample report.
Unfortunately this method of treatment and disease prevention, called epigenetics or nutrigenomics,  is still very new so if you were to take one of these reports to your doctor they may not know what to do with it. An ND or Functional Medicine doctor are your best bets. Search online for someone in your area and call around to doctor's offices to see if they are familiar with 23andme and methylation.  There is a list of knowledgeable doctors on mthfrsupport that continues to grow.  If there's no one in your area there are some that also do phone consultations which is what I'm currently doing in addition to working with my ND.

I posted my methylation results before in a different blog post here. It is interesting to see how my lab test results I had done correlate with the genes I have.  For example, one of the genes in the MTHFRsupport report is CTH S4031I (rs1021737 from 23andme) and this gene produces an enzyme that converts Cystathionine to Cysteine.  In the Metametrix ION profile I had done it showed my Cystathionine level was very high which makes sense because I am +/+ in that gene.  B6 is the supplement that aids in that conversion process so that should help lower my cystathionine and get things moving in the right direction. I found several instances in lab testing that confirmed that several of my genes are being expressed (turned on) which has helped in identifying what supplements I need to take to improve my health.

This is a handy methylation map that shows many of the genes in the cycle. There are a lot of different diagrams out there but I found this one the most helpful. The blue boxes are the methylation genes. I'm not familiar with SAHH and DHPR. I haven't come across those in any of the research I've done so not sure what their role is.  I highlighted the ones that I have on a printout and brought the diagram to my ND to show her because she wasn't very familiar with it. In this map I have BHMT, MTRR, CBS, MTHFR, MAOA and COMT. I think I probably have a little more than most people. There are other genes involved besides these but these seem to be the most important ones.

It is really important that you take care of any gut issues you may have before you start working on a protocol to fix your methylation pathway.  If you have leaky gut, candida, parasites, inflammation etc you are going to have trouble absorbing any of your supplements and getting the nutrition you need out of your food too. Taking a gi stool test is a good place to start.  There's also an order that should be followed:

1st priority: ACAT, SHMT and CBS. Note that ACAT and SHMT are not pictured in the diagram. They are related to gut disbiosis and imbalanced flora and CBS can cause an upregulation of homocysteine, creating toxic levels of ammonia and sulfites.

2nd priority:  COMT, MTR, MTRR, MTHFR, NOS and SUOX.  AHCY, BHMT and PEMT have also recently been added as 2nd priority mutations.  BHMT is the methylation shortcut so if you have MTR and/or MTRR mutations BHMT should be supported first to get the cycle going. This is done with supplementing with TMG as noted in the diagram. This is the step I'm currently at because I have 4 of the 6 MTRR mutations. Eventually I'll be able to start supporting the other 2nd priority mutations with active forms of folate and B12.

Other: SUOX, MAO A, NOS, ACE, PEMT. I have MAO A which breaks down serotonin. They call it the warrior gene because it can cause aggression, violation and antisocial behaviors. I also have PEMT which can cause problems converting phosphatidylethanolamine to phosphatidylcholine so am taking sunflower lecithin which contains high levels of choline.  I have already noticed since taking it that I am able to remember my dreams easier than I used to.

You can learn more about each of these mutations in Chapter 6 of Dr. Amy Yasko's Autism Pathways to Recovery e-book.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Gluten Free Sugar Free Banana Bread

Gluten Free Sugar Free Banana Bread I haven't done a lot of baking since I've gone gluten free.  Since my candida has cleared up I've been starting to add a little bit of fruit back into my diet.  I had been putting banana in my morning shakes and had a few that I wasn't able to eat fast enough so I decided to try out some banana bread.

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found on glutenfreeconfessions.com.  I only had 3 bananas and I thought 6 was a little too many for banana bread anyway. I used a combination of brown and sweet white rice flour and didn't use any nuts.  My recipe was just enough to make one good sized loaf. I was happy with how much the bread rose after baking. Past attempts at banana bread didn't rise very much and were very dense but not this time.

Recipe: Gluten Free Sugar Free Banana Bread

Yield: 1 loaf
Total time: 1 hour

1 Cup brown rice flour
1 Cup sweet white rice flour
1 Tbsp tapioca flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp green leaf stevia (optional)

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg
1/4-1/2 Cup honey
1/2 Cup coconut oil, softened

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl.
3. Beat egg in small bowl, stir in remaining wet ingredients.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
5. Line bread pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
6. Pour batter into bread pan and even top with spatula.
7. Bake in oven for 45 minutes. Insert knife to check doneness. If knife doesn't come out clean, continue to cook, checking every 10 minutes for doneness.
8. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.
9. Slice and serve with a smear of butter.

Author: Paula Thomas

Monday, May 06, 2013

Mushroom Tacos with Pear Slaw

Mushroom Tacos I have to admit, I'm not much of a mushroom fan. I usually pick them out if they're served to me in restaurants.  Mark thought I was insane for wanting to make mushroom tacos but hey I had to make something out of the Herbivoracious Sandwiches and Tacos section and it just seemed to be the best option to go along with my diet.

I again made a couple of small substitutions and two of them were not on purpose.  The recipe calls for shitake mushrooms but I messed up and got portabello mushrooms.  I didn't want to go back the store and get the right kind because I would probably never use the portabellos so I just went with it.  They can't taste that different right?  The other accidental substitution I made was with the type of pears.  The recipe calls for Asian pears but I wasn't able to find any at PCC when I did my shopping so I went with my favorite pear, the d'anjou. The last substitution I made was on the oil.  I don't use vegetable oil anymore, so I used coconut oil, the oil I use most for cooking with.

One of the things I like best about the Herbivoracious Cookbook are the labels next to the recipes indicating if they are vegan or gluten free as well as the amount of servings and time it takes to make.  It's very helpful information and I wish all recipes had that info.  Unfortunately, they always seem to take longer to make than the recipe says. It could be because I spend a bit of time taking pictures and video.

I surprisingly ate the tacos without picking out the mushrooms and actually enjoyed them. The mushrooms soaked up a lot of the flavors from the onions and jalapenos so they didn't really taste like mushrooms but I don't plan on adding them to my diet on a regular basis.  I had extra filling leftover so I used it as stuffing for a roasted acorn squash.

Check out the video below if you want to see what all is in these tacos and make them yourself.