#geneticimpactonhormones #epigenetics #hormonebalance #yourgenesarenotyourdestiny #perimenopause #menopausesymptoms #functionalnutrition #nutritionaltherapy #3x4geneticstest #genetictesting #nutrigenomics
Have you ever heard the phrase "that’s just the way you are''? As much as I want to encourage you to accept and love your body the way it is, you don’t have to suffer or just feel mediocre because nobody can find what’s wrong with you. Also, in perimenopause and menopause I see it all the time that women are suffering and think they have to accept their fate and suck it up until hopefully relief comes once menopause is finally there. NO! I swear it doesn’t have to be that way. But that’s actually a topic I want to cover more in-depth in next week’s blogpost, this week I want to talk a little bit more about our genetics and how we can actually influence the way they express or not.
I’ve finally done my genetic test this year and I do have very bad genes!
But the good news is that genes aren't everything. Even if you inherited some not-so-great genes from your parents, there are still things you can do to change your health outcomes.
Enter the world of epigenetics, which is all about how our environment and lifestyle can impact gene expression. That means even if you have a genetic predisposition to something like heart disease, you can still reduce your risk by making positive lifestyle changes.
The thing is, you probably know a lot about your body already and sometimes, a test like this will just give you confirmation of what you’ve been feeling or suspecting or actually tell you that the root of your symptom is actually something else and now you know how to change it and feel better. The test only tells you what your genetic profile is, if these genes are turned on or not, is up to you!
Let me share some background and examples from my test to explain this better:
I’ve had imbalanced hormones I guess ever since I had my first period and up until my mid-thirties when I changed my diet to a Paleostyle diet and also started working on digestion, stress management and trauma. That had a profound impact on my hormones and for the first time ever, I did not suffer from hormonal migraines, irritability, bloating, cramping, extreme fatigue etc anymore before my period.
However, every time I’m traveling or having a bit of extra stress, my cycle will get irregular again.
Apart from that, I’ve cleaned up all my body care, detergents, cleaning products and am avoiding pesticides, additives etc in food. But again, when I do get exposed to these things, I can always feel it. Now lately I was wondering how it could be that after all these efforts I still don’t seem to be able to tolerate much of a toxin, stress or else.
My liver enzymes have been chronically elevated - not very high but a little bit. My blood sugar seems incredibly sensitive despite a very low carb and low sugar diet. I started feeling the decline in progesterone as early as 35 I believe and have had to up level my progesterone support every couple of years since then. My clients sometimes get frustrated and wonder how it can be that despite all these efforts they still don't feel great. I can really relate when my clients wonder because i've been wondering too about myself: is this really just in my head? My doctor says my liver is fine although I feel it's not. He says oh well your blood sugar maybe it's just the way you are. Well, I finally got some answers and I feel so relieved to see that I'm not crazy, nor making things up and I was right to continue to investigate and listen to my body!
This is what my genetic test revealed, I have:
Impaired Detoxification: I’m actually missing 2 genes that are responsible for phase II liver detox (yikes indeed) and a slow version of an enzyme that’s responsible for clearing chemical drugs, xenobiotics and carcinogens from the liver, which means that it takes my body a longer time to clear out these kind of toxins. As you can imagine, just having the deletion of one of these genes would have been enough, but I’m missing 2 plus having a slow clearance of chemicals from my body. Although this is not great news at all, I was so relieved when I saw this: I finally have proof that I’m not crazy and that my symptoms are not just something in my head. It definitely explains why I’m feeling less good as soon as I stop supporting detox. So the clarity that knowledge like this brings can sometimes be really liberating.
Very High Oxidative Stress my ability to manage oxidative stress may be very limited. Oxidative stress contributes to premature aging and several other diseases. So again, great combination together with my detox profile. But I now know that I also need to focus on eating foods high in antioxidants and probably supplementing with them, plus avoiding pollutants
High Cholesterol: I have 3 different enzymes that make me prone to elevated LDL and triglycerides: this is actually an interesting one: back in the time when I was a vegetarian, my cholesterol was high and especially the ratio wasn’t good. Since I’ve been eating more animal protein again and eating a high fat diet, but staying away from vegetable oils, my cholesterol ratio has been great. My overall cholesterol is still on the higher side, but it’s mostly HDL and lower LDL and triglycerides. So this is a great example of how you can impact a predisposition with diet (and of course regular exercise too!)
Impaired Methylation: Methylation is a biochemical process involved in the production, repair, and behavior of genes and metabolic processes. It’s crucial to get specific nutrients so that your body can assure all processes are running smoothly. Impaired methylation will lead to hormone imbalance, cardiovascular risk and many more
These last 2 together put me at a higher risk of cardiovascular risk
Impaired Hormone Balance: really? What a surprise (*eye rolling*). Well with a liver function like mine I guess there’s not many corners to cut! As I mentioned in the beginning, my hormone balance got MUCH better when I changed my diet, really focusing on all the hormone balancing foods and also working on absorbing them!
Impaired Memory & Brain Health: hello APOE gene! Not exactly great news that I’m prone to getting Alzheimer’s disease, but on the other hand, I kind of had expected it and as I said, I will do everything possible to avoid getting it - so we’ll see who wins…
Increased need for B12: that’s great to know that I need to put extra focus on not only consuming a lot of foods high in B12, but also supplementing with a methylated (see above) form of B12. Sometimes you’re eating a “perfect” diet but are still not feeling right because you’re just lacking some nutrients. The test also includes this information about other Vitamins and nutrients, but this one was the only one that was flagged for me.
Exercise: I also learnt that I have a good training response to exercise and that I need to build my power capacity by balancing endurance training with regular high-intensity interval workouts. The best type of exercise for me are full-body functional movements, and following a consistent and progressive training plan to maximize gains. On the other hand, I need to be very careful with overexercising due to my high risk of oxidative stress that can be worsened if I overdo it.
You may say wow too much detail - I didn’t want to know all these things about you Marieke! Hey I get that, the only reason I’m sharing this with you is because I want you to understand that your genes are not your destiny! Do I have all these things? No, and I will continue to work on keeping those genes turned off where possible. Now with a deletion of a gene like the ones I have for my liver, there's not much I can do but continuously take supplements and make sure I help my body to move out toxins on a regular basis, but I can still do something :-)
Here's my plan:
Focus on supplements to support my cellular health especially
Continue my regular detox routine
Continue my clean lifestyle
Continue to eat plenty of (pesticide free) vegetables, eat especially the purple foods for brain health, high protein and healthy fats and keep it low carb for my blood sugar + add specific supplements for blood sugar support in luteal phase
Continue to eat a lot of fatty fish and supplement with high quality Omega 3
Increase B12 supplementation
Add MSM to my supplement regimen
Increase intake of zinc
Support liver phase II detox with supplements
Continue exercise, movement and daily time outside
Implement brain training techniques to keep my brain flexible
If your mom suffered in perimenopause or menopause, yes you are likely to experience the same. HOWEVER, you don’t have to accept that verdict, you can work on influencing it with diet and lifestyle choices that will have a positive impact and possibly change your story!
By making smart lifestyle choices, we can change our genetic destiny and promote better health for ourselves and our future.
If you are interested in doing a genetic test and get a tailored protocol for yourself, book a free clarity call here so we can discuss your options.