On Methylation: A Fascinating Insight

I certainly hope my gluten free, fellow B12 deficient aunts are reading this one. Thought this was interesting considering my last blood test showed I need to increase my B12 levels and magnesium.

You have to read Dr. Hyman’s post about this first, but below are the highlights and what you can do about it. 

Methylation is a key biochemical process that is essential for the proper function of almost all of your body’s systems. It occurs billions of times every second; it helps repair your DNA on a daily basis; it controls homocysteine (an unhealthy compound that can damage blood vessels); it helps recycle molecules needed for detoxification; and it helps maintain mood and keep inflammation in check.

A breakdown in methylation also puts you at higher risk for conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, cervical dysplasia and cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, depression, pediatric cognitive dysfunction ( mood and other behavioral disorders), dementia, and stroke.

To avoid all of these problems, the key is to maximize methylation. That means avoiding the things that cause your methylation to break down, testing to find out how well your methylation is working, and including the things that support proper methylation. Let’s look at how to do that.

8 Factors that Affect Your Methylation Process

  1. Genetics – Like an estimated 20 percent of us, you could be genetically predisposed to high homocysteine
  2. Poor diet – The word “folate” comes from “foliage.” You need to eat plenty of leafy greens, beans, fruit, and whole grains to get adequate levels of vitamins B6 and B12, betaine, and folate. Egg yolks, meat, liver, and oily fish are the main dietary sources of vitamin B12 — so long-term vegan diets can be a problem. Plus, certain compounds can raise levels of homocysteine and deplete the B vitamins. These include excess animal protein, sugar, saturated fat, coffee, and alcohol. Irradiation of food depletes nutrients, so foods treated this way may be lower in B vitamins, too
  3. Smoking – The carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke inactivates vitamin B6
  4. Malabsorption – Conditions like digestive diseases, food allergies, and even aging can reduce absorption of nutrients
  5. Decreased stomach acid – Aging and other conditions can reduce stomach acid — and therefore absorption of vitamin B12
  6. Medications – Drugs like acid blockers, methotrexate (for cancer and arthritis and other autoimmune diseases), oral contraceptives, HCTZ (for high blood pressure), and Dilantin (for seizures) can all affect levels of B vitamins
  7. Other conditions – These include hypothyroidism, kidney failure or having only one kidney, cancer, and pregnancy
  8. Toxic exposures – Some toxins can interfere with vitamin production

Watch out for these factors and you will go a long way toward protecting your methylation.

Measuring Your Own Methylation Process

To find out if your methylation process is optimal, ask your doctor for the following tests:

  • Complete blood count – Like our friend Mr. Roberts, large red blood cells or anemia can be a sign of poor methylation. Red blood cells with a mean corpuscular volume (MCV) greater than 95 can signal a methylation problem
  • Homocysteine – This is one of the most important tests you can ask for. The normal level is less than 13, but the ideal level is likely between 6 and 8
  • Serum or urinary methylmalonic acid – This is a more specific test for vitamin B12 insufficiency. Your levels may be elevated even if you have a normal serum vitamin B12 or homocysteine level
  • Specific urinary amino acids – These can be used to look for unusual metabolism disorders involving vitamins B6 or B12 or folate, which may not show up just by checking methylmalonic acid or homocysteine

12 Tips to Optimize Your Methylation Process

Just as there are many causes of poor methylation, there are lots of things that support its proper functioning. Here’s how to maximize methylation — and prevent conditions like heart disease, cancer, dementia, depression, and more.

  1. Eat more dark, leafy greens – You want to eat l cup a day of vegetables like bok choy, escarole, Swiss chard, kale, watercress, spinach, or dandelion, mustard, collard, or beet greens. These are among the most abundant sources of the nutrients needed for optimal methylation
  2. Get more Bs in your diet – Good food sources include sunflower seeds and wheat germ (vitamin B6); fish and eggs (vitamin B6 and B12); cheese (B12); beans and walnuts (vitamin B6 and folate); leafy dark green vegetables; asparagus, almonds, and whole grains (folate); and liver (all three)
  3. Minimize animal protein, sugar, and saturated fat – Animal protein directly increases homocysteine. Sugar and saturated fat deplete your body’s vitamin stores
  4. Avoid processed foods and canned foods – These are depleted in vitamins
  5. Avoid caffeine – Excess amounts can deplete your B vitamin levels
  6. Limit alcohol to 3 drinks a week – More than this can deplete your B vitamin levels
  7. Don’t smoke – As noted above, smoking inactivates vitamin B6
  8. Avoid medications that interfere with methylation – See notes on this above
  9. Keep the bacteria in your gut healthy – Take probiotic supplements and use other measures to make sure the bacteria in your gut are healthy so you can properly absorb the vitamins you do get
  10. Improve stomach acid – Use herbal digestives (bitters) or taking supplemental HCl
  11. Take supplements that prevent damage from homocysteine – Antioxidants protect you from homocysteine damage. Also make sure you support methylation with supplements like magnesium and zinc
  12. Supplement to help support proper homocysteine metabolism – Talk to your doctor to determine the best doses and forms for you.  Here are a few suggestions:
    Folate (folic acid):
     Amounts can vary based on individual needs from 200 mcg to 1 mg. Some people may also need to take preformed folate (folinic acid or 5 formylTHF) to bypass some of the steps in activating folic acid
    Vitamin B6: Take 2 to 5 mg a day. Some people may need up to 250 mg or even special “active” B6 (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate) to achieve the greatest effect. Doses higher than 500 mg may cause nerve injury
    Vitamin B12: Doses of 500 mcg may be needed to protect against heart disease. Oral vitamin B12 isn’t well absorbed; you may need up to 1 or 2 mg daily. Ask your doctor about B12 shots
    Betaine: This amino acid derivative is needed in doses from 500 to 3,000 mg a day, depending on the person

The more you know…

xoxx

Trish

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Paula’s Double-Dutch Chocolate Fudge Upside-Down Cake

Have you ever had a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake? Remember the texture? The gooey, light, melt-in your mouth cake, with the sweet syrup and pineapple bits glazed perfectly on top?

Well, if you prefer chocolate like me, you’re in for a delicious, unexpected twist on that classic! I couldn’t help but make this at the same time I was experimenting with that cobbler the other day, and it turned out to be so good I now feel no need to order that chocolate flourless lava cake at restaurants because I feel I can make something just as satisfying at home! Okay, who am I kidding, I can’t turn down a flourless lava cake when I’m out… 🙂

But back to business! So this recipe, which was kind of like a cool science fair project, works in mysterious ways. You must have faith it will turn out– it’s very odd but the end result is amazing.

Note to my fellow GF people out there– this is not gluten-free because I made it the original way. I wanted to see how it would turn out with the original recipe before I started doctoring it up to be gluten free. Yes, I tried it, and I received quite the hefty migraine after on account of the gluten I presume, but it honestly was worth it in the moment. Next time I post this recipe though, I promise it will be GF so everyone can enjoy it– including me– guilt free.

Alas— Paula Deen’s DELICIOUS, melt-in-your-mouth-warm-fuzzy-feeling- Double-Dutch Chocolate Fudge Upside-Down Cake

Double-Dutch Chocolate Fudge Upside-Down Cake
Serves 8-10

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour (Used unbleached whole grain all-purpose flour)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided use (I used organic raw cane sugar– which is less processed and Non-GMO)
2 tablespoons, plus 1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (sea salt)
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter (I used KerryGold pure irish butter)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided use
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder, the baking powder, and the salt. Add the milk, the oil, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla, and stir until blended. Stir in the nuts,if using.

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Pour the batter into a greased 9×13-inch pan.

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In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar with the 1/4 cup cocoa powder; stir well. Sprinkle this mixture over the batter in the pan.

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 Using a large spoon, drizzle the boiling water over the cake; do not stir. 
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Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm. Let the cake cool slightly. Cut the cake into squares and place them upside down (gooey side up) on dessert plates.

When you take it out of the oven it looks like this (aka you will think your life is over because you have ruined your precious cake)…..

IMG_20140714_152232530But no fear…. turn that CAKE upside down…..

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And voila! That yummy chocolatey sauce that was on the bottom is now on top!

Serve warm out of the oven with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream! Your guests will love you.

Happy eating, #treatyoself!

Trish

France’s Healthy (and Not-So-Healthy) Habits

Reminiscing the sweet life of France, important insight into stopping and smelling les fleurs!

It’s true, the french are much thinner, have far better complexions, and live much longer than we do. Their population life expectancy is 81.46 (male: 78.35 years female: 84.73 years (2012 est.) , as compared with the US, at 78.6 years.

Although, for a population with such healthy eating habits (and yes, I am including their consumption of fatty foods in healthy), they certainly could use some help in some areas. For one thing, I haven’t been able to walk past the french high school once without having to dodge cigarette buds on the ground or cigarette smoke wafting through the air on every side of me. Not only that, but most french students that I have met, have told me they’ve been drinking alcohol since before they were legally allowed. Which, of course, is normal for us in America too, but that usually means we get a little crazy in…

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Nectarine-Lavande Cobbler (GF)

Good afternoon, friends!

It’s been FAR too long since I posted an authentic Nutrishus recipe, so without further ado, I present you with the perfect summer treat! As I searched our cupboard for cookbooks to choose inspiration from, I came across one of my most favorite, the most classic:  “Lady and Son’s Cookbook” by Paula Deen, which arguably started it all. You can say what you want about the woman, but I happen to think she, like all of us, sometimes says things she doesn’t mean. Aside from my PR statement in an attempt to cut her some slack, one thing no one can deny she’s one wholesome, talented cook!!

This delicious, and super simple recipe is based on her Pear-licious Cobbler. Only I have made it gluten free, used nectarines, butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows [so you get more Omega 3’s which all of us could use more of!], less fat[kefir], and a little less sugar. I also added my secret ingredient which I have been meaning to use since I got back from France over a year ago– Sirop de Lavande.

This is ridiculously simple, and if you don’t have any of the ingredients I switched in, feel free to get creative. You could use peaches, pears, raspberries, blueberries…. etc.. instead of the nectarines. And obviously if you don’t have the Sirop de Lavande–simply sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on top!

Luckily I had enough nectarines, because I realized just in the nick of time that this little nugget (our puppy Zuzu) had grown a liking to them…

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Food lovers everywhere: For best results, serve this right out of the oven with a scoop of french vanilla bean ice cream on top. MELT IN YOUR MOUTH GOOD.

Here’s how to make it:

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Nutrishus® GF Nectarine-Lavande Cobbler

  • 6 juicy ripe nectarines, peeled
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick of butter) (I use KerryGold Pure Irish Butter from grass-fed cows)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sirop Bio Lavande (aka organic lavender sugar syrup)
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup Kefir (1% fat)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract— and if you’re lucky, vanilla beans!

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First place the butter in a baking dish and place in oven at 350 degrees F until the butter melts. Peel nectarines and cut into slices, set aside. Remove the baking dish from the oven (but keep oven on). IMG_20140714_135326455Stir together the brown sugar and brown rice flour. Slowly stir in the kefir and mix well.

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Pour the batter over the melted butter in the pan. Do not stir. 

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Place the nectarine slices on top of the batter; gently pour the Sirop de Lavande over the nectarines.

IMG_20140714_141119275 (Or, if using instead, sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the nectarines). Do not stir. Bake the cobbler for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. 

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This is how it comes out! It’s honestly so delicious that you don’t even need ice cream! Gooey, somewhat crispy, not-too-sweet, delicious!

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Bon appetit et bonne sante,

Trish 🙂

An Amazing Au Jus for your Summer BBQ!

My uncle  Jim is known for his killer BBQ ribs, but recently, after taking a couples cooking course with my aunt, he came home with a delicious, absolutely amazingly simple recipe for chicken!

With corn on the cob, fresh fruity salad, and hungry appetites, we sat down and dug in. I was actually blown away by the flavor–and even more impressed by the simplicity and, at the same time, elegance of the recipe.

Since I only watched from afar, my recipe is a bit rough (ie. I don’t know if he used 5 or 6 sage leaves!), but I promise if it tastes anything at all like what we ate, it’s worth the risk.   
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Here’s how to make it:

CHICKEN

You’ll need:

  • 5 Organic Sage Leaves, chopped finely
  • handful of fresh thyme leaves
  • juice of 3 limes
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Cut a whole chicken down the middle. Place open-side down with skin exposed in a deep oven-safe dish. Drizzle a liberal amount of olive oil and with your hands, make sure oil is evenly distributed on chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly on skin.  Add your thyme, sage, garlic. Add your lime juice to pan. Place in oven at 425 degrees F. Remove from oven when center is no longer pink (approx 40 minutes).

Pour drippings (Your AU JUS) from chicken into oven-safe dish and keep warm until serving.

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Voila! Au Jus!

Flavor doesn’t have to be compromised when you want to make a healthy, mouth watering dish! YUM.

Bon appetit et bonne sante!

Trish