Understanding Methylation and Your Risk of Disease
When I was a kid, I won a goldfish at a local carnival. I was ecstatic! Not only did I win but that fish was mine! It wasn't my sister's fish. It wasn't my mom's fish. It was all mine!
I was instructed on how to care for it. I was told what food to give it and how often to change the water. Being that I was only eight years old didn't fare well for the fish. I rarely fed him and I didn't change the water. I think you know how the story ends. What I didn't realize at the time was that was my first lesson in lifestyle and epigenetics. If I would've given that fish a puncher's chance by providing it good food and a clean environment to live in, it would've lived longer. Nobody was surprised when I told them that my fish died. Everybody said the same thing. They said, "What did you expect?" You didn't feed it and his water was filthy!" Why don't we have such similar common sense about our own human bodies?
Methylation is a process that occurs in our bodies that carries many responsibilities including stress adaptation and turning genes on and off. If the process of methylation is not up to par, it leaves us vulnerable to inflammation, toxicity and the activation of genes that cause disease. There is a hierarchy of human needs in the human body and survival is at the top. When we expose ourselves, or more specifically our cells, to a toxic environment, our body will use methyl groups first for survival at the expense of other needs like protecting DNA and gene expression.
For example, if methylation is needed for activation of stress hormones and there is a lack of methyl groups available, the body will take them from other uses to activate the hormones to adapt to stress. If we don't adapt to stress we die. This creates problems since the other needs aren't met and new problems arise such as DNA damage.
Causes of Methyl Depletion: Stress!
When most people think of stress, the first thing that usually comes to mind is emotional stress. That is in fact a type of stress but there are more. Physical and chemical stressors are often unknowingly ignored but will wreak havoc on your health just the same. As it turns out, physical, chemical and emotional stressors are the number one cause of methyl groups becoming depleted. We seem to worry about finances and relationships but what about toxic mercury in your mouth? What about personal care products that are filled with carcinogens? How about aluminum-infested anti-perspirant? Methyl groups turn on the stress response but they're also needed to turn it off. Most people are so methyl depleted that they don't have enough methyl groups to turn off the stress response and are in a chronic state of heightened stress.
Find the Cause
The number one priority is finding your stressor(s). For most, there are multiple causes so it's important to look in all areas. After you identify the stressors, it's important to alter your lifestyle to remove them. This is different for everyone and I don't recommend trying to figure it out for yourself.