Dr. Roberts Nutrigenomics Lecture in Columbus Ohio

Learning Is In My Genes!

dna_puzzle_0Last weekend, I attended a one day lecture in Columbus given by Dr. James Roberts, an integrative cardiologist who practices in Toledo.

Remember my trip to Portland to hear Dr. Amy Yasko speak about methylation and gene expression? Dr. Roberts has been using Dr. Yasko’s genetic testing and protocols with adult patients for several years. This was a great follow up to what I learned from Dr. Yasko a few months ago.

Beware, this information is DENSE and technical…if you’ve had genetic testing done and know some of your specific SNPs, you may find a few helpful tidbits here, but don’t expect to absorb and understand the whole thing. But you know me – when I learn, I love to share!

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • There are three main ways our genes determine our health:
    • Genes/genetic errors we inherit from both parents
    • Epigenetic programming–the way our genes are “methylated” (marked) helps determine expression
    • Interaction between our genes and our lifestyle, exposures and even emotions
  • In a study done with rats, pups of mothers who were fed a low protein diet demonstrated a methylation pattern of their genes that predisposed them to high blood pressure in adulthood.
  • The prevalence of MTHFR 677 defects is increasing and is considered to be an adaptive mutation that protects against certain types of cancers.
  • Folate can stand in for BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin) when there is a deficiency in BH4.  BH4 is critical for the formation of neurotransmitters, and is negatively affected by several genetic mutations.
  • Insufficient SAMe (resulting in a low SAM/SAH ratio) inhibits COMT, an enzyme that helps break down estrogens and catecholamines (stress neurotransmitters).
  • When homocysteine is elevated, SAM:SAH ratios, glutathione, DNA methylation and BH4 levels are all compromised.
  • SAMe is involved in:
    • Carnitine production
    • Inactivation of catecholamines
    • Clearing estrogens safely
    • Metabolizing bioflavenoids
    • Generating phosphatidylchole
    • Creatine production
    • Clearing niacin (if you’ve had a bad reaction when using niacin, you are likely to be deficient in SAMe)
  • Alcohol consumption inhibits the MTR enzyme, which directly impacts/lowers SAMe.
  • Studies done on health Finnish men aged 45-64 revealed:
    • High homocysteine and COMT defects (V158 and H62) was a significant cardiovascular risk factor because of persistent elevations in catecholamines.
    • Similarly, increased cardiovascular risk was seen in those with COMT defects who drink coffee.
  • The DNA of workers and queen bees is identical.  Queen bees are fed royal jelly as larvae, resulting in larger, functional ovaries and a much longer life span (years vs. months).
  • With CBS upregulations due to genetic errors:
    • Homocysteine remethylation to SAMe is compromised
    • Excess sulfite (neurotoxic) is produced
    • Excess sulfate (increases fight-flight neurochemicals) is produced
    • Increased hydrogen sulfide (causes brain fog and platelet activation)
    • Glutamate (excitotoxic) increases, especially if heavy metals, particularly lead, are present
    • Ammonia levels go up, using up BH4
    • Cysteine and glutathione levels compromised, impairing detoxification
    • There is a predisposition to GERD, allergies and asthma
  • Things that act as methylation thieves:
    • Fibrates by decreasing GFR (glomular filtration rate)
    • Cholestyramine by blunting folate and B12 absorption
    • Niacin by blocking B6 synthesis and using methyl groups
    • Estradiol by unknown mechanism
    • Testosterone by increasing creatine need
    • Methotrexate by blocking DHFR enzyme
    • Dilantin by slowing MTHFR and MTR enzymes
    • Carbamazepine by depleting folate
    • Cyclosporin by decreasing GFR and slowing MTHFR function
    • Levodopa by increasing SAH generation
    • NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) by thiol-disulfide exchange
    • PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) and H2 blockers (both of these are acid-blocking drugs) by decreasing B12 absorption
    • Oral contraceptives by decreasing B12, B6, folate, B2, C and Zinc
    • Alcohol by decreasing MTR activity and causing folate deficiency
    • Mercury by decreasing MTR activity
    • Lead, aluminum, cadmium and organic pollutants by multiple enzyme dysfunctions
  • Even though cardiovascular mortality rates rise when cholesterol increases above 200, all-cause mortality, or death from ALL causes FALLS when cholesterol is OVER 150.  Respiratory and digestive mortality rates are inversely proportionate to cholesterol levels–the higher the cholesterol level, the lower the mortality rate from respiratory or digestive disorders.

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