The Methylation Cycle: disease prevention

The Methylation Cycle: disease prevention

Information sourced and compiled by Robert Gourlay – RFD, B.Appl.Sc., M.Appl.Sc

The Where, What’s and Why’s of Health Balance

Based on papers by Stewart, Zander and Nate.

When we see or feel health symptoms (like pain, loss of energy, weight gain, infections, etc.) we need to find out where the body is not doing its job well. These symptoms are our signs that somewhere inside the body, it is not performing the right steps in sequence necessary to maintain a healthy state.

The human body is a unique self-regulating and self-healing system. This design is the basis of disease prevention and healing. You are, by design, the cure or the miracle. Medical drugs do not heal or cure, and while some drugs may facilitate regulation to a target area, they can cause adverse effects on other regulation systems.

Once you know where symptoms are happening, you can begin to learn more about exactly why and what to do about it. The starting point is to address proper regulation and healing through a nutrient dense diet and life style choices that protect you against environmental effects (external and internal to the body) to cells. The Phión website papers at www.phion.com.au provides significant guidance for diet and lifestyle choices.

There is no one medical measurement system that will accurately and holistically detect dysfunctions in methylation. The system that I use for my research into modern dysfunctions for human organs and systems is a Quantum Resonance Magnetic Analyser (QRMA). This technology does not diagnose disease, however its measurements can point to potential organ and system limitations and strengths. The interpretation of this information does require skill and expertise in how the body works, nutrition and lifestyle management.

QRMA is an emerging and evolving technology among many on the market. Such technologies will eventually enable many people to undertake measurement in their own home and monitor health conditions. While government regulative authorities are horrified at the thought that someone might take control of their own health and perhaps self-diagnose the signals of cellular stress (and they have federal laws to control health technologies and processes) this emerging opportunity will enable people to take back some control of their lives through advice on diet and lifestyle changes. Of course, people who need medical advice should consult a doctor.

What is Methylation

In the chemical sciences, methylation denotes the addition of a methyl group on a substrate, or the substitution of an atom (or group) by a methyl group. A methyl group is an alkyl derived from methane, containing one carbon atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms: CH3

In biological systems, methylation is catalysed by enzymes; such methylation can be involved in modification of heavy metals, regulation of gene expression, regulation of protein function, and RNA processing (RNA: A nucleic acid present in all living cells and many viruses, consisting of a long, usually single-stranded chain of alternating phosphate and ribose units, with one of the bases adenine, guanine, cytosine, or uracil bonded to each ribose molecule. RNA molecules are involved in protein synthesis and sometimes in the transmission of genetic information. Also called ribonucleic acid).

Why is the Methylation Cycle Important?

The Methylation Cycle is a biochemical pathway that manages or contributes to a wide range of crucial bodily functions, including:

  • Cellular respiration (the oxidation of organic compounds that occurs within cells, producing energy for cellular processes)
  • Cellular detoxification
  • Immune function
  • Maintaining DNA
  • Energy production
  • Mood or emotional balancing
  • Controlling inflammation
  • Sustaining the negative voltage or charge (-50mV) of a cell

All these processes help the body respond against environmental (lifestyle) stresses, to detoxify, and to adapt and rebuild cells. That’s why lowered methylation function may contribute to many, major chronic conditions, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer (there is accumulating scientific evidence that cancer is not a genetic disease, but rather a metabolic disease involving cellular respiration insufficiency and compensatory fermentation or anaerobic energy, ie. most tumor cells use energy from fermentation for their survival and growth. This dysfunction can be linked to acidic blood and low levels of blood oxygen)
  • Diabetes
  • Adult neurological conditions
  • Autism and other spectrum disorders
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Miscarriages, infertility, and other problems in pregnancy
  • Allergies, immune system, and digestive problems
  • Mood and psychiatric disorders
  • Aging

An appropriate diet with nutrient dense food along with supplementation with minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and other nutrients will bypass these DNA mutations to allow for restored function of the methylation pathway.

Methylation is involved in almost every bodily biochemical reaction, and occurs billions of times every second in our cells. That’s why figuring out where the cycle can better perform its tasks contributes to health improvement, and reduces symptoms.

The Methylation Pathway

Why does methylation make you healthy and human? Methylation is responsible for many of the most complex and vital undertakings throughout the body. This intricate process occurs mainly in each cell as well as the liver and the fluid supplying the brain impacts every system in the body. It is a multi-tasking marvel. Methylation helps determine who we are, what we look like, and how we behave, yet even more importantly, it is central to our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Without methylation, we could not survive, which makes this pathway the perfect cycle to focus on in understanding autoimmune and neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, dementia, Lou Gehrig’s, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorders.

What are methyl groups & why should I care about them?

Let’s get the mind-numbing part out of the way first so we can discuss this in everyday terms. Methylation begins with a methyl group, which is stuck together with a carbon and three hydrogen atoms, although we will simply call these tags. These tags are like passes or work orders so that as “methylation” begins in any cycle, each department head passes on a work order so that each worker, such as an amino acid, DNA, and other proteins or enzymes are now methylated. Although we go on about our lives completely unaware of this elaborate process, methylation is responsible for making, maintaining, and repairing DNA, which is your genetic code. You don’t need to fully understand genetic code in order to understand the implications here. If you cannot create and mend what makes you distinctively you, there are going to be serious problems. Methylation regulates the switching on and off of these genes. This is crucial for several reasons, as many of us have more than a few less than desirable variations, particularly cancer causing genes. Moreover, this system also silences viruses, which is the reason your healthcare provider may tell you that stress contributed to your illness. The beauty of this system is that when optimally functioning, methylation keeps the less wanted genes switched off while it keeps the best genes switched on so that the system runs effectively. This is known as gene expression, and cancer and birth defects are an excellent example of where this process has gone awry.

What are those busy looking cycles?

There are individual points within the methylation pathway known as cycles. Each cycle has a specific duty and is designed much like a well-run business with a chief operating officer (CEO), executives, employees, and work orders (tags), known as methyl groups. The CEO directs the business cycle and delegates tasks to each department’s executives as he or she makes the rounds. Often, the executives act as the cycle’s enzymes and pass on work tags (methyl groups), to each team of employees whether they are chemicals, proteins, or DNA workers. However, there are times when departments or stations will provide these work tags as well. Ultimately, once the senior executive has assigned the work orders, handed over the tags, and parted with a handshake (methylation), the jobs are carried out. And just as any company has a specific process for accomplishing tasks, the methylation cycle has specific steps necessary for beginning, carrying out, and finishing the job. Don’t let the chemistry names and processes intimidate you, and remind yourself that every cycle is merely the factory or company that each CEO leads. The executives meet with the employees to pass on the work orders and once they hand them over and leave with a handshake, they are methylated. Though this is an exceedingly simplified explanation of the methylation process, it includes the major elements of this biochemical pathway. For example, Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is an essential coenzyme (derived from vitamin B3) that participates in many metabolic reactions. Recent studies show that NAD also plays important roles in transcriptional regulation, longevity, calorie-restriction-mediated life-span extension and age-associated diseases. It plays a role in the biological oxidation of hydrogen transfer, and can activate a variety of enzyme systems to promote nucleic acid, protein, polysaccharide synthesis and metabolism, increasing regulation and control of material transport and improve metabolism. Many human diseases are associated with changes in NAD level in nutrition.

Why is methylation so important?

Our nervous system is intimately linked with the methylation process so that nerve function is highly dependent on proper methylation. You may have all the messengers your body requires yet if the proteins making each nerve’s insulation aren’t methylated, you won’t have proper communication between the nerves. This is similar to having frayed electrical cords with highly vulnerable, exposed wires and is the impetus for many of the symptoms of Autism, CFS, and MS. The breakdown leads to faulty or incomplete nerve transmission that leads to physical, emotional, and behavioural changes. Still, methylation goes well beyond nerve transmission and controlling the on/off switch for the genes; it strategically controls the production and break down of neurotransmitters (NT), which are the chemical messengers or neuro talkers in your brain and nervous system. The Vagus Nerve that connects the brain to every body organ and system is a major messaging system. NT’s are simply chemicals that allow brain and body cells to talk to each other. They work in a synchronized fashion so that those in the nervous system are able to communicate with the immune cells, one of the most powerful defenses against infection and disease. Think of this as a smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarm that should be in every home and workplace. Just as a malfunctioning smoke alarm can lead to serious danger and even death, if neuro-talkers are unavailable or unable to transfer the messages, your nasty cold can more easily become pneumonia or meningitis. This partially explains why some catch every cold of the season when others are rarely ill. You must have an efficient communication system in place for sounding the alarm as well as sending messages throughout the body.

Methylation also mobilizes fats and cholesterol so that they can be processed and removed from the body without sticking to organs and clogging up blood vessels. Many adults will develop high cholesterol at some point in their lives but are cholesterol lowering medications always the answer? For example, what if we improved the ability of the methylation cycle to simply process these fats and efficiently remove them from the body? Ultimately, an effective methylation system removes fat and cholesterol that would otherwise lead to heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a newly emerging disorder known as fatty liver disease.

What else does methylation do?

This pathway’s significance is virtually endless! Methylation regulates hormone function such as estrogen and testosterone. When one considers that high estrogen levels may lead to breast cancer whereas low testosterone levels may lead to prostate cancer, this turns out to be a vital undertaking rather than simply useful for mood stability. Methylation also regulates histamine levels, a critical hormone often over expressed in allergic reactions as well as in those with seasonal allergies, eczema, asthma, and/or anaphylactic reactions. Outcomes may range from mild symptoms of sneezing and congestion from animal dander (loose skin and hair) or pollen against life-threatening and even fatal reactions from bee stings or eating simple foods such as peanuts or shellfish. Methylation also repairs proteins throughout the body, which is critical for body function. One such protein, hemoglobin, is an indispensable part of your red blood cell that delivers oxygen throughout the body while carrying waste products back for disposal. Even more importantly, the process known as DNA Methylation involves attaching work orders to our genetic code in order to gives each cell its’ job description so that one cell is instructed to be a liver cell while another will become a brain cell. This is made possible due to the methylation of RNA, a chemical messenger between cells that is instrumental in cell identity and without which, we might be an amorphous blob of tissue as all of our cells would all be exactly the same. Methylation even impacts what goes in and comes out of each cell by making the shell, or cell membrane, more accessible. For example, this allows cells to fine-tune mineral requirements by adjusting the flow of sodium and potassium, that are crucial for sending and receiving cellular messages. This is why a diet low in complex sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium salts can potentially be a threat to health. And finally, methylation provides a reason behind why identical twins, which have identical genes, may suffer from entirely different diseases. This process also explains why you might become seriously ill after a chemical exposure while your spouse or neighbour doesn’t seem to have any problems at all.

Conclusion

Not every individual with mutations in this methylation pathway will have one of the health conditions listed on page 1. It may be a necessary element, but there may not be a sufficient environmental or infectious triggers. Most health conditions in society today are multifactorial in nature, and they are increasing with exposure to pollution in the air, water and soil, along with chemical toxicity in food. In essence, there is an underlying genetic determined risk that requires a significant infectious or environmental trigger to initiate the process. A certain threshold or body burden needs to be met for each of these factors in order for multifactorial disease to occur. This is why constant vigilance with dietary and lifestyle choices is critical to sustaining regulation and healing.

Cancer is a classic case of a dysfunctional methylation function. In many respects, cancer is a panic state in the body of low metabolism/dysfunctional methylation. Cancer cells proliferate under these conditions because cells are starved of energy resources. On top of this, the toxic action of chemotherapy and radiation does not assist in restoring the missing energy resources of cells, as chemotherapy damages the immune system and other vital functions of organs. In cases where people choose chemotherapy or opt for an alternative approach, the following actions may assist, at least as a pre-chemotherapy action, ie:

  1. Restoring the missing energy with nutrient dense food, negatively charged water, and sunlight energy.
  2. Helping organs and cells to restore vital function through detoxing the liver and gallbladder
  3. Enhancing the immune system with probiotics, lots of raw leafy green vegetables in the diet and destressing
  4. Lowering exposure to radiation (microwave ovens, electronic devices, etc.) and the adverse effects that radiation has on red and white blood cells, amino acids and body water polarity.

It is unfortunate that the current medical system does not prepare people for surgery or drugs to control disease. This is why medical procedures without preparatory actions to build methylation pathways can be destructive and cause people to lose hope.

What makes the methylation cycle so unique and so critical for our health, is that DNA mutations in this pathway have the capability to impair all of the associated factors of the methylation cycle. This would suggest that if an individual has enough mutations or weaknesses in their methylation pathway, it may be sufficient to cause the multifactorial disease by itself, as methylation cycle mutations can lead to chronic infectious diseases, and increased environmental toxin burdens along with emotional stresses have secondary effects on genetic expression. Remember, you are in control of your genes!  They don’t control you.  They do not live in the past they live in the future. We are learning more and more about how to influence gene expression.  Remember that gene expression is, at least partially, controlled by methylation.

The things that you can do to optimise methylation and favorably influence your epigenetics (influence of the environment on your genes) are:

  • Eat whole, raw food. Especially leafy green vegetables.
  • Avoid meat cooked in high heat as this can cause glycation that is implicated in DNA mutations. Choose slow cooking of meat to extract the protein collagen that supports fat metabolism and helps protect against cancer metastasis.
  • Choose organic plant and animal foods in order to minimise exposure to pesticides, GMOs, hormones and antibiotics. It is best to grow your own food.
  • Supplement with micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids and coenzymes) as most commercial foods are lacking in essential nutrients.
  • Balance the gut biology with a liquid probiotic to heal the gut and optimize stomach acid so you can digest and absorb the necessary nutrients for methylation.
  • Exercise regularly and get adequate early morning sunlight (red) energy.
  • Reduce and manage stress with grounding and more time in nature.
  • Avoid toxins in cleaning products, body care products, cookware and household materials.
  • Support detoxification of the liver and gallbladder.
  • Drink negatively charged water (see http://www.phion.com.au/category/phion-information/water-structures/).
  • Think positively about your health.

Methylation is also highly dependent upon a good Vitamin B status.  The important B vitamins involved in methylation are Folate or vitamin B9 (not to be confused with folic acid, a synthetic vitamin that acts differently in the body), Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B1 (Thiamine: now known to reduce the proliferation of cancer cells)

Other nutrients that are critical to methylation pathways are Vitamin D3, zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, E and K2. other important nutrients for supplementation are: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Fermented foods, Krill oil, flaxseed oil or hemp seed oil, Magnesium, Zinc and Copper, and curcumin (active ingredient in Turmeric)

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Disclaimer

The information in this paper is not intended as medical advice, and nor do the opinions in this paper infer a therapeutic effect for any products. Everyone is encouraged to critically evaluate any information relating to health and wellbeing, including the information on websites and other parts of the Internet that promote both traditional and alternative medicines. This paper is not a discussion about medicines, in the conventional sense, however it is a discussion about food and the changes in food quality and integrity since the 1970’s and the impact of this change on health. Your health and wellbeing are dependent on you making informed and wise choices: nobody else has as much at stake as yourself.

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