The Reva Clinic News

29 Jan 2014 Date Holder

Detoxification Continued: The Power of the Methylation Cycle


Which side of the face are you?!

I’m back!  And I’m back to detoxification again.  As promised this week I’m going to focus on the role of the methylation cycle.

So what is methylation and what does it actually do?

It’s basically the key way that we remove toxins from the body.  Do you remember the dustmen from last week?  Firstly we bag up our rubbish (phase 1 detoxification), then we wait for the dustmen to come along and pick it up, churn it in their trucks and take it away (phase 2 detoxification).  Methylation is how the body achieves this second phase.

Now one of the problems of detoxification is that most toxins that we bag up are not very easy to get rid of.  As we eliminate nasties via our urine, faeces or sweat, they need to be soluble in water.  Methylation does this very nicely.  A lovely functioning system should work like clockwork – we bag, we methylate to make it water soluble, we eliminate.  Job done.  But life is not always that simple is it?!

Methylation is a step by step process.  In order for each step to do its job, it needs ‘cofactors’ or other substances to make that step work.  The key ones for methylation to happen properly are vitamin B12 (red meat and eggs), vitamin B6 (liver, fish), vitamin B2 (liver, fish), magnesium (dark green leafy veg) and zinc (shellfish, meat).  Hands up who gets these foods in their diet each week?  Here’s one reason why our detoxification system doesn’t always work quite as efficiently as it should do!

One of the most vital parts of the methylation cycle is the folate part of the cycle.  Now folic acid is a synthetic vitamin pill which you may have heard of, folate is the natural food form (dark green leafy veg).  Folate has to go through a step by step process to become active and so feed into the methylation cycle.  There is strong genetic variation in how well this part of our methylation cycle works.  It has an evolutionary basis as most of the variations in the body do (!) but up to 30% of the population can have a variation that reduces the amount of active folate that is produced here.  This has a big impact on our ability to detoxify.  These genetic variations are linked to mental health problems – bipolar depression, schizophrenia; symptoms of poor detoxification – brain fog, fatigue, lack of energy, skin problems, poor immune function; and diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome, autism, cancer and heart disease.  It is important to know if you are one of these people because it is essential that you increase the active folate (don’t go stuffing folic acid supplements!) and active B vitamins that you need to function normally.

The final part of our methylation cycle produces lots of lovely antioxidants to mop up the result of our toxins and rubbish.  You may have heard of free radicals – these are basically crazy substances that zoom around bashing into our body cells and causing damage.  They come as the byproducts of toxins or just from the normal day-to-day activity of the body.  Antioxidants are the calming force, keeping free radicals in check and making them harmless.

So what can you do to keep your methylation cycle in tip-top condition?

1. A simple way to boost your methylation cycle is by ensuring that you have sufficient antioxidants in your diet.  Herbs and spices are brilliant (ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric) so add them to your cooking.  I always go for a lovely green smoothie to get lots of veg and some fruit into the diet – ignore the 5 a day rule, aim higher! :)

I gave you a list of smoothie ingredients last week but here’s one I made earlier!

A handful of baby leaf spinach

4 lettuce leaves

Half an avocado

½ bunch parsley

¼ of a cucumber

2 stems of celery

Half a lemon

1 orange (optional)

½ an apple

½ inch fresh ginger root

1/2 tsp chorella

250 ml water


2. Contact me if you’re interested in knowing your genetic variation.  The laboratory I work with are the best in the UK - you’ll only find out you have a genetic variation if there are more than 3 big clinical trials done on the variation and if there are actually some useful interventions that have been studied that will make a difference to your health.  So no horrible surprises that you can't do anything about!

As always feel free to email me with questions, or head over to our Facebook page and you can catch up with me there.

Have a good week!