Ep.70: Dirty Genes with Dr. Ben Lynch
I am really excited about our guest today. You might be finding out that you have ancestry on continents you never imagined. You might be learning about specific genetic anomalies that you have, the things that make you unique. Dr. Ben Lynch, ND, talks to us today about genetics. He discusses what causes our genes to become “dirty” and what we need to do to clean them up.
He received his Cell and Molecular Biology, BS from the University of Washington and his doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine (ND) from Bastyr University. His passion for identifying the cause of disease directed him towards nutrigenomics and methylation dysfunction. Currently, he researches, writes and presents worldwide on the topic of MTHFR, methylation defects and genetic control. Dr Lynch is the President of www.SeekingHealth.com, a supplement company oriented towards disease prevention and health promotion.
Check out Dr. Lynch’s book Dirty Genes: HERE
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Robyn: Hi everyone. It’s Robyn Openshaw, and welcome back to Vibe. I don’t know if you noticed, but we rebranded our podcast, because my book that just published a few months ago is called Vibe, and we just thought it was a better title than Your High Vibration Life. But welcome back anyway. I hope that you weren’t confused by our new thumbnail in iTunes, I hope you like it.
As we get started moving forward with Vibe, I am really excited about our guest today. I know I might say that fairly often, but this one is one that I really wanted to dive deep into, because genetics are so talked about out there. There are so many people getting the 23andMe or other testing, and they are learning where their ancestors came from.
You might be finding out that you have ancestry on continents you never imagined. You are learning about specific genetic anomalies that you have, the things that make you unique. One thing that I think that’s going on a lot out there, is that people are going to their functional medicine practitioners and saying, “Hey, what does this mean and what do I do about it?”
To that end, I want to introduce to Dr. Ben Lynch. Last week I was in Hawaii. every year I go to Hawaii with my girlfriends to celebrate our birthdays in February, we were all born in February. I read Dr. Lynch’s book. It’s called Dirty Genes. Of course, we are not talking about Dirty Genes, but he has a really fun metaphor that goes throughout the book, since we throw our dirty jeans in the laundry. He talks about cleaning up our genes, our genes that make up our genetics. Dr. Lynch received a B.S in cellular and molecular biology.
That prepared him well to go into Bastyr University and get naturopathic doctor degree. He’s become really passionate about identifying causes of disease related to nutrigenomics and methylation dysfunction. We are hearing so much talk about methylation, and I’d like to get into that with Dr. Lynch today. He is at seekinghealth.com. He lives in Washington, near Seattle, with his wife Nadia and his three sons. Welcome, Dr. Ben Lynch.
Lynch: I appreciate being here Robyn.
Robyn: Genetics are all the rage these days. Everybody is talking about their MTHFR SNPs; probably once a day we have one of our detoxers, or one of our followers, saying, “I know that these problems are because I have the MTHFR gene, or SNP.”
I want to kind of start with the basics with you. We were talking before we got started on our episode today, about how I feel like when people discover more about their genetics, and they find out, just using MTHFR as an example, that the functional docs aren’t entirely prepared, because it’s all such new terrain.
They are saying, “Okay, you have this. Take this supplement.” That’s the extent of what a lot of the functional docs out there really know how to do. I really liked in your book where you give a lot of cautions about that, and you say, “Hey, don’t just throw a supplement at every SNP here.”
Let’s just talk about what we are even talking about, talk about the basics of your individual Dirty Genes. You talk about it all the way through the book, including, you go into a treatment that people can do at home that you call the soak and scrub.
Then you go into spot cleaning. So talk a little bit about our genes, and about the fact that some we have we’re born dirty with, and some that are acting dirty. Can you talk about those basics?
Lynch: We all think that our genes are just kind of… we are dealt the hand that we got from our mom and dad, and we hope that our mom and dad were given good genes as well. We are born in this planet with a set of genes, and away we go. Whatever family diseases that we’ve had, you fill out on the intake form at the doctor’s office; we’ve got cancer, we’ve got cardiovascular disease. We’ve got this too, we’ve got that too.
Every time you go to the family history section you have this sense of, “When is that gonna hit me?” You know that’s genetically related because it’s in your family, and your doctor says it right to your face, “Your family history is pretty risky.” You have the sense of overwhelm; it’s not really fear, you just kind of accept it.
I’m telling you, don’t accept it. I want you to push through it, and to not even push through it but to harness it and say, “Those are some weak links in my family, what do I need to do to fix that?” Because if there is a weak link, then maybe it’s approachable.
All you need to know, first of all, is genes aren’t static. They are constantly doing things. Yeah, some genes are static, but the genes that I talk about in Dirty Genes aren’t. When I mean by static, it’s like your hair color, your eye color, your skin color. You can’t change those. Those are your destiny, and that’s it. Those genes are set and they are finite, done.
The genes I like to talk about in Dirty Genes are very, very ignoble to your lifestyle, your diet, the nutrition that you provide your body, or you don’t. The nutrients that you provide, the environments.
Every year you go to Hawaii on your birthday, your genes are soaking that up Robyn, and they love it. The smoothies that you get, or you don’t, and certain types of smoothies can be supportive more for your genes, and maybe not quite for someone else. The concept of Dirty Genes is merely, a dirty gene is a gene that is not functioning at its best. That’s it.
You can be born with a gene that’s weaker, that you inherited from your mom or your dad, or both. Or you can be inheriting a perfect set of genes from both of them, all the way down, every single of your genes could be born absolutely stunning, but if your lifestyle is not conducive towards keeping those genes happy, they are gonna start acting up and giving you symptoms anyway.
The whole premise of the book is saying, regardless of what your genetics are born with, they can be acting up, and it’s important that you know what the seven genes do, what their jobs are. If you don’t provide them the tools that they need they are gonna start knocking on your head, or somewhere in your body, with symptoms telling you to say, “Pay attention here. I’m not getting what I need.” That’s what the symptoms are.
If you keep ignoring them with suppressants, or conventional medications, or trying to shut them up now, they are going to rear their head later and more ferociously with a disease. Start tuning into that, and start cleaning up your genes.
Robyn: How much do you think of the bad stuff that happens to us [is genetic]? Everyone is terrified of cancer. All of us at this point have seen someone die a really dreadful, difficult, long death from cancer. That’s why people call it the c word. Some people just can’t even say it out loud, because we’ve seen so much of it in our families. How much of the bad stuff that happens to us is related to our genes, and how much of it is lifestyle? You are so educated in this, what would you say that percentage is?
Lynch: When you look at the research on cancer causation, we are talking single digits in terms of percentages. It depends on the paper, and a type of cancer that’s out there, but you are talking anywhere from one to seven, 8% of cancers are genetic. When I read that, I still read it with bias. I still say, “Yeah, it’s genetics, but if a person knew that they had these genes at early onset, and they took extra precaution to make sure that they did everything they could. Would they still get cancer?”
I would be so bold to say we would be probably down to one 1% of cancers are genetic. There are some genes that pretty darn dirty, when you have a combination of certain genes that increase your susceptibility to something, it’s called a haplotype . A haplotype is a certain set that can really, if you have this combination of born-dirty genes, it can definitely increase your risk.
I talk about haplotypes in the book a bit as well. I would say, Robyn, the majority of cancers are environmental, hands down. That is not disputed either. Far majority. Alzheimer’s is another example. Everyone fears dementia and Alzheimer’s, and the APOE-44 SNP combination. People are terrified about that. Now we have Dr. Dale Bredesen’s book published with research and case studies, that it’s not necessarily the case. There is many other researchers saying the same thing APOE-44 is not a death sentence for Alzheimer’s. You can do something about it. Cancer is the same way.
Robyn: I’m so glad to hear you say that, because it absolutely lines up with every other expert I’ve talked to, that we shouldn’t be fatalistic because we really can nurture our genes, no matter what we were dealt. I’ve mentioned this on a previous podcast episode I did with James Maskell. I think there is some repeating. I mentioned that I have talked to a couple of BRCA1 breast cancer patient,s who I’m trying to talk into the fact that the dietary choices they make, the lifestyle choices they make, some things they are doing to either make cancer highly unlikely or make it more likely, are very powerful for them too.
I’ve had two BRCA1 [people], which predisposes you to what some people call the Angelina Jolie predisposition, to breast cancer and ovarian cancer. I want to say that it would make me nervous too if I had the BRCA1 gene. Only 60-65% something in there I think, of women in a lifetime, people living to their mid-seventies now, actually get breast cancer or ovarian cancer, which means that we can reduce that with lifestyle changes, like you advocate for in your book. Is that accurate?
Lynch: It’s big time accurate. The whole BRCA gene. I had a great discussion with Dr. David yesterday. He asked me because I have a genetic report tool that I provide to public. He goes, “Do you report back on BRCA2?” I said, “No, actually I don’t, because I do believe this requires significant sit down and genetic counseling. More than even genetic counseling, because I think genetic counseling is something that is not very well educated. I don’t mean to put down genetic counselors by any mean, I think what they do is extremely important.
I think in order to really be a powerful genetic counselor you should really understand nutritional biochemistry, and environmental medicine. Not just what the gene does. That’s not enough. I’m totally on board with you Robyn, in terms of BRCA1 and two.
You have to go back to the individual though, and ask them, if you find that you are BRCA1 and two on genetic test, as yourself are you okay with knowing this and moving through your life, and doing everything you can to reduce that and feel, and believe that you are not gonna get breast cancer, because of this, and you trust your day to day actions? If you say that and you act on it then yeah, I would say don’t go and do mastectomies at all.
On the flip side, if you get that test back and you are just freaking out, and you can’t get it out of your head that you are BRCA2, and you look at your family history, and it’s like, yup, my mom, my grandma, all of them also got breast cancer, and you just can’t get it out of your head, you don’t believe that you can do it, you don’t believe that you are committed to it, to cleaning up your lifestyle, then maybe it’s something that you consider. It shouldn’t be reactive, it shouldn’t be a reaction that you take. It’s something that you should really think deeply about, because it’s a part of you that you are removing. Any body part is significant. I would trust that process.
Robyn: Tell us about born dirty and acting dirty, which is a theme throughout your book. Genes can act dirty, because why? And they are born dirty because why?
Lynch: Great question. There is two types of Dirty Genes. Born dirty is because you inherited a genetic variation from your mom or your dad, or both. They can also be born dirty because your mother’s womb was not really clean. I didn’t really talk about that in the book. That’s actually a whole another book, and I didn’t want to go down that tangent too much in the book Dirty Genes because this opens a whole another Pandora’s box, but I want to share here too, because I know a lot of your audience is focused on pregnancy and young children and so on.
Born dirty could also be that the mother passed onto you a bunch of chemicals, lack of nutrients, maybe some Nitrous oxide from birth, or some other medications that they are on. Maybe antibiotics, maybe c-section. You were born dirty this way.
Maybe you didn’t have any vaginal secretions and your microbiome was lost. Maybe you weren’t breastfed. Immediately your genes weren’t getting the nutrients and the tools they needed, and on average, according to the environmental working group study that was done many years ago, children are born with about 200 chemicals in their core blood.
200 chemicals at birth day one. That comes from the mother. Then the heavy metals, and a lot of fats, soluble toxins are passed through breast milk; perfluorinated compounds, fire retardants, all these things pass through breast milk. That’s fine.
It’s not fine, but breastfeeding is still number one. Breastfeeding still is far superior than formula, 100%. I’m still a huge proponent of that. Just know that you are detoxing when you are breastfeeding, and take the appropriate nutrients. I’ll get into that later. Your book Vibe provides a lot of great recipes that really nourish women for this as well. That’s the Born Dirty.
The Get Dirty. Once the baby is born, or once you are born, your actions do two things. They either support your genes, or they dirty them up. If you are a baby crawling around on the floor and you pick up your rubber ducky, and you put it in your mouth, now you are loading yourself with chemicals. And even the mattress that you are sleeping on; you are being exposed to countless chemicals coming up from the mattress that’s affecting you, and that actually increases the risk of seeds, and [inaudible 00:16:07] syndrome.
Paints that are in your home, and carpets, and the food choices that you are eating. Are you eating foods that support your genes and give them vitamins and minerals and amino-acids and health fats and healthy proteins? Are you giving them dead processed food that has no life at all and basically doesn’t even support your genes at all? In fact, the food that you are eating all day is work for your genes to process, and get the chemicals out, and to get that stuff out, to balance the huge glycemic load that you just put on your body, and the inflammation on that.
All the food that you are putting in your system is so pro-inflammatory and dirty that your genes are constantly working on cleaning it up. If your genes are constantly working on cleaning up the messes that you keep giving them, how can they repair you? How can they give you vital skin, how can they provide you clear functioning neurotransmitters in the brain? How can they give you the ability to respond in an appropriate manner to certain stressors in your life? They can’t.
Either you give them the tools they need so they can support you through life, and I have a brilliant example in the book about this, or they can’t. You can’t be expected to eat like crap and live a super busy life, and not sleep well and expect you to have a functioning brain and skin and liver. You can’t. It’s either or.
Robyn: I feel like, as I was reading your book, and as you kind of went through that bit of a laundry list of things that affect how well your genes are performing for you, and keeping you healthy and helping you live a long, and happy and healthy life, I feel like it’s all the things that we target, one of them on every one of our episodes here, and each one makes a difference and shouldn’t be discounted.
We just did an episode on indoor air pollution and all those chemical toxins that we are exposed to in our home. It’s really exciting to see that here is yet another application. We may talk a lot on the show about vibrational frequency and these energetics, but our genes are linked too. All of this is inextricably linked.
Let’s talk about the MTHFR, and blocked detoxification pathways. We just put the most recent groups… a lot of them are still in our detox, but probably several hundred of them have finished. We have 2,500 people right now going through the green smoothie girl detox. I’ve been guiding people through a 26 day, very intensive. It’s not just their diet, but their diet is extremely clean and organic, easily digested, so that their body can really focus on this clean-up process.
Along with that note, about the fact that we take people through a detox. I also take people to Switzerland every summer. This year I’m taking three weeks of people, and then my dear friend Dr. Tom O’Brien is taking three weeks of people too. We do a liver detox, and when we are there a lot of us get an OligoScan, which tests for your heavy metals, but also tests your detoxification pathways and how blocked they are.
So many people these days are saying, “I have the MTHFR, so I have problems methylating.” Will you talk a little bit specifically, just because everybody is talking about this particular genetic anomaly or this particular feature of our genetics? Talk about MTHFR and methylation; what are they talking about?
Lynch: Homo sapiens, and the human race, has been on this planet for a long time. If one gene contributed towards interfering with such a vital process in the human body for an entire life, then we’d all be dead, our race would be extinct. Homo sapiens would be gone, vanished. The body is inherently brilliant, and it has multiple backup systems at play. If you get a flat tire in your car that’s a problem, but if you get a flat tire in your body or your MTHFR gene isn’t working, there is backup systems to pick up the slack.
It’s an amazing feat, really. The human body is exceptionally brilliant. Having a MTHFR SNP, variant, polymorphism, mutation, whatever you wanna call it, is not a death sentence to your methylation. You cannot, I emphasize, you cannot say that you have a problem methylating, because you have MTHFR SNP. That’s like saying, you can’t turn on your computer because the battery is at 30% capacity. You still can turn on your computer, because there is 30% battery left.
Just because you have MTHFR SNP doesn’t mean that there is nothing left of your MTHFR. There are some very, very significant MTHFR, very deadly MTHFR variants that are very, very rare, I think only 50 people ever have had this. They are born struggling immediately, and they need to be put on methylfolate instantly. The MTHFR variants that are common in the population, you still have 30% functioning. That’s what my gene is. My MTHFR gene is functioning at 30%, my battery life or my MTHFR, like on your computer; I need to charge it more.
I need to take more caution, I need to make sure I’m not running a bunch of applications at the same time, and sucking the juice down, and recharging it better. I will make sure nowadays that I’m getting my leafy greens. I do not drink alcohol, I just stopped. I just rarely drink it. It’s like once every three months that I drink. Every time I do I’m just like, why did I do that? Because it just dirties my MTHFR, and that was stupid. I don’t beat myself up for it, I just clean up my gene the next day.
I really want people to stop saying “I have MTHFR, and I’m a bad methylator,” or “I’m an under-methylator.” No. You have no idea. You can’t make any judgment call on how you are based upon a genetic report. I’m seeing this so often, and it drove me so bonkers that I was beating my head up against the wall, and finally Dirty Genes is a tool that allows people to take quizzes in the book, in realtime, to see if actually their MTHFR is dirty or not. There is no genetic testing needed, there is no laboratory testing needed. You just check boxes, and you are like “Yup, yup, definitely, I’ve got a dirty MTHFR, and now I got to clean it up, genetic testing or not.”
That’s one of the beauties of the book. It really empowers and excites people, because someone can be born with an MTHFR gene that was dirty, such as myself, very dirty born. I’ll take the quiz, and I might have one check mark, and I’m like it’s clean, it’s fine. It’s increased susceptibility to getting dirty. If I drink, I’ve gunned it up big time.
We just need to understand that having a SNP of any type could increase our susceptibility to having problems, but just also know that if you have no SNP in your MTHFR you can have the exact same symptoms because of your actions.
Robyn: I’m so glad you said this, because it’s been driving me bonkers too. Partly because I feel like we’ve all gotten so attached to this reductionistic thinking of diagnoses in general, which most diagnosis are just a symptom you are having, and you could probably get rid of it tomorrow or next week in many cases if you do the things that you are talking about in the book. The things that I talk about in Vibe. Just by cleaning up the whole terrain, the genes perform better.
I’m so glad that you are sort of taking the power out of “I don’t methylate well because I’ve got the MTHFR.” I have had two people say that to me today so far. Let’s stop cuddling our diagnoses and our darn genetic SNPs because they are predictive of some tendencies, I think I hear Dr. Lynch saying; we’ll have him clarify.
I asked a doctor friend of mine, I’ve asked a few. I said, “How many people have MTHFR, because everybody is clinging to that like it’s a thing?” She actually told me 90%. Do you have an estimate? If everybody has this issue, or almost everybody has this issue, it’s just one thing, right?
Lynch: It is just one thing. It is a big thing. I will definitely not discount it, but it is a big thing. It depends on the ancestor, the Chinese, Hispanics, certain Caucasians, but let’s just keep it simple. Caucasians and Italians have a very high prevalence of MTHFR, even a significant one; upwards of 30, 40%, even 50% have a homozygous C677 variant in these populations. That’s huge. And this means that their MTHFR gene is working at about a 30% capacity. That is very, very significant to find. If you find that out at a genetic test, it is something that you should own and understand, but you should also understand that it’s not a sentence of doom.
It is not guaranteeing that you have miscarriages, or infertility, or die of cardiovascular disease or cancers. It’s showing you that it’s just working on a slower rate. There are benefits to that, and I discuss those in the book. We’ve inherited this from our ancestors for a reason. MTHFR was passed down to us, because if you had MTHFR back in the day it helped you survive infections, because you need folate for DNA repair, a different type of folate for repairing your DNA, and making DNA basis and angi.
If you have MTHFR polymorphism it allows more folate to go that way than towards methylation. There are benefits to it. We need to understand that too, it’s not like the body is being dealt a bad hand. Now I’m gonna open a slight can of worms that I typically don’t do, but your audience is very well educated. I’m gonna throw this out there. I do think that MTHFR is increasing in the population.
I do think that we are seeing an increase incidence, because we are forcing pregnancies; at times there is nothing wrong with that by any means. If I was infertile, and my wife was infertile, or we had pregnancy complications or what have you, I’d do everything in my power to do the same thing. Back in the day, if you were infertile, or you had recurrent miscarriages we didn’t have tools at our disposal, and we couldn’t have children. Nowadays we have amazing supplementation, we have amazing methods to allow the man and woman to have a baby, and override these genetics, which increased our susceptibility to pregnancy complications.
We can override them now. What we’ll start doing is we are increasing the prevalence of genes that might be weaker into the population. I think we are becoming more and more susceptible to being born with Dirty Genes, because we have tools that can bypass them. I just want to plant that seed. It is a very touchy topic. It can be breached with awareness, and an understanding that this could possibly happen. It is happening, or it can be, it’s like, “How dare you say that?” I’m just putting it out there for people to consider.
Robyn: What an interesting commentary on unintended consequences of the fact that we can save so many babies, who would have died in any other period of history? For the fact that we can save all these babies for the first time ever, but that’s an interesting side consequence of it.
Lynch: Let me add to that Robyn, because what happens is this is a very, very important point with the concept of Dirty Genes, and the work that you do with Vibe, is you work so hard in becoming fertile and carrying your baby to term, and then your baby is born and you celebrate, as you absolutely should. You are just woo-hoo, that is fantastic. And it is, now you need to be aware of, it’s just starting. Your baby is born with more inferior genes, you’ve got to be more on it, you’ve got to be more on it.
I will say that it just starts. I know there is a big celebratory moment, but I’m very nervous about vaccines. I’m very nervous about flu vaccines to pregnant women. I’m very nervous about all the chemicals that surround us. I’m very nervous about the processed foods. I’m nervous that men and women are going to work right away, and not being present with their kids. You have to be because everything is so expensive now.
I just want to throw that out there that if you had a pregnancy where you had to really work hard, you have to continue working hard for that child and tell them at some point to run their genetics, and see where the susceptibilities and the weak points are. Because you can prevent them, and keep them going 100%, which is fantastic, but only if you know where the weaklings are.
Robyn: You were talking a little bit about supplementation; you mentioned methylfolate. And I think that’s really interesting, because all these folks coming out with this, “I have the MTHFR gene,” are just loading up on b vitamins. You have some cautions about that, right? About what people are taking, and what’s in our enriched foods that they started doing several decades ago. Tell us a little bit about that, the b vitamins, and what to take and what not to take. If you have MTHFR, do you just load up on methylfolate, or is it more than that?
Lynch: It’s way more than that. I will share a study that was done, and it really opened my eyes. And that is that they looked at the incidents with neural tube defects. The whole reason why folic acid was introduced here at the United States (and now we are spreading it throughout the world; UK is considering it too, which is a bummer), the whole reason folic acid was introduced here in the states is because we process grains.
We took a grain that was as healthy as it could be; they are not great. But we took a nutritionally somewhat dense food, and we stripped it of its nutrients so we could keep it on the shelves longer. That’s it. The industrial revolution allows us to process the flours, so that bread can sit on the shelves longer, and so we can make massive amounts of it, and let it sit there, versus making fresh bread basically every couple of days, or every day, otherwise it would die.
We stripped the nutrients out, and then we started seeing all these birth defects happen, and infertility on the rise, and everybody was like, “Oh my God. What do we do?” It’s like, we stripped all the nutrients out of the grain, and now we need to put the nutrients back. Instead of saying, “We shouldn’t process the flour, we should just leave it alone,” we said, “We’ll make a synthetic nutrient, throw that in the flour and put that in there.”
We tested it on the rats and the rats processed it very well, and the rats got along with folic acid, but the humans’ gene doesn’t really process folic acid very well. In fact, it doesn’t do it well at all. It does it, but not very well.
Folic acid is a great mimic to real folate in the body. It looks exactly like a type of folate that is the number one form of folate in your blood, which is called methylfolate. Methylfolate is made by your MTHFR enzyme, which is produced by your MTHFR gene, and you also get methylfolate from your leafy green vegetables, your greens and your liver, should you choose to eat that, which I can’t stand, but that is a very nutritionally dense food if you get a calf liver and free grains organic. I’ll have to say here Robyn, there is people who’ve actually put it in their smoothies.
Robyn: That’s hardcore.
Lynch: That is hardcore. More power to you. Folic acid is a great mimic, and it gums up your genes. I don’t want to get into that now. I describe the details in the book, but just really avoid it. It was a great nutrient at the time. It did provide benefit, but the neural tube defects issue is not all about folic acid. The neural tube defect is all about methylation, that’s it. We introduced a synthetic nutrient,t in saying that that synthetic nutrient is going to fix our methylation.
Folic acid looks exactly like methylfolate, but there is no methyl group on it. There is none. Folic acid exactly looks like folate, but there is no methyl group on it. A methyl group is a carbon and three hydrogens. In order to put that carbon and three hydrogens on folic acid it requires one, two, three, four five, six enzymatic steps, six functioning genes, and a bunch of clean genes in order to do it, to simply put that methyl group on there.
If you don’t put that methyl group on there, that folic acid will gum everything up. That is why MTHFR is so important, that’s why it’s so important to eat nutritionally dense foods that are not processed and wholesome like you describe in Vibe, and getting your green smoothies that are really nutritionally dense.
That’s a big one. In terms of the study what they found is, they looked at people with MTHFR C667T, homozygous folate. Meaning that they looked at populations who had homozygous MTHFR, which reduced their capacity all the way down to 30% functioning. They looked at the incidence of neural tube defects. The incidents of neural tube defects was very high in the Caucasians, the Hispanics, and the Chinese, very high across the board. If you had MTHFR, the association with that, and neural tube defects sky high.
They went to Italy and they looked at Italians, high prevalence of MTHFR 6772, very low incidents of neural tube defects. Same gene, different environment, different lifestyle, different mindset, different way of life, neural tube defects way down. Again, it’s way more than just a SNP.
Robyn: This is actually really interesting, sort of side tangent, because I really don’t think that gluten is the core issue with grains and the reactivity people are having to it, and the way that eating wonder bread and the like is contributing to our disease epidemic. Because there is other issues here, like the processed food industry actually took credit for the decrease in neural tube defects. You are debunking that right here.
I think that when we eat processed, we eat flour products, it’s not just about the gluten; there might be gluten issues for sure, but we have got the issue that we spray it with roundup not once now but twice, because we spray the wheat when it’s coming out of the field as a desiccant.
They are actually using that horribly toxic chemical to dry the wheat for storage. Then there is the fact that we’ve hybridized the grain, some 200 times most of it. Then there is the fact that we throw away the bread and the germs; that’s not a whole food anymore, the body doesn’t react to it at all like the wheat people at for millions of years.
You’ve just heard it from our genetics expert that there is also the issue that we are adding folic acid to it. Don’t take folic acid; maybe if you have MTHFR take methylfolate, did we hear that right?
Lynch: It depends. I don’t want people really supplementing at all, Robyn, for the first two hundred and fifty-some pages of the book. I really want them tuning into how their body is responding without a supplement. A supplement is defined as “to add or to add to or enhance.” If you are supplementing your way through life with vitamins and mineral…. there are times I do it, I’m glad I do it. But if I have a symptom I always ask, if I have a certain symptom I always ask, “What have I done? What did I do to trigger this symptom? What genes got dirty, and how did I dirty them?”
I always ask that. Every time; I don’t even ask it, it’s just unconscious now. I don’t reach for a supplement or a medication to tell that symptom to shut up and go away. I always ask, what did I do or what didn’t I do to cause that symptom?
For me, with methylfolate, I do take it, but I don’t take it very often. This morning I had half of a serving of a protein powder with combinations of nutrients in there. I probably had 200 micrograms of methylfolate, because I’m pretty wired right now. I’ve got a lot going on. If I’m stressed out I don’t take much methylfolate.
I’ve got a lot on my plate currently, and so I’m taking more adaptogens to keep me cool and levelheaded and focused, rather than stimulating myself with methylfolate. Methylfolate will stimulate me, and many others.
I will tell you here too, Robyn, I want to have a huge word of caution here for people with methylfolate. The number one most read article on MTHFR.net is methylfolate’s side effects. That’s a bummer. I will also tell you that doctors are not getting it, because if you swear that the solution to fixing MTHFR is to give a drug with methylfolate in it, or a vitamin with methylfolate in it, how could it be causing side effects?
“It can’t. It won’t, it doesn’t. You are full of it, you’re nonsense, go out of here, we are gonna give you a different medication, or a different supplement. In addition to the methylfolate that I prescribed you because you have MTHFR, you have to have this methylfolate.”
The doctors is giving you these crazy side effects from the methylfolate. You don’t take another supplement, you don’t take another medication, you stop just taking methylfolate. And it goes away, the symptoms go away.
I was at a major, major medical conference, where there was over 1,000 doctors sitting in the audience listening. Presentation after presentation people were talking about giving methylfolate for MTHFR on the stage. Doctors had raised their hand in the audience and saying, “What about the side effects? What about giving Niacin?” They would say right from the podium, “That’s nonsense. They are very rare. Rarely are there symptoms occurring from methylfolate.” I was getting furious, but then it dawned on me, it was like, wow. This is such good information, because they really don’t think they are side effects.
Now the patient is struggling with side effects from methylfolate, because the doctor is so confident that the prescription is right. Makes sense?
Robyn: Yeah. I’m gonna have everybody who talks to us about their MTHFR SNP, I’m gonna have my staff refer them to this podcast episode, because I think what you are talking about is really important. and I think a lot of where you are going is, when you take a supplement, sometimes you are overdosing on it.
Sometimes that will cause problems, you’ve already just given a very powerful example. We were actually given the tools to provide the right nutrients in the right balance, with all kinds of synergistic core factors and fiber, and other nutrients that work synergistically with the nutrient you are looking for, in the form of whole foods.
Genetically speaking Dr. Lynch, why are whole foods the primary answer, the foundational answer, the place you start?
Lynch: I love that. I asked a very similar question during the Dirty Genes Summit. I asked Tom Montery, I said, “What is food?” It’s a question that we don’t even ask ourselves, we just take it for granted. We just reopen the fridge, open the cupboards, what have you and eat food. We don’t really take even a moment to understand what it is. When I asked Tom, “Tom, what is food?” He was so much more gracious with his answer, but I’ll give a little inkling here to what he shared.
He goes, “Food is a combination of life. Food is the process in which the sun comes down and collects and provides nourishment to stimulate growth, and then the nutrients from the soil get sucked up from the roots. The rain provides nourishment, so the plant can hydrate and process, and send electrical signals to the energy of the plant, and then the sun comes down and radiates it even more and generates even more energy, and the soil provides even more nourishment. Then you harvest that food and it’s a combination of the sun, the air, the oxygen, the water, and you chew it, and you are releasing all that vibrational energy, and it just provides all the nutrients for whatever is in that certain plant.
Not only that, the plant is also in an environment where it’s fending for itself, and it’s building these chemicals for defense and for survival, and it will create chemicals for either killing pathogens or bugs or attracting bees for pollinating. It will build these constituents to enhance it too. We eat those compounds, which also trigger our genes in various ways and support us.”
Food is exactly what our genes need. If you look at every single species on this planet, they eat to provide nutrients to their genes. We are the only species on the planet that don’t always, outside of seagulls and crows and pigs, but we gave them those foods that are processed. Every other species on this planet wants to eat whole food preferably. Food is simply providing the tools that our genes need. Our genes do not want processed food. They don’t. They don’t want the gunk that went in there.
They are dead. These foods are dead. Then I asked Tom right after, I said, “What’s processed food?” He kind of stuttered for a moment, I don’t remember what he asked, but if you think that whole food is a combination of life, then processed food must be taking life. And it does, because you need food which is a combination of life, and nourishment and nutrients, in order to neutralize the processed food that you are eating. It’s very cool stuff, but it’s very simple.
Your genes need vitamins and minerals, and your genes need proteins, amino acids, and fats and other things. That’s the only way you get that is from eating.
Robyn: I feel like this whole conversation has been such a celebration that we both really share in what a miracle the human body is. The human body and spirit, and when I was right out of college I worked with a woman who only ate fast food. All of her food was purchased through a drive through, breakfast, lunch and dinner. She was absolutely obese. Took more sick days than she actually had; just a very unhappy, miserable person.
She never ate a vegetable ever, except for fried potatoes. I think that this tells us why. When we are eating processed foods, it’s dead. It’s abuse, of this incredible organism that we were born to be. I always say that we don’t abuse what we value. We are so disconnected from our bodies and our spirits, and how food makes us really sing and come alive and perform at our very best, and live at high vibrational frequencies. It can slowly sap that life force from us. I really appreciate you giving us that perspective.
I want to ask you just one more question. You’ve just been a wealth of information today. You write a lot in the book about how you’ve come to understand your genetics, or your own tendencies, through your genetics, and what’s crazy is you are not telling everybody, “Go out and get your 23andMe testing, and take it to your doctor.” That’s not your message at all. You can take the quiz at the beginning of Dr. Lynch’s book Dirty Genes.
By the way, I took your test and I didn’t check a single thing. I was like, I don’t think I have the MAOA, and I don’t have the MTHFR. But then you said, “No, I want you to read every single chapter.” I read each of the chapters, and in some of the chapters I was like, “This is kind of actually speaking to me. This kind of sounds like me.” Several times you talk about how, one thing that frustrates you about yourself, and it’s gonna be a hard thing when you are married and you are raising kids, is that you have this temper, and you find yourself going from zero to 60.
You get very passionate, you can get very angry very easily, which I thought was very authentic of you. I was born into a family where that’s what everybody did all the time. My first 18 years was completely spent with people who just had absolutely hair trigger temper, and I came out with dukes up. I went out into the world as an adult with dukes up, because I thought, you had to fight, because everybody was fighting all the time, how to deprogram that.
Most women when they are super triggery like that with their emotions, they think of it as hormones. It’s really useful and interesting for me to think about possible genetic connections. Can you talk just a little bit about emotions, and what genes might be involved, and how you’ve helped yourself ameliorate that with your diet and how you run your life?
Lynch: For sure. First of all, you are right. You look at how you are raised, because that really builds your response to things, or reactions throughout life. How you are raised is a big one. We do have genes that increase our susceptibility towards having a hair-trigger temper. If you have a combination of genes, such as in the book too, I talk about haplotypes which, these combinations of genes can even give you more hair trigger temper than others.
It’s pretty cool when you see that, because what happens is it gives you a sense of awareness and it then also doesn’t give you an excuse to be a punk; it gives you tools to say, “All right, I’ve got these genes. This is how I modulate them. This is how I nurture them. I can tone that down.” I could have done the genetic test on myself and say, “Yeah, I have a propensity for becoming a real pain in the butt, and irritable and fly off the handle and just tell everybody that’s just me genetically and move on.”
I was like, “No, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be alienating people and being an ass.” I worked on modulating that. You do that, and you harness your go-getter personality type by being productive and getting stuff done, which you and I do very well Robyn; we grind and produce and make great stuff. The problem is, if we keep grinding, we can also burn ourselves out. If we burn ourselves out, we then increase our reactivity to people and become a punk.
I notice that also when I work hard I do that. You kind of burn the candle. With when I have huge projects I see that I tend to get a little bit antsy with my family. Yesterday I felt … I went for a walk and I was exhausted. I was just drained, tired. I took a nap at two o’clock in the afternoon for half an hour. I just did it. I just said, “I got a lot to do, I’ve got to get this stuff done, but you know what? I’m taking a time out right now.” I took a nap, and I woke up refreshed. I felt calm, even though the work was still there.
The work could always be there. There is always work to be done. You have to take a time out. If have a genetic propensity towards being a punk, or a type A personality, you have to take more time out. There is no exception. If you don’t, you will be not fun to be around, and you will burn out. If you burn out then you can’t serve others, including yourself. The number one recommendation I have for folks is what you do on your birthday, Robyn, is take vacation, and that is a continuing trend throughout the book.
In fact, I ended up in one of the chapters saying I just spent a few hours writing, and I’m gonna go kayaking with my wife. My editor was like, you should kind of cut that, that’s kind of cheesy. I said, no I want people to understand that I work hard to balance my lifestyle, because I am genetically predisposed to becoming stressed out, and I have to take those moments in nature by myself. That’s what I have to say about that. Yes, there are supplement you can do, but you have to slow your life down, and not keep going at 100 miles an hour.
Robyn: I actually liked that you left that in the book. I was going to bring that up, and then you brought it up. That you said that at the end of the chapter kind of made me laugh, when you said that. It’s like, he’s walking the talk. He knows his limitations and he knows what he needs to be able to bring it down a notch, and not end up in a zero to sixty in two second situation. I liked it. I think what we’ve heard here is, don’t use your genetics to say that your body can’t detoxify. It can. It’s a miracle.
I hear you saying, and you can write this down everyone, this is a Dr. Ben Lynch quote, don’t use genes as an excuse to be a punk. There you go.
The book is called Dirty Genes. He has solutions at the end, he has great tips for how to use your diet, and other things that you are doing that you might not think are related to how your genes perform for you.
Tell us a little bit more. I know you mentioned that you have a genetic report. Tell everyone where they can find you online, and where they can do that genetic report without having to go spit in a tube and do one of their genetic tests.
Lynch: The quizzes in Dirty Genes is as far as you really need to go, if that’s your comfort level, because it shows your true genetic expression. I have folks who run my genetic report, and they’ve done that, and they get confused, because they say, “I have MTHFR but I do the quiz and then I don’t see any checks. Is your quiz wrong?” I was like, “No it’s not acting up. Your MTHFR is fine. You are doing okay.”
Genetics can lead you down a rabbit hole and confuse things. I only encourage people to do their genetics if you are curious and you want to learn more, because once you do that you open a Pandora’s box; you look under the hood of how you are built. It’s cool, it’s fun; I personally love it and dig it. If that’s not you, don’t want to dig deeper and learn more, then don’t do your genetics. Dirty Genes is plenty to start. You might warm up. If you do warm up then you get the basic test; you don’t need to get the whole health reports stuff in 23andMe, just do the cheaper version, it’s several hundred bucks.
Then you run StrateGene, and StrateGene is a genetic report that I use that ties with 23andMe data. It provides your clinically relevant research genes, not just some random information, which a lot of genetic reports have, and then it provides you how your genes get dirty, and it shows the vitamins and minerals and how to support them. Then you are in a Facebook group, which is nurturing in support of people there, who have been following my work for a long time, and very skilled themselves and help coach you along as well. There is a lot of free resources that comes along with that.
That’s StrateGene, and then my website is drbenLynch. So doctorbenLynch.com, a lot of social media. I’m very active on that. Thursdays I always do a Facebook live, around 2:00 pm pacific standard time, where I talk about certain topics, and then do Q&A and a lot of fun. I like engaging with the community there. Then sinking all this, myself, in the company for tools, but I don’t want people supplementing it out of the gate. I really, really encourage you, if this is overwhelming and confusing, read Dirty Genes.
Read the reviews on Dirty Genes. If you are nervous about that Dirty Genes is useful for you, one, it is 17 bucks. Two, you can to go drbenLynch.com, throw your email in, and you can get a sampling of how I write, because I’m a pretty scientific guy, and I can go off on science, but I didn’t do that in the book. I provide the science where it’s appropriate, but I do it in a useful, approachable way.
The 26 steps to clean genes is a free download at drbenlynch, which is very good. It gives you great actionable steps without having to buy the book for first bid, but the book gives you the program to realtime quizzes and recipes from my own home, thanks to my wife. There are some resources for you.
Robyn: I felt like the book was very conversational and not overly scientific. It was definitely written to a lay person.
Thank you so much for being with us. This has been a really fascinating conversation. All the best of luck with your book launch. I’m really excited for you. You’ve done tremendous work in the world already. I’m excited to see what you bring out next.