Tag Archive for: holistic care

By Carrie Rutledge, Nutrition Therapist Master 


The MTHFR Gene and Health Outcomes

Great genes do not necessarily mean someone will live a longer, healthier, life and they are not a determinant for someone’s long-term health. In fact, foods, herbs, and spices have a powerful effect on whether a gene is expressed or repressed. An example of this is EGCG from green tea or genistein from quality soy. Both promote the repression of pro-inflammatory genes. Foods that can stimulate gene expression are sulforaphane from broccoli and curcumin from turmeric. Both can activate genes that are involved in cellular repair. Furthermore, if you look to Italy and Spain who are also carriers of similar genes, they do not manifest the same symptoms that we do in America due to a cleaner diet, that is pesticide free, not genetically modified, and less processed. 

Methylation is simply taking a methyl group (1 carbon and 3 hydrogens or CH3) and transferring this group from one molecule to another.  Methylation is important for turning processes on and off in the body: methylation turns a process on, and demethylation or the removing of the methyl group, turns the process off. The methylation cycle is involved in over 200 different reactions in the body such as DNA production, liver detoxification, immune function, and hormone production. Any disruption in the methylation cycle can have drastic effects on the body’s ability to function optimally. 

When someone has a genetic SNP or “snip” then it will be more difficult for the methylation process to happen effectively. The MTHFR SNP seems to be increasing and has been associated with elevated homocysteine (associated with heart disease), decreased ability to detoxify external and internal assaults, abnormalities in DNA repair (associated with Cancer), neurobehavior issues, impaired expression and/or repression of essential genes, elevated risk for autism, and increased risk for miscarriage. Everyone has 2 copies of the MTHFR gene; however, there could be several genetic SNPs and in less than 1% of the population the MTHFR enzyme is completely impaired.

When DNA is methylated then certain genes will be suppressed and others will become activated and generally these genes help us to enhance our quality of life. When our methylation cycle becomes inhibited due to a genetic SNP, then disease causing genes can “wake up” causing us more burden. 

The body’s ability to methylate requires several nutrients including amino acid methionine, choline, and B vitamins folate (B9), B12, and B3. Each nutrient must be in balance and available to ensure methylation. Folate is the nutrient necessary for beginning the methylation cycle. There is a difference in chemical structure between folate acquired from whole foods and folic acid which is synthetic and acquired from fortification or supplementation. Furthermore, folate from food can be easily destroyed from cooking, chopping, and juicing. The difference between synthetic folic acid and folate from foods is the way in which the body can use them efficiently. Studies show that our gut bacteria are also capable of synthesizing folate. This synthesis of folate in the gut is dependent on a healthy microbiome. For this reason, folate from food may not be as necessary as we once perceived. 

Intake of folic acid enriched foods or prenatal vitamins needs activation from an enzyme called DHFR which is very slow in humans. In fact, research is now showing that high doses of folic acid supplementation or through processed foods impairs this enzyme and leads to high levels of un-metabolized folic acid in the blood. Furthermore, synthetic folic acid has been shown to inhibit the MTHFR enzyme and may bring about the same methylation insufficiency as someone who carries a genetic SNP. 

Beginning in 1998, the United States began to add synthetic folic acid to all refined grains, cereals and processed foods which has been shown to bind to folate receptors on the surface of our cells. This prevents the active form of methyl folate to enter our cells. High doses of folic acid can completely gum up the entire methylation cycle and prevent us from absorbing natural folate. Testing serum folate levels in people with MTHFR usually show up with high levels of folate and homocysteine which indicates unmetabolized, synthetic folic acid binding to folate receptors and the body’s inability to utilize it.

Current research shows synthetic folic acid impairs the enzyme DHFR and natural folate absorption. As research continues to grow, we are finding that 98% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have an MTHFR SNP and mothers taking high doses of folic acid in pregnancy have higher rates of birthing children with ASD, childhood cancer, asthma, child allergic diseases and eczema. Likewise, conventional baby foods, formulas, and breast milk (if the mother supplements or eats fortified foods) is causing a burden on the infant after birth.


Supporting Optimal Methylation Through Diet

Although I do give my daughter a multivitamin with methyl-folate, I think it is important to understand that adding methyl-folate in the form of supplementation can worsen a person’s condition if they are over-methylated and/or deficient in B12, B2, B6, zinc, choline, and Magnesium. Methylation is used to detoxify the body and once the body is given increased methyl donors the body may begin releasing toxins faster than can be eliminated, which can exacerbate symptoms. Furthermore, methylation requires several vitamins and minerals in a delicate balance, so if supplementing, it is important to work up from low doses of methyl-folate while incorporating other nutrients.

It is important to understand when choosing healing foods to ensure proper methylation, you want to refrain from eating foods that will increase the toxin and inflammatory load. Remember, in other countries such as Europe, even though they may be carriers of the same genetic SNPs, many are not manifesting the same chronic disease symptoms (allergies, eczema, heart disease, ADHD, ASD, depression, cancer and PCOS) due to a cleaner diet. While it is important to include several nutrients in the diet, it is also important to avoid foods from the Standard American Diet (SAD diet). This includes: gluten containing grains, sugar, soy, corn, farm-raised seafood, soda, and conventionally raised meats, dairy, and eggs.

If we look at how the methylation pathways work, we see individual nutrients that are required for the process to run smoothly and if any of those nutrients are unavailable, we will see problems with the pathway and chemical reactions in the body. Personal nutrition to support methylation has been studied and shown to be effective in reducing biological age, improving brain health, and reducing risk of many chronic diseases when implemented. 


Nutrients Needed to Support Methylation

  • Folate-B9 (required to start the methylation cycle) folate is found in numerous foods including lentils, black beans, peas, chickpeas, asparagus, eggs, raw spinach, arugula, broccoli, beets, citrus fruits, and liver. *Note: Although liver is a superfood, it is high in vitamin A and iron which can be toxic in large amounts. Liver should be consumed no more than once per week.
  • B12 (paramount to initiating the methylation cycle and necessary for generating SAMe (the main methyl donor for the body)) B12 is found in oysters, animal liver and kidneys, clams, sardines, beef, salmon, dairy products, eggs, and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is the only vegan option for B12; therefore, vegans should supplement with B12 in the form of methyl-cobalamin)
  • Riboflavin-B2 (the precursor to coenzymes that are responsible for energy production of the cell) Sources for B2 are liver, soybeans, shiitake mushrooms, eggs, fish roe, Greek yogurt, mussels, almonds, pork, lamb, and feta cheese
  •  Zinc (required for an enzyme that activates folate) the best zinc sources come from oysters, red meat, chicken, eggs, lentils (contain phytates which inhibit absorption), hemp seeds, dark chocolate, and cheese
  • Choline (a methyl donor used for the conversion of homocysteine) even though the body can make choline, it is not enough to fulfill the biochemical needs of the body. Choline can be found in eggs, liver or organ meats, fish roe, fish, shiitake mushrooms, soybeans, wheat germ and lower amounts in chicken, turkey, and cruciferous vegetables
  • Magnesium (required to produce SAMe) magnesium can be difficult to get though foods due to the depletion of mineral rich soil. Foods that contain magnesium are nuts and seeds, black beans, soybeans, dairy products, swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, avocadoes, chocolate, peas, and potatoes, however, supplementation may be necessary.
  • Betaine (helps to convert homocysteine to methionine) betaine rich foods are beets, spinach, turkey, beef, veal, sweet potato, bulgur, and quinoa
  • Fermented foods (required for producing a healthy microbiota which in turn can produce active folate in the digestive tract) fermented foods to include are kimchi, coconut kefir, unsweetened Greek yogurt, pickled vegetables, and probiotic supplements


Incorporating a whole foods diet focused on healthy methylation can greatly reduce inflammation and express positive effects on the body. The skin is a direct reflection of what is happening in the liver. When the liver becomes overburdened due to excess toxins coming in and ineffective methylation, it is common to see skin inflammation such as psoriasis or eczema. Although further research needs to be completed, it is important to understand that when we give the body nutrient dense foods that support methylation, are abundant in B vitamins, zinc, and choline, the liver will begin to detoxify effectively, and the skin will start to heal.

If you would like to learn more about healing your body through nutrition and lifestyle, please contact me at carrie.rutledge@longevityhealthcenter.com and set up a consultation to see how we can tailor a plan for you. 

Part Three: Essential Fatty Acids and the Omega-6: Omega-3 Ratio

By Carrie Rutledge, Nutrition Therapist Master 


Vegetable Oils and Chronic Inflammation

Essential fatty acids are essential because we must get them through our diet. Omega-6 (LA-

linoleic acid and Arachidonic Acid) and Omega-3 (ALA-alpha-linolenic acid) are imperative to great skin health. ALA needs to be converted in the body to EPA and DHA to be used effectively. Linoleic acid is needed for the inflammatory response and ALA is important for reducing inflammation. It is important to keep these fatty acids in balance to avoid chronic inflammatory disease. Because eczema is an inflammatory condition, it is crucial to make sure these fatty acids are kept at a ratio of 4:1.

In the last 100 years, the ratio of these essential fatty acids has increased in favor of Omega-6 to between 10-20: This ratio predisposes us to chronic inflammatory conditions and allergies. Americans are overconsuming LA mainly from industrial seed oils such as canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and soybean oil. Seed oils go through a refining process that requires degumming, deodorizing, and bleaching to make them edible and nearly all restaurants in the United States use them for cooking. Furthermore, studies show that polyunsaturated rich vegetable oils increase the risk of lifestyle diseases such as, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and obesity. 

Supplementation of Omega3 fatty acids in pregnancy is a necessity for reducing allergic diseases in offspring. In fact, women who supplement with 3,700mg per day of EPA and DHA at 25 weeks’ gestation until 3-4 months of breastfeeding, reduce risk of food related eczema by three-fold. Therefore, ensuring an optimal Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio before the fetal immune system develops could be an important step to preventing allergic diseases such as asthma and food allergies in children. 4


3 Steps to Bring the Omega-6: Omega-3 Ratio Back to Balance


Stop cooking with vegetable oils and eating in restaurants that use them

Vegetable oils are highly processed and go through refining which often involves removing essential nutrients and chemical extraction including bleaching. Refining is done to maintain shelf life; however, most of the nutritional elements are lost during this process and these oils tend to oxidize during the heating process. Unfortunately, most restaurants use these oils for frying and cooking at high temperatures.

The best oils for cooking at high heats are saturated because the chemical structure of saturated fats has each carbon molecule saturated with hydrogen; therefore, it won’t become oxidized when heated. Hence, the more unsaturated a fat is the faster the oxidation reaction proceeds. Coconut oil, butter, ghee, lard, and beef tallow are all solid at room temperature and can remain stable when heated above 180 degrees. The chemical structure of saturated fats has each carbon molecule saturated with hydrogen; therefore, it won’t become oxidized when heated.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, flaxseed oil, chicken and duck fats are liquid at room temperature and should not be used to cook over 180 degrees as they will begin to smoke and oxidize (or loss of electrons and an increase of the oxidation state). These types of oils are great for cooking low and slow or used in dressings. 

Finding restaurants that cook with healthy oils in the United States is getting easier. Using the Seed Oil Scout app is a great way to find farm to table restaurants that are cooking with healthy oils. Choosing menu items that are unlikely to be fried or cooked in oils and reviewing the menu before eating out is a good way to navigate the menu when traveling.


Add Omega-3 fatty acid foods to your diet including wild caught fish

We begin introducing foods to babies around six months. Some of the best advice I received

from my holistic pediatrician was to start with introducing fat and protein instead of grains and carbohydrates. This way babies begin to develop a taste for healthier, nutrient dense, non-processed foods. He advised us to start with avocados, salmon roe, sardines, and chicken liver.

To this day our daughter loves a wide variety of nutritious foods and is always willing to try something new. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for skin and brain health. In a recent study measuring serum EPA and DHA, results showed that over 68% of adults and 95% of children in the United States, do not consume enough Omega-3s to meet nutritional guidelines.6 Omega-3 fatty acids are tied to learning, behavior and a reduction in childhood allergies including asthma. 1,7 Omega-3 fatty acid foods to be included in the diet are:

  • Low mercury fish including wild-caught: Salmon, Anchovies, Crab, Sardines, Black Cod, Oysters, Shrimp, Trout and Arctic Cod. Wild caught fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids because they eat algae. Farm raised fish are fed grains and soy and very high in Omega-6
  • Grass-fed beef, lamb or veal and pasture raised eggs
  • Walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds (conversion rate to EPA and DHA is low)


Omega-6 fatty acids are still important to include in the diet, but they should come from whole

food sources as opposed to industrialized vegetable oil. Whole food sources of Omega-6 fatty

acids to include are:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Pastured animals


Supplement to Increase Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Diet

Scientific studies continue to show that supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the production of IgE, the antibodies that cause allergic symptoms in those with asthma. From all the immune cells investigated DHA and EPA have been shown to inhibit the activation of immune cells while promoting some more specific immune functions including destruction of abnormal cells. Furthermore, supplementation has benefits on the brain. Children with ADHD have

shown to have low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their cellular membranes correlated with learning and behavior problems. A study in Japan looked at 40 children with ADHD symptoms and supplemented with 510 mg of DHA and 100mg of EPA a day improved outcomes on combined teacher/parent ratings. More and more, studies are showing supplementation with EPA and DHA can improve a wide range of health disorders including Autism, Mood Disorder, Dementia, Dyspraxia, inflammatory issues, and improve brain function overall. 

  • Be sure to find a quality Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and store in the refrigerator
  • Choose one that is third party tested and free from heavy metals
  • The supplement should contain at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA per 1,000mg of fish oil
  • Vegans can supplement with a quality algae supplement such as Juice Plus

Lowering the Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio is imperative for the long-term health of our children. The benefits of eating and supplementing with EPA and DHA are widely known. From lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, asthma, mast cell activation, autoimmune disease, diabetes, dementia, and eczema; it is crucial to begin making this change in your diet for the long-term health of your family.

If you would like to learn more about healing your body through nutrition and lifestyle, please contact me at carrie.rutledge@longevityhealthcenter.com and set up a free consultation to see how we can tailor a plan for you. 


By Cristina McMullen, Certified Wellness Coach, Bio-Energetic Practitioner

Summer is sadly coming to an end, which means our kiddos are going to be back in the classroom before we know it. And because of this, many of us are looking for supplements that can help our kids stay better focused during those long school days. Thankfully, we’ve got some suggestions and supplements that can help!


Before I get into supplements that can help with focus and attention, I want to stress just how important a child’s diet is to their mental functioning. You can put your child on every single supplement on this list, but if they are still eating certain things that negatively impact their nervous system, they will still be struggling. Probably the biggest offenders include sugars and artificial dyes. Regularly consuming sugar and the other 200 names that the food industry uses for sugar has been shown to not only decrease cognitive function that results in lower test scores in children but that it also shrinks the brain! Artificial dyes, especially red 40, have been linked to hyperactivity and poor focus. Luckily, it is getting a little easier to find foods colored with natural dyes like beet and turmeric powder. This way our kiddos don’t feel like they are missing out on “fun foods.” Food sensitivities may actually have a stimulating effect to some and can result in ADD/ADHD type symptoms. While some common offenders include gluten and dairy, everyone is going to have their own list of food sensitivities that will affect them differently. One little trick parents can do is pay attention not only to their behavior after eating certain foods, but to look and see if their ears get red. Many times, that is an indication that something they ate recently is negatively affecting them.


Fish oil supplements contain two very important omega 3 oils: EPA and DHA. We all need adequate amounts of these omegas because they are extremely important for brain development and function. Starting at the time of conception, DHA is especially important for the growth and development of the brain. EPA can be helpful for childhood behavior, academic performance, attention, focus, and reducing aggression. And, while we would ideally be getting our omegas from our diet in the form of wild caught fish and some nuts and seeds like chia and flax, most of us are not getting the 3-4 servings a week that we would need to meet our nutritional needs. Thankfully, we have a few options. My kid’s personal favorite is the Omegavail citrus sorbet and I have literally caught my litle one climbing into the fridge to get more of the smoothie-like goodness. If textures or flavors is an issue, we have a very concentrated liquid that can be mixed into smoothies or juices. If your older kiddos can swallow, I would highly recommend Mega Marine. It’s a bit smaller than your typically fish oil capsule and has some added anti-inflammatory benefit with extra SPMs (specialized pro-resolving mediators).


B vitamins, especially the methylated forms of B12, Folate (B9), and B6 (P5P) are essential for proper functioning of the brain and nerve cells. They play a role in neurotransmitter function, which enhances our ability to reason and think logically. They also assist in the production of myelin, which helps to protect our nerves and allows for electrical impulses to transmit quickly and more efficiently along the nerve cells. Depending on your child’s preference, we have topical creams, sprays, liquids, and even casules that can give them the B vitamins that their body needs.


Magnesium has been nicknamed the “master mineral” and is known to have anti-stress, anti-anxiety, anti-depressive, and neuroprotective properties. Magnesium is very important for the brain, but unfortunately most forms of magnesium cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Magnesium Threonate can! Studies have shown that this specific form of magnesium increases neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to change and grow), which is fundamental for our ability to learn, and can even increase a protein (BDNF) that stimulates the production of new brain cells! Those are definitely things our little ones brains need to be doing in order to learn and retain all sorts of new information!


This great tasting liquid is way more than just a another focus supplement. Yes, it contains herbs like solomons seal, which is very restorative to mental vitality and can nourish the mind, but my favorite ingredients in this blend include the adaptogenic herbs eleuthero and schizandra. Adaptogens support our adrenal glands, which are resposible for our body’s “fight or flight” stress response. This can be super helpful for so many kiddos, especially when they may start to feel stressed out over schoolwork or a difficult lesson.


This supplement aids in the production and processing of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine plays an important role in many brain functions, including learning and concentration, behavior, motor activity, sleep, and mood. It is a capsule, but has an orange flavor to the powder inside and can be opened up and mixed with applesauce or stirred into a smoothie or drink.


This fabulous spray is made up of nanstructured amino acids along with homeopathics to help restore cell signaling in the brain. This results in improved focus, mental clarity, and memory. It can be taken alone or paired with another spray, Peace and Calming, to help with more ADD/ADHD type symptoms.

Call or stop by our Nutrition Shop to talk to a knowledgeable staff member about the best option for your child. Here’s to a successful school year!

by Janelle Bertler, Traditional Naturopathic Practitioner


Little did I know that finding myself dating again in my 40’s would lead to a new found appreciation for men, yet this story isn’t about my dating experience. It’s about the many MANY amazing human beings that I have met along the dating journey. Couple this appreciation for men with a desire to assist everyone to show up as their best selves, and at that crossroad is where this series of articles was born. Let’s begin.  

It’s a “no-brainer” that men are important to society for their contributions to family, community, leadership, education, innovation and more. Now more than ever before in history, the state of the world is having an effect on everyone, and the stressors continue to compound! For any healthcare practitioner, whose goal is to support the physical health of any human being, they must look at supporting the mind, body and spirit. We know that the body is so intertwined and connected that if you affect one of these systems, it in turn affects the others. 


Here are some statistics in regards to the physical-mental health connection: 

  • Men with depression have a 30% higher risk for developing heart disease.
  • Men with mental health disorders are at a higher risk of developing cancer and are more likely to die from the disease.
  • Men with mental health issues are more likely to struggle with substance abuse. Men with substance abuse are at a higher risk of developing liver disease, heart disease, and cancer.
  • Men with mental health conditions are more likely to experience chronic pain.
  • Men with mental health disorders are more likely to experience sleep problems, which can lead to an increased risk of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. 
  • Men with depression have a 60% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to men without.
  • Men with mental health conditions are more likely to be obese, which can lead to a variety of physical health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 
  • According to the World Health Organization suicide rates among men are about 3x’s higher than women.


Mental health has a significant impact on men’s physical health. This highlights the importance of addressing mental health concerns as a key part of overall health and well-being. It is true that men may be less likely to seek help for mental health issues. They are more likely to cope with mental health issues on their own, possibly due to social/ cultural norms that stigmatize mental health as a sign of weakness and vulnerability. Let’s dive into what men can do to support a healthy mental wellbeing!

We all know we should eat right, sleep well, exercise, blah, blah, blah. I’d like to share with you the “why” and some other areas that you may want to incorporate into your life. 

  1. Healthy eating reduces inflammation and reduces stress. It supports a healthy gut, deeper healing sleep, improves mood and increases energy.
  2. Prioritizing sleep has all the benefits of eating healthy, as well as assisting cognitive function, reducing irritability and increasing healthy emotional regulation. 
  3. Exercise not only improves mental health, but it also reduces the risk of chronic disease, improves sleep and relieves stress. Don’t forget about weight-lifting exercises. Muscle mass is important for supporting healthy testosterone levels, proper glucose control, bone health and improved self-image. 
  4. Maintain healthy relationships – Find your balance between family connections, friends and social groups. Loneliness and social isolation has been linked to an increased risk in depression, cardiovascular disease and decreased longevity. Males thrive on having friendships with other males, someone to talk to when times feel tough, and I’m not just talking about the superficial “sports” buddy. I’m talking about meaningful deep friendships. Finding friends as an adult might be easier by using a “finding friends” app or by joining groups that fit your favorite activities. A “gym buddy” might be a great way to fill multiple needs. 
  5. Take time for activities that bring joy and relaxation. It is important to find out what you need and enjoy. This will be different for every person and it may take trial and error to discover what works best. Carving out a little time in your life to feel elevated emotions can be very powerful, and we all need to find a little more relaxation to balance out our very busy lives.    
  6. Practice mindfulness in the way that works for you! This can take multiple forms: yoga, meditate, practice breathing exercises and/or try legs up the wall. There are all types of apps that can assist in this category; and remember to fill your spiritual needs as well.
  7. Limit screen time. Not only does blue light suppress melatonin making it harder to fall asleep, but devices keep your brain active and alert. Reducing screen time allows the brain to slow down and focus without distractions. Overtime this increases the ability to regulate emotions. Not to mention that media can have either a beneficial or negative effect depending upon what you choose to consume. 
  8. Serve others! Sometimes it takes getting out of our daily life and personal needs by putting attention on supporting others to get us out of the depths of mental health struggles. Volunteer your time. You might be amazed at how connecting in this way feeds the soul.
  9. Detoxify the body! By reducing the toxin load of the inner terrain, your Naturopath can assist you in feeling your best. 


It is when we feel our best that we have more “bandwidth” to deal with the everyday stressors of life. Put your own oxygen mask on first. Fill your own cup first. Take time for self-care! That way you are able to choose how you interact with those around you each and every day. Imagine a world where everyone has grace for everyone around them and can gently respond with kindness because everyone feels their best. That is the world I want to live in. Please join me in creating this world by caring for yourself and sharing this information with all the men that are important in your life. If you find yourself needing support in feeling your best, we are here to help!