MTHFR, Methylation and Food Sensitivities

There are so many potential triggers for food sensitivities – mold, allergies, stress and histamine intolerance are just a few.  If we start peeking into the world of biochemistry with all of the genes and enzymes, the possibilities explode!  

Especially when we consider a gene is not like a machine, doing the same thing over and over again in a steady rhythm regardless of the world around them.  Every gene - your body - is in a constant flow responding to all of the craziness life throws at you.  In fact, there is a whole world of information out there on epigenetics which is your ability to impact how your genes work by the decisions you make - what you eat, how much sleep you get, how stressed you are, etc.  Read more about what I call the Four Cornerstones of Epigenetics here!

While there are thousands of genes and enzymes in the human body, we're going to start with one of them and see how it impacts food sensitivities. 

Let's start with MTHFR.

MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.  Quite a mouthful…and why we simply call it MTHFR.  MTHFR is responsible for converting 5,10 Methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate.  That’s it.  One step in the whole amazing picture that is your body.

But the reason MTHFR has gotten so much attention is it plays a critical role in a process called methylation.  Methylation is your body’s ability to turn different genes on and off biochemically to maintain balance - it literally adds a biochemical Lego brick called a methyl group to a substance to get an effect.  Despite only having one job in the biochemical cascade, MTHFR affects detoxification, liver health, eye health, fat metabolism, neurotransmitters, cellular energy…and histamine metabolism…all because of its role in methylation.  

MTHFR doesn't do all of that on its own.  Remember, when we're talking about genes and enzymes in the body, it is an incredibly complex community of players.  And just like a community, if one member doesn't show up to do his job, there are ripples which affect the rest of the community.  

MTHFR and food sensitivities

When MTHFR works slowly (slow function) or when there is a lot of histamine being put into the community (increased demand), there is a backup of histamine…which really is the definition of histamine intolerance.  

Specifically, MTHFR is one step in the process of making SAMe.  SAMe is required for another gene, HNMT (histamine-n-methyltransferase) to do its job.  And its job is clearing histamine and giving you some relief from symptoms like asthma, hives, anxiety, PMS, eczema, etc.  

How to test for MTHFR function

So…if your brain works anything like mine, you're wondering how you can check your MTHFR function, right?

There are two different ways to assess MTHFR function – genetic testing and functional lab testing.  

Through genetic testing, you can find out if your MTHFR genes (there is more than one) are coded to work fast or slow or just right.  This is theoretical function – it’s like reading the weather and it says there is a 90% chance of rain today.  Does it actually rain?  No one knows for sure until it actually does because it depends on so many variables in a constantly changing environment!  Genetics tells you about potential susceptibilities, not what is actually happening in this very moment.

Functional lab testing sounds fancy and expensive, but you can actually use some standard blood tests to get an idea of how well your MTHFR is working.  Most commonly, testing homocysteine will give you a decent idea of actual function.  Keeping with the rain analogy, this is more like actually walking outside to see if the ground is wet.  It gives you real information – although the ground could be wet because it rained or because someone started the sprinkler or the dog decided to potty on the sidewalk!  You still need to know the context – the community – to know how the ground got wet!

And because knowing the community is so important, we'll meet another member next week - HNMT.  He got a little foreshadowing today but there is so much more to know about him and his neighborhood!  

Sixty-second Self-care Tip

If you're here reading about food sensitivities, you likely have an idea that something in that body of yours isn't quite right.  And you know better than anyone else on this planet!  

Histamine can be pretty tricky, though, because it causes SO MANY symptoms.  It is really easy to blame what you're feeling on something other than histamine.  

To help you unravel what's going on with your body, take a peek at this SHORT list of possible effects of high histamine.  Any of them sound familiar?


Gut cramping

Menstrual cramping




Heartburn and reflux

Runny nose


Ringing in the ears



Insomnia (especially waking at 3am)


Wanting to finally figure out what is going on with your food sensitivities but stuck?  Having a hard time finding anyone who will listen and help?  Consider my 5-week program, Food Sensitivity Code, where we'll go through every aspect of food sensitivities - even the genetics!  Join the waitlist today so you don't miss your opportunity to unravel our own food sensitivity code!  


epigenetics, food sensitivities, histamine, HNMT, methylation, MTHFR, self-care

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Postcards from Me to You

Sign up to get a weekly e-postcard (aka blog post) delivered straight to your Inbox.  It'll turn Sunday into Self-Care Sunday and give you super quick, practical tips for thriving through the craziness and stress of another week!