When it comes to detoxing our sweet little MTHFRs, gentle is key. If your child with an MTFHR mutation is in a dire health situation and must undergo a more intense detox program, please do so under the supervision of a functional health physician. It is very important to never attempt an intense detox on your own, and especially not with children. I discuss the difference between gentle and intense detox here. Aside from such a circumstance, the goal is to create a lifestyle for your child that supports his or her unique immune system challenges.
Below are some ideas to get your kiddo with an MTHFR mutation on track for a happy and healthy life:
1. Remove sources of folic acid from diet and supplements. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is toxic to those with the MTHFR mutation. Folic acid can be found in processed foods, as well as in many multivitamins and B complex vitamins. Removing this substance from your child's diet early on can save a lot of health trouble down the road.
2. Replace folic acid supplements with methylated B vitamins. Your child with an MTHFR mutation desperately needs B vitamins, so simply removing folic acid is not enough. Be sure to replace folic acid with it's proper methylated form that your child's body can tolerate. Some still don't do well with methylated B vitamins. In this case, try folinic acid. Folinic acid is another natural form of folate used in supplements that your child may thrive on. With the proper form of folate, methylation can occur, which supports pretty much every system of the body, including detoxification.
3. Encourage a diet rich in folate. I know, most kids hate veggies. All children need to eat their greens to grow healthy and strong, but kids with the MTHFR mutation need those nutrients all the more to support their compromised methylation process. While green vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are rich in folate, cauliflower, papaya, oranges, nuts and seeds, beans, peas, lentils, and bell peppers also pack a strong folate punch. Try a creative way of sneaking these veggies into your meals, such as making cauliflower crust pizza!
4. Keep the bowels open. Your child won't be able to detox properly if constipation is an issue. Keep this detox pathway clear by trying prune juice, coconut oil, or a magnesium supplement to support gentle relief.
5. Stick with organic as much as possible. "Organic" is not just a buzzword. Organic means avoiding many toxic chemicals that are especially damaging to people with compromised immune systems, including those with the MTHFR mutation. Avoiding these chemicals as much as possible early on will support your child's detoxification ability.
6. Drink lemon water. Lemon water is a great gentle detoxifier. If lemon water is too sour for your child's liking, try adding a little Stevia or raw honey to sweeten it up in a health-supporting way. You can even pass it off as lemonade!
7. Try juicing fruit and veggies. While I wouldn't suggest a juicing fast for a child, incorporating some fresh, raw juices into their diet supports detoxification. If your child won't drink a raw green juice, try starting with something like fresh orange juice and slowly work towards a variety of fruits and veggies. Juicing allows for a far greater absorption of vitamins and minerals than eating raw.
8. Experiment with removing problematic foods from diet. Gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, and animal products can be problematic for many. However, everyone is different. While we know that sugar is not healthy for anyone, some children, for instance, thrive on animal products, while others do not. Try an elimination diet. Take turns eliminating and slowly reintroducing different food products from your child's diet, while monitoring their response. Three weeks of elimination is a good rule of thumb. Through this process, you can determine which foods your child's unique body needs in order to thrive, and which are a hindrance to detoxification. Check for a decrease/increase in things like tummy aches, headaches, rashes, and emotional distress.
9. Cool it with the Tylenol. Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, depletes the body of its master antioxidant, also known as glutathione. People with the MTHFR mutation are already at a greater risk of becoming deficient in glutathione. This equates to a decreased ability to detox and a greater probability of developing a whole host of health issues. While a dose of Tylenol here and there won't pose a problem, it's the regular use of this substance, even in recommended dosages, that can seriously disrupt detoxification. Try to limit its use to only when your child really needs it.
10. Switch to non-toxic cleaning products and personal care items. Many of the cleaning products and personal care items we use contain very dangerous chemicals that are especially damaging to the delicate immune system of a child with the MTHFR mutation. Thankfully, there are many fantastic brands out there that create non-toxic products that work every bit as well as their toxic cousins. Making this simple switch will take a huge burden off of your child's detox pathways.
11. Encourage exercise that supports lymphatic drainage. There's just something about trampolines that resonate in the hearts of many children. Thankfully, trampolines offer the very best form of exercise to encourage lymphatic drainage, which is integral to detoxification! While the vertical motion on any trampoline will be helpful, "rebounding" on a mini-trampoline will especially support detoxification. Try incorporating this form of exercise into your child's lifestyle, and they won't even suspect they're not just having fun! Swimming is another form of exercise that supports lymphatic drainage.
12. Try epsom salt baths. Mixing magnesium sulfate, also known as epsom salt, into bath water is an easy, gentle way to detox by drawing toxins out of the skin. This detox tip is convenient because it can be incorporated into their normal bath time schedule and requires little additional preparation.
Do you have little darling MTHFRs? Have you made health-supporting changes in their lifestyles? What are your best tips? Tell us about it!