To put it simply, oxidative stress is when your body does not have sufficient antioxidants to combat free radicals. Free radicals are the nasty little molecules that damage your body on a cellular level, and over time, cause disease and the aging process. It is natural for the human body to slowly develop an accumulation of free radicals that can not be fully combated by antioxidants. This is the natural aging process in a nutshell. However, without proper intervention, people with the MTHFR mutation are prone to developing such an imbalance early in life, leading to a host of health problems that are not age-related. I am a testament to this. At only 23 years old, I developed life-threatening and recurring MRSA infections that indicated my immune system was functioning more like a 93 year old than a young woman in her early 20s. But take heart, MTHFR! With a little knowledge and understanding, there is much you can do to address this problem and live a healthy life, even if you're in the trenches right now.
Oxidative stress is connected to just about every disease and health condition you can think of. It all begins with chronic inflammation and then goes south from there. Everything from cancer to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to serious infection and diabetes can be traced back to oxidative stress. To complicate matters for those with the MTHFR mutation, your body is prone to a deficiency of glutathione. Glutathione is your body's master antioxidant that fights free radicals in order to stay out of oxidative stress. And to make matters even worse yet, many people with the MTHFR mutation have no idea that their lifestyle choices are further depleting their glutathione stores and could lead to very serious consequences.
Some ways to minimize free radicals and boost antioxidants/glutathione include:
-Adopt a lifestyle of gentle detox
-Take a methylated B vitamin or folinic acid, as well as cut out sources of artificial folic acid
-Ask your doctor about taking a supplement that supports your glutathione production, such as NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine). NAC is the precursor to glutathione and will boost your body's production naturally.
-You can also take a compounded glutathione supplement under your doctor's supervision, but this should not be taken long-term.
-You can also try a glutathione nutritional IV as a short-term boost if you're really in a jam
-Cut out the Tylenol (acetaminophen) as much as you can - Tylenol depletes your body of glutathione
-Try to eat organic as much as possible
-Eat a diet rich in antioxidants (berries, carrots, green tea, nuts, garlic, dark chocolate, turmeric, onions, grapes, etc.)
-Eat a diet rich in folate (think leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, papaya, oranges, avocado, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.)
-Avoid excess alcohol
-Get plenty of exercise - rebounding is a great option
-Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night when you can
-Reduce stress as much as possible
So there you have it! You may have a genetic predisposition towards oxidative stress as a MTHFR. However, as we all know, nurture is every bit as important nature (and perhaps even more so) in the fight against disease. Have you experienced any health complications from oxidative stress? Are you taking any steps to minimize it? Tell us about it!