Interview with Dr. Ben Lynch- The Importance of Nutrigenomics

Benjamin Lynch, ND has a passion for identifying the cause of diseases, which directed him towards nutrigenomics and methylation dysfunction. Currently, he researches, writes and presents worldwide on the topic of MTHFR and methylation defects. You may learn more about Dr. Lynch and his work at www.MTHFR.net. Dr. Lynch is also the President & CEO of www.SeekingHealth.com, a company oriented towards disease prevention and health promotion.

Nutrigenomics is the study of how food affects our genes and how individual genetic differences can affect the way we respond to nutrients (and other naturally occurring compounds) in the food we eat. Nutrigenomic research focuses on identifying and understanding molecular-level interactions between nutrients and our genome. Learn why understanding nutrigenomics and methylation pathways are critical to optimizing the health of your patients!

Where Do You Start?

Dr. Lynch recommends starting with a very thorough history, getting all the information you can. Remember a good history starts as far back as when the patient was in utero. Look at the patient’s environment including food, water source and their lifestyle. It is essential to start with the fundamentals, such as lifestyle and diet to create a strong foundation for future treatments.

Before giving a patient supplements it’s important to remember many pathways can be affected by just one nutrient. The body doesn’t work by isolating one gene with just one nutrient. This means a nutrient can potentially affect hundreds of genes or even thousands of genes indirectly. As a result you can’t treat genes as if they are isolated, which is where Dr. Lynch’s unique pathway planner comes into play.

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Understanding the WHY’s at a Molecular Level

If a patient is not responding to lifestyle and diet changes, then it is time to move on to more specific treatments. In order to look at the whole picture, Dr. Lynch has created a map that integrates genetic tests and lab results to create a comprehensive plan. He begins by having his patients do lab testing such as an organic acids test, a nutrition test, a methylation profile, a urinary hormones test, a full thyroid panel and a genetic test through 23andme. Dr. Lynch gave recommendations of companies he uses for each test in order to get the most accurate results in his interview.

Dr. Lynch recommends diagraming the whole thing out, including the genetic data from 23andme and all the lab results in order to get the best overview. He takes this pathway planner and starts by looking at the nutrient deficiencies to see the symptoms they are causing. Then he categorizes the symptoms to see what genes and pathways have been slowed down or sped up.

After diagramming the results of multiple patients, patterns and consistencies across patients begin to become apparent.

The integration of genetic data and lab results to create a comprehensive plan allows Dr. Lynch to see which nutrients are needed and make sure other pathways aren’t going to be negatively affected or blocked down the line. It is important to take what you know as a physician and look at how everything in the body is connected to be able to properly explain to patients what is going on in their bodies.

Dr. Lynch’s Pathway Planner-Dopamine Example

Dr. Lynch also uses his pathway planner as a tool to motivate patients. He presents the pathway planner to the patient as a visual aid to show them how everything in the body is interconnected. The patient may be confused at first, but presenting them with a simplified version and repeating the different aspects of why they need to change their diet or take supplements will help to empower the patient.

When a patient comes in with varying levels of dopamine Dr. Lynch begins by looking at what creates dopamine, proteins. In today’s society people are eating mainly carbs, which causes a blood sugar imbalance and later leads to a crash. In order to heal the dopamine pathway, Dr. Lynch first recommends lifestyle interventions, such as eating more protein.

Tyrosine is one of the main precursors for dopamine, which requires iron and the biopterin cycle to function properly so often he will look at the tyrosine pathway too. If this did not fix the problem and the patient has GI symptoms, he recommends trying lemon in water, decreasing their stress levels, and giving adaptogens to help their GI symptoms. Now their GI is functioning so they can absorb proteins properly. If he/she is a sensitive patient and their dopamine levels are going up and down regardless of the current treatments put into place, there may be other causes. This can be a sign they have a genetic problem and one of their genes aren’t functioning properly. If their dopamine levels are high you can support them with sulfur supplements, vitamin C or cruciferous vegetables, which work to breakdown dopamine. Utilizing the pathway planner makes it easy to see the big picture and allows you to look at all the variables that may be affecting dopamine levels.

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Dr. Dan Kalish

Dr. Daniel Kalish is dedicated to teaching doctors Functional Medicine philosophy and practices. Through The Kalish Institute’s educational programs he has trained over 1,000 practitioners worldwide in The Kalish Method which solves patient challenges through a proven lab based approach.

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