Finding out you have an MTHFR Kid can feel pretty overwhelming. What does it all mean? What does it mean for my kids? What can I possibly do to help them? What can we eat? What can we drink? What doctors should we be seeing? The questions and confusion go on and on. To make matters worse, it only seems to get more confusing the more you learn. (Sorry, folks.)
I always tell people to take a deep breath. You can’t make every change overnight, especially when you’re just starting out on your journey. But there are definitely some quick and easy changes that can be made.
Here’s my list of five easy changes we made at home to help our kids. And I do mean home. Schools, restaurants, when you’re visiting friends and family… The access our kids have to foods and other environmental factors outside the home are things I’ll address in future posts because they’re a bit harder. And we are talking easy today.
5 Easy Changes You Can Make to Help Your MTHFR Kids
1. Eliminate Folic Acid
This was without a doubt the first thing we did because I felt it was most important and the easiest. And yes, I’m calling this an easy one. I know, I know… folic acid is in practically everything, but it’s easily identifiable (for the most part), and because it’s so pervasive, I felt like I was knocking out a biggie. All you have to do is read food labels. If folic acid is listed as an ingredient, I get rid of it.
Some labels do deceptively list folate as an ingredient when it’s really folic acid. Some manufacturers call out on the same label that it’s really folic acid which makes our jobs easier. Some others do not, and down the line you’ll want to address this. For now, keep it simple by just focusing on folic acid.
2. Try a detox bath
A detox what? Why do my kids need a detox bath? Those of us with the MTHFR mutation have trouble eliminating toxins from our bodies. Toxins are an unfortunate reality in our world. We’re exposed to them multiple times a day from a lot of different sources. I like to help my kids’ bodies with their natural toxin elimination process by giving detox baths.
My go-to references for giving kids a detox bath are The Paleo Mama and Kula Mama. The Paleo Mama site is nice because it gives ingredient amounts based on a child’s weight. Kula Mama talks about adding in Bentonite clay, which is good for heavy metal removal.
3. Increase variety of fruits and veggies
MTHFR or not, kids need more variety in the fruits and vegetables they eat. Have you heard the phrase “Eat the Rainbow”? You want lots of different colors every day. We eat in season and always organic when we can. Organic is best in my opinion, but it’s not always an option for everyone and it can be cost prohibitive at times. In that case, I at least try to avoid the “dirty dozen” which is a list of the twelve most pesticide containing fruits and veggies. Take a look at EWG’s lists of the most contaminated (the Dirty Dozen) and least contaminated (the Clean Fifteen) foods.
MTHFR Kids Bonus: Here’s an “Eat a Rainbow” coloring page from Whole Foods Market!
4. Find a healthier replacement for one processed food
One is easy, right? For us, it was pasta. Like so many other foods, pasta is enriched with folic acid and the kids ate it regularly. We went grain free altogether pretty quickly, but I wouldn’t say that’s an easy change. So, just start with a pasta that isn’t enriched with folic acid. A couple of brands to look at are Bionaturae and DeBoles, both of which also have gluten free options as well.
After I picked one processed food, I picked another. The next change we made was cereal. We went from your standard folic acid containing Cheerios to Cascadian Farm Purely Os. I just kept moving along, replacing one item at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to having changed your eating habits for the better. You’ll also likely have moved to a more whole foods based diet and be relying less on processed foods.
5. Pick an organic bath soap
Since the MTHFR mutation inhibits the elimination of toxins as mentioned above, best to find something ‘clean’ or organic to put on your little loves. Between the bath water they ingest (no matter how much you try to prevent it, grrr…!) and the product getting on/in their skin, switching to a ‘clean’ or organic soap is another easy win in my book. Here are a few to check out:
We’ve used the California Baby and Shea Moisture in our home. Both are great, though I prefer the way the California Baby soap smells.
Don’t forget about the Environmental Working Group’s product search, which is a great resource to find new products or to find out how your current products rate.
One last easy change I made…
Our bodies contain an amazing master antioxidant called glutathione. Dr. Mark Hyman has coined glutathione “The Mother of All Antioxidants” and says it’s “… the master detoxifier and maestro of the immune system.” There have been recent stories in the media about acetaminophen causing liver damage, and there is also some evidence that suggests acetaminophen depletes glutathione. To be on the safe side, I stopped giving my kids acetaminophen after talking to our pediatrician about it. If this sounds like something you want to look into, talk to your pediatrician about using something like ibuprofen instead and to get their prescribed dose.