Methylation Diet Tips: Eating Right for Your Biotype

By Samantha Gilbert, FNC, CHNP, CNC     Last updated on November 16th, 2021

In our world today, knowing what and how to eat can feel like a daunting task. And the plethora of dietary theories and dogma only serve to create more confusion and health problems. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years as a practitioner of nutritional therapy it is this: what’s good for the body isn’t necessarily good for the brain. In other words, feed your brain first so that your body can follow.

My Journey with Food

This truth hit me hard several years ago after a couple of years on a strictly plant-based diet in which I was consuming a lot of high copper and folate-rich foods. I couldn’t understand why I suddenly felt so terrible —I mean, aren’t kale and avocados good for me?

Imagine my surprise when I found out that all these healthy foods were actually turning on deviant genes inside my body making me feel depressed, anxious, and tired. The worst part for me was the return of a very disordered food relationship that had developed when I was a child. This time, though, it was back with a vengeance.

This is the power nutrients have on gene expression.

Individual Dietary Assessment

Now I want to share with you this fundamental truth: we are all biochemically unique, which means that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all style of eating for everyone.

Even within each biotype, nutrient and dietary protocols are different. Here’s a sample case study that sums it up nicely:

Both Vanessa and Susan are the same age with a severely undermethylated biotype.

Vanessa is a patient who came to me struggling with depression, perfectionism, disordered eating, and obsessive tendencies. In addition to severe undermethylation, testing also revealed low vitamin D, normal range copper and zinc, along with a normal thyroid panel.

Susan had the exact same symptoms with histamine and vitamin D levels to match. She also suffered from high anxiety, insomnia, chronic fatigue, and had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. In her 30s, she had a complete hysterectomy due to uterine fibroids. What was different in Susan’s case was that her zinc levels were very low and her free copper (copper not bound to proteins) was off the charts.

Vanessa’s protocol was completely different because her symptoms (along with zinc and copper levels) painted a very different story than Susan’s. Susan has a sensitivity to nutrients that Vanessa doesn’t, so starting her on lower doses (especially zinc) was an integral part of her healing process in addition to a diet that addressed all her food sensitivities, such as oxalate and salicylate intolerance, and gut dysbiosis.

Methylation Diet Considerations

  • Supplemental nutrient efficacy can be diminished with a diet that is inappropriate for your biotype. For example, undermethylated individuals on plant-based, high folate diets will not be able to repair methylation status without adequate protein intake.
  • Extreme juice cleanses, detox programs, and restrictive diets overload or deplete the body of nutrients, leading to cognitive dysfunction, and stressed out organs and glands that don’t work properly.
  • Plant-based diets alone do not supply all the nutrients required for balanced methylation and glutathione synthesis (the body’s master antioxidant), regardless of biotype. I don’t recommend plant-based diets for anyone, but keep in mind that overmethylated individuals also require protein to repair blood sugar dysregulation in addition to a high folate diet.
  • Plants have inherent chemical defence systems or anti-nutrients that can make humans and animals ill (this is their claws and teeth). Some of these defence systems come in the form of chemical compounds such as oxalates and salicylates that can create inflammatory responses in sensitive individuals.
  • Behavior and thought processes are greatly influenced by the kind of foods you eat, even foods deemed healthy, such as spinach.
  • Overmethylators thrive on folate-rich foods, while undermethylators need to be very mindful of them. It’s a myth that we all need greens to be healthy.
  • Both over and undermethylators can have food and chemical sensitivities, this is the case with autistic individuals, most of whom are undermethylated.

Now it’s your turn. Are you struggling with a methylation imbalance and confused about what to eat? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below. It is through sharing your story that we create community, eliminate guilt and shame, and bring about healing.


65 thoughts on “Methylation Diet Tips: Eating Right for Your Biotype”

  1. Great synopsis artIcle. Have friend living out the truth behind Mensahs testinf & proper biotype for herself & family. Confused as to best tests to determine apropriateness of compliment present supplwments suggested with hair analysis for my family of six. Can you direct least difficult mist efficient path? or can we have a consult? Im tired of barking up all the wrong trees with little results & complicatwd protocols. How do I Know this is the right tree? Thanks for your reply!

      1. I have been supported by a naturopathic doctor nutritionist forever a decade and have recently undergone a DUTCH hormone test discovering that I’m overmethulating. This is life changing for me as my running life theme has been anxiety, OCD, inability to sit still, high energy, mood swings literally all of the mentioned symptoms. My copper is very high and zinc very low!

    1. I’m plant based and an
      undermethylater. I know a lot of plant-based people that really thrive. The study of the blue zones was conducted and they mostly ate plant based with plenty of beans and nuts for protein. Is there a plant protein you recommend for undermethylaters who don’t want to eat meat?

  2. I have had lifelong health challenges, am an under methylator and have been on special diets for years – low salicylate, oxalate, sulphur, fructose, etc. and recently realized my sensitivity to natural glutamate so am eating less broth. These are some of the links that helped me understand and analyze this.,,

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I appreciate you sharing your story. Thanks for bringing up the fact that natural glutamates can be troublesome for many of us. Also of note is the avoidance of L-glutamine supplementation due to its rapid neuro excitotoxic nature.

  3. Hi Sami,

    Great article, and it definitely “speaks” to me as an undermethylator with a history of anxiety, depression, OCD, PND and an eating disorder … and vegetarianism! However, can you spell it out for me, please? In broad terms, I shouldn’t be eating too many greens? And a lot more protein? Do you have an article or could you cite a website that very clearly outlines what is the best diet for an undermethylator, please?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jess,
      Thank you, I’m glad my article was beneficial to you. Since every undermethylator is different, it’s difficult to advise you without a proper assessment and testing, but yes, it’s important to stay away from high folate foods and get ample protein for methylation cycle synthesis.

  4. Sami, Wow seeing this on my big computer screen shows how I was typing on my little phone and had lots of typos, but you still go the gist of my frustration. Thank you. Yes, I am very interested in the consult, as I enjoy your articles and often wonder if the particulars apply to my particulars. I’ll try to contact your assistant tomorrow.Again Thanks!

    1. Thank you Susan and yes, I understood where you were coming from. I look forward to connecting with you as well!

  5. Besides research, consultations with professionals, and testing when funds allow, I use a pendulum often to help guide me. I am currently using various Thorne calcium supplements and took 2 of these yesterday, but the pendulum may show to take none today… WebMD shows the body produces pyruvate when it breaks down sugar (glucose) and I have been on a low carb diet due to GI issues/carb intolerance (appx 100-150 grams daily) so it makes sense that I needed a boost.

  6. Hello,
    Maybe it is fool question, but can you please, explain me how I can I find out if I am under or over metylator. I am struggling with OCD, anxiety, panic, I had depression during pregnancy and postpartum too. I think I am also adult woman Asperger, I have celiac disease. I check my genetics with Dr. Amy Yasko and I am COMT ++ VDR TAQ ++ BHMT 8 ++ , VDR FOQ +-, MAO +-, MTHFR C677t +-, and some more SNPs , i dont know if it is important for your answer. I have high estrogen and chronic fatigue. I am on antidepressant Venlafaxinum.Please help me understand . Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Zuzana,
      There’s no such thing as a fool question. I use functional testing to determine biotype status. Keep in mind that genetic testing has no way of determining the net effect of SNPs. In other words, they have no way of telling you whether a deviant gene is expressing actually itself or not.

  7. Hi. I am not sure if I am over or under methylated. I’d love to know and have help with what to eat for my best health. There is so much confusing information out there. I’d appreciate the help greatly!

  8. I did the 23 and me, have quite a mix of defects that are really complicating handling what to take and avoid. I also have chronic lyme and a bunch of other issues that go along with that. I have been trying to work on proper supplements, but the defects and my diet seem to always cancel that out. I really don’t know at all what I CAN eat anymore-so frustrating! I don’t feel well enough to try and figure it out, so I eat whatever my husband buys and puts in front of me as he is the one who cooks. He would make me the foods that I need if I could tell him what TO prepare. Any way you can help with this?

  9. The high/low folate diet is something I am interested in exploring. Do you have a reliable list of low folate fruits and vegetables?

    My other question is on the CBS pathways. There are times when I definitely get blockages there and a lot of sulfur reactions. What are your recommendations for clearing these pathways? Do you recommend activated charcoal? How about nutrition/dietary changes?

    1. Yes, I have searched long and hard for a list of low folate foods, vegetables in particular, without luck. I would like to see this as well! I am an “undermethylator” and I assume the answer is not to remove ALL vegetables, right?

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