What Is the COMT Gene?
Some genes SNPs make it difficult for the body to eliminate toxins from the body. COMT is one of them. By learning how to eat to reduce the effect of COMT we can better protect our health.
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It turns out there are a bunch of genes that can make it difficult for some people to eliminate toxins from the body—toxins from air pollution, pesticides, fragrances, mold, estrogen, and even stress hormones! One of these is COMT (Get tested here).
In my last article, I talked about Cytochrome P450 Genes, and Glutathione S-Transferase Genes.
And here, we'll talk about the COMT gene (To learn even more, check out our COMT Program).
What Is the COMT Gene?
The COMT gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called catechol-O-methyltransferase. An estimated 20-30% of Caucasians of European ancestry have a COMT gene variation which limits the body's ability to remove catechols (a specific type of molecule that includes dopamine, norepinephrine, estrogen, etc...) by 3-4 times (This variation is called Met/Met, AA, or +/+). COMT is also associated with greater levels of Cortisol and HPA axis dysfunction (which is largely responsible for the bodies ability to calm itself and de-stress).
Here's a Video on the Science Behind COMT
Because of the effects that COMT has on hormones, it directly affects stress reactivity, health, and well-being. Interestingly, those with this gene appear to experience both negative and positive emotions more strongly. For example, those with the COMT gene variation Met/Met tend to be more neurotic and have lower stress resiliency. However, in one study, people with the Met/Met variation generated almost similar amounts of positive emotion in response to a 'bit pleasant event' as people with the no variation (Val/Val) did from a 'very pleasant event'.
Because COMT has such a big influence on your body's ability to both remove toxins and stress hormones, it's really helpful to know if you have the Met/Met variation so you can protect yourself. (Get tested here).
Here's a Video Talking About the Symptoms of the COMT Gene Variation
What to Do About the COMT Gene:
Take B Vitamins to support COMT
Because COMT is a methylation gene, it's essential to get adequate B vitamins to support COMT, especially B2, B6, B9, and B12 as well as magnesium. To support COMT methylation, others suggest people with COMT Met/Met take SAMe.
Avoid Eating Catechols to Prevent COMT Overload
Because COMT has a hard time removing catechols, it can also be helpful to avoid foods that increase catechols. For example, don't over consume foods that contain the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine (i.e., high-protein foods), as it is converted into dopamine endogenously as well as triggering catechol release. One study showed that reducing these amino acids can even reduce bipolar symptoms.
Limiting caffeine can also be helpful, as caffeine can trigger release of catechols. Limiting alcohol is beneficial since alcohol consumption triggers dopamine release. And limit smoking, which may have a negative effect of COMT.
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