I was provided by the publisher with a copy of this book to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed here are my own.
If you’ve been looking into MTHFR for any amount of time, you’ve probably come across Dr. Ben Lynch. He’s the most widely-acknowledged MTHFR expert online, and his book, Dirty Genes, has just come out. I’m so glad, because people have been asking me for a while what I recommend for offline reading and thus far the answer has been “not much.” (Dr. Yasko’s book is good, but the angle it takes isn’t quite what most people are looking for. It’s a bit more theory and a bit less “what to do.”)
When my copy of Dirty Genes arrived, I devoured it in almost a single sitting — although I’m definitely going to have to go back and re-read some sections more closely in order to apply what I’m reading. There’s way too much here to try to break it down in detail, but I’ll tell you a bit about the book in broad strokes.
One of the things I most appreciate about the book (and Dr. Lynch in general) is its overall tone. It’s very down-to-earth and…calm. He makes no apologies for calling health-damaging activities or substances health-damaging, but at the same time he’s clearly cognizant of the fact that we’re all bound by limitations of time, money, etc. This fundamental recognition that we’re living real life and can’t/won’t do everything perfectly all the time is often hard to find in health books, so I appreciate it here. We’re not led to panic over a bad decision — just encouraged to do better next time to support the body in cleaning itself up.
The other thing I really appreciate is that the overall focus is on the big-picture healthy living foundation. Regardless of genetics, the basic things we all need to do to be at our best are exactly the same. For some people (mostly the people with “good genes”), they’re all that’s necessary. For others, they’re what we build on with more targeted fixes. But everybody — absolutely everybody — needs to start there. And Dr. Lynch really hammers this home.
On the other hand, he goes into quite a bit of detail about 7 particular genes or “gene families” where “bad” SNPs can make a broad impact, explaining the types of issues they typically cause when they get “dirty” (either inherently, through genetic weakness, or simply by mistreating them through poor lifestyle choices). These 7 genes are MTHFR, COMT, DAO, MAOA, GST & GPX (discussed together), NOS3, and PEMT. There’s also some discussion of how certain combinations may impact each other. (A couple others, such as SUOX, are touched on very briefly.)
I know I’m probably being a bit redundant here, but I really appreciate that he discourages just treating a genetic profile with supplements. The message is: you build the foundation first, and then, if the genetic SNPs are still causing disruption, you target the disruption with supplements (or other additional help) for as long as necessary and no longer.
My only disappointment with the book is that CBS is not addressed. CBS is not as tightly related to the other SNPs, but it is often seen with the others and seems to have an impact on how the body handles supplementation for them.
All in all, though, I’m very impressed. Dirty Genes is both informative and likely to restore calm to previously-panicked parents.