Do you find yourself worrying excessively about the future, about money or about fearful things in general? Does a small amount of stress cause you to feel very stressed out? Are you easily agitated, nervous or upset? Is your behaviour erratic and combative when stressed? Do feel you have to use meditation, prayer, yoga, or other mindful pursuits just to stay level headed?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may have a genetic imbalance in your catecholamine neurotransmitter pathway – your dopamine, adrenalin and noradrenalin system which governs your stress response and can have a huge impact on your moods and the way you cope with stress.
The genes that are primarily responsible for these behaviours are the MAO-A and COMT genes. People with certain MAO and COMT variants are predisposed to have too much adrenaline in the body, which stimulates a stress response in the body.
When we are born with COMT or MAO-A variants it means those enzymes are slowed down in the body – current research has proven that COMT and MAO-A variant slow down these important chemical processes that regulate our stress response. This often means the effects of stress are heightened and felt for extended periods. You can now test your genes to see if you have this genotype.
Slowing down these enzymes will impact our lives and our behaviours because the catecholamines – dopamine/ noradrenalin/adrenalin – are broken down by the COMT and MAO en- zymes. This means that a small stressor can make us feel very stressed out.
People with MAO and COMT have a unique ability in that they are able to produce an excess of adrenalin. However, some common issues that result from too much adrenalin include:
• chronic pain
• high blood pressure
• excess sweating
• tingling and numbness
• poor circulation
• digestion problems
• low thyroid function
• OCD, anger, mood changes & anxiety
Four Ways to Manage Your MAO and COMT Genes:
1. Calm down gut inflammation by avoiding food allergens such as dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs and soy, and processed foods. Eat a whole food, plant based diet high in fresh vegetables and some fresh fruit.
2. Exercise moderately as this creates a calming, relaxation response in the nervous system.
3. Get 8-9 hours of sleep. Most people need 7 hours minimum.
4. Avoid unnecessary stress. Learn to say no to stressful situations and take time for yourself. Recharging your batteries is not selfish; rather it allows you to be your best which helps you help others. If we are sick and tired, how much of an asset can we be to someone else?
By targeting the root cause of our anxiety – too much adrenalin, we can change the environment inside the brain. When we optimise our genes, we optimise our life…and when we do that, anything is possible!