Dirty Genes by Ben Lynch

The Big Idea: most chronic health problems are caused by impaired gene expression — which can be fixed by eating and living clean.

  • Epigenetics is the process of turning genes on and off.
  • Our genetic destiny isn’t fixed. Genetic expression is affected by our environment and our lifestyle choices (diet, exercise, sleep, stress, pollution.)
  • Most doctors are trained to treat symptoms, usually by prescribing some medication.
  • Functional medicine doctors aim to understand the root cause of symptoms. Dirty genes are likely at the root of your health problems.
  • Your genetic expression can be disrupted by poor diet, including factory-farmed food, lack of exercise, too much exercise, not enough sleep, environmental toxins, and plain old everyday stress.
  • Your genetic expression can be disrupted by medication. If you’re taking antacids, for example, you’re messing with many major genes, including MTHFR, MAOA, and DAO. If you’re taking metformin, a common medication for diabetes, you’re disrupting the function of your MAOA and DAO. Birth-control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and even bioidentical hormones can strain your MTHFR and COMT.
  • Your genetic expression can be disrupted by environmental toxins: sprays, cleaners, cosmetics, paints, pesticides, herbicides.
  • Most lab test results are expressed in terms of ranges that are based on the “average healthy person” — who is actually not very healthy!
  • There are two types of dirty genes: born-dirty genes (single-nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs) and dirty-acting genes (genetic expression). You can support both types through better lifestyle choices.
  • When you clean up your dirty genes, you start feeling terrific in ways you never even imagined.
  • To clean your genes: eat organic whole foods, avoid refined carbs, filter your water, avoid chemicals, clean up the air you breathe, sleep well, exercise regularly, and reduce your stress.
  • When you support your genes with the right diet, exercise, sleep, protection from chemicals, and stress relief, your born-dirty genes are much more manageable. When your body and/or mind undergoes stress, all your genes get dirty, and your born-dirty genes start to give you trouble.


Seven gene SNPs most likely to have the biggest impact on your health:

  1. MTHFR: the methylation master gene
  2. COMT: help determine whether you’re focused and buoyant, or laid-back and calm
  3. DAO: makes you supersensitive to certain foods and chemicals
  4. MAOA: affects mood swings and carb cravings
  5. GST/GPX: can create detox dilemmas
  6. NOS3: can create heart issues
  7. PEMT: supports your cell membranes and liver


  1. MTHFR: supports methylation, which is critical in countless other pathways; avoid folic acid; ensure consumption of folate from leafy greens; filter your drinking water; get enough B12; get deep restorative sleep.
  2. COMT affects metabolism of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, affecting your mood; slow COMT means you can’t clear these biochemicals quickly; fast COMT means you clear these biochemicals too quickly; reduce visceral fat; optimize micronutrients; avoid plastic; meditate; have a regular sleep/wake routine; avoid the herbicide Roundup (and non-organic soy); eat organic if possible; avoid sugar and refined carbs; sweat out toxins in a sauna.
  3. DAO affects your body’s response to histamine from food and bacteria, which in turn affects your vulnerability to allergy; avoid old leftovers; gut imbalances can affect gut tight junctions and result in chronic inflammation; eat foods that build a strong gut microbiome; too much histamine in your gut can cause acid reflux and heartburn; DAO needs calcium and copper; optimize sleep and reduce stress; the real problems behind depression are inflammation and stress.
  4. MAOA affects dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, governing your mood, energy level, and ability to sleep; stress reduction belongs at the very top of your list; dirty MAOA sets you up for tremendous mood swings; MAOA needs riboflavin and tryptophan; eat healthy carbs and healthy fats every meal.
  5. GST/GPX enables detoxification; industrial chemical and heavy metals lead to serious chronic disease; glutathione is your body’s chief detox agent; protect your gut microbiome; reduce stress; make sure you are getting riboflavin/B2, selenium, cysteine; low glutathione results in extra body fat and impaired levels of dopamine, serotonin, and nitric oxide; low glutathione puts you at risk for cardiovascular disease and autoimmunity; fiber is good for your gut microbiome; check your home for mold; sweat in the sauna; eat broccoli sprouts.
  6. NOS3 affects circulation, which helps determine your cardiovascular health; low nitric oxide can affect platelets and increase clot formation; low nitric oxide impairs angiogenesis; avoid unhealthy chemicals; low nitric oxide can lead to birth defects; diabetes can impair NOS3; avoid stress, smoke, and pollution; avoid folic acid; leafy greens has lots of folate; get calcium, iron, riboflavin/B2, arginine from natural foods; treat sleep apnea, ideally by losing body fat;
  7. PEMT affects your cell walls, brain, and liver, determining a wide range of health issues; malfunctional PEMT leads to fatty liver; impaired PEMT leads to nutrient deficiency regardless of consumption; PEMT also helps produce choline/acetylcholine; phosphatidylcholine is needed for good bile flow; consume choline through liver, eggs, fish, chicken, red meat; support MTHFR and methylfolate; eat eggs, leafy greens, avocado oil, ghee; avoid refined carbs; limit alcohol and food preservatives.

  • Clean all your genes, all the time. Make it a daily ritual! Find out which born-dirty genes might need some extra support, and give that support to them.
  • Here’s the bottom line: the only way to truly help your dirty genes is by remaining on the Clean Genes Protocol, a lifelong approach to diet and lifestyle.

Comments are closed.