MAO-A Fast And the Carbohydrate Rollercoaster

MAO-A is an enzyme that has the power to determine a lot of who you are, and the gene SNPs that change its activity have additive effects, just like the COMT gene SNP that we spoke about previously, The various SNPs add up to give you either fast or slow action.

MAO-A stands for Monoamine Oxidase A, and it is a breakdown pathway for your monoamine neurotransmitters, which means serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Unfortunately, those three little things, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, determine so much of how you feel and act in the world.

An interesting aside about the MAOA gene that we mentioned last week as well: most of the genes SNPs we talk about are linked to regular chromosome pairs, meaning there are two functioning copies of each one. The MAO-A gene is X-linked, meaning that it sits on the X chromosome or chromosomes that are responsible for physiological gender determination. Men have only one copy of the MAOA gene and women have two, but one is silent. On women’s genetic tests there is no way to tell which copy of the MAO-A gene is active and which is silent so symptoms are the best place to look.

Fast MAO-A means that breakdown of the neurotransmitters is faster than average, therefore levels of these neurotransmitters are lower than they would be in a person with the wild-type genetics.

Low neurotransmitters is a challenge that people tend to self-medicate, and in this case the easiest and most available self-medication is carbs. Carbohydrate foods are an amazing short-term boost to neurotransmitters, but it really is very short-lived. Sadly, this method fails spectacularly in the long run.

The Carbohydrate Rollercoaster

The carbohydrate rollercoaster is a pretty familiar place for a lot of people. You feel down, or blue, maybe hopeless or even just bored. You know you shouldn’t reach for a cake or chocolate bar, but it’s like you can’t help yourself. You eat the twinkie and feel a burst of goodwill and hopefulness that pretty soon transitions into guilt for packing another twinkie in the saddle bags. Your mood gets darker and soon enough, you’re reaching for a ho-ho to ease the pain. You might even wake up in the middle of the night and need a snack to fall back to sleep.

I’m exaggerating for comic effect, but surely some of you out there recognized your own all too painful cycle. This sad cycle is an easy reality to fall into with a fast MAO-A picture, but in good news, if you know it’s MAO-A it is also reasonably easy to get out of.

What You Can Do To Balance A Fast MAO-A

One of the key factors with a fast MAO-A is helping your psychology and physiology stay balanced, and there are a number of things that can help you to do that.

  • Balanced B vitamins – for a slow MAO-A we talked about how important riboflavin is, but for a fast MAO-A we want to make sure you’re gettin all the Bs and not too much riboflavin, which will make this enzyme even faster.
  • Complex carbs and protein – Instead of the starch and sugar rollercoaster, the most important thing you can do is to get three regular meals that are high in complex carbs and protein for stable blood sugars and neurotransmitters. This type of carbs, which includes whole grains and lots of fiber, digest slowly and so keep a steady stream of serotonin coming rather than the peaks and valleys that quick carbs produce.
  • Remove stressors – Stress is not your friend with any MAO-A imbalance. Life has lots of stressors, but a lot of them are self-imposed. Let go of the food sensitivities, the blood sugar ups and downs, the toxic friends, and any extra jobs or tasks that you’ve picked up that don’t need to be there. Do a stress edit on your life.
  • Boost your Glutathione – We’ve talked for ages about this so check out Season 1, Episode 14: MTHFR and Glutathione, and Season 2, Episode 32: Glutathione Review. Glutathione helps to decrease inflammation and reduce some of the negative side effects of burning through neurotransmitters too quickly.
  • Eliminate Food Sensitivities – Eating foods that your body is sensitive to raises your inflammation, which in turn drives your body to make more stress hormones and pushes the peaks and valleys of your neurotransmitter levels even higher .
  • Meditate – Meditation is one of the most effective non-drug methods of balancing neurotransmitters with any kind of gene SNPs. Even something as simple as 3 minutes of mindfulness meditation daily can have huge results over time.
  • Watch your warning signs – With a fast MAO-A you know you’re not keeping the right dietary balance when you’re’ waking up in the middle of the night hungry, or when your emotions are pushing you to the pantry for that sweet treat. If you see these warning signs, make sure your next meal has plenty of complex carbs, a moderate amount of protein, and good fats to feed your neurotransmitters.
  • Boost your tryptophan Intake – Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin and melatonin and the tryptophan that crosses into the brain most easily is found in complex carb-heavy foods. Keep snacks with a good balance of complex carbs and protein at hand to stabilize blood sugars and give you a steady flow of tryptophan. Think yogurt, oatmeal, nuts and seeds, or some turkey slices rolled in iceberg lettuce.

Thanks so much for listening and great news this week! The Beta test group for MTHFR Live is going to start in early July and enrollment is secretly open now, but I won’t advertise that to anybody but my listeners for a week so that you have a chance to get in. The Beta test version is 75% off the regular price, plus if you enroll in the free course, MTHFR Basics, you can have a coupon for an additional

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MAO-A Slow and Your Short Fuse

MAO-A is an enzyme of singular importance, and the gene SNPs that alter its activity have additive effects, just like the COMT gene SNP that we spoke about some months ago, to produce either fast or slow action.

MAO-A stands for Monoamine Oxidase A, and it is the primary breakdown pathway for your monoamine neurotransmitters, which means serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. I’m hoping just that tiny introduction is raising red flags in your thoughts because those three little things, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, determine so much of how you behave, feel, and present in the world.

An interesting note about the MAOA gene – most of the genes SNPs we’ve talked about are linked to regular chromosome pairs, meaning there are two functioning copies of every gene. This particular gene is X-linked, meaning that it sits on the X chromosome or chromosomes that are responsible for physiological gender determination. This means men have only one copy of the MAOA gene and women have two, but one is silent. In women’s genes there is no way, from a genetic report, to tell which copy of the MAO-A gene is active so symptoms are the best place to look.

As with COMT that we spoke of before, MAO-A slow means that breakdown of the neurotransmitters is slow, therefore levels of these neurotransmitters are higher than they would be in a person with the wild-type genetics.

High neurotransmitters sounds amazing, right? Extra serotonin – who doesn’t want that? Well, as with everything else in health, the key factor here is balance. Excess is not balance.

Neurotransmitters are one of the ways you respond to life and the things around you. If neurotransmitters are too high, that can lead to too much response.

Signs of a Slow MAO-A and Signs of Excessive Neurotransmitters

  • Irritability or aggression in a heartbeat – swift acceleration from 0 to 100 on the anger scale.
  • Jumpy, anxious, easily startled
  • Difficult to calm down or regulate moods after stress, anger, or excitement.
  • General anxiety or irritable mood.

The hallmark here is rapid escalation that is difficult to normalize.

What You Can Do To Balance A Slow MAO-A

One of the key factors with a slow MAO-A is helping your psychology and physiology to calm down, and there are a number of things that can help you to do that.

  • Riboflavin – Make sure you’re getting enough riboflavin or vitamin B2. MAO-A needs this vitamin as a cofactor.
  • Blood sugars – Stabilize your blood sugars with three regular, higher protein meals per day with no sugary drinks or snacks in between.
  • Remove stressors – Stress is not your friend with a slow MAO-A. Life has lots of stressors, but a lot of them are self-imposed. Let go of the toxic friends, the extra duties at work that aren’t actually going anywhere, the projects you think you should do but don’t actually want to. Do a stress edit on your life.
  • Boost your Glutathione – We’ve talked for ages about this so check out Season 1, Episode 14: MTHFR and Glutathione, and Season 2, Episode 32: Glutathione Review. Glutathione helps to decrease inflammation and reduce some of the hydrogen peroxide caused by high stress hormones.
  • Eliminate Food Sensitivities – Eating foods that your body is sensitive to raises your inflammation, which in turn boosts stress hormones. The goal with a slow MAO-A is to keep stress hormones under control.
  • Meditate – Meditation is one of the most effective non-drug methods of balancing neurotransmitters with any kind of gene SNPs. Even something as simple as 3 minutes of mindfulness meditation daily can have huge results over time.
  • Step Away From The Trigger – Because of the tendency to explode into anger or irritability, if you encounter a situation that causes anger, instead of fully engaging and boosting your neurotransmitters even more, step away. Take a brisk walk for a few minutes, do some jumping jacks in your office, or even just take a few minutes to look at a painting you love or listen to a song that makes you happy. Once you’ve used this technique a few times, you’ll figure out what works for you.
  • Reduce your tryptophan Intake – Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin and is mostly found in protein-heavy foods. Often, people with a slow MAO-A will crave carbs, but eating too many carbs is like dousing the angry fire with gasoline. It isn’t the best idea. Make sure your meals are protein heavy and carb-lite.

Next week, we’ll talk about the corollary MAO-A fast picture. Thank you so much for listening today and if you are looking for an amazing community of folks who are also working with their genes to get better, then Genetic Rockstars is for you. Enjoy a free two-week trial at community.tohealthwiththat.com

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