Many of our patients already know that kale as well as many of the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower can negatively affect thyroid function in their raw form. However there is another situation where these vegetables – and in this case both raw and cooked – can create issues.
There is a crucial biochemical cycle in the body called the methylation cycle. This cycle is responsible for many areas of the body including detoxification, inflammation, immune system, energy and much more. There are many enzymes that are used to bring forth reactions in this cycle and it is quite common for these enzymes to have various polymorphisms due to our genetic variations.
In previous newsletters, we talked about the MTHFR enzyme and that those with this polymorphism need to avoid synthetic folic acid and need more natural folates. However there are many other enzymes in this cycle. Another very critical enzyme is the CBS enzyme which helps to convert homocysteine, a very inflammatory compound into cystathionine which then does down the chain to form sulfate. When compounds go down that pathway, the end result leads to sulfur, and if someone has an up-regulated CBS enzyme due to genetic factors, too much homocysteine can be sent down that pathway to create more sulfites. Sulfites are actually very toxic in the body and need to convert to sulfate in a proper manner. Not everyone is able to make that conversion therefore sulfites can build up. When sulfites cannot go down to sulfate, they back up and can actually create ammonia. This can be very problematic as a buildup of ammonia can cause digestive issues, allergies, skin rashes, brain fog and even anxiety because of its link to cortisol.
How does kale and other leafy greens and cruciferous veggies relate to this? These vegetables are naturally very high in sulfur and can significantly overwhelm the pathway if it is already taxed. If your body is not able to process sulfur well, eating foods that are high in sulfur especially in high amounts in the case of green juices, can create this backup of ammonia and cause all of the symptoms mentioned above. A genetic test can reveal polymorphisms in various enzymes and even more importantly, our TRIAD test can look at the individual biochemical pathways to see (among many other things) how your sulfur is being processed.
If you think that this can be affecting your health, we highly recommend looking at the pathways with a TRIAD test to know for sure. You can also try limiting the above foods for 6 to 8 weeks to help unburden this pathway. If sulfur is part of your issue, you should see an improvement in your symptoms in a few weeks. The mineral molybdenum can also be very helpful (many people are deficient in this mineral as seen on their hair analysis) as it helps stimulate the SOUX enzyme which converts sulfites into sulfate and is another critical enzyme in the methylation cycle.