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How to Clean Your Genes with the Soak & Scrub
Written by: Seeking Health
You have dirty genes. We all do. But what many don’t realize is that you can clean your genes. You can support the way that your body expresses its genes to promote optimal function. Meaning, you can help turn off problematic genes, while turning on the health-promoting genes in your body.
This describes the process of epigenetics. Epigenetics and nutrigenomics are the future of genetic research. They are scientific concepts, but can also seem quite magical. That’s because putting these concepts into action can literally change your genetic destiny.
With the power of epigenetics and nutrigenomics, you can help your genes express in a way that works for you (instead of against you).
By giving your genes what they need to express themselves in an optimal way, you can rewrite your health. It really is as simple as that! You can find optimal wellness even if you have dirty genes. (1)
How do you do this? In Dr. Ben Lynch’s groundbreaking and bestselling book, Dirty Genes, he walks you through the steps to cleaning your dirty genes. This process is called the Soak and Scrub.
Haven’t read the book yet but want to get started? Or perhaps you’ve already read Dirty Genes, and could use a refresher on how to do the Soak and Scrub?
Here’s what you need to know to start cleaning your genes.
Born Dirty Genes
Everyone is born with some genetic SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), also known as variants or mutations. Dr. Ben Lynch refers to these as born dirty genes.
Some genes can increase your susceptibility for certain health conditions. For example, a mutation in your MTHFR gene increases your chances of experiencing folate deficiency and high homocysteine levels, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, keeping your MTHFR gene clean can reduce these risks significantly.
You get your unique set of genes from your parents. One set of chromosomes comes from your father and one from your mother. It is the specific chromosomes from each parent that determine your genetic code. When you inherit your parents’ DNA, there are a number of combinations that can occur.
Let’s say your father is homozygous (has two copies) for MTHFR C677T. He will definitely pass one of these on to you since there are only two to pick from. Your mother does not have a copy of MTHFR C677T, but she is heterozygous (has one copy) for MTHFR A1298C. She may or may not pass this on to you since she has a non-variant option, too.
Genetic testing is a powerful tool to help you determine exactly which of your genes were born ‘dirty’, or with variations. Using an in-depth genetic report, like the StrateGene® DNA Report, can guide you in what to do with your DNA test results.
For example, let’s say you discover you have two copies of the genetic variation, MTHFR C677T. This would make you homozygous for MTHFR C677T. If you discover you have one copy of MTHFR and one copy of MTHFR A1298C, it is referred to as being compound heterozygous for MTHFR. Both of these scenarios are considered a “dirty MTHFR” gene that was born dirty.
Now, before you panic, realize that everyone has genetic variants of one kind or another. If we didn’t, we’d all be exact copies of each other! Also, there are specific actions you can take to clean a dirty MTHFR gene, and other born dirty dirty genes in your body.
MTHFR &; Methylation
Not only do you have genetic variants, but your lifestyle and experiences have an impact on how your genes express. A gene that was born clean can become dirty throughout your life. Poor diet, exercise habits, breathing, environmental toxins, and stress can all dirty a clean gene. A born clean gene that becomes dirty through poor lifestyle habits can end up acting just like a born dirty gene!
As seen on the StrateGene® DNA Report, certain lifestyle factors can dirty the MTHFR gene, such as folic acid. Folic acid is an inferior form of vitamin B9 (folate), which is required for methylation processes. A dirty MTHFR gene, whether it was born dirty or became dirty, can slow down the methylation cycle.
Methylation is a biochemical process. Simply put, it’s about activating processes in your body by transferring carbon and hydrogen atoms to other substances. (2)
You need your methylation cycle working for DNA expression. (3) And you need your MTHFR gene to be working to produce the MTHFR enzymes for methylation to occur!
Methylation is a crucial part of cleaning your genes. When your genes are acting dirty or presenting symptoms, it’s often a sign that your methylation process isn’t working the way it needs to. This often comes down to problems with B12 and folate, ultimately stemming from a dirty MTHFR gene. Considering more than 50% of people are thought to have an MTHFR gene mutation, it’s worth doing genetic testing to find out if you are one of them! (4) Then, you can take specific steps to clean your MTHFR gene such as supplementing with methylated folate and methyl B12 to support healthy methylation processes in your body.†
Should You Clean Your Genes?
The truth is, most people will benefit from cleaning their genes on a regular basis. Modern living exposes us to higher levels of chemicals and toxins than our bodies have ever seen. This can make our ‘born clean genes’ act dirty.
Most people don’t have only one genetic variant. You could have several different genes born dirty or acting dirty. Also, your genes don’t exist in a vacuum. How one works can affect many others. When one or more become dirty, it can lead to issues ranging from pesky symptoms to chronic disorders, and many things in between.
While you can’t change your genetic code, you can change the way your genes behave by cleaning them on a regular basis.
As Dr. Ben Lynch says, “your genes are not your destiny.” This is because your health improves when you clean your genes regularly. By offering targeted support, you can achieve the same results as if your MTHFR gene, or other dirty genes, were born clean.
Here’s more good news: when you clean a gene, it influences other genes in a positive way. While we have close to 30,000 genes in our bodies, Dr. Ben Lynch has discovered there are only a handful that have a major impact on our health. (5) These are called the “Super Seven Genes.”
Your Super Seven Genes
Epigenetics expert, Dr. Ben Lynch, is the author of the national bestseller Dirty Genes: A Breakthrough Program to Treat the Root Cause of Illness. Dr. Lynch has identified seven genes that tend to create the majority of dirty gene symptoms. (1)
While you have thousands of genes in your body, these seven have the most far-reaching effects on your health. If any of your Super Seven Genes are dirty—whether born dirty or just acting dirty—the rest of your genes will have issues, too.
Your Super Seven Genes include:
- MTHFR — Supports methylation, a crucial process that enables more than 200 of your body’s vital processes, including genetic expression.
- DAO — Affects your body’s response to histamine from food and bacteria, which in turn affects your vulnerability to allergy symptoms and food intolerance.
- MAOA — Affects your relationship to dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin thus governing your mood, energy, sleep, and sugar cravings.
- COMT — Affects metabolism of the major neurotransmitters that influence your mood, estrogen and energy levels, ability to calm down, sleep, and focus.
- GST/GPX — Enables detoxification and the body’s ability to purge harmful chemicals.
- NOS3 — Affects circulation and cardiovascular health.
- PEMT — Affects your cell walls, brain, and liver, determining a wide range of health issues including pregnancy problems, fatty liver, digestion issues, and more.
All of these genes have unique responsibilities and roles. Many of them make enzymes that fuel or contribute to essential biochemical and physiological processes. They influence your health in various ways. But the common theme is that they can have a negative impact on your quality of life if they’re dirty.
Some dirty genes are hard to get clean. Not these seven. They can be easily cleaned up through dietary and lifestyle changes. The challenging part is knowing which of your Super Seven Genes are dirty and need support. Each of these genes has slightly different requirements to be optimized. Dr. Ben Lynch designed an assessment to help you determine which of your Super Seven Genes are acting dirty. You can take the full assessment in his book, Dirty Genes.
How Do Genes Get Dirty?
Your genes can get dirty in a few ways. (1)
- You can be born with “dirty” variants, like the MTHFR examples given above.
- You can have clean genes that get dirty because of environmental or lifestyle exposures, heavy metals, secondhand smoke, chemical exposure at work, major amounts of stress or trauma, and the like.
The good news is that your genes are not cemented. However they’ve gotten dirty, you can also clean them up again. The initial process of cleaning your genes is applicable regardless of the types of genetic variations you have. However, it must be individualized to your symptoms and your needs.
As with any aspect of health, you’re not like anyone else. You should take these targeted principles and apply them specifically to your situation.
Here’s how to clean your genes in six steps.
How To Clean Your Genes in 6 Steps
Your genes are unique. So you might be wondering, how can a program work for so many people when our genes are all different?
The Soak and Scrub protocol, which Dr. Ben Lynch writes about in Dirty Genes, is designed as a 2-week cleanse for your genetic health. All genes need the same good habits to function properly. (4)
The Soak and Scrub
Soak and Scrub is a back to the basics concept. It’s an opportunity to tune into your body and to hit the reset button. By addressing the various aspects of your lifestyle, you set the stage for your best health by giving your genes the foundation they need to function without obstacles.
A Soak and Scrub isn’t meant to be a restrictive diet or lifestyle. It’s a reset. It’s a time to cleanse and nourish. It’s a time to clear the cobwebs and find clarity from brain fog, among many other things.
It won’t happen magically. You’ll need to be strategic in five major areas:
- Stress relief
These are the basic elements required for health, regardless of what genetic issues you have. Too often in our chaotic and busy modern society, we let one or more of these areas slip, and we start feeling tired, sick, anxious, irritable, and less than ideal.
Here is a summary of how to clean your genes with the Soak and Scrub.
1. Remove Roadblocks
First and foremost, when making any decision, filter everything through the question: “Will this make my genes work harder?”
Before you start cleaning your genes, you want to remove roadblocks that will make the job harder. Take a strategic look at your lifestyle. A Soak and Scrub protocol is designed to kickstart your clean genes program. It’s meant to last for two weeks, but you can make it longer or tailor it to your needs.
You go on vacation for a rest and reset. Think of a Soak and Scrub as the same thing for your genes. Of course, you can’t just turn your genes off to give them a reboot. But you can remove aggravating factors.
A Soak and Scrub includes things like foods you eat, supplements you take, and lifestyle behaviors that support your detox organs (liver, kidneys, lungs). But before we tackle each individual area, ask yourself some questions:
- Is there anything that I’m doing that I can cut out for the next two weeks? (Can you take a literal vacation from work? Can you say “no” to some commitments? Can you set boundaries with smartphones and devices so that your brain gets more time to recharge?)
- Is there something I know that I need more of? (Do you consistently drink enough water? Are you physically active on a regular basis?)
The way that your genes respond to diet and nutrients is referred to as nutrigenomics. (6) You don’t have to eat a perfect diet. But you do need to make sure that your body is getting the nourishment that it needs to repair your methylation processes and DNA expression. That’s a big part of the Soak and Scrub protocol.
Your gut health and microbiome play a major role in gene expression. They set the foundation for how your cells, tissues, and organs work. Gut health is about much more than just probiotics. It involves everything you eat, digest, and absorb.
Paying attention to how food makes you feel is the primary way that food plays a role in your Soak and Scrub. When you stop to really think about it, a lot of the foods you default to for ease, comfort, or enjoyment may actually be causing you digestive symptoms that are hindering your health.
The specific foods may be different for you, but common dietary triggers can include:
- Fried foods
- Processed foods
- High histamine foods, like wine, cheese, chocolate, and cured meats
This doesn’t mean you have to avoid trigger foods forever. But during a Soak and Scrub, you want to remove the noise. You want to eliminate things that are causing roadblocks to your optimal gene expression.
Are you a meal planner? Even if you’re not, creating a meal plan for your Soak and Scrub can reduce stress when it’s time to eat. Your budget can influence how you eat. But you don’t have to spend enormous amounts of money on eating well. Take the budget you have available for groceries and buy the best quality foods you have access to. Take advantage of a local farmers market. Buy staples in bulk. Make simple food swaps, like roasted vegetables as a side dish instead of white rice.
Other food tips for your Soak and Scrub include:
- Start with a whole foods diet, emphasizing protein and healthy fats.
- Cut out cow’s milk dairy, gluten, excess carbs, and white sugar.
- Opt for organic foods when possible.
- Eat only until you’re 80 percent full and avoid snacks and late-night meals.
- Only eat when you’re hungry. Don’t default to snacking just because it’s a habit, you’re tired, or stressed. Really ask yourself how you’re feeling and what your body needs.
- Fast for 12-16 hours per day. This can easily be done if you eat an earlier dinner and consume a later breakfast.
- Chew your food thoroughly. The more you chew, the easier it is to digest.
- Consume beverages between meals, not during meals.
- Modify your meals to include or exclude foods that suit your genetic makeup. Dr. Lynch shares information about gene-specific foods and recipes in his book Dirty Genes.
It’s optimal to get all of the nutrients you need from food. But in our modern world, that’s not always possible. This can happen because:
- Soils are depleted of crucial minerals
- Harvesting foods before their prime and shipping them around the world has become common practice versus eating foods harvested in their prime which are in season
- Cooking processes can destroy certain nutrients
- Shelf life can affect nutrient levels
- Individual digestion and health affects absorption rates
However, just because supplements can be good does not mean that you need to take a lot. What’s good for you may not be optimal for someone else. More of a good thing is not always better.
When you’re considering supplements, you need to factor in several things.
- As discussed, folate is essential for methylation. But folate is not the same as folic acid. There are many forms of folate. In general, nutrients can be bioavailable or “active,” or they can require your body to convert them to usable forms in many different steps. This can make your genes work harder, which isn’t optimal if you’re working on a Soak and Scrub. The form of the supplement plays a major role in how your body can put it to use. Be sure to always choose supplements in their most bioavailable, or active chemical forms.†
- Supplements can come in capsules, lozenges, liquids, liposomes, powders, chewables, and tinctures. Use the form that meets your needs and works for you. In general, the easiest form to absorb is liposomal and the hardest is tablets.†
- When it comes to dosage, follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations. You can also use the pulse method to figure out how much you need, and at which point you should increase the dose, decrease, or stop it all together. This builds on the concept of listening to your body. When you feel that your body needs some extra support, you can take the supplement. But on good days, your body may not require it. The pulse method does not work for every supplement, but it can for many.†
- Some of the most popular supplements for supporting all dirty genes include prenatal vitamins, multivitamins, electrolytes, probiotics, glutathione, and methylfolate support. Here are Dr. Ben Lynch’s supplement recommendations for all Super Seven genes. These are starting points to help lead you in the direction of optimal genetic wellness.†
Detox isn’t a gimmick. The term can be misused by people who are trying to sell you unproven products, but the process is a biological reality. You have organs that facilitate your detoxification process. They include the liver, kidneys, bladder, intestines, lungs, and even skin.
Your immune system, cardiovascular system, and many others rely on your body’s ability to take out the trash. You’re exposed to toxins every day from the air you breathe, food you eat, and the environment you live in. That’s unavoidable. Our bodies are not designed to bear this chemical burden, which takes a toll on our genes. You must optimize your detox organs and detoxification pathways to fully support your body.
When your genes aren’t working properly and your methylation is suboptimal, your body’s ability to detox can be sluggish.
You can reduce the load that your body needs to detox from by following some simple steps during your Soak and Scrub:
- Avoid plastic and nonstick cookware, opt for stainless steel, glass, ceramic, or cast iron instead.
- Rid your home of air fresheners and synthetic scents and fragrances
- Avoid pesticides, insecticides, herbicides. Opt for organic foods when possible.
- Properly take care of mold removal, mildew, damp areas in your house, and other environmental toxicants
- Sweat often. Exercise, take baths, saunas, or hot showers to expedite detoxification.
Rest is a major contributor to wellness. That’s because your body does the majority of healing while you are asleep! If you have sleep problems or you simply don’t prioritize it enough because of hustle culture, it’s time to shift your priority. Sleep is vital for healthy genes. When you’re sleeping, your body goes into rest and repair mode.
Here are some Soak and Scrub tips to improve your sleep hygiene:
- Do your best to maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle by going to bed at the same time every day, no later than 10:30 pm.
- You need to get enough sleep (7 to 8 hours) and ideally regular hours to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, which is essential for proper hormone production and balance.
- Block out or turn off artificial lights at night and in your bedroom to make it as pitch black as possible. A good quality sleep mask can also accomplish this.
- Quit drinking caffeine by 2 PM (or, stop drinking it altogether)
- Turn off all screens 1 to 2 hours before bed
- Practice deep breathing, meditation, or other calming activities before bed
If you’re in a major sleep rut and you feel tired all the time, it’s time to ask your doctor or a naturopath for a consultation. You could have sleep apnea or other factors influencing your body’s ability to get deep, restorative sleep. Considering talking with your health professionals about supplemental sleep support.†
The world is a stressful place! There’s no way around that. But you can take steps to minimize your exposures.
Stress in any form can seriously interfere with your health by weakening your immune system, making weight loss difficult, and triggering the production of inflammation.
Stress can come from multiple sources. Many people are dealing with stress from numerous fronts. Your diet can increase stress, especially if you’re sensitive to or have histamine intolerance. Environmental factors can cause stress if you’re chronically overstimulated. Work or personal relationships can cause stress.
You may not be able to address all factors during your two-week Soak and Scrub, but recognizing sources of stress is the first step in protecting your well-being.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ways to decrease stress during your Soak and Scrub:
- Say “no” more often
- Get outside every day to breathe fresh air and de-stress
- Meditate, practice yoga, or stretch for at least five minutes per day
- Practice deep breathing. Breathe only through your nose (not your mouth) at a slow and steady rate.
- Get the right amount of exercise for your body–not too much and not too little. Over-exercising or doing it while you’re tired or sick is a major stressor.
How Long is the Soak & Scrub?
The above describes Phase 1 of the Soak and Scrub protocol.
Dr. Ben Lynch, in his book Dirty Genes, designed this phase to last two weeks. However, you may find that you feel better living on a modified version of a Soak and Scrub. Or maybe you do a one-week Soak and Scrub reset every month or season!
Phase 2: Spot Cleaning
Phase 1 of the Soak and Scrub sets you up for the next phase: Spot Cleaning. This phase, also designed to last two weeks, is where you will implement what you learned from Phase 1.
Take a week (or more) to dial in the above phase 1 Soak and Scrub recommendations before moving on to phase 2 of the Soak and Scrub, which takes things a step further by honing in on:
- Addressing leaky gut, dysbiosis, or other factors to improve food digestion
- Lab testing to direct your supplementation
- Amping up your detox efforts
- Further dialing in your sleep habits
- Specific stress reduction techniques
- Adding specific dirty gene supplements†
Be sure to read the book Dirty Genes before moving onto Phase 2 of the Soak and Scrub. It explains how to do Phase 2, and provides more detail on individualizing the process to your specific genes and symptoms.
Every gene type can benefit from following the Soak and Scrub, so if you’re wondering how to start cleaning up your dirty genes, this would be the best place!
Want more details? Dr. Lynch details Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Soak and Scrub method in his best-selling book Dirty Genes. Once you’ve conquered these initial phases, you’ll be ready to move into Dr. Lynch’s personalized recommendations for your dirty genes.
The Bottom Line
Everyone has the genetic potential to have their genes work well. It may be hard to believe, but it’s true! As Dr. Ben Lynch repeatedly says, your genes are NOT your destiny. Thanks to the powers of epigenetics and nutrigenomics, you can clean your dirty genes. When you clean up your genes, you can remove dysfunction and optimize your health on all levels. (6)
Understanding the concepts discussed in Dirty Genes is empowering. Learning which of your genes are likely dirty is the first step. No matter which of your genes are dirty, you can get started on the Soak and Scrub protocol today to start working toward optimal genetic health!
‡ This information is for educational purposes only. No product results are implied.