Our genes have a massive impact on our food preferences
Some people love to eat chocolate. Other people may have a preference for salty chips or eat mostly vegetables. Researchers have now found that our aversions and special food preferences are influenced by our genes.
In their research, scientists at Tufts University in Boston found that particular aversions and preferences in eating are linked to our genes. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "The FASEB Journal".
Researchers discover connection between genes and food preferences
The current study examined 818 adults and found a link between our genes and the dislikes and preferences in our eating habits. For example, some of these gene variants were known to be associated with an increased risk of obesity, the experts explain. Others are involved in hormone regulation.
Improved individualized diet advice
The results found are evidence that food preferences are partly related to genetic variations, the scientists explain. Some researchers believe that understanding the genetics behind food preferences will lead to more personalized diet advice. This type of research is called nutrigenomics. So far, however, the experts are unlikely that a nutritionist will analyze their DNA.
Genes affect the taste receptors
Past studies have found correlations between gene variations and people's taste for certain foods. For the most part, our genes have an impact on our taste receptors, explains author Silvia Berciano from Tufts University.
Which genes were the doctors particularly focused on?
The research team was particularly focused on certain genes associated with behavioral and psychological traits (such as depression or addiction). The experts wanted to find out whether there is a connection with any eating habits.
How does the FTO gene work?
In general, the study found that there were correlations between multiple genes and food preferences. Variations in a gene called FTO, which is associated with obesity, have been linked to, for example, vegetable and fiber consumption. It is possible that the so-called FTO gene affects both the risk of obesity and people's desire for vegetables, says Berciano. Could this connection exist because obesity-prone people are rarely vegetable lovers? This explanation is extremely unlikely, explains the author.
SLC6A2 gene affects fat intake
Different genes affect our eating behavior. For example, a gene called SLC6A2 regulates hormones such as norepinephrine. The researchers found that it is also related to fat intake.
Long-term eating habits can be changed
Variations in a gene that regulates oxytocin are usually involved in binding ability, moods, and other behaviors. The gene is also linked to chocolate consumption and increased weight, the researchers report. However, sufferers should not think that their genes force them to consume increased amounts of chocolate. With support, even long-standing eating habits can be changed, the experts emphasize.
Results could lead to improved diet plans
Understanding how genetic differences affect neuronal regulation of eating behavior can, according to the researchers, lead to a better prediction of individual behavioral trends. This could enable the development of diet plans that are easier for those affected to adhere to. (as)