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Do Our Genes Determine What We Eat?

Mays Landing, New Jersey

Everyone’s heard the common saying “you are what you eat”. Research says that may actually be true. Currently, the data from a preliminary study that involves more than 6000 adults has found that taste-related genes may play a role in determining what someone chooses to eat! This study shows that genetics might be tied to perception of all five tastes-sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and savory- and how they are related to consumption of food groups as well as cardiometabolic risk factors. Cardiometabolic risk factors include obesity, lack of eating fruits and vegetables, living a sedentary lifestyle, and psychosocial stress. These can all contribute to causing health problems.

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a balanced diet

What were the findings of the study?

The findings of this study show that the genes that determine the perception of taste might be important to consider when creating a personalized nutrition guide. Therefore, in order to improve diet quality and reduce risk for diet-related chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases it is crucial to make sure you have enough of each food category- dairy, vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein. As well as the proper food portions. This ends up improving quality of life and results in a more fit population.

What does this study prove?

Julie E. Gervis, a doctoral candidate in the Cardiovascular Nutrition Lab at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University stated, “We know that taste is one of the fundamental drivers of what we choose to eat, and by extension our diet quality.” This study provides an explanation as to why we all have different taste preferences. Some may enjoy the taste of sour more than sweet, while others prefer savory over bitter. This study will help others understand their preferences and the benefits relating to their taste preferences.


How will this affect society?

This study will help people understand where their craving for certain foods comes from and they will be able to control their cravings. As a result, people will be able to help create their diet based on foods they genetically prefer. This will lower the risk of many diseases. This will help the population stay fit and live longer since it lowers the risk of a heart attack.


What was the procedure for this study?

In order to complete this study, researchers used data from previous genome-wide association studies in order to identify the genetic variants related to each of the five basic tastes. Then, they used this information to create a polygenic taste score. This is a test that provides a single estimate of the cumulative effect of many genetic variants based on perception of taste. Finally, researchers analyzed the polygenic taste scores, diet quality, and cardiometabolic risk factors of 6,230 adults in the Framingham Heart Study. The data revealed that genes related to bitter and savory tastes may play a part in diet quality by influencing food choices, while genes related to sweet appeared to be more important to cardiometabolic health.


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