What makes something a favorite food? Is it how it tastes, that we grew up with it, or something more intrinsic? Well, a new study found that our favorite foods may be correlated with variations in our genes. Turns out your morning coffee may be less of a favorite habit and more something you were destined to love.
What’s the relationship between our genes and our favorite foods?
The study, conducted at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in Japan, found common patterns of genetic variation in groups of people related to dietary habits.
They found that genetics related to habits of consumption for beverages like coffee and tea, plus foods like meats, tofu, and dairy. The link was found through a similar method to the one used to scan genes for similarities in groups with the same diseases.
“We know that what we eat defines what we are, but we found that what we are also defines what we eat,” said Yukinori Okada, Ph.D., a visiting scientist at RIKEN IMS and professor at Osaka University.
They found 10 new gene-related diet factors, and the majority were related to preferences for coffee and alcohol. In particular, there was one gene variation that was related to consumption of less alcohol and more consumption of caffeinated beverages like coffee and green tea.
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What can this help us understand?
While they started by scanning for genetic variations related to food preferences, the researchers also sought relationships between those variations and diseases. They found that five of those found are also correlated with some cancers and type-2 diabetes.
The alcohol connection may also mean the potential for predicting people who may struggle with alcoholism. According to Okada, “by estimating individual differences in dietary habits from genetics, especially the ‘risk’ of being an alcohol drinker, we can help create a healthier society.”
This isn’t the first study to delve into the relationship between our genes and the things we consume. Research suggests that the foods we eat can actually alter our genes, and our distaste for veggies can sometimes be blamed on our genes as well.
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