Reader Ann F. wrote me a bunch of questions in response to a previous column in which I noted how genetic research is beginning to show us how our DNA may influence our dietary needs:
Could race, hair color, eye color, and ancestry all have a role in determining the ideal diet for you? What about your sexuality? How much would you be able to learn about your ideal nutrition if you had DNA information?
And I’m curious if eating preferences are linked to DNA in any way. I try to eat a healthy diet, but if I discovered that I’d be happier eating peanut butter sandwiches and not much else every day, that would be fantastic. (If my memory serves me well, you might have similar feelings about some New Mexico specialties.) Thanks. “
What you inherited from your parents determines almost everything about you, including your vulnerability to certain diseases. According to researchers, even our dietary preferences, such as yours for peanut butter sandwiches and mine for New Mexican cooking, are influenced by our genetics.
Yes, our nutritional requirements differ between men and women due to differences in body types and functions. For example, men require more protein, while women of reproductive age require more iron.
On this subject, there are two fields of research. One is nutrigenomics, which studies how our nutrition influences the “expression” of our genetic code. My father, for example, had Type 2 diabetes later in life. Since diabetes tends to run in families, there’s a good chance that I also have a tendency to get it.
According to scientists, my lifestyle, especially how I eat, can influence whether that gene turns on or stays off, which is amazing. (So far, it hasn’t worked.)
On the other hand, nutrigenetics is a new field of research that looks into how one’s genetic makeup influences how we respond to various dietary components. As a result of these discoveries, people can now get nutrition plans that are based on their DNA.
While there are companies that will map your nutritional needs based on your DNA, keep in mind that this field of nutrition is still in its early stages and is far from standardized.
That said, Genopalate, a corporation with a long list of nutrition professionals and researchers, offered me the opportunity to submit my saliva for assessment. And I must say, the results piqued my interest.
My “genotype” is best suited to a diet high in carbohydrate meals and a modest amount of dietary fiber, according to my study. In addition, I require a diet rich in zinc, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. And it appears that my body breaks down caffeine quickly but alcohol slowly, which serves as a reminder that “genetics loads the pistol, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.”