They show that the vegetarian diet can change your genetics

They show that the vegetarian diet can change your genetics

There is a growing body of scientific evidence to support that typical saying that we are what we eat.

Our feeding It leads to a large number of changes in our body, from general health to weight. However, this not all; since, according to a recent study published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, modifications can also occur at much deeper levels, specifically in the genes.

Logically, it is not something that happens overnight, but it is true that those populations that carry out this type of diet during long times end up experiencing changes in a concrete location of the genome.

Why does diet affect the genome?

As you know, throughout the evolution of a species, those characters that favor their survival in certain conditions, shaping the genome to adapt it to factors such as the weather or food.

So if for example a species does not consume milk, it will not have the enzyme that helps digest the lactose and if you base your diet on vegetables, must have a good enzymatic system capable of efficiently degrading the substances contained in them.

The study that showed that the vegetarian diet changes the genome

Based on this, a group of scientists from the Cornell University, carried out a study looking for this type of variation.

To begin with, they had analyzed the genome of several members of a tribe of Inuit Eskimos, whose diet is mainly based on the shellfish. Curiously, when compared to that of others similar tribes, but with diets vegetarian, found that the latter had a different gene, with an insertion of 22 base pairs (the bricks that form the DNA).

Given this discovery, the researchers decided to specifically analyze that gene in different population groups used to different types of diets.

To do this, they took samples of DNA of 234 vegetarian Indians and 311 United States citizens, the cradle of the hamburger. Upon analysis, they found that 68% of Indians had the vegetarian variant of the gene, while only 9% of Americans had it. It is clear, therefore, that the genome of each population has been adapting over the years, but how does this variation help vegetarians?

Basically, it facilitates the digestion of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are present in vegetable and seed oils and they function as precursors to other types of fatty acids. This is corroborated when checking the low prevalence of this genomic variant in the Europeansince their diet includes large amounts of milk and milk derivatives, from which they obtain sufficient quantity of long chain fatty acids so as not to need precursor mediation.

How can this discovery help the population?

This discovery is very useful for two main reasons. On the one hand, knowing our genome can help us adapt our dieta, so that we only eat those foods that we are prepared to digest properly.

On the other hand, it can also alert doctors to anticipate the second, less affable face of this variant; since it also favors the synthesis of inflammatory fatty acids, associated with the appearance of heart disease and some types of cancer.

And it is that these fatty acids are very necessary for our body, but always in their proper measure, so vegetarians should avoid abusing them.

Therefore, as I told you at the beginning, at the end the sayings are always right. We are what our genes say we are, and our DNA represents what we eat; therefore, it is true, we are what we eat.

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