Genetic studies of the last 20 years have shown extensively how, in human populations worldwide, most genetic differences are found at the individual rather than the population level. Two random humans from the same group are actually on average more genetically different from each other than two different human populations.
Do genetics make a difference when it comes to food choices?
In a recently published article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers analyzed the food preferences of more than 79 different foods within six populations along the historic Silk Road route, taking dietary choices as a proxy for this. Investigated and investigated the matter. of Central Asia.
They found that preference for certain foods was informative about preference for other foods, or in other words, food preferences could be combined to assemble a discrete number of ‘food signatures’.
‘Various aspects of cultural admixture and stratification, religious dietary restrictions, age-related personal preferences, and pastoral traditions, which in some cases genetics alone failed to identify.’
Amazingly, these signatures or profiles were not specific to any given village or country. The identified food signatures were therefore instead linked to other characteristics of the individuals in question, such as age, biological sex and other cultural choices. However, some exceptions were represented by certain foods available only in specific countries.
Food: the identity of culture and religion
Among them, some typical products of the regional cuisine are notable, such as the Georgian brindle cheese ‘sulguni’ and ‘kurut’, the dried curd balls of the Central Asian nomads.
The amount of dietary information that the researchers could link to country of origin was as low as 20%, which is larger than that of its genetic counterpart (1%), but is yet to explain the patterns observed despite the thousands of kilometres. is also not sufficient. Separation of examined persons.
As differences in genetic makeup and food preference between countries can be translated into ‘genetic’ and ‘food’ distances, these were plotted on a geographic map for comparison to actual geographic distances between sampling locations.
The emergent map showed culture to be only slightly higher than geography than genetics for the analyzed groups, which was inferred from the rest of the results.
No matter where you live or where you were born, it turns out that your choices (at least as far as food consumption are concerned) depend heavily on your gender and age, and other cultural characteristics.
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