The genetics of nutrition: a look at the hereditary influences on our eating behaviour
9. January 2024

The genetics of nutrition: a look at the hereditary influences on our eating behaviour

By Foodways

Nutrition plays an enormous role in our health and general well-being. Sustainable nutrition also conserves resources and thus contributes to environmental protection. But how does our genetic predisposition actually influence our eating habits? And why do many people find it so difficult to change their eating habits in favor of a more sustainable diet?

We wanted to know what part of behavior is inherited and why we find it so difficult to change it. That’s why we dived into the literature and compiled some exciting facts.

(Disclaimer: We are neither medical doctors nor health or nutrition counsellors and have not read all the literature on the subject. The contents are intended to give an impression).

Genetics – How genes affect eating behavior

When we look at the genetics of eating habits, it is not just about the metabolism of nutrients, but also about the genetic predisposition to specific nutritional needs, taste preferences and eating behavior.

These examples illustrate that genetic predispositions can influence specific nutritional behavior.

Epigenetic – How nutrition influences genes

But wait, that’s not all. Epigenetic also plays an important role. Our environment, behavior, diet, exercise and other influences affect our genes. They can cause chemical changes in the RNA in the cell nucleus, which are ultimately passed on. This means that not only do the genes have an effect on us, but we also have an effect on the genes. These epigenetic effects are a completely new field of research – we recommend reading the book “Wir können unsere Gene steuern!” by Isabelle M. Mansuy, Jean-Michel Gurret and Alix Lefief-Delcourt.

We have therefore inherited genetic dispositions and epigenetic factors from our ancestors. So it’s no wonder that we sometimes find it so difficult to give up meat or sweets, for example.

Sustainable and healthy nutrition – how it can still succeed

However, our eating habits are not only determined by our genes, but also by many other factors such as our environment, our culture, our upbringing, our social environment, our stress levels and our emotions. These factors shaped the food likes and dislikes of our parents and grandparents, which they passed on to us. But our eating habits are also deeply rooted in us through our upbringing and culture.

In order to change our eating habits, it therefore helps to recognize these factors and find ways in which we can slowly change these habits. In doing so, we should consciously recognize and question cultural and family traditions. This takes a lot of motivation, willpower and patience. Changing our attitude towards food and ourselves can be very helpful.

After all, a sustainable lifestyle pays off in concrete terms for us and future generations. The good news is that epigenetic changes are fundamentally reversible. For example, the predisposition to type 2 diabetes can be reduced for future generations by changing our lifestyle.

Sustainable eating therefore not only has an impact on the environment and the climate, but also has a positive effect on our health and that of our descendants.


More Posts