Scientific Sense Podcast

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Nutritional genetics

Research from Indiana University (1) speculates that physical traits could be substantially impacted by food. The adage that "you are what you eat," appears to work at a deeper genetic level. In low complexity biological systems, such as ants and bees, variation in food at the larvae stage seems to explain specialization at the genetic level. If true, this has implications beyond what has been observed.

Food, a complex external chemical, has to be metabolized, utilized and purged by biological systems routinely. Although it is clear that available energy content and processing efficiency will depend on the variation and complexity in inputs, the idea that food could cause genetic specialization is fascinating. More importantly, this may lead to better design of food to favorably impact physical and mental conditions, the latter possibly holding higher promise for humans.

Ancient cultures and medicines have routinely relied on food as the primary way to remedy tactical issues. The Indiana research may provide a path to propel this idea into more systematic and planned impacts.


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