The DNA of Thanksgiving

Editor’s note: Pending an FDA decision, 23andMe no longer offers new customers access to health reports referred to in this post. Customers who purchased prior to November 22, 2013 will still be able to see their health reports, but those who purchased after that time will not. Those customers will have access to ancestry information as well as access to their uninterpreted raw data.

You learned to like the foods you grew up with, but did you know that genetics also play a role in your food preferences? In addition to influencing your sensitivity to bitter and sweet flavors, genetics also affect brain chemistry and therefore how you respond to tastes or other sensory cues.DNA of Thanksgiving Infographic

This Thanksgiving, we’re celebrating all things food at 23andMe, and that starts with sharing what we know about the DNA of your holiday meal.

For example, do you have a sweet tooth? Research shows that people with the  GG or AA or AG genotypes at consume, on average, more sugar per day than people with a GC or CC genotype. Those are the people heading straight for the pumpkin pie on Turkey Day!

This Thanksgiving, you’ll also be able to tell if the alcohol flush reaction runs in the family. Relatives with no working copies of the ALDH2 gene are prone to an extreme flushing reaction from a glass of red wine, while your cousins who inherited two working copies will have little or no flushing reaction.

For people with specific food needs, Thanksgiving can be a challenge. Between 20 percent and 40 percent of us in the US and Europe are likely to be dealing with some form of lactose intolerance in adulthood. At the same time, more than two million Americans suffer from Celiac Disease, a condition that requires them to enjoy a gluten-free holiday feast.

Would you like to know if your ancestors passed down their love of sweets? Or maybe you want to know why you get wired from one cup of coffee? Your 23andMe results will give you a genetic profile that sheds light on:

  • if you’re more likely to eat sweet things

  • the likelihood that you’ll overeat

  • how your body responds to caffeine

  • your sensitivity to lactose (the type of sugar found in milk)

  • if you should avoid gluten

  • your ability to taste brussel sprouts and other bitter foods

  • if you flush from drinking

Will your 23andMe results influence the way you eat? How will your Thanksgiving table look different now that you’ve investigated the genetic association with food?

Psst, once you’ve recovered from your Thanksgiving feast, buy a 23andMe kit for you and a family member on Black Friday: www.23andMe.com/offer


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