Diabetes: ‘Taste preferences’ for certain types of food may predict your risk warns study

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Diabetes occurs when the body loses control over the production of insult or becomes desensitised to the hormone. This can send blood sugar levels rocketing, which can prove fatal if left unmanaged. According to new findings, certain taste preferences in food may predict your risk of developing the disease by predisposing you to dietary decisions that drive it.

The new scientific findings suggest taste preferences in food may be influenced by our genetic make-up.

Researchers believe this may be key to determining our food choices, which in turn, could be linked to a risk of developing several diseases.

The findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, could help develop more personalised nutrition advice.

The study’s lead investigator, Julie Gervis, of Tufts’ Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging, said: “Our genetic predispositions to perceive certain tastes might be one of many reasons why some of us struggle to make healthy food choices.”

The health platform Medscape added: “We know genetics influence our taste, but little is known about how taste-related genes impact diet quality and health.”

This idea was explored by a team of researchers using data from a set of data to create the basis of a polygenic taste score.

The polygenic taste score helps decipher how genes affect the brain’s perception of taste, be it bitter, salty, sweet, sour, or savoury.

“If you have a high score for, say, sweet, that means you may be more sensitive to sweetness than someone with a moderate or low sweet score,” adds Medscape.

The study, conducted on a sample of more than 6,000 adults, found that those who ranked higher on the bitter score index tended to eat fewer whole grains.

Those who scored high for savoury (umami) index, on the other hand, ate fewer vegetables, particularly orange or red vegetables such as carrots and bell peppers.

“That matters because whole grains have been shown to reduce heart disease risk, while higher veggies intake is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes,” points out Medscape.

Meanwhile, a higher sweet score appeared to be linked with lower triglyceride levels, suggesting genes related to higher ranking on the sweet index could be key for cardio-metabolic health.

Miss Gervis added: “I hope these preliminary data convert the potential benefit of incorporating taste-related genes, and taste perception, into personalised nutrition.

“After all, while we don’t always choose what foods are good for us, we do always choose what foods taste good to us.”

How to prevent diabetes

Diabetes is affecting an ever-growing number of adults owing to several factors.

Fortunately, the disease is thought to be preventable by making appropriate lifestyle changes.

The Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health explains: “The key to prevention can be boiled down to five words: Stay lean and stay active.”

This advice is also applicable to the prevention of other deadly diseases like heart disease and cancer, adds the health body.

Avoiding foods that score highly on the glycaemic index is also key, however, as multiple studies have shown a positive association between dietary glycaemic index and increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

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