Ancestry and Your Health

Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS

Nutrigenomics is a growing field of study that investigates the interaction of nutrition and genes, and this new area of research is making some interesting findings. According to a recently published study, where your ancestors are from may have implications as to what dietary behaviors are best for your health.

Researchers aiming to investigate nutrition behaviors influenced by the introduction of farming to Europe in the Neolithic Era (10,200 BC–2,000 BC) found some fascinating evidence of genetic adaptation. Previous research has determined that Pre-Neolithic Europeans subsisted largely off an animal-based diet, but the advent of farming resulted in a drastic change to a primarily plant-based diet around 6,000 BC. As a result of this, it was discovered that those with ancestry in farming-based European communities have an increased frequency of FADS1, a gene that encodes cells to produce enzymes that help metabolize plants. In particular, this gene plays a vital role in the biosynthesis of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for proper inflammatory and immune responses and brain development.

These nutritional components are easily obtained in an animal-based diet, particularly from fatty fish, but must be biosynthesized from the short-chain fatty acids found in vegetables and seeds by those subsisting primarily on plants. Analysis showed a sharp increase in the prevalence of FADS1 after the Neolithic Revolution, with disparities in frequency depending on region. Since the reliance on farming was stronger in southern Europe, those with ancestry from the northern regions (where consumption of seafood and dairy was considerably higher) had lower prevalence of the gene. This study is the first in a series that hopes to examine the role of diet in the evolution of human populations.

While this nutrigenomics research is still in its infancy, it is interesting to think about the possibilities. We already understand that generalized dietary advice doesn’t always work and that individuals have distinct responses to different nutritional input. Soon we may be able to further individualize dietary guidelines for optimum health and wellness by examining one’s genetic code. Until then, don’t forget your xEO Mega® Essential Oil Omega Complex, which includes a proprietary blend of omega-3’s from both animal and plant-based sources.



doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.

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