The science behind our food preferences and cravings

We all have different likes and dislikes and the same goes with the kinds of food we purchase and eat which are determined by many variables such as stress, hormones, deficiencies, and environment. But above all, our DNA plays a big role in our  dietary preferences. Based on a genome-wide association study, there are 17 genes that can be linked to our inclination to certain foods such as liver, ice cream, blue cheese, and many others.


Our food intake can also be traced down to our genetic make up. You probably have those times when you just can’t get enough of chocolate. How much chocolate we eat can be associated to variants in a gene responsible in regulating the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Being part of the brain’s reward system, it is possible that whenever the levels of oxytocin are low in our body, it strives to get us that delightful “reward” feeling and that’s when you have the strong urge to eat that chocolate nugget and have another one after.

Aside from the usual sweet cravings, coffee intake can also be explained by your genes. Your coworker may tend to drink 2-3 cups a day while for you, one is more than enough. If you drink less coffee, it’s because you have greater expression of the PDSS2 gene which is involved in the creation of proteins that metabolize caffeine in the body. This also means that you metabolize caffeine slower than those who usually consume more coffee than you do.

As much as genes affect our food preference and intake, other non-genetic factors can also be taken into account.

  • Dimmer lights make us more likely to choose unhealthy foods while certain types of music can make us more inclined to sweeter products.
  • Our preference for sugary foods whenever we’re feeling anxious or exhausted can be due to glucocorticoids which are hormones that are stimulated by stress.
  • Your cravings can be a sign of imbalance in our body. This explains why you seek out sugary foods when your blood sugar levels are low, and salty foods if you are an endurance athlete who loses a lot of fluids and sodium when working out for long hours.
  • Women tend to be cranky and have a lot of cravings during a specific period of the month when their estrogen and serotonin decrease and the stress hormone cortisol rises.

With all these factors combined, your own DNA is still the only one that can give you a thorough understanding of your body and what it needs to achieve its optimal state. A simple DNA test can tell you your body’s deficiencies and we use this information to make your personalized supplements, diet reports, nutritional recommendations, and other health and wellness products. Visit www.lifedna.com to know more.

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