10 Jun 2019

Genetics have very little to do with how we process food, a new study has confirmed. Only 50 percent of our response to glucose and less than 20 percent of our response to dietary fats is genetic, meaning even identical twins respond differently to eating the exact same meal.

A range of participants was studied as part of the research, including identical twins. By studying individual reactions to certain meals it was determined that even among those with identical DNA sequences, pointing to a potential failure in one-size-fits-all guidelines as some saw increases in insulin and blood sugar to a particular meal, where others saw increase in fat from the same item.

“Everyone is unique in their food response, which may help explain why one-size-fits-all dietary guidelines often fail,” Tim Spector from Kings College, London, who led the study, told the New Scientist

The explanation behind the differences could be lying in our gut. Identical twins only share 37 percent of the same gut microbes, where unrelated individuals have just 35 percent in common. This could explain how we all react so differently to the same meal. Other factors may include variability in people's sleep, circadian rhythms or exercise.

The team involved in the study are using the data to build an app to predict how people will respond to food, hoping that it will help advise them on the healthiest option for them.

Listen to Tim Spector explaining how the human gut microbiome works, and the potential it offers to improve our health in the Table Talk Podcast.

Find out more here