Wake up and smell the genomes.

As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat,” but recent research is showing that “we eat what we are” might be more accurate. In other words, our tastes and dietary habits might have more to do with what’s embedded in our DNA than we had previously thought.

One gene that has been of particular interest is ALDH2, which controls the enzymes used in alcohol metabolism. This is the same gene that results in redness that appears on the faces of many East Asians who partake of alcohol, but now is believed to be related to a number of other traits from alcohol dependence to quality of sleep, as well as other dietary preferences.

▼ Mr. Sato appears to have the ALDH2 genotype that processes alcohol fully, as his face remains fair after drinking. They only way you could tell he was wasted was the way he eats grated garlic from a jar.

Image: ©SoraNews24

For example, according to Tokyo-based genome data analysis firm Euglena, the rs671 genotypes of ALDH2 have a relation to the amount of coffee someone likes to consume on a daily basis. Euglena then used the data of 20,000 people from all over Japan and found which prefectures have the most and least number of genetically predisposed coffee lovers.

They also illustrated the results in this playfully coffee-colored heat map, in which darker areas represent the highest population of coffee-craving genotypes and vice versa.

As we can see, there is a considerably stronger concentration of these people in the western part of Japan, particularly the Kansai region, composed of prefectures such as Osaka and Kyoto. As the detailed data reveals, four of the six main Kansai prefectures appear in the top ten genetically coffee-loving prefectures:

Prefectures with most people whose genes suggest they like coffee
1. Wakayama

2. Mie
3. Aichi
4. Gifu
5. Kyoto
6. Nara
7. Fukui
8 (tie). Osaka, Yamaguchi
10 (tie). Kagawa, Saga

Other prefectures like Mie and Fukui are sometimes grouped in with the Kansai area as well bringing the total up to six.

Conversely, the geographic extremities of Japan also seem to be the less susceptible to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. The southern islands of Okinawa came in dead last among prefectures and northernmost Hokkaido ranked 41st out of 47.

▼ Full ranking in English listed at the end of this article

Interestingly, according to economic census data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication many of the same prefectures that tested highly for genetic predilection for coffee also have the most coffee shops per capita.

Prefectures with most coffee shops per capita (shops/1,000 people)
1. Kochi
2. Gifu (1.43)
3 (tie). Aichi, Wakayama (1.13)
5. Osaka (1.06)
6. Hyogo (0.97)
7. Kagawa (0.93)
8. Kyoto (0.92)
9. Mie (0.86)
10. Fukui (0.83)

Although not in the top ten, Kochi was still a respectable 16th in terms of coffee-drinking genes. Its first-place performance here might also have been swayed by it having the third-lowest population in the country. Hyogo, on the other hand, is pretty far down the list at 23rd place but percentage-wise isn’t too far away from Kochi in terms of people with the genotypes in question.

In the end, this data does little more than provide some fun and perhaps highlight some prime opportunities to open coffee shops in Wakayama and Mie. But more importantly, the science behind it is bringing us closer to identifying potential lifestyle illnesses we might be at risk of falling victim to one on a genetic level without ever realizing it.

Full list of Japanese prefectures ranked by population of people genetically predisposed to drink coffee (percentage of population)

1.Wakayama (9.92)
2. Mie (9.3)
3. Aichi (8.82)
4. Gifu (8.76)
5. Kyoto (8.29)
6. Nara (8.04)
7. Fukui (7.24)
8 (tie). Osaka, Yamaguchi (7.21)
10 (tie). Kagawa, Saga (7.18)
12. Shizuoka (7.1)
13. Kanagawa (7.05)
14. Toyama (6.81)
15. Gunma (6.45)
16. Kochi (6.38)
17 (tie). Ibaraki, Nagasaki (6.35)
19. Okayama (6.33)
20. Fukuoka (6.3)
21. Chiba (6.25)
22. Tokushima (6.18)
23 (tie). Shimane, Hyogo, Yamanashi (6.15)
26. Ishikawa (6.13)
27. Nagano (6.1)
28. Ehime (6.08)
29. Tokyo (5.88)
30 (tie). Saitama, Miyazaki (5.62)
32. Hiroshima (5.38)
33. Tochigi (5.34)
34. Oita (5.24)
35. Kumamoto (5.15)
36. Fukushima (5.13)
37. Niigata (4.91)
38. Kagoshima (4.8)
39. Shiga (4.71)
40. Tottori (4.37)
41. Hokkaido (4.35)
42. Yamagata (3.53)
43. Iwate (3.42)
44. Miyagi (3.42)
45. Akita (2.96)
46. Aomori (2.84)
47. Okinawa (2.66)

Source: PR Times
Top image: ©SoraNews24
Insert images: PR Times (unless otherwise noted)
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