Researchers at Cornell University in the US compared the genome of vegetarian populations with the traditional meat eaters. They discovered the presence of a genetic mutation in vegetarians.
A mutation was also observed among Inuit in Greenland who eat mostly seafood, but acts in the opposite way. It is therefore in both cases an adaptation of the gene according to the environment and diet of the population.
According to the researchers, two enzymes are essential for the conversion of omega-3 and omega-6 components required for brain development and the fight against inflammation. Meat eaters and seafood need these enzymes in smaller quantities to have a balanced diet, because their process of converting omega-3 and omega-6 is simpler and requires fewer steps.
This vegetarian mutation was observed in 68% of Indians, 18% of Americans, 53% of Africans, 70% of South Asians, 29% of East Asians, 53% of Africans and 17 % of Europeans.
The Northern Europeans have a long history of milk consumption that allows them to not have to increase their ability to synthesize fatty acids, the researchers found.
“These findings may allow us to adapt our supply to match our genome,” the scientists conclude.