6 surprising traits you can totally blame your parents for

Here are traits, all — surprisingly — controlled by your genes

February 23, 2016

You can hold your parents responsible for your allergies or less-than-perfect complexion, but other less obvious behaviours may also stem from your genes. Mum and Dad could even be to blame for your distaste for super healthy veggies, fear of dentists and nonexistent athletic ability. As compiled from Prevention magazine, here are traits, all — surprisingly — controlled by your genes.

You absolutely cannot wake up without caffeine

If your parents are chai addicts or coffee fans who reach for a cuppa before they starting the day, chances are you do, too. A study led by Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers shows a genetic link between responses to caffeine. “This could relate to variations in genetic differences in drug receptors (the part of the cell that interacts with a drug molecule — in this case, caffeine) among people,” shared Riya Pulicharam, director of clinical research, HE & Outcomes at HealthCare Partners, Los Angeles. This diversity may determine whether or not a person experiences a positive or negative reaction to caffeine.

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The smell of cilantro makes you cringe

A gene that influences smell may be responsible for a strong dislike of the herb cilantro, locally known as dhanya. A survey of nearly 30,000 people traced a cilantro aversion in the gene OR6A2, which is very sensitive to the chemicals that give the herb its distinct flavour. Those put off by claimed cilantro tasted like soap. For people who still want to enjoy it as a seasoning, researchers suggest crushing the leaves, which helps eliminate the aroma.

You’d rather skydive than visit the dentist

Not many people look forward to dental appointments, but an actual fear of the dentist can be handed down from their parents, a study from Madrid shows. As stated in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, the research found a link between fear levels amongst fathers, mothers and children. “If the parents are hovering over the dentist’s chair, making comments such as, ‘Don’t worry, it won’t hurt’ or ‘It will be over soon,’ the child feels that there is something to worry about,” says Don Atkins, a dentist in Long Beach, CA. If this fear continues into adulthood, the child may become part of the 9-15 per cent of adults who avoid the dentist due to fear. Of course, this sort of behaviour likely applies to other types of anxiety too — something to keep in mind if you’re an apprehensive parent.

The idea of a treadmill makes you want to stay in bed

The amount of effort it takes for you to succeed as an athlete or at the gym is partially determined by your genes. A study involving 98 two-generation families showed a wide range of responses to exercise improvement, which appear linked to 21 gene variants. People who possessed at least 19 of the “favourable” versions of the gene improved their aerobic capacity nearly three times as much as people who had fewer than 10. “This shows that if two people, one who is genetically endowed and the other who isn’t, are doing the same workout at the same intensity, they will not get the same results,” says Irv Rubenstein, an exercise physiologist and co-founder of STEPS, a science based fitness facility in Nashville, TN. “But while you can’t overcome your genes, you can maximse them with the right training and skill development.” Conclusion: You have no excuse to skip the gym!

You loathe certain veggies

If you’ve always been a fussy eater, it could be due to a variation of a taste receptor gene that makes you sensitive to bitter tasting health foods like gourd and kale, according to a study in the Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience journal. However, since taste buds regenerate around every 10 days, you can control how you “set them up,” explains Lori Zanini, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “For example, if you eat something very sweet today, then lower your intake of sweet-tasting foods for the next 10 days and have the same sugary food days later, it would taste much sweeter at that point due to taste bud regeneration.” The same type of response may occur with bitterness, so eating veggies regularly could help adjust your palate, making the taste seem more appetising the more you consume them.

You’re musically gifted

Sticking to music lessons long enough to become a proficient musician takes self-discipline, which involves nature as well as nurture, a Michigan State University study shows. “Self-discipline is a learned trait but genetics can help encourage self-control and discipline,” says Tina B Tessina, psychotherapist and author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction. Genetic traits such as acute hearing can contribute to a desire to create music, for example, and provide motivation that underlies discipline. But as with many other genetic traits, research has proven that your environment also plays a role in “nurturing” the ability to express these creative genes.

Umnia Shahid

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2016.

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