8 Surprising Traits You Never Knew They Could Be Hereditary
You can thank your parents for your athletic body, spectacular eye color or blame them for your receding hairline, but the things you can inherit from them go beyond the way you look. From your love for coffee to your driving skills or lack thereof, here are some surprising traits you never realized that could be hereditary.
Spoiler alert: Men and women finally have an explanation for not seeing eye to eye!
How much you sleep
There might be a very good reason behind your aversion towards waking up early in the morning. It’s called genetics! According to one of the largest sleep studies ever carried out, published in Nature Communications in 2019, sleeping patterns might actually be inherited from mom and dad.
With around 78 regions of genes associated with sleep, it appears that several sleep traits, including when and how long you sleep, are hereditary and get passed down from parents to their children. Needless to say, sleep, or lack thereof, may affect other areas of your health, causing other problems such as diabetes, and even heart disease. Suffering from insomnia? Blame it on your genes!
How much you love coffee
Ahh, coffee! I am among those people who cannot get through the morning without their cup of Joe. According to recent studies, it seems I need to thank my mother for that. Due to a gene called the PTC gene, which is transmitted from their parents, coffee lovers get to enjoy the sweet, savory taste of coffee that the rest of the world sees as bitter.
According to the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah, “since all people have two copies of every gene, combinations of the bitter taste gene variants determine whether someone finds PTC [which is similar in bitterness to coffee] intensely bitter, somewhat bitter, or without taste at all.”
More than that, a 2018 study published in Scientific Reports further confirmed that individuals with this bitter taste gene might feel the need to drink at least four cups of coffee. Is it good? Is it bad? Find out here!
Your sweet tooth
The love for coffee is not the only thing you might have inherited from your mom and dad. Researchers revealed in a 2008 study published in Physiological Genomics that your obsession with sweets is also linked to genetics. More precisely, sugar lovers have been found to have a genetic variant, called glucose transporter type 2, which is responsible for their sweet taste preferences and consumption on a daily basis.
With sugar being considered public enemy number one, this sweet tooth might be a cause of concern. However, according to another study conducted by the University of Copenhagen in 2018, individuals with this gene surprisingly have less body fat. “It sort of contradicts common intuition that people who eat more sugar should have less body fat,” confessed co-author Niels Grarup.
Before you start munching on your second round of brownies, check out these 10 Popular Foods and Drinks High in Sugar.
How popular you are
Think you’re cooler than your parents? Think again. Whether you were the bubbly type or more of a loner all your life has a lot to do with your parents’ personalities. A 2009 experiment of Harvard University revealed that people’s circle of friends is actually “strongly heritable.” Don’t get me wrong, you don’t inherit your parents’ friends, but “the pattern of human connection depends on our genes to a significant measure,” explained Harvard sociology professor Nicholas Christakis.
One of the reasons researchers believe our popularity and position in a social group is hereditary is related to basic human survival, deeply rooted in our DNA. Another explanation would be the presence of a certain gene that makes people, men to be more precise, prone to breaking rules and consequently, more popular. Seems like being a rebel pays off for some, doesn’t it?
Your driving skills
If you aren’t the best driver in the world, don’t sweat it. Science says it’s not necessarily your fault. You might be among the 30 percent of Americans who carry a certain gene that prevents your brain from producing a protein, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein works as a neurotransmitter, facilitating communication between cells while performing tasks, like driving.
Drivers with this specific gene are 20 percent more likely to make driving mistakes compared to drivers without the BDNF gene. “These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away,” senior author of the study Dr. Steven Cramer said in a statement. next time you see someone struggling to stay on one lane, don’t blame them, blame genetics!
How much you procrastinate
If you’re in the habit of leaving everything until the very last minute, you can blame it on the fact that procrastination is in your genes. Various behavioral genetics studies, among which a recent study published by the University of Colorado, revealed that procrastination has a heritability of around forty-five percent, about the same percentage as for any of our major personality traits.
In addition, it appears that women who carry the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) gene tend to procrastinate more and get distracted easier, according to a study carried out in 2018 by the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany. The TH gene is responsible for regulating dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter that is also associated with cognitive flexibility, attention and motivation.
How much you like to work out
If you’d rather be a couch potato than sweat out at the gym, it’s not necessarily because you’re a lazy person. Based on genetic and behavioral research, it’s something you’ve inherited from your parents.
According to a 2014 study of rats carried out by the University of Georgia and published in The Journal of Physiology, an individual’s predilection to like or dislike exercise might have a genetic explanation. It’s not the fact that you’ve never or rarely seen your parents working out, it’s more about the presence of a specific gene that affects the release of dopamine, the reward neurons that stimulate life-sustaining activities like eating healthy food, drinking water or working out. “These genes also act indirectly, by their associations with people’s acquired motivation to be active and also with select personality traits,” explained Rodney Dishman of the University of Georgia.
Genetics might be to blame for your less than athletic body, but you can still adopt certain healthy habits and find Successful Ways to Stay Active and Healthy This Fall.
How many colors you are able to see
You might get your eye color from your parents, but that’s not the only influence they can have when it comes to colors. Your mom and dad can also be responsible for how many of them you are able to see. Even if none of your parents are color blind, they might still carry a specific gene that affects the perception of colors and pass it on to you. This means you might have trouble discerning between red, green and blue. About 95% of people with color blindness are men.
At the other end of the spectrum, you could end up with super vision, called tetrachromacy in medical terms. Most people are able to see three dimensions of colors, but tetrachromatic individuals have an extra cone gene that allows them to see around 10 million different colors. Since it is passed on the X chromosome and women have two of those, women are more likely to have tetrachromacy, according to a study published in the Journal of Vision in 2010.