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Evolution takes time: ‘Relatively recent’ gene variant helps some humans cope with high-sugar diets

| | September 19, 2019

It’s well known among palaeontologists and nutrition experts that the human diet began to change after our distant ancestors transitioned from being pure hunter-gatherers to cooking their meat and, about 10,000 years ago, to cultivating crops. Unfortunately, our bodies had been evolving over millions of years to process food, and our metabolisms still haven’t adjusted to our (relatively) new diet—one reason why the modern, high-sugar diets many of us now consume can trigger insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

But a gene variant that arose and started spreading sometime after 450,000 BP (before the present) could help us cope, according to a recent study led by investigators at University College London and published in the journal eLife.

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The original form of [glucose transporter protein] CHC22 had advantages for early humans: it helped to keep blood sugar higher during periods of fasting before we had easy access to carbohydrates.

But too much sugar circulating in the blood can be dangerous and even lead to type 2 diabetes. For modern humans, the new variant became more common because it is more compatible with the high carbohydrate diets we eat today.

Read full, original post: New Clues to the Way We Metabolize Sugar

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