You are what your hair says you are: Follicles provide a map of your diet and health

prose s fruit stand copy x
Credit: Prose

Your mop can potentially shed light on whether you prefer veggie burgers or cheeseburgers, a new study has suggested.

Researchers from the University of Utah collected discarded hair from barbers and hair salons from 65 cities across the United States. From the chemical traces in the cuttings the scientists found that American diets are dominated by animal-derived protein like meat and dairy.

This type of hair analysis could be a useful tool to assess a community’s dietary patterns and health risks, the researchers said.

“The takeaway here is that we can potentially identify regional, national, and temporal patterns of dietary habits with this approach,” James Ehleringer, lead author of the study and distinguished professor at the University of Utah’s School of Biological Sciences, said in an email.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.
Related article:  Not all children are safe from COVID-19: Mysterious childhood illness similar to Kawasaki disease linked to coronavirus

How exactly can you determine diet from strands of hair? Variations in carbon isotopes found in hair, Ehleringer said, reflect those found in different food products — either consumed directly or indirectly through animal feed, which in the United States is usually corn.

The study, which published [August 3] in the journal PNAS, found that animal-derived proteins, such as meat and dairy, accounted for 57% of US diets, on average.

Diets rich in protein, as opposed to plant-based ones, were associated with a greater risk of health problems like heart disease, the study said, citing existing research.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend