Is Cold Tolerance Genetic?
Do you struggle with cold temperatures or are you someone who adapts easily to colder climates? Recent research indicates that a connection between climate and genetic variations exists.
This suggests that your DNA determines your ability to adjust to the cold.
It is possible that if you descended from people who lived in cold climates for centuries, your genes have most likely been affected by that.
A team of researchers from the University of Chicago discovered that certain genetic variations that allowed humans to tolerate colder temperatures and climates might have also affected or caused a predisposition to metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome can lead to obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.
Does Tolerating Cold Come At A Price?
Tolerating the cold may come with both some genetic benefits and disadvantages.
Over 100 years ago, researchers learned that people in colder regions tended to be bulkier and have shorter arms and legs.
They also identified a connection between cold climates and a higher body mass index, or measure of body fat, based on their heights and weights.
Recent research has shown that there is a connection between climate and different genetic variations.
Some of these variations seem to influence the risk of metabolic syndrome. Most likely, these genetic variations significantly helped humans adapt and survive in colder climates.
Whether or not some of these genes protect against the cold or increase disease risk depends on the specific gene.
The Move From Warm To Cold Climates
The earliest ancestors of humans lived in warmer, more humid climates. This required them to figure out ways to survive in the heat.
As populations migrated out of warmer climates and into cooler ones in search of better conditions and more food, their bodily needs changed.
As there was pressure to begin adapting to their new environments, these processes required the body to produce and retain heat.
As ancient populations migrated, their entire social structures and cultures changed as well. Even the food they ate evolved which affected the way fat was stored.
Their activities, like hunting, were also impacted which had physiological effects. Every little detail is vital towards understanding how genes adapt and help us survive over time.
As humans settled in colder climates, their bodies evolved and adapted to survive in those environments.
This indicates that our genes say a lot about how we react to cold and ties us directly to our ancestors.
As humans settled in colder climates, many factors contributed to their genetic processes becoming more tolerant to cold over time. Researchers have pinpointed a specific version of a gene that stems from the leptin receptor.
This gene, most common in those who live in cold climates, helps regulate appetite and energy balance. It also helps control the ability to use oxygen and release carbon dioxide.
Your ability to adapt to colder temperatures is also tied to sweat, your skin pigmentation, heart strength, and even the proximity of your blood vessels to your skin.
Over time, as ancient people settled in colder environments, their genes adjusted.
The results? People who are more comfortable in a dry, humid climate over those who prefer snow and ice are likely to have a predisposition to those preferences.
Today's Cold Weather Climates
In today’s world, people who are more tolerant of colder weather are often such because of ancient adaptation to colder climates.
As early human populations moved around the world and migrated to new environments, their bodies and genes acclimated to the environment which helped them survive.
Today, our adaptation to colder climates is changing. Because our food supply is now plentiful and stocked with fat, we are less likely to develop specific genetic variations to help us adjust.
Central heat and modern technology also make it less likely to see genetic variations that could have developed over time.