Within the 37.2 trillion cells in our bodies, there are 6ft of instructions,ingeniously coiled in each single cell, in a beautiful double helix molecule called DNA.
There are enough DNA instructions in your body to travel to the moon and back 6000 times! DNA is like a gigantic book, which is made up offour letters: Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, and Thymine (A C G T) that appear in a certain sequence to form sentences called genes.
Certain gene codes for your eyes will instruct to build different pigment colours, following your gene variation (assemblage of the lettersACG&T), some will code for blue and others for brown, green or almost infinite variations in between. Your DNA makes you who you are, from your eye colour to many other physiological traits that make you the unique and exciting person you are.
While there’s no such thing as beauty genes, since the perception of it changes from one person or culture to another, some people seem to have won the genetic lottery and literally stand out from the crowd.
Let's take a closer look at one of these genetic traits that has been praised throughout history and is perceived as an advantage in our western society.
As a matter of fact, taller people are more likely to be picked in sports teams, be more popular, get more jobs, and earn more money...
In Europe, the land of giants is The Netherlands where women reach almost 1.71m (5.6ft), and men 1.84m; their ‘tall’ attributes remain a mystery to scientists.
But here are some clues on the genetics of being tall.
Could the answer only be encrypted in our genes?
According to recent studies by Liggins Institute PhD student William Schierding who screened 700 genes, 68 are known to be involved in height.
When the heritability of being tall is evident, taller parents tend to have somewhat taller children than shorter parents. However your genes are not your fate, and your genes alone aren't entirely responsible for your height.
Here are clues to add to the genetic equation of being tall:
A popular explanation for ‘tall’ nutrition is a calorie-stuffed diet rich in meat and dairy products.
Your lifestyle, diet (nutrition) and environment will have an impact on the expression of your genes, impacting your final height.
Your environment often dictates results. Natural selection, in addition to good environmental conditions may help explain why some people or nations such as the Dutch are so tall.
The Epigenetics of tall
The growing current of Epigenetics, literally meaning ‘around your genes’, is the discovery on how your environment can re-write your gene expression as well as the one of your future generation.
What do we know so far?
Living healthily will grow your future generation taller.
When your genes offer a ‘menu’ of your predisposition, your environmental condition will have an impact on the way they express and can change over generations.
The average human height has increased in industrialised countries,ranging from the United Kingdom and United States to Japan, with gains of up to 10 centimetres over the last 150 years, as a direct result of the lifestyle, dietary and environmental improvements.
In the near future, advances in gene editing will probably allow us to choose the adult size of our babies. For now we understand that the major drivers behind increased adult stature are: improved nutrition, health, and a better quality of life that sends the right information to your genes to reach new heights.