Evolutionary Biological Basis of Jewish Genetic Diseases and Intelligence: It’s all Because of Diet

22 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2022

Date Written: January 26, 2022


A couple of questions that still puzzle evolutionary biologists are: why do genetic diseases, particularly lysosomal storages diseases, seem to selectively and adversely afflict the Ashkenazim? And, though ethnic Jews represent only an insignificant portion of the total world population, why do they represent such a disproportionately large segment of those who sit at the pinnacle of human intellectual achievements? While many theories had been advanced delving into these issues, these two questions remain largely unanswered. Though seemingly disparate, here it is shown that the answers to both questions have one common denominator, diet. Once hunter-gatherers in the Fertile Crescent became agriculturists some eleven-to-twelve millennia back, a dramatic change occurred in their diets. Their earlier low-carbohydrate diets were supplanted by grain-based, high-carbohydrate foods. Higher intake of grain-based foods also meant higher intake of glucose by those early agricultural populaces. Since glucose-intake is an essential requirement for human cognitive development, considerable enhancement in intelligence occurred for them and their progeny. In modern times, those who carry substantial amount of the genetics of those ancient agriculturists from the Fertile Crescent, such as, ethnic Jews, are generally more intelligent than others. From the time of those early farmers, downstream through many millennia by them and their descendants, higher consumption of grain-based carbohydrates also meant lower consumption of animal-derived sphingolipids compared to their hunter-gatherer past. This resulted in selectional pressure in either curbing or purging those specific enzymes in their cellular lysosomes that were necessary for breaking down complex animal-derived-sphingolipids into simpler lipids. During the recent-past period of a thousand years or so, as members of the Ashkenazim moved from their Mideast locations to various locations in Europe, primarily Poland and Germany, they were obliged to consuming animal-based fats, that is, foods that have high content of animal-derived sphingolipids, because of the paucity and expense involved in obtaining plant-based sphingolipids. However, due either to weakened or missing animal-sphingolipid-specific enzymes in their lysosomes, their lysosomes had difficulties in processing animal-based-sphingolipids, and thus, they became prone to getting Lysosomal Storage Diseases, such as, Tay-Sachs, Niemann-Pick, etc., due to unprocessed animal-based sphingolipids accumulating/being-stored in their lysosomes.

Keywords: Ashkenazi genetic diseases, Jewish intelligence, Lysosomal storage diseases, diet and intelligence, fertile crescent genetics, agriculture and diet, Tay-Sachs, Gaucher disease, Niemann-pick disease, carbohydrate and intelligence

Suggested Citation

Dalton, Dave, Evolutionary Biological Basis of Jewish Genetic Diseases and Intelligence: It’s all Because of Diet (January 26, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4018063 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4018063

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