We have heard it said for some time now ”you are what you eat.” Meaning, if you consume foods that are not healthful, your health will ultimately be compromised. Mothers should take note that their children will also be “ what their mother ate.” Meaning, if mom eats poorly during pregnancy, her child’s health may suffer.
Pregnant women who eat a diet high in junk food and low in wholesome fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains, can ultimately lead to long-term health problems for the children. Studies done indicate that offspring of rats who consumed a poor diet during pregnancy had higher levels of blood glucose and insulin, a precursor to diabetes. Additionally, but less importantly, cholesterol and triglycerides were also increased. We are figuring out that a mother’s nutrition during pregnancy can influence her child’s risk of becoming obese later in life.
The journal of Diabetes published a study conducted by Southampton University in the United Kingdom that looked at the relationship between a pregnant mothers diet and obesity risk for her child. What was discovered was that a mother’s diet can actually change the function of her child’s DNA, known as epigenetic change. These changes, triggered by a mother’s diet, cause children to store excess fat regardless of how thin the mother is or the child’s weight at birth. The changes also influence the function of DNA without altering the inherited DNA sequence and affect how a person’s body reacts exercise and diet throughout their life.
The international team of researchers involved in this project clearly stated that obesity can not be attributed to genes and lifestyle alone but is also susceptible to nutritional exposures in the womb. The influence that a mother’s diet has on her child’s health is definitely worth considering.
This information seems to be the answer to the question: should a healthy pregnancy diet begin before conception?
Healthy Diets and Healthy Babies
Clearly, focusing efforts on improving the quality of a mother’s diet during pregnancy can have far reaching impact on the health of her child. A healthy start is one way to ward off the disease process later in life, especially when it comes to killers such as diabetes and heart disease. Pregnant women should eat roughly 300 extra healthy calories each day, while lean protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains should form the basis of a pregnant women’s diet. Expecting mothers should also consume an adequate amount of vitamin C, iron, folate and iron.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle prior to conceptionis best for mother and baby.