Kids with ADHD, young adults with cancer, and elderlies with heart conditions and osteoporosis. At a glance, you’d describe them as three different people with different ages suffering different kinds of mental and physical illnesses. But there’s a possibility they all have something in common – the cause of their current health conditions. The chances are high that these people’s conditions all originated when they were in the womb of their respective mothers.
Continuing study on the origins of health conditions has taught us so much about the importance of diet during pregnancy. Science has proven that a mother’s nourishment during pregnancy and after birth affects the baby’s health but also the baby’s vulnerability to sickness as he or she grows. Further, it has proven that the effects of the mother’s dietary choices extend to three generations.
In the 1980s, David Barker proposed the DOHAD, his theory on the developmental origins of health and disease.
According to DOHAD, widely known as Barker’s Theory, a person’s susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases doesn’t originate from his or her lifestyle activities, but instead, on his or her birth weight.
Fortunately, more recent studies have expanded Barker’s theory. These studies have found the specific dietary choices tied to fetal health conditions. Further, the studies have found more diseases linked to pregnancy diet. Read on to find out more about these studies.
According to research, a mother’s high consumption of sugary foods during pregnancy may result in her child’s acquisition of diabetes, obesity, and other related health conditions.
Consuming beverages that are high in sugar are found to cause poorer cognitive ability for children. On the contrary, an increased intake of fatty fish can aide in neurodevelopment. High consumption of maternal choline when pregnant will likewise enhance the cognitive abilities of the child.
A mother’s reduction in protein-intake can lead to the gradual development of prostate cancer in the offspring’s later life. In the same way, that having breast cancer is linked to conditions while still in the mother’s embryo.
One study has found that low intake of good cholesterol and a high intake of processed foods during pregnancy results in ADHD in children, especially in boys.
New pieces of evidence are showing that a mother’s nutrition during pregnancy increases a child’s vulnerability to bone issues such as osteoporosis and fracture.
What to eat pre-, during, and post-pregnancy?
To ensure you’re not only getting the proper nutrition for yourself but also avoiding possible illnesses for your offspring, eat like our ancestors. So, what does an ancestral diet contain?
Vitamins A, D, and K2
Though vitamin A has regrettably gained a bad reputation in pregnant women, it is, in fact, a vital nutrient for fetal development. When taken along with sufficient amounts of Vitamins D and K2, it can prevent hearing loss and displacement of internal organs. Vitamin D aids in placental function and lung development and also safeguards a baby’s cardiovascular wellness. On the other hand, Vitamin K helps in the healthy development of the nervous system.
Folate is a collective term for B9 vitamins. It is more beneficial than its synthetic counterpart folic acid in preventing defects in the neural tube.
A woman’s need for choline intake increases with pregnancy. Choline is a necessary nutrient for a child’s growth and cognitive development.
A healthy baby brain requires sufficient amount of omega 3 fatty acid like DHA. DHA can be consumed by eating flax and other kinds of seafood that are low in mercury and high in selenium.
One usual problem that occurs during pregnancy is anemia, but it is avoidable with sufficient iron intake. There’s no need to supplement on iron, but it’s necessary to increase the amount of iron in your meals.
Foods to avoid
Learn from our ancestors by lessening the intake of white sugar, cereal grains, whole wheat, soy milk, soy protein, and industrial seed oils like corn and canola.
Although DOHad focuses on the first 1000 days of life starting at conception, a woman’s diet years before deciding to have a child is also crucial.