Sunday, September 24th, 2017

What you should know about nutrition in pregnancy, and the impact it can have on your baby

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Eating Healthy during Pregnancy

Our development, particularly in utero (during pregnancy) affects the risk of obesity.

Of all the mammals we are the fattest at birth. And yes, that means that at birth we are fatter than seals and whales!

Evolutionary scientists believe we are probably fatter than other mammals at birth because we need an energy supply to enable brain growth post birth. Most of our brain growth occurs after birth because women have small frames that prevent giving birth to babies with big heads!

Scientists propose that the baby having a large fat store at birth may have been useful in situations (such as in primitive times) for mums who couldn’t cope or didn’t have enough nourishment to feed their babies.

Lower weight babies don’t fare better than bigger babies when it comes to health issues later in life. While mothers with inadequate diets during pregnancy may have smaller babies, it has been found that these babies still have higher abdominal fat levels. They just have lower levels of skeletal muscle. Because of the higher abdominal fat levels, the babies of mothers with inadequate diets during pregnancy are at risk of Type 2 Diabetes when they get older.

However, just as a low birth weight puts a baby at risk of diseases like Type 2 Diabetes later in life, so does high birth weight. In a study of Pima Indians both low and high birth weight predicted the development of Type 2 Diabetes between the ages of 20 and 39.

It’s a frightening fact, but the current generation of children and adolescents will have shorter life spans than their parents due to the prevalence of lifestyle diseases contributed to by obesity.

It is important for mothers to have a healthy diet during pregnancy to ensure normal weight babies. Giving birth to larger babies is problematic because once a baby is born it is on a trajectory of fatness. Studies show that fat babies usually stay fat through life.

Don’t kid yourself that diseases like Type 2 Diabetes are due to genetics. There is only a small genetic contribution to diseases like Type 2 Diabetes. The problem is FAT.

A mother’s body composition, her diet and her lifestyle teach her baby about the world she lives in. The mother’s body influences her child’s development from the moment of conception. This means that the mother influences her child’s risk of disease for the rest of her life. Your baby’s health is in your hands, or should I say in your mouth!

What a mother eats during pregnancy is crucial. Low carbohydrate diets that are high in protein, particularly dairy products, are associated with fatter kids at birth. And, this is regardless of the mother’s weight during pregnancy (ie whether she is normal weight or overweight) and the baby’s weight at birth (whether it is high or low). Notwithstanding, research shows that fatter mums have fatter kids.

So, what is the moral of this story? Ensure you eat a healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy, and if you can, attain normal weight before becoming pregnant.

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