Prepregnancy Diet 'Permanently Influences Baby's DNA'
When we planned for a baby, the first thing I did was to keep a check on what I eat. I was slightly on the heavier side of the scale and wanted to reduce at least 5 kg before getting pregnant so that, I may continue to have a healthy pregnancy without many complications.
I met my gynecologist and she prescribed me folic acid tablets and advised that it would be best to take those supplements even before getting pregnant. That was the time I realized, my body and how I eat definitely influences my baby.
At first, reducing 5 kg seemed hard, but with proper diet, nutrition and exercise, I achieved my target easily. I walked everyday about 5 km, avoided junk food, ate nuts rich with nutrients, and drank plenty of water. After a few days, I got habituated to this lifestyle and started feeling energetic more. Once I got conceived, I maintained the healthy diet instead of eating what my heart desired. As family and friends encourage eating all you like during pregnancy days! I made sure I ate what I like but kept a watch over it. There goes a saying that, one must be introduced to all varieties of food during pregnancy so that the baby does not become a fussy eater later in life. Yes, it’s right. I took all kinds of food with different tastes including sour and bitter ones and am happy that my kid definitely tries any new food given to him and is not a picky eater.
There has been a lot research carried out when it comes to diet during pregnancy but off-late more research is being carried out when it comes to pre-pregnancy diets too. Mainly, one such study published in Nature communications talks about the epigenetic effects in new born babies. What is an epigenetic effect? Even before being born, babies can accumulate changes in their DNA by a process called DNA Methylation. It is nothing but adding chemical group, here a methyl group to DNA thus called as a methylated DNA which can interfere with gene expression. i.e., certain genes can be switched on and off thereby leading to modifications which will contribute to different traits when the baby grows up. Thus, these changes are not inherited from parental genes but occur due to environmental changes that causes the change in physical and mental characteristics. Of the six genes studies in this report, the methylation is linked to mother’s body mass index (BMI), vitamin and micronutrients quotient, the weather season in which mother got conceived etc.,. More research on such topics is being studied currently in a wide manner as there has been lot of interesting reports which mainly map to the pre-pregnancy diet of the mother. Hence the mother’s nutrition can leave permanent marks on the baby’s genome and in all cells of its body and could lead to higher risk of diseases of unknown genre later in life.
Little did we know about the pre-pregnancy diet right? Most of the first time mothers care less about what they ate before and start focusing on their diet only after conception. Immediately after conception new moms begin to eat healthy, follow each and every step as advised by their gynecologist and take care of their body well and be ignorant on the importance of pre-pregnancy diet which is the diet being followed by the mom just before conception. Most importantly, a woman meets a gynecologist only when they conceive or have hormonal related problems with their periods. This mindset should change and a lot of awareness has to be created in women who are trying to become mothers. It is generally advised that every woman after their puberty must go for an annual checkup with their gynecologist. In that case, women will be well informed about their food choices from their gynecologist and can prepare beforehand for their pregnancy by eating a well-balanced food diet prior to conception and during pregnancy.
I had a friend of mine, who is an avid junk food lover. She loves eating out side food rather than home cooked meals and always fond of fried food items. Once she got conceived, things changed topsy turvy and she began to follow a healthy diet. It was so difficult for her to adapt to the new healthy diet which did not meet her taste buds and this caused her a lot of worry and stress inside. Instead of focusing on the need of the hour, that is the baby she was taking a lot of time to get settled down with a particular diet plan. The lack of self-control in food habits quickly started affecting her as well as the fetus in her womb. She drank too less water, took unhealthy food, got overweight and faced birth complications later. Although the mother and baby are safe now, the hidden imprints created on the genes of the new born are a permanent scar and could affect his/her life later at any stage. The above situation could be easily avoided if she had practiced taking well balanced meal right from a young age. It is hard, there will be temptations, there will be lack of motivation or the cheater in you creeps up suddenly trying to break off the chains and run amuck but, one must realize that good things come for people who work hard to achieve their goals.
When it comes to a child, it is not only giving birth, It means you are creating an entirely new generation and for that generation to exist and flourish, the mom to be must take necessary steps carefully in every stage of her pregnancy and now, the terms have got advanced to pre-pregnancy stages. Thanks to modern science and technology for studying human body intensively as they help us to pause, retrospect, and rectify each an event in life so that people could form better world. A better world with less diseases and more happiness. Yes, Humans are incredible living beings in the world. Let us be aware and spread awareness on the good practices to be followed right before conception and do the right thing, there by contributing the best to our society and its welfare.