Last week I wrote my first post(HERE) on the topic of reprogramming your genes and how in reality the statement “You are what you eat”, carries more truth than you supposed.
Today, I will dedicate my post to all women, and especially those who are planning to have a baby.
Before that, I sincerely recommend you to buy the book Deep Nutrition:Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, by Catherine Shanahan and Luke Shanahan. This is the best investment you can make in your home library, your health and yourself!
Nowadays people mistakenly think, that when a woman is pregnant, she has to eat for two-three people. And don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that a pregnant woman should count her calories and deprive herself. But food matters and it really matters if the calories you eat come from real, clean food or from junk food.
Let’s look it that way. If a mother’s womb is “the home” of the baby for the first 9 months, before it is being born, that would mean, that this “home” should provide security, comfort and nourishment. Because during this 9 months, the baby- its genes, health, organs and so forth are being formed and programmed.
So whatever the mother does, directly affects the health of the baby and pretty much defines the path of its life- either it will be spend enjoying health and happiness, or if it is gonna spend it sick and miserable.
Effects of a pregnant woman’s diet can ripple, at least, into the next two generations. Most mothers rarely think that the way they nourish their own bodies, determines the health of their newborn.
There was an interesting fact, mentioned in the book:
“If you ever look into how today’s RDAs are set you will find the understandardized techniques and poorly thought-out studies. The RDA of vitamin B6 for infants was based on the average of B6 content in the breast milk of only 19 women. Six of them did not even consume the average of B6 for their age group and were undernourished.
Researchers were not interested in what a baby might need to be healthy but merely in calculating the averages and getting their job done quickly. This is just an example of the poor quality research that defines state-of-the art, modern nutrition science.”
So if most women are not even taking in enough nutrients for themselves and if their body is deficient in vital nutrients, how can we expect them to properly provide enough nutrients for their growing baby?
What fascinated me the most were some of the examples how genes react to the environment and the signals that are being send to the.
For example by smoking during pregnancy, you are sending signals to the embryo that the air is full of toxins and that breathing might be dangerous. Thus, the lungs develop in a way that would allow them to react quickly to any inhaled irritants. After all that is what asthma is all about- over- reactive lungs.
Another interesting example was the vitamin A deficiency. Your DNA interprets the lack of vitamin A as lack of light. This is signaling that eyes wouldn’t be of big use and in response the genes that grow eyes are being turned off and this is followed by a baby being born with defects on its eyes.
Have you ever heard about “the second sibling syndrome”? Probably not!
I will tell you in short, that in the book, the author gives a detailed explanation about how beauty is defined; why people perceive some objects and living creatures as beautiful and others not. Turns out that even beauty has to do with health. Turns out that healthy people are beautiful and that there are particular shapes of the face, skulls, eyes, teeth and so forth, that could be observed in the body of every person, who is considered beautiful.
Now back to the second sibling syndrome. In order to understand what happens with the second child, you should know more about what happens in a woman’s body while she is pregnant:
“The fetus is well protected against maternal malnutrition—that indeed it behaves like a parasite oblivious to the health of its host.” If mom’s diet is deficient in calcium, it will be robbed from her bones. If deficient in brain-building fats—as horrible as this sounds—the fats that make up the mother’s own brain will be sought out and extracted.
Pregnancy drains a woman’s body of a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and other raw materials, and breastfeeding demands more still. As you might expect, the demands of producing a baby draw down maternal stores of a spectrum of nutrients, including iron, folate, calcium, potassium, vitamin D, vitamin A and carotenoids, magnesium, iodine, omega-3, phosphorus, zinc, DHA and other essential fatty acids, B12, and selenium.
This marvelous nutrient scavenging ability of a human placenta means that
even in conditions of insufficient maternal nutrition the first child may come out relatively intact.
Meanwhile, mom’s body may be depleted to the point that before and after pictures reveal her spine to have curved, her lips thinned, and she may have trouble remembering and learning new things, or feel anxious and depressed—as in postpartum depression.
It may sound harsh, but it’s just the “selfish gene” at work. Successful genes behave like greedy pirates, commandeering maternal nutrient stores for the benefit of their own optimal replication.”
So far, so good. Even if the mother is malnourished, the first child has a pretty good chance to get good genes and develop a healthy body and organs.
But what happens to the next child?
“In such depleted conditions, were baby to extract from mother all the nutrients its genes would like it to have, this would put mom’s life at significant risk. Following the utilitarian calculus of genetic survival, biology pragmatically chooses not to kill the mother while a baby is gestating and opts, instead, for a compromise. This second baby will be constructed as well as possible in the depleted conditions in order that mom may pull through. Tragically, this exposes the child to a variety of health problems, which can become increasingly noticeable.”
How do you feel after reading this? Does it make you feel guilty? That your own child, might develop in a compromised conditions and it might be born with a variety of health problems, just because you failed to take care of your own body!
Makes you wonder, does that mean that you should have just one baby? Sure, that this is far from the truth.
The thing is that you should give your body some time to recover from the first pregnancy.
Think about the soil. You know how the farmers refortify the soil between crops and how you can not plant the same seeds all the time. You should give the soil some time to recover.
As weird as this may sound, doesn’t it look just like a mother’s body? You should give it some time to recover between births, so the mother can be healthy enough to nourish her second child.
So, if a woman wants to have a beautiful and healthy child, the first thing she needs to do is learn how to eat, so she can send the right signals to her DNA and the DNA of her baby.
“Genetics is all about information. Your genetic wealth is a function of how much of the information in your genes has been damaged or remains intact, and how well the supportive epigenetic machinery is able to express the surviving data contained in your genetic code. “
What you eat, influences not just your health, but the health of the generation after that.
And the thing is that you should care what you eat all the time. Not just when you are pregnant. Because the most important processes for the development of a baby, occur in the first couple months of the pregnancy, and what you ate before you got pregnant, has the power to influence this processes positively or negatively, depending on the quality of the food you ate and the information it sends to your genes.
It is about time to realize that healthy eating is not just about looking sexy and fit. It is about caring for yourself, your children, your family and all the generations after that.
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