Six top reasons to eat healthy while you are pregnant: Part 1

If you are pregnant, you’re probably thinking a lot more about baby names and how to store up a few months of extra sleep rather than that eventual battle over broccoli when your baby becomes a toddler. Yet now may be one of your best opportunities to help him to love his vegetables!

New, compelling research in epigenics — the relationship between genetics and environmental factors on how those genes are expressed — indicates your diet while pregnant can be a factor in your child’s IQ, risk of autism, and future risk of obesity and her long term health, including how well she ages as an adult, and yes, taste preferences — even for vegetables.

Six top reasons to eat healthy while you are pregnant:

You Can Lower Your Child’s Risk of Type II Diabetes and Age-related Diseases as an Adult. According to research funded by the BBSRC and the British Heart Foundation, your diet regulates your baby’s development of a gene called Hnf4a that relates to pancreas development. Eating poorly during pregnancy may increase the rate that this gene is altered in your child as he ages — upping his risk of developing Type II Diabetes as an adult. In related research published in the Journal of Lipid Research, a high fat diet during pregnancy may not only increase the likelihood of your child developing Type II Diabetes, but the risk for your grandchildren as well.

You Can Lower Your Child’s Risk of Obesity and Heart Disease as an Adult. If a chronic craving for Krispy Kremes is a regular indulgence while you are eating for two, you might want to reach for some antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies instead. Those junk foods high in fat and sugar that make your cholesterol and triglycerides skyrocket also raise your unborn child’s levels.

Research published in The Journal of Physiology showed that these infants were not only more likely to be obese as adolescents, but may have lasting alterations to their metabolism, including liver damage, and an increase in their tendency to gain weight and overeat. The good news is, if your diet during pregnancy is high in healthy antioxidants, your child’s risk of obesity is decreased. Now that’s a great reason to get your five (or more) a day!

You Can Decrease Your Child’s Risk of Autism. Babies born from mothers who are obese, have high blood pressure, or have diabetes — Type I or Type II — have a 60 percent increased risk of developing autism. For all pregnant women with these conditions, it’s advisable to seek a high-risk obstetrician. For diabetic moms-to-be, this newly discovered link makes it even more essential to keep blood sugars well-controlled through a healthy, managed diet.

Don’t miss the next post in the two part series: three more ways your diet during pregnancy can help your child from a higher I.Q. to even fostering a taste for vegetables!

Published on: December 07, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Beth Bader

Beth Bader is the coauthor with Ali Benjamin of the acclaimed book, The Cleaner Plate Club, designed to help parents understand picky eating behaviors; where they originate, and how to deal with them creatively to get kids to eat better.

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