What Effect Does Diet Have On Your Baby’s Genetic Traits?
The foundation and future of your child’s health begins before conception. We now know that healthy development is based on the DNA inherited from both parents and the mother’s diet and environment. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes to our genetic makeup that are not caused by changes in our DNA. Simply put, there is significant evidence to support that certain triggers like diet and lifestyle can cause changes in how our DNA is expressed.
For example, everyone in my family with the exception of myself, had to start wearing glasses by age 30. Say both my parents have a gene for far-sightedness. When they began to experience difficulty seeing objects close-up that gene for far-sightedness was being expressed. In my case, probability suggest that I too have the gene for far-sightedness yet I have perfect vision.
So the gene for far-sightedness is not being expressed in my case. Can this be attributed to the fact that I eat a very different diet and have a very different lifestyle compared to my family? Perhaps.
The Study of Epigenetics
What epigenetics tells us is that we can influence the expression of some of our inherited genetics. At the same time, it reinforces how vitally important diet is to our health and well-being. That’s why when it comes to preconception and pregnancy, you are literally setting the foundation for your child’s future health. We already know that lifestyle choices like drinking alcohol and smoking have detrimental impacts on fertility and fetal development. But many parents underestimate the important role food plays in a child’s development.
Look at it this way, if you are building or creating something, your creation is only going to be as good as the quality of the materials you use. Babies don’t grow by magic. For the purpose of example, let’s compare growing a baby to growing a garden. The parent’s DNA is like the blueprint used to design a garden. It tells you what you’re going to grow, where everything will go, how it will look, etc. DNA is like the instructions.
Next, you have to choose what type of materials you will use. Now if you want your garden to be bountiful and yield good quality produce, you’re going to choose quality materials. You may decide to use only organic seeds and compost so that your soil is mineral rich. You may choose to use only filtered water that’s free of chemicals because you want to grow chemical-free produce.
Or say that you’re really new to this gardening thing and you just want something basic. So you use commercial soil with synthetic compounds, regular seeds that are laden with pesticides, and water from the hose. While both of those gardens will grow fruits and vegetables; the quality of the produce will be different. They may be different in size, color, nutrient-density, and taste.
Try to use this same logic if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. What you eat is literally the materials that will be used to grow your baby. I’m not saying you can’t occasionally give in to your cravings for pickles or red velvet cake. But I am suggesting that you be more thoughtful about the foods that make up the majority of diet. Ask yourself if the food you eat is providing the nutrients (building blocks) that your baby needs. If not, then put the donut down and slowly back away.
For more parenting tips and useful information to help you make important decisions read my book Empowered Parenting.
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