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Monday, December 4, 2017

Feed The Future: How Your Child's Nutrition Begins Before Birth

By now most parents know the wide range of ill effects that can be caused by feeding your children a poor diet. As difficult as it is (and we all know it is) to muster the energy to prepare a home cooked meal every day, ensuring that your child gets a proper balanced diet can reduce their risk of a range of physical and psychological maladies. Over reliance on fast foods, sodas and salty, sugary and fatty processed foods prepared at home is opening the door to obesity and a range of related illnesses from heart disease and diabetes to ADHD and even exacerbate existing conditions like autism.

As familiar as we all are with the importance of a healthy diet for our newborns and older children, fewer of us are quite as aware when it comes to ensuring that our kids are well nourished before they’re born. While there’s no shortage of advice out there for pregnant women (some of it perfectly sensible, some of it bordering on witchcraft), there’s no denying the importance of good prenatal nutrition.

The dangers of prenatal undernutrition

There have been numerous studies that have linked poor diet in expectant mothers to prenatal undernutrition which has been proven to impede infant growth and even reduce cognitive functions. Some pregnant women assume that ‘eating for two’ is sufficient to ensure that their unborn baby is adequately nourished, but while caloric intake certainly plays a part in your child’s health, the actual quality of the nutrition per calorie consumed is far more important.

The supplement game

Unfortunately, mothers-to-be are not immune to the hectic and fast-paced lifestyle of the 21st century and attempt to balance an over-reliance on convenience foods with a range of dietary supplements. The trouble is that supplements are designed to supplement (the clue’s in the name) a healthy diet, not act as a substitute for one. While you should go to Prenatals.com to ascertain which supplements are right for you, knowing the right supplement is only half the battle. You must also ensure that you’re getting plenty of the right foods and abstaining from the foods that should be avoided.

Milk myths

The overwhelming majority of advice states that pregnant women should consume three cups of milk and other dairy products a day. Where does that advice come from? The USDA! No conflict of interests there, then. The truth is that cow’s milk is full of powerful growth hormones and sex hormones that increase the chances of a (riskier) twin birth. This study showed that pregnant women living on a plant-based diet had 5x fewer twin births. Pregnant women should also steer clear of soft cheeses like brie and camembert as they contain high levels of listeria which has been linked to stillbirth, miscarriage and infant illness.

When it comes to getting the right nutrition, let common sense be your guide. Loading up on lean proteins, green leafy veggies, pulses nuts and seeds and drinking plenty of water are a great start. Vegan and vegetarian mothers will want to make sure that they’re getting plenty of vitamin D and B12 in their supplements (but don’t feel bad, most omnivores probably aren’t getting enough of these either).  

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