Most women know that what they eat during pregnancy can affect the health of their unborn babies. But many women may not realize that what they eat even before they conceive can affect their babies’ health, not just in infancy, but throughout adulthood.
The results of a recent study presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, revealed that poor maternal diet before conception can result in the birth of offspring with reduced birth weights and an increased risk of developing type II diabetes and obesity.
The researchers used an animal model to illustrate the importance of maternal diet. During the study, mice were fed a low protein diet (similar to a junk food diet in humans) for ten weeks before they conceived, but were given a normal diet during pregnancy. Compared to mice that got a nutritious diet both before and after they became pregnant, the junk food-eating mice gave birth to offspring with lower birth weights and increased insulin sensitivity, a condition associated with the development of type II diabetes and obesity.
Humans and mice respond in the same way to a junk food diet during pregnancy; their offspring have low birth weights and a greater risk of obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease.
If you’re planning on becoming pregnant in the near future, now’s the time to clean up your diet, eliminating the junk food and replacing it with wholesome, nutritious items. Now that you know that the foods you eat in the pre-conception period help determine the future health of your baby, you might find it a little easier to stick to a healthy diet!