We can positively influence the health of our children for years to come – even while in the womb.
Making sure that we are getting the right nutrients, exercise, enough sleep, and surrounding ourselves with love, support, and laughter can influence epigenetics. Think of epigenetics like a librarian. If the books in the library are your DNA, the librarian determines which genes will be opened and read.
There are experiments done in mice that show how what their mothers ate or were exposed to during gestation, determined their genetic expression of a gene that put them at risk for obesity.
So what can you do to live a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy to ensure the “good” books will be opened and the” bad” ones closed?
Try eating whole foods and organic foods as much as possible during pregnancy, with a rainbow of vegetables and fruits. This will increase phytonutrients or substances found in certain plants that are thought to prevent disease. By also eating whole, organic foods, you will cut down on pesticide and plastics exposure, which can interfere with epigenetics as well as a full-term pregnancy. A recent study at the University of Indiana that showed that higher exposure to glyphosate (found in Round up and Round up Ready GMO foods) shortened the length of pregnancy.
Here are some other helpful prenatal tips:
- Take a prenatal vitamin especially with Folate, Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Zinc, Vitamin K1 and L2 and eat foods or supplements rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (both DHA and EPA, as DHA is important for brain development, and EPA is required for DHA to get into the brain)
- Morning sickness can be due to Zinc or Vitamin B6 deficiencies or to drops in blood sugar.
- Avoid eating processed foods. Instead, eat plenty of healthy fats (from nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, etc.) and protein, while avoiding refined grains and sugars that can quickly raise and then lower blood sugar. This will also help prevent gestational diabetes.
- If allergies run in your family, taking probiotics during the 3rd trimester can decrease your baby’s risk of developing allergies and eczema. Go for a variety of fermented foods. If that is not your thing, pick up a capsule of probiotics filled with good bacteria.
- Most importantly, surround yourself with happiness and seek support from loved ones or your community. Endeavor to practice techniques to manage your stress as your baby is exposed to those same stress hormones. Put yourself first, listen and attend to your body, try prenatal yoga, diaphragmatic breathing, journaling, or guided imagery. If needed, reach out to a therapist or a health coach.
Simply put, eat a healthy diet, enjoy life, enjoy being pregnant and enjoy your baby! If you have questions or are having trouble accomplishing your goals for a healthy pregnancy, please reach out to your doctor.