(NaturalHealth365) Please pass the genes: What you eat before you get pregnant matters. For twenty years, I have been lecturing on the importance of preconception diet and nutrition. Now, research is confirming what I have postulated for decades – that what you eat before you get pregnant affects your future child.
Research published online in September 2012 in The FASEB Journal found that what future mothers eat before pregnancy chemically alters their DNA, which in turn alters the DNA of their future children.
Our genetic expression can be enhanced by a healthy diet
Researchers fed two groups of female mice either a diet rich in flaxseeds or a control diet. They found that the future pregnant mice and the pups that were eventually conceived and birthed had a positively modified Fads2 gene, which caused both mother and pup to be healthier.
Here’s some great news for older women looking to become pregnant!
Evolution has designed a woman’s body to successfully bear children up until the moment she enters menopause. Several research studies have found a positive correlation between childhood IQ and the age of mothers during pregnancy, suggesting that older mothers tend to produce smarter children.
Older fathers produce sperm with more genetic mutations
Recent findings in the journal Nature found that as fathers age, environmental factors negatively interfere with cell division, increasing the number of chromosomal mutations carried on sperm, and therefore increasing the chances of conceiving a child with autism or some other birth defect. The researchers found that a 20 year old father transmits around 25 genetic mutations, while a 40 year old’s sperm carries an average of 65 mutations.
Older mothers and younger mothers produce the same number of genetic mutations
Perhaps the most important finding buried within the Nature study is that mothers tend to only transmit around 15 new genetic mutations, regardless of their age. This is confirmed by other research, which found that while eggs suffer from similar age-related oxidative stress, eggs have an efficient DNA repair system that prevents mutations as a woman ages. This finding is critical to understanding how age affects future mothers.
The healthier your eggs are, the more this genetic advantage will be transferred to future generations. Therefore, while young eggs are often healthier than older eggs, we now understand that older women can have exceptionally healthy children, provided that they take steps to cleanse and nourish the environment around their eggs (the epigenetic environment) and subsequently in their womb after conception.
Why birth defect risk increases with a woman’s age
Over the age of 30, your risk of giving birth to a baby with birth defects increases. There are three reasons for this increased risk. First, the eggs literally begin to age. Second, the number of eggs drops and the ovaries begin to shrink. In animal husbandry, the size of the ovaries and the number of eggs plays a role in determining fertility and the health of offspring.
Third, over time, the ovarian environment that houses the eggs accumulates more toxins, is exposed to more pathogens, becomes less hydrated (usually due to fatty acid deficiencies), becomes mineral and nutrient deficient, and loses its hormonal balance.
Women can have an extraordinary baby at any reproductive age
Since scientific findings have shown that your eggs will not accumulate more genetic mutations as you age, and since your epigenetics play a more substantial role in determining the health of your future child than genetics, this means that if you are older, you can actually have healthier children than younger women if you follow a preconception program similar to the one outlined in my book, Brighton Baby.
About the author: Dr. Roy Dittman is author of Brighton Baby: A Revolutionary Organic Approach to Having an Extraordinary Child, a ground-breaking, three-book trilogy. To order a copy of Dr. Dittman’s book – visit: BrightonBaby.com
With over 30 years of experience in perinatal and longevity sciences, Dr. Dittman’s life-long commitment to transforming the way in which we conceive, birth, and raise children inspires couples to take action now to protect their future children’s destiny. You can follow him on Facebook, at “Brighton Baby”; and through his weekly blog on NaturalHealth365.com
1. Mihai D. Niculescu, Daniel S. Lupu, and Corneliu N. Craciunescu. Perinatal manipulation of α-linolenic acid intake induces epigenetic changes in maternal and offspring livers. FASEB J., 2012.
2. Saha S, Barnett AG, Foldi C, et al. Advanced paternal age is associated with impaired neurocognitive outcomes during infancy and childhood. PLOS Medicine, March 2009; Volume 6, Issue 3, pp. e1000040.
3. Kong A, Frigge ML, Masson G. Rate of de novo mutations and the importance of fatherʼs age to disease risk. Nature, August 23, 2012; Volume 488, pp. 471-475.
4. Ireland JJ, et al. Does size matter in females? An overview of the impact of the high variation in the ovarian reserve on ovarian function and fertility, utility of anti-Mullerian hormone as a diagnostic marker for fertility and causes of variation in the ovarian reserve in cattle. Reproduction, Fertility, and Development, 2011; Volume 23, Number 1, pp. 1-14.