Last week I presented about the topic of applying Functional Medicine to support individuals planning for pregnancy. I would like to credit most of what I shared to the family team of Michael MD and Leslie Stone MD as well as their daughter, Emily Rydborn RD who have done the work of creating the evidence base on how to support pregnancies with precise nutrition and lifestyle recommendations. Their company, Growbaby is an excellent resource for those wanting to have optimal birth outcomes for their future wives and children.
In this blog post, I’ll present some of the data I shared in my most recent lecture.
Health is Transgenerational
Trans-gene-ratio-nal: this is the word that scientists use to describe something that affects people across age generations. One of the health industry’s biggest “aha! Moments”was the idea that a 50 year old person’s disease is genetically set-up from pre-birth factors affecting his or her mother and father. So if the mom and/or dad are exposed to poor nutrition, sleep, stress, lack of exercise, toxins and/or chronic infections; their future kid is formed with genes that are pro-disease. Research shows that for us to prevent future chronic disease, we should start with the current generation of would-be moms and dads and teach them to control these factors that may lead to poor transgenerational health.
Nutrition starts with the GUT: Breakdown and Absorption
Our nutrition starts with healthy digestion. This means chewing food properly during meals, having enough stomach and intestinal enzymes to digest and breakdown the food, supporting a healthy microbiome and taking care of your leaky gut when you have it. If moms aren’t digesting well, growing fetuses and babies won’t have the right nutrients for optimal development.
Micro-Nutrients required for proper development:
Vitamins: B6, B9 (Fol), B12, C, D , E
Minerals: Copper (Cu), Iodine (I), Selenium (Se), Zinc (Zn)
Chick peas, beef liver, tuna, salmon, spinach, lentils, romaine lettuce, pinto beans, okra, guava, red bellpepper, kiwi, orange, seaweed, oyster, beef shank, cashew, sardines, mushroom, sesame seeds
Stress during Pregnancy Matters
Chronic stress or external chemicals like Bisphenol-A (BPA) and food hormones that increase cortisol in the mother’s body leads to issues of low birth weight, cardiometabolic and/or neurologic disorders in the developing child. (2,3) This has to do with the developing fetus’ early introduction and inappropriate exposure to elevated cortisol. The fetal brain alters its development and internal sensitivity to cortisol making them more sensitive to stressors as compared to other children. If the unborn fetus is not anatomically affected, this mechanism will show its effects on future neuropsychiatric mood issues like depression and bi-polar mood disorder. This means that as early as preparing for pregnancy, it is always a great idea to equip would-be moms with stress management techniques.
We hope you learned more about the science of setting-up pregnancies with this article. Let us know what you think.
Your partner in health,
Gernand A, Schulze K, Stewart C, Jr K, Christian P. Micronutrient deficiencies in pregnancy worldwide: health effects and prevention. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2016;12(5):274–289. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2016.37. Waffarn F, Davis E. Effects of antenatal corticosteroids on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis of the fetus and newborn: experimental findings and clinical considerations. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012;207(6):446–454. doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2012.06.012. Reynolds R. Glucocorticoid excess and the developmental origins of disease: Two decades of testing the hypothesis – 2012 Curt Richter Award Winner.Psychoneuroendocrino. 2013;38(1):1–11. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.08.012.