Monday, October 3, 2011

Healthier Moms, Healthier Babies

When we do our best to eat well and stay physically active, we greatly reduce the chances that we will end up living with and possibly suffering from a chronic disease in the future. Taking care of ourselves isn't the most difficult task to accomplish, but it can certainly be challenging at times, particularly when we're focusing on others. But how about when the 'other' is growing and developing inside of you? In that case, the way you take care of yourself has a direct impact on the health and well being, in both the present and long term, of you and your baby. So what can you do to ensure that both you and baby will be healthy? Researchers from Stanford University have some suggestions, and the answer is simpler than it seems.

In the new study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, it was found that women who ate well and followed healthy diets during pregnancy had babies with fewer birth defects over all. It is common practice today for doctors to recommend that women of child bearing age load up on folate at least 3 months before conceiving to reduce the risk of having a child with neural tube defects. This recommendation was based on a body of research that changed the face of prenatal nutrition forever, but folate obviously isn't the only nutrient that is important for preventing birth defects and nutrients don't act in isolation.

In the current study, data from the years 1997 to 2005 pertaining the diets of women were studied. The intention was to see whether or not a 'better' diet led to fewer negative outcomes when it comes to births. Over all, it was found that women who followed a Mediterranean-style diet or one that followed the old U.S. Food Guide Pyramid had babies with significantly fewer neural tube or facial defects.

The point of the study was not to focus on any particular nutrient in isolation or to make recommendations about which supplements future moms should be taking in order to have healthy babies. Since diets are far more complicated than just a conglomeration of nutrients, it makes sense that a healthy, balanced diet which keeps us all, including moms, in top shape is the best option for favourable birth outcomes. So no matter who you are, male or female and whether or not you're thinking about having a baby, a healthy, balanced diet is the best option for keeping disease at bay