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What you eat and how much you exercise affect your child’s health even before conception, says study

Published on:30 April 2021, 18:42pm IST
Your diet and level of physical fitness can lower the chances of your children developing metabolic issues, according to a new study.
Grace Bains
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If you’re pregnant, or plan on starting a family at some point in life, you need to pay attention to what this new study says. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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When you plan to bring a life into this world, you start thinking about the steps you can take to ensure the health of your child. Even before conception, a parent-to-be actively eliminates anything that might have an adverse effect on the long-term health of their baby. From choosing to paint the house with lead-free paint to picking out the room with maximum sunlight as the nursery, we go the extra mile to welcome the baby into a safe environment.

But, what if we told you that you can actually enhance the health of your child even before it is conceived? Yes, mommies-to-be, a recent animal study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that the lifestyle, which includes diet and exercise, of the parents has a significant impact on the health of their baby.

The animals chosen for the study were rats, both male and female. It was found that that parents-to-be who were obese due to consuming foods high in fats and also didn’t have any physical activity as a part of their daily routine before conceiving were likely to give birth to offspring with extremely high chances of metabolic issues.

On the other hand, however, those rodent parents who were given a healthy diet and made to indulge in some physical activity regularly had offspring with next to negligible chances of developing metabolic problems.

Nutrition and lifestyle before and during pregnancy can affect a child’s health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The study might have been conducted on mice but brings out the larger verdict that when a mother stays physically fit and works out regularly during her pregnancy, she can cancel out the harmful health effects of unhealthy eating, both hers and the fathers, that can lead to her child developing health problems.

Conducted by scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and other institutions also confirms another fact most of the medical community has believed: parents affect the health of their child even before its birth. For example, mothers who have lifestyle-induced metabolic health issues, even before getting pregnant, such as diabetes, obesity, and isulin resistance are more likely to give birth to babies with a predisposition to these health issues even if the child follows a healthy lifestyle.

This primarily happens due to what is termed epigenetic changes. The function of our genes might shift due to our eating habits and level of physical activity. These shifts can become a part of our DNA and get transferred to our children. Hence, metabolic issues can be inherited.

So, if you’re pregnant or plan to start a family someday, it is important to analyse your lifestyle and make changes. What you eat and how much you exercise can have a significant impact on your children. Reducing their risk of developing metabolic problems is in your hands!

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.