Pregnancy Diet Can Affect Cancer Risk
We all know that a good diet is important (put those Cheetos down!), but when it comes to those nine months of your life when you may or may not be growing another human being (or more!), diet could be even more important.
A new study detailed in Time explained how researchers from Baylor College of Medicine tried to pinpoint how a mom's diet affects cell activity in developing fetuses. Although a lot about cancer is still not understood, scientists do know that cancer is turned “on” by a process called epigenetics.
Basically, epigenetics is the process by which a cell is “told” what to do by the body. In the case of cancer, the mechanism for telling the cell to stop growing is turned “off,” and it keeps growing unchecked.
They found over 108 genes in the body that may be affected by diet. For instance, they found that when mothers eat low levels of vitamin B2, their children may have a lower risk of cancer. By studying different diet variations in mothers in varying geographic locations, the researchers were able to pinpoint specific changes in the genes based solely on diet.
So what does all of this mean for us, the common, average everyday pregnant women?
Well, not much. It's still really important to stay healthy and active during pregnancy and eat a variety of real, fresh food. But it's not anything we need to run out and panic over. Eat smart and do the best you can, really.
I'm the first to admit that I definitely don't stress over my pregnancy diet. For me, morning sickness and the hunger that feels so intense it makes you crazy trumps all rational thought sometimes. Eating during pregnancy was sometimes just about what I could stomach, more than what might have been a “healthier” choice, and I think that's totally OK sometimes.
But I will say that knowing my options ahead of time and maybe planning for those moments when I just needed to eat quickly before nausea set in would have helped me make a lot healthier choices, too.
Either way, it's interesting (and a tad bit scary!) to know that the foods we eat directly impact our children's genes.
“You are what you eat” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning, huh?