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Expect the Best Pregnancy


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April 28, 2010

Diet Tips from the Pros: For Before, or After Baby

Filed under: General Information — Tags: , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 4:21 pm

Hi, See Jackie Newgent’s story that features great tips from registered dietitians, including yours truly.

Have you seen my other blog at USATODAY.com?  It features tips for feeding your family healthy foods, and offers a weekly recipe that I prepare with my children as part of Cooking With My Kids.  This week’s recipe is Buttermilk-Walnut Coffee Cake with Orange Essence. Delicious!

April 25, 2010

Got Diabetes? Get This Book

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth Ward @ 3:13 pm

Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby is a comprehensive guide for women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Written by Cheryl Alkon, a mother who has lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 30 years, this book is a solid, well-researched resource that provides a reality check about the potential risks that diabetes imposes on pregnancy, without the scare tactics. The book is infused with insights from than 50 women with diabetes who have become pregnant, and their remarks, along with Alkon’s personal experience, humanize the book, while delivering useful information and tips for moms-to-be with diabetes.

And that’s quite a few women.  An estimated 1.85 million American women ages 18 to 44 have diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, the-very-much-insulin-dependent, ain’t-going-away-with-weight-loss-or-after-the-kid-is-born diabetes, as Alkon characterizes it, is far less common than type 2 diabetes, which may be controllable with diet and exercise alone, but don’t let that fool you. Type 2 diabetes threatens your baby’s growth and development and should be taken seriously.  Type 2 diabetes is on the rise among women of childbearing age largely because many women are overweight, and excess body fat can trigger diabetes in women that have the gene for it.

Got diabetes? Get this book. And visit Alkon’s entertaining and informative blog.

April 9, 2010

Genes are Not Your Destiny: How Food Affects Genes, and Vice Versa

Filed under: General Information, Nutrition During Pregnancy — Tags: , , , , , , — Elizabeth Ward @ 1:50 pm

On Wednesday of this week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Maine Nutrition Council’s Annual Conference. One of the major themes of the day was how genes - the units of DNA in cells (with the exception of red blood cells) that determine particular characteristics -  influence health, and how what we eat affects genetic “expression.” Your genes interact with their environment, which could lead to beneficial effects, or not.

What does that all mean? Take type 2 diabetes as an example.   To “get” diabetes, you need the gene for it plus a “trigger” to turn the gene on. In type 2 diabetes, that trigger is nearly always excess body fat.

So, if you have the gene for diabetes and become overweight, your blood glucose (sugar) level can be excessively high, endangering your health.  When you lose excess body fat, however, your blood glucose levels are likely to decrease, and even return to normal.  You still have the gene for diabetes, but achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has “silenced” it.

During pregnancy, DNA synthesis is occurring at breakneck speed as the baby develops by leaps and bounds.  For my part at the Maine Nutrition Council’s symposium, I spoke about how certain nutrients are involved in genetic expression during pregnancy.  Folic acid, choline, and other B vitamins interact with your baby’s genes, and help him to develop normally, in part because they are involved in turning on good genes and silencing the ones that can harm your child.  Read more about choline here.  Only 1 in 10 women, pregnant women, and nursing women get the choline they need every day.

The research about how food and genes interact is fascinating, and we keep learning more every day.  After listening to Colleen Draper, MS, RD, who I admire for her passion and knowledge on the topic of how food and genes interact, I had a thought: maybe someday, dietary recommendations for calcium, choline, carbs, protein, and all the other nutrients will be based on your unique genetic profile.  It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds, and I am sure it’s not an original idea, either!

Until that day, women, pregnant, nursing, or not, should try to adhere to the current dietary recommendations to create the most favorable environment for their child, or child-to-be.

Have you seen my other blog at USATODAY.com?  It features tips for feeding your family healthy foods, and offers a weekly recipe that I prepare with my children as part of Cooking With My Kids.  This week’s recipe is Chicken & Dumplings. Get the recipe, and many more at http://tinyurl.com/4×2e5x

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