An Unhealthy Diet During Pregnancy May Harm Three Generations

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An Unhealthy Diet During Pregnancy May Harm Three Generations | Vitality and Wellness

Greg's Comments; This is pretty scary, here's an interesting animal study on unhealthy diets during pregnancy and the high risk of health complications for future generations. Now matter how far we advance as a society all evidence still points to the importance of a healthy diet similar to that of our forefathers with lots of fresh nutrient rich produce.

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Harming Future Generations

A recent animal study has suggested that mums who eat a high-fat, high-sugar diet may be putting their future generations at risk of metabolic problems, even if their offspring eat a healthy diet.

“Sadly nearly two-thirds of reproductive-age women in Australia and the United States are overweight or obese.”

While other studies have linked the state of a woman’s health in pregnancy to her child’s weight later in life. This new research is the first to indicate that if a woman is overweight or obese before and / or during pregnancy that it can cause genetic abnormalities, which are passed through the female bloodline to at least three generations, thus increasing their risk of obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

“Our findings indicate that a mother’s obesity can impair the health of later generations,” says senior authour Kelle H. Moley, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis. “This is particularly important because more than two-thirds of reproductive-age women in the United States are overweight or obese.”

The research shows that a mother’s obesity—and its associated metabolic problems—can be inherited through mitochondrial DNA present in the unfertilised egg or oocyte. The egg contains a powerful battery called the mitochondria, which has the ability to supply energy for metabolism and other biochemical processes. The mitochondria have their own sets of genes, inherited only from mothers, not fathers.

“Our data is the first to show that pregnant mice with metabolic syndrome can transmit dysfunctional mitochondria through the female bloodline to three generations,” Moley says. “Importantly, our study indicates oocytes—or mothers’ eggs—may carry information that programs mitochondrial dysfunction throughout the entire organism.”

The study that was published in the journal Cell Reports called for researchers to feed mice a high-fat and high-sugar diet comprising of about 60 percent fat and 20 percent sugar from six weeks prior to conception until weaning. “This mimics more of the Western diet,” Moley says. “Basically, it’s like eating fast food every day.”

Offspring then were fed a controlled diet of standard rodent chow, which is high in protein and low in fat and sugar. Despite the healthy diet, the pups, grand pups, and great-grand pups developed insulin resistance and other metabolic problems. Researchers found abnormal mitochondria in muscle and skeletal tissue of the mice.

“It’s important to note that in humans, in which the diets of children closely mirror those of their parents, the effects of maternal metabolic syndrome may be greater than in our mouse model,” Moley says.

More research is needed to determine if a consistent diet low in fat and sugar, as well as regular exercise, may reverse these genetic metabolic abnormalities.

“In any case, eating nutrient rich foods is critical,” Moley says. “Over the decades, our diets have worsened, in large part due to processed foods and fast foods. We’re seeing the effects in the current obesity crisis. Research, including this study, points to poor maternal nutrition and a predisposition to obesity.”

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Saben JL, Boudoures AL, Asghar Z, Thompson A, Drury A, Zhang W, Chi M, Cusumano A, Scheaffer S, Moley KH. Maternal Metabolic Syndrome Programs Mitochondrial Dysfunction via Germline Changes across Three Generations. Cell Reports. Published online June 16, 2016. 


Greg Newson
Greg Newson


Greg Newson is a qualified Naturopath, Western Medicine Herbalist, Nutritionist, Remedial Massage Therapist and Professional Health & Wellbeing Speaker. Greg has a passion for helping people and has been treating patients in clinical practice since 2002.

Greg is the owner of the Vitality and Wellness Centre, Lismore NSW Australia, a busy Naturopathic Clinic that cares for people suffering with any type of health complaint. He is dedicated in educating people to understand and embrace the enormous potential that natural medicine has on our long-term health and well-being. Greg is able to help people improve their health and offers in-clinic, phone and Skype health consultations as well as Guest Speaking on natural medicine and heath related topics.

Greg Newson's Qualifications: Advance Diploma Human Health Science 2001 (Charles Sturt University), Advance Diploma Remedial Massage 2002 (Health Schools Australia), Advance Diploma Western Herbal Medicine 2003 (Health Schools Australia), Bachelor Health Science 2005 (Charles Sturt University), Advance Diploma Naturopathy 2008 (Health Schools Australia), Advance Diploma Functional Nutrition 2008 (Health Schools Australia).

Greg is a member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)

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