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Fat in Mom’s Diet May Affect Baby’s Brain

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Diet and Baby’s Brain

Being a mother is a satisfying mission for a woman. Pregnancy marks an important milestone in a woman's life because it is within this stage that she is able to give life. This is why pregnant women need to be extra careful about their diet and physical activity because these can affect the health of the baby. More so that a recent study has shown that a high-fat diet during pregnancy can change the baby's developing brain and its chances of acquiring obesity later in life. This study, done by researchers from Yale School of Medicine in the US, found out whether the mother's diet may have effects on the baby's brain structure. They studied this theory in mice.

The findings, published in the journal Cell, showed that mothers who are on a high fat diet gave birth to baby mice with an altered hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain which is responsible for regulating metabolism in the body. These baby mice are prone to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic problems. This study, although done in animals, may be applicable to humans. This only shows that a healthy diet during pregnancy is able to bring about good health in babies. Nutrition is especially important in early life because this is what determines whether that baby will soon develop medical conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, osteoporosis, stroke and other problems.

Is Fat Totally Bad?

All in all, fat is not that bad to the body. Even pregnant women need a little amount of fat, majority of which should be healthy fats. The type of fat, rather than the quantity of fat is all that matters. Good fats when consumed in moderate to high amounts do not have bad effects on health while bad fats, even when taken in moderate amounts, can increase your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, stroke and atherosclerosis. Most experts say nowadays that a low fat diet is not the key to good health. Rather, bad fats should be avoided, particularly those that are saturated and trans fats. Saturated and trans fats raise your LDL cholesterol, or your bad cholesterol, making you prone to heart disease and other illnesses.

 Examples of good fats are monounsaturated fats, omega-3s and polyunsaturated fats. These fats can lead to weight loss, can uplift your mood and can improve cognitive performance, especially among the elderly. Good sources of good fats include olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocados, nuts, soybean oil, safflower oil, flaxseed, fatty fish, soy, walnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and tofu.

In turn you should avoid foods which contain large amounts of bad fats such as fatty meats and poultry, chicken skin, whole milk and whole dairy products, cheese, butter, coconut oil, palm oil, ice cream, lard, pastries, pre-packaged snacks, chips, margarine, pizza, shortening, fried food and candy.

A general rule is to keep your fat intake to about 20-30% of your food intake every day. Saturated fats should be limited to only less than 10% of your daily caloric intake. Trans fats should also be limited to about 1% per day. You should also incorporate good eating and cooking habits in your lifestyle such as eating less red meat, avoiding fried food, baking or broiling your food, avoiding breaded meat and vegetables, choosing low fat milk and dairy products, using healthy vegetable oils such as olive oil or canola oil, removing chicken skin before cooking, and avoiding cheese and cheese sauces.

You can also take omega-3 fatty acids, either from your diet or from supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids have a lot of health benefits such as the prevention of heart disease, cancers, stroke, depression, dementia, memory loss, arthritis, joint problems and other health problems. Omega-3 is also safe to take during pregnancy.

If you want more health tips on how to stay fit and healthy, you can browse our other health articles on this site.