5 Primal Superfoods for Fertility and Pregnancy

This is a guest post from Chris Kresser of ChrisKresser.com. As a clinician with a special interest in fertility and pregnancy nutrition, two of the most common questions my patients ask are: Is a Paleo/Primal Blueprint diet safe during pregnancy? What are the most important foods to eat for boosting fertility and ensuring a healthy pregnancy? I’m going to answer these questions in this article. But before I do, let’s first take a moment to discuss the importance of proper nutrition for fertility and pregnancy. Numerous factors determine our health as adults, including nutrition, exercise, lifestyle and genetics. But recent research suggests another powerful influence on lifelong health: our mother’s nutritional status during (and even before) her pregnancy. In fact, some researchers now believe the 9 months we spend in the womb are the most consequential period of our lives, permanently influencing the wiring of the brain and the function of organs like the heart, liver and pancreas. They also suggest that the conditions we encounter in utero shape everything from our susceptibility to disease, to our appetite and metabolism, to our intelligence and temperament. We’re only as healthy as our mother’s womb The theory that the nutritional environment we encounter in the womb determines our lifelong health is known as the Developmental Origins Hypothesis. It was first proposed by British researcher David J. Barker in the 1980s to explain a seeming contradiction: as British prosperity increased, so did heart disease. Yet geographically, the highest rates of heart disease were found in the poorest places in Britain. Barker found that rather than smoking, dietary fat or some other lifestyle cause, the factor that was most predictive of whether an individual would develop premature heart disease (before the age of 65) was their weight at birth (PDF). Barker found that infants carried to full term with birth weights between 8.5 and 9.5 pounds had a 45 percent lower risk of developing heart disease later in life than infants born at 5.5 pounds. (They also had a lower risk of stroke, a 70% lower risk of insulin resistance and a slightly lower risk of blood pressure later in life.) As the chart below demonstrates, the risk declined in a linear fashion between 5.5 and 9.5 pounds, but started to increase again as birth weight rose above 9.5 pounds. How the first nine months shapes the rest of your life Over the last 25 years, Barker’s original work has been reproduced and expanded. If you do a quick search on PubMed for “developmental origins of disease”, you’ll find references to the fetal origins of cancer, heart disease, allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, diabetes, obesity, mental illness and degenerative conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, dementia and Alzheimer’s. The following list is just a small sampling of the literature on the subject: The metabolic syndrome. In a 2011 paper, Bruce et al showed that the onset of metabolic syndrome is “increasingly likely following exposure to suboptimal nutrition during critical periods of development”. Heart disease and diabetes. In … Continue reading 5 Primal Superfoods for Fertility and Pregnancy