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Pre-Prenatal Diet


Reason to consider diet pre conception

When a woman is with child, it’s recommended to put sushi nights on hold, remove deli meats from the lunch menu and enjoy steaks well done.  Also, end morning coffee at the bottom of the first mug and say goodbye to that evening glass of wine. These are just a few of the many dietary changes that women make when they find out they are expecting!  A healthy balanced diet with a prenatal vitamin is essential to nourish a growing baby and avoid complications, but now research published in Scientific Reports, gives us reason to think about a mother’s diet even before conception and how it may relates to autism. 

Researchers at the University of Central Florida are one step closer to understanding how a food preservative known as propionic acid (PPA) may effect fetal development. PPA is often used to prevent mold growth in processed foods such as cheese, bread and dried fruit. 

In the lab, the team learned that exposing neural stem cells to high amounts of PPA resulted in reducing neurons (building blocks of the brain) and disturbed their communication resulting in repetitive behaviors such as those observed in autism.  Lead investigator Naser also shared that other research has shown children with autism having higher levels of PPA in their stool.  While PPA does occur naturally in the gut, researchers say that eating processed foods can increase that amount and cause cross over to the developing fetus.  More examination still needs to be done to say for sure, but they are hopeful that this research will move us better understand the connection between PPA and autism. 

As a general rule of thumb, the more processed a food is, the longer the ingredients panel will be.  And they’re usually higher in calories, fat and sodium making them less than ideal additions to a prenatal diet.  During the second and third trimesters, an extra 300 calories a day is recommended; get there with whole foods, like those found in our Cool Summer Gazpacho Salad and our Seared Mushroom & Eggplant “Scallops”.

Published August 1, 2019

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