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on pregnancy may have sperm and eggs which are compromised through epigenetic changes thereby affecting the new embryo. In addition, the developing baby is potentially at risk from nutrition and other lifestyle choices of the mother during the pregnancy. It is as if parents’ genes and the baby’s time in the uterus program the baby for health, or not, for the remainder of its life.

Setting children up for a

healthy life

Dr Tim O’Dowd discusses the exciting role that preconception and pregnancy nutrition advice may have in reducing chronic diseases among Australians The problem Much of Australia’s healthcare dollar is directed at treatment of lifestyle and nutritional diseases. Nearly two-thirds of Australian adults and 1 in 4 children under age 18 are overweight or obese. These people are at a much greater risk of long-term related ill-health like type 2 diabetes. Other conditions related to our lifestyle and nutrition include high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, some cancers, Polycystic Ovary Disease, and Alzheimer’s. Despite government programs, these chronic diseases are becoming more prevalent. Present management After diagnosis of a chronic disease like obesity or diabetes, the recommendations are to lose weight, exercise more, take medications or have surgery. All sorts of diets are available, many with conflicting information. There is a lot of confusion about which diet or food is best. Nearly all diets will help a person achieve some weight loss but after great effort, and for various reasons, yo-yo weight gain is inevitable. Insulin resistance The common pathology for all the chronic diseases including obesity is a problem called insulin resistance. In recent years, insulin resistance has become better understood and managed with nutrition modification. The great news is that corrective carbohydrate restriction can reverse insulin resistance.

September 2018

The emphasis will be to advise on how to achieve the best nutritional health prior to becoming pregnant to maximise the chance of conception

Weight loss follows and the impact of the chronic diseases including diabetes may be reversed or reduced. Importance of preconception and pregnancy Since the 1980s an exciting field of research has been looking at the importance of pregnancy and preconception as the times of greatest opportunity to program the new baby to have the best chance of a life without chronic illness. It all started when a relationship was found between birth weight and subsequent death in later life from heart disease. Initially this field of research was called the “Fetal Origins of Disease” and has morphed into the “Developmental Origins of Health and Disease”. The thinking is that couples who are nutritionally unhealthy prior to embarking


This makes the preconception and pregnancy time the most influential and consequential 9-12 months in a person’s life! The future The greatest opportunity to optimise a person’s whole of life health is to have prospective parents engaged in preconception preparation to achieve metabolic health. Continuing during the pregnancy and early childhood, and in reality for the whole of life, healthy nutrition should emphasise avoiding sugars, added sugars, juices and soft drinks, and the refined and processed foods of today. Preconception clinic for Gold Coast Dr O’Dowd is launching a new Preconception Nutritional Lifestyle Program in September 2018. The program will apply to couples planning pregnancy; women who have had gestational diabetes; those with polycystic ovary syndrome; those who are overweight or obese; and infertile couples. The emphasis will be to advise on how to achieve the best nutritional health prior to becoming pregnant to maximise the chance of conception; lower the miscarriage rate; and offer the best opportunity for a healthy child. Immunisations and dietary supplements will be advised, and appropriate blood tests performed as necessary.

Profile for Get it Magazine

Get it Magazine Sep 2018  

Get it Magazine Sep 2018