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Originally posted on Genea website www.genea.com.au on 10/10/2014.
Fertility, food and fashion – are these three of your favourite topics?
They sure are mine but you might be wondering – what do they have in common with each other?
Food informers like Sarah Wilson (I Quit Sugar) have made it very trendy to be sugar free. I recently saw her speak at an event hosted by Business Chicks (an organisation Genea is proud to partner with). Sarah sure has made quitting sugar a health trend. But is this a foodie fashion trend? Will it last? What ever happened to the Atkins diet? Has it been superseded by the likes of Wilson, Pete Evan’s Paleo or the 5:2 diet?
If it is, I don’t think it really matters. What these trends do is make us stop and think about how and what we eat. And that’s a good thing. Even if they don’t last, that’s okay – food like fashion, repeats itself. The more important thing to do is pay more attention to what we are eating, as at the end of the day, we are living through a food revolution.
The science of food is also evolving and this is linked to the change people are making in their food choices. There’s good reason for this – we are more overweight than ever despite the increased health consciousness of the community.
We have to change – for our children and their children.
In the fascinating world of genetics, a new branch of science has emerged called nutritional genomics. It is the relationship between the human genome, nutrition and health. Nutritional genetics is the study of genetic variations and the interaction between diet and health.
With these new branches of science, the era of personalized nutrition has emerged.
Genes makes proteins that tell our bodies what to do – from how to breathe to how to breed. Genes are very sensitive to the environment, including the food and beverages we consume.
Now, it’s a fair assumption that because you’re reading the Genea blog you’re trying to get pregnant or at least considering it. You may very well be taking folic acid (also known as folate). Folic acid is a B group Vitamin (vitamin B9). It is important for DNA replication, cell growth, division and for making red blood cells. It also prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida. We don’t consume enough folate in our diet, so we have to take supplements when preparing for pregnancy.
A natural and powerful option, spinach is more than just a beautiful shade of deep green (and the greener the better). It is also a significant source of folate.
I recently gave a talk to my colleagues at Genea called Diet, DNA and Disease; a topic close to my heart. Why? Because we have the power to make positive changes with our food choices and through these to limit the risk of certain diseases and physical maladies. We have control of what we eat, unlike the tick tock of age and declining egg numbers.
One issue I discussed was sugar. Sugar may negatively affect the quality of our eggs. In a recent published study, monkeys were fed extra table sugar (sucrose) for six months. They were given doses equivalent to the average American woman’s diet. These monkeys were then put through an IVF cycle. They had their eggs harvested and the quality of their eggs compared to other monkeys who were not fed added sugar. The monkeys exposed to sugar had significantly less mature eggs and fertilization rates than those who were not exposed to added sugar. Babies can only be made using mature eggs.
Perhaps this is the case in humans too?
The study of nutrition is complex because food is complex and our relationship with food even more so. But this study made me really think. Quitting sugar not only helps one shed kilograms but it may have a positive impact on egg quality. It was enough for me to remove the lollies I had in the waiting room for my patients. I may replace them with Brazil nuts but that’s another story.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
Chaffin CL, Latham KE, Mtango NR, Midic U, Vandevoort CA. Dietary sugar in healthy female primates perturbs oocyte matura- tion and in vitro pre-implantation embryo development. Endocrinology. 2014;155:2688–2695.
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