Nutritional programming: how your dietary choices affect future generations.
Nutritional programming explains why some people have a predisposition for certain diseases in adulthood. These diseases can occur because of altered development during the fetal stage and early infancy.
According to the “Developmental Origins of Health and Disease” paradigm, the conditions during periconception (2–3 months before getting pregnant), pregnancy, and lactation strongly influence the developing child. There is substantial evidence showing that an unfavorable environment during these periods creates a predisposition to certain diseases, mostly inflammatory, that manifest later in adult life.1
Overnutrition and undernutrition are among the most important elements that can contribute to a harmful environment for the unborn child. These have been directly correlated with metabolic conditions such as hypertension, "insulinresistance", hyperlipemia, and abdominal obesity.2
When the environment is harmful, the embryo, fetus, or newborn adjusts so that it can survive in spite of the detrimental conditions. These adjustments often involve changes in body functions, tissue remodeling, and the activation or silencing of certain genes. Such changes can become permanent and remain active even when the harmful stimuli disappear.