Another epigenetics related question and an excuse to give this link. This is a very good series of BBC radio programes are currently available online:
I don't know how long it will be available online. This is the description:
Imagine if your health as an adult is partly determined by the nutrition and environment you were exposed to in the first 1000days of life. Or even further back; that the lifestyle of your grandparents during their children's first 1000 days, has programmed your adult health. A strong body of scientific evidence supports this explosive idea, and is gradually turning medical thinking on its head. To understand the cause of chronic adult disease, including ageing, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and lung problems we need to look much further back than adult lifestyle - but to the first 1000 days.
In this groundbreaking three part series Dr Mark Porter talks to the scientists who now believe that this 'lifecourse' approach, will find the cause of many adult diseases. "Chronic disease is going up in leaps and bounds, this is not a genetic change" says Kent Thornburg, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine in Oregon, America "it's because the environment in the womb is getting worse. We know now that the first 1000 days of life is the most sensitive period for determining lifelong health'.
But it's not just down to mothers or grandmothers, there is growing evidence that diet and lifestyle along the paternal line matters too. 'You are what your dad ate,' argues Professor Anne Ferguson-Smith of Cambridge University.
"Growth has a pattern," continues Alan Jackson, Professor of Nutrition at Southampton University "everything has a time and a place and if that gets interrupted then you can catch up, but there are consequences".
So where does that leave us as adults? Good diet and lifestyle is very important, but scientists know that some individuals are more vulnerable to disease than others, and that's not just down to genetics. "All diseases may be expressions of key developments in the womb" explains Professor David Barker, "That does not mean you are doomed, it means you are vulnerable. Understanding that challenges the way medicine is structured".
Do you think that this kind of information will help to change how people choose to live?
Many people seem to be moved to a greater degree to make positive changes, such as giving up smoking, for the benefit of their childrens health than for their own health. Knowing that what we eat and how we live is more than a personal choice effecting only ourselves. I am thinking particularly of young people.
asked byMatt_1 (19245)
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on August 31, 2011
at 03:06 PM
I think it's really interesting information and it makes me feel guilty as hell for the stuff I put in my body for most of my life. I hate to think that I've doomed my future grandchildren.
I really don't think it is going to change how most people do things. Young people don't really worry about their future children when they are still children. Most people I know don't start to think about their health and nutrition until they start planning a pregnancy and many pregnancies as still unplanned.
My daughter was my motivation for conquering my obesity, so I know it is a very real motivation for people. I just think it's really hard to get most people to think about this in concrete terms before the idea of children is realistic to them. Also, if they know their parents/grandparents had health issues or ate poorly, many will use it as an excuse that they are already doomed, so they may as well enjoy things now.
I don't know. I'm kind of a pessimist about this stuff. It would be awesome if the research made people more aware and helped create healthier lifestyles as early as possible in their lives.
on August 31, 2011
at 11:21 PM
Yeah - what Melissa said.
To add to that though, I have been reading Deep Nutrition with some great people. Dr. Shanihan goes into the powerful epigenetic effects of foods and which foods give the most bang for the calorie. But I have to wonder if modern people are just too far removed from people of other generations to really be moved to eat better for their benefit.
I hear that in the past families lived together in multi-generational communities. Being surrounded by people from the very old to the newborn must have had an impact on the importance traditional cultures placed on eating good food to ensure the health of future generations.
Today we live in comparative isolation. I have some kids in the house, sure, but few of us live in households comprised of the spectrum of age groups that would perhaps instill a sense of importance in eating for future generations.