The spotted hyena gives birth to cubs that are born with a full set of where’s-my-dinner teeth. That’s in sharp contrast to human babies, who remain dependent on parents for years. But despite human newborns’ slow-to-grow-up biology, research shows the pattern of adult aging begins in the womb.
You know a pregnant woman’s habits can affect her newborn’s health (on the plus side -- taking a prenatal multivitamin reduces autism spectrum disorder risk by 40 percent and spine malformation and childhood cancer by over 60 percent.). But did you know it also can influence how an offspring ages 20 years later!
Smoking, having pre-eclampsia, extreme air pollution and uncontrolled asthma can lower oxygen levels during pregnancy, and research shows that years later, they can make adult children age more rapidly. But upping your intake of foods rich in polyphenols while pregnant may increase oxygen levels and make offspring age more slowly. Try blueberries, kidney beans, artichokes and Red Delicious apples. (Expecting moms must control blood pressure and asthma, and not smoke anything!)
Also, preliminary results indicate that vitamin D deficiency while pregnant may up adult children’s risk for multiple sclerosis by 90 percent. Get a blood test to determine your blood level and take 1,000 IU daily of vitamin D-3. Plus, young adults whose pregnant moms had elevated LDL cholesterol are almost four times more likely to have elevated LDL, too. So, future moms: Cut out sat-fat foods like egg yolks and processed and red meats, and added sugars and syrups, while increasing consumption of whole grains and produce.
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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.