In this week’s episode, learn about healthy eating for two. Most people realize that diet is especially important during pregnancy, but they may not know which foods are most nutritious. Researchers report that following a Mediterranean diet and practicing mindfulness around meals can both have health benefits during pregnancy.
New research shows that good nutrition during pregnancy goes way beyond taking prenatal vitamins. One study shows that women following a Mediterranean diet are less likely to experience complications such as hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, pre-term birth or stillbirth (JAMA Network Open, Dec. 22, 2022). We talk with one of the scientists conducting the study, a cardiologist who notes that avoiding such problems seems to help women stay healthier even when the baby grows up.
Many people have heard that cravings can crop up during pregnancy. Is there a way to respond to such feelings without wrecking a healthy diet? Our second guest has conducted a long-running study that found learning mindful eating during pregnancy has lasting benefits for children as well as their mothers.
In this quasi-experimental Mindful Moms Training study, the women who attended mindfulness sessions for eight weeks had lower measures of stress, were slightly less likely to gain excess weight and were less likely to have impaired glucose tolerance (International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Oct. 2019). Follow-up studies on mothers and children found benefits as much as eight years later.
Natalie Bello, MD, MPH, is an associate professor of Cardiology and director of Hypertension Research in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. Her research focuses on better understanding the relationship between hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and cardiovascular risk—and her latest study found an association between the Mediterranean diet and pregnancy outcomes.
Her study is: Association of a Mediterranean Diet Pattern With Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Among US Women
Elissa Epel, PhD, is a Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, at University of California, San Francisco. Her research aims to elucidate mechanisms of healthy aging, and to apply this basic science to scalable interventions to reach vulnerable populations. She is the Director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and ranked in the top 1% of scientists for publication impact. Dr. Epel is the author of New York Times best-seller The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer. Her latest book is The Stress Prescription: Seven Days to More Joy and Ease and is an Independent Bookstore best-seller.
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