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Expectant mothers may not have optimal eating habits, according to new research conducted at the University of Turku. A study by specialist researcher Ella Koivuniemi found that a poor diet during pregnancy can increase the fetus’s susceptibility to diseases like cardiovascular issues later in life. Koivuniemi recommends pregnant women consume at least five servings of plant-based foods daily, but only half of the women in the study met this recommendation. Additionally, a third of the women did not eat vegetables daily.

It is crucial for expectant mothers to obtain enough nutrients to support the growth and development of the fetus and their own tissues and placenta. Vegetables, fruits, and berries are rich in fibers, vitamins, minerals, and folic acid, which is essential for preventing birth defects. While taking a folic acid supplement is recommended, Koivuniemi highlights the importance of obtaining nutrients from food as well. A severe lack of folic acid in the fetus can lead to neural tube closure disorders, which are rare in Finland but carry significant risks.

Fetal programming can impact children’s health later in life through their mother’s obesity and poor diet. The mother’s metabolism can affect her child’s metabolism during pregnancy, increasing their risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes. Epigenetics plays a role in this phenomenon; evidence suggests that the fetus’s metabolism may adapt to store fat efficiently during times of need, leading to future health challenges. Research on epigenetics in humans is ongoing and complex; however, evidence from cross-generational population studies supports its role in human health.

Koivuniemi also examined eating habits among children under school age as part of her research. Most children did not consume enough vegetables and fruits; only one percent met the recommended five servings per day. Quality diets were assessed based on calorie intake; just 14 percent ate well while most had moderate to poor diets due to factors such as busy lifestyles, fatigue, and lack of support.

In conclusion, Koivuniemi’s research highlights that expectant mothers should prioritize a balanced diet rich in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables

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