You Are What You Eat by Dr. Andrew Deutsch
“You are what you eat” or so the saying goes. Carbohydrates, protein, fat. Gluten free, Paleo, Keto, Nordic. What are we eating exactly? These days it can be hard to tell.
The Mediterranean diet was just ranked the best overall diet by a panel of nutritionists and physicians (1). Research shows that the Mediterranean and DASH diets have health benefits for patients with diabetes and cardiovascular problems. The so-called fad diets, such as the Paleo and Keto, make several claims too, such as rapid weight loss. However, Weight Watchers continues to be ranked number one for sustained weight loss. One thing is clear, women should choose a diet based on their individual health and wellness goals.
Diet also has a direct impact on fertility. Folic acid, Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids; what you eat has the potential to improve a couple’s chance of conceiving (2). Further, women with preterm birth have been found to have lower levels of the fatty acids EPA and DHA (3). These fatty acids are contained in fish oil, which suggests a role for fish oil supplements to combat preterm birth. Those who supplemented omega-3 fatty acids had an 11% lower risk of giving birth before 37 weeks of gestation and a decreased risk of perinatal death (4). Further, fish oil supplements during the third trimester have been linked to a higher lean mass and bone mass in children (5).
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to several problems during pregnancy such as an increased risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and low birth weight infants. This suggests a need for pre-pregnancy supplementation in some women. Vitamin C supplementation has shown promise as protective against infant harm in mothers who smoke (6).
Nutrition is not only important during the reproductive years. Recent literature has shown that in pre-menopausal women low-fat dairy intake, such as skim milk and yogurt, is associated with a 23% lower risk of early menopause (7).
Postmenopausal women who weigh less have a decrease incidence of endometrial cancer. Further, postmenopausal women with a 5% weight loss decrease their risk of breast cancer by 12% (8). Obesity itself has been linked to 13 cancers and is associated with 1 in 20 cancers worldwide (9).
Maybe everyone should be using supplements? After all, supplements are readily available over the counter. However, they are not regulated by the FDA. Vitamin D and calcium are recommended to women for bone health. However, overuse may lead to high calcium in the body which can cause kidney stones (10). Should we be supplementing what we can get directly from our diet?
The information above just exemplifies the fact that you are what you eat. Thus, it is important for a woman’s health to monitor and regulate your diet throughout your life. Give us a call if you would like to discuss more about your individual diet and nutrition with your healthcare provider.