Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The propaganda never stops: Diet changes improve chances of older women giving birth

This is superstition, not science

DRASTIC changes in diet boost a woman's chances of giving birth into her 40s and 50s, according to new claims. Cutting out alcohol and sugar and eating more organic foods allow women to hit the "snooze button" on their biological clocks, maximising their chances of having a baby, a new book on fertility claims.

Sarah Dobbyn, a nutritionist and author of The Fertility Diet, said the influence of diet on fertility was often overlooked in an age in which IVF often seemed the only answer to pregnancy problems. "Huge amounts of money are being spent on assisted conception techniques by hopeful couples who do not know that alcohol and caffeine are liquid contraceptives, sweeteners can prevent ovulation and seemingly innocent foods such as peas, rhubarb and soya all inhibit fertility."

Aimed at those trying to conceive naturally as well as those going through IVF, Ms Dobbyn advised cutting out smoking, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine and soya in the first month. Peas and rhubarb were also banned following studies linking them to infertility.

By month two, couples should have given up all meat and cut out sugar and dairy. By the third month, consumption of eggs and fruit juices should be reduced. However, it is not all about cutting back, with couples allowed unlimited quantities of beans, pulses, organic herbs, spices and nuts from day one. Fruit and vegetables should be eaten raw to help balance the body's hormones. Would-be parents are also to lose weight if overweight, keep stress to a minimum and try to get a good night's sleep.


Pesky gene

The power of do-gooder propaganda seems unlikely to alter this:

A gene linked to obesity causes people to put on weight by keeping them hungry, scientists say. Previous research had shown that the gene, known as FTO, was strongly associated with obesity. But it was not clear whether this was to do with increasing appetite or burning calories.

The new study of 3,337 children shows that the gene's effects are due to a lack of normal appetite control. Usually the act of eating "switches off" the appetite and creates a feeling of satiety or "fullness". The FTO gene stops this happening, scientists at University College London found. Children with two copies of a high-risk version of the gene were less likely to have their appetite suppressed by eating. FTO is the first common obesity gene to be identified in Caucasian populations.

Jane Wardle, the study leader, said: "People who carry the risky variant of this gene are more vulnerable to the modern environment with big portion sizes."

The new findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.


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