‘You Are What Your Father Eats,’ According to New Study

study from McGill University has discovered that a father’s diet prior to conception is just as important as the mother’s when it comes to influencing their child’s health. The study examines vitamin B9, also known as folate, which comes from green leafy vegetables, meats, fruits, and cereals, and is known to reduce the likelihood of miscarriage and birth defects. Pregnant mothers must have good folate levels, but this study has shown that a father’s folate level has a big effect on a child’s health, too. Fathers should make sure they have a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle before trying to conceive a child.

Research was conducted using mice. One group had fathers with insufficient folate in their diets, and the other group had sufficient levels of folate. The offspring whose fathers had insufficient folate had an increased number of birth defects compared to the group with sufficient paternal folate. Dr. Romain Lambrot explained that there was an almost 30 percent increase in birth defects when the fathers had insufficient folate in their diet: “We were very surprised… We saw some pretty severe skeletal abnormalities that included both cranio-facial and spinal deformities.”

The conclusion is that sperm are able to carry a memory of the father’s environment, including his diet and lifestyle choices. This means that if fathers eat high fat, fast food diets or are obese, or if they live in an area of the world with food insecurity where it’s hard to get enough folate in their diets, or if they drink excessively or smoke, all of that information gets passed on to their offspring. Lead researcher, Sarah Kimmins, says:

“Fathers need to think about what they put in their mouths, what they smoke and what they drink and remember they are caretakers of generations to come.”

Her next step will be to collaborate with fertility clinics in hopes of better understanding the links between paternal diet, obesity, and the health of offspring.

I think this is a wonderful and fascinating discovery. Shifting the balance of responsibility for prenatal health so that it’s shared equally between a mother and father will be a big help for women, who already bear the full burden of pregnancy and delivery. Encouraging men to establish healthy lifestyle habits also sets a good example for children once they’re older. Such a discovery is beneficial to the whole family.

By Katherine Martinko, from TreeHugger

 

72 comments

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H.2 years ago

I was born during World War Two when we had rationing. However my father liked growing veggies in our fairly large garden. So I guess that's all right.

Klaus Peters
Klaus Peters2 years ago

I must admit I do love the same food as my Dad did, no surprise, I grew up with my paternal Grandparents. I married an Indian lady 41 years ago and really love the southern Indian food she cooks, bless my Mother in Law, she taught my wife very well. BUT, she goes home every 6 months for a few weeks and I am on my own, well, do I have a ball. I cook, or try to cook what my Granny cooked, sure I have limited success, but I am getting better. Grünkohl (cale)mit Speck, or Sauerkraut mit Nürnberger Wurstl! Schmor Katoffeln, Bauernfrühstsück and more. The boss comes back in the morning and we are back to bum burners, ups, very tasty food!

David Nuttle
David Nuttle2 years ago

Foods from our factory farms now contain hormones, antibiotics, herbicides and other harmful chemicals, GMOs, heavy metals and other harmful elements. The big food companies add an assortment of preservatives, fillers, food coloring, salt, sugar/ corn fructose, and other elements that seldom promote good health. Most GMO corn and GMO soy products contain glyphosate from Monsanto's herbicide Roundup ... and university research studies confirm that glyphosate consumption causes cancers and sterility in lab animals (and is expected to do the same for humans).

To be healthful, families need to buy organic foods or grow their own organic foods. My charity, NPI, has a handbook on growing "Healthful Foods," at home, on its own website (www.needfulprovision.org) ... see the 3rd topic on the upper left. This is the solution to healthful eating and good health for family members.

Jane R.
Jane R.2 years ago

Makes sense to me. An offspring comes from two people not just one. Both contribute to the health of a baby. Once conceived it's up to the mother to eat a proper diet but the man has already contributed his good or bad traits to the unborn child.

Lin M
Lin M2 years ago

My father wasn't around but mom would probably say most every thing is his fault...//

Joseph E Fasciani

Apropos Sandra A's remarks about using mice as stand-ins for humans, I'll add two insights for those who may not yet be aware of them:

1. In lab work, specially bred animals are used to ensure the strain is as stable as possible, and will yield standardised results, and
2. the particular animal chosen should be as close to human metabolism and body chemistry as possible.

This is why certain species are favoured over others. Mind you, I'm NOT a fan of this practise, but only aware of it from my background in agriculture, horticulture, and chemistry, both organic & non-organic, always useful knowledge to have after college!

Anyhow, I'm not surprised at these findings, as nutrition trumps food fads and diets every time, which is why we need to have truly good nutrition taught in HS, likely TWO years of it, along w/what used to be called Home Economics when I took it fifty-five years ago.

Then it was required of both boys & girls, along w/simple sewing. As my mum used to say, "There's nothing worse than to see a man helpless in the kitchen or to mend his clothes!"

Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard2 years ago

thank you

Jennifer C.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thanks.

Laura Saxon
.2 years ago

I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing.

David Lawrence
Past Member 2 years ago

Amazing . . . . my father disappeared when i was 13 and now my original post has disappeared as well . . . . . there's DEFINITELY something in this

Worrying how the C2 police are starting to remove posts but can't delete the spammers? Makes you wonder if the spam isn't carrying some financial incentive.