Maternal Diet May Affect Stress Responses in Children

Maternal Diet May Affect Stress Responses in Children
5 (100%) 5 votes

Single meals can affect testosterone and cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Some foods eaten regularly during pregnancy may even reprogram children’s responses to stress later in life.

Discuss
Republish

In a critique of the scientific validity of the dietary advice in Men’s Health magazine, they discovered nuggets like this, claiming meat can give men a testosterone boost. But we’ve known for a quarter century that a meal with that much fat drops testosterone levels nearly a third within hours. In fact, a significant drop of both free and bound testosterone in the bloodstream, within just an hour of it going in one’s mouth—whereas a low-fat meal of mostly carbs has no such effect.

Based on in vitro studies on the effects of fat on testicle cells in a petri dish, they suspect fat in the blood may actually suppress testosterone production in real time. But, even holding fat levels the same, if you feed people lots of meat, fish, poultry, [and] eggs, and then switch them to a diet with about the same amount of fat, but instead bread, fruit, vegetables, and sugary junk, all their testosterone levels go up.

But even more importantly, all their cortisol levels go down. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by our adrenal glands.

Having low stress hormone levels is a good thing, because high cortisol levels may strongly predict cardiovascular death in men and women—both with and without preexisting cardiovascular disease. In fact, this may help explain “death from a broken heart,” the heightened heart attack and stroke risk in the immediate weeks following losing a spouse. The higher cortisol levels days, months, or even years after losing someone you love may increase cardiac risk, and reduce immune function. And, you’ll note the rise in stress hormone levels losing a spouse—a bump of about 50 points—is less than the bump you may get eating a high meat diet.

Cortisol may also help explain why those who are depressed tend to put on abdominal fat. The reason obesity around the middle is associated with elevated cortisol secretion may be that abdominal fat kind of sucks it up. And so, the accumulation of fat around our internal organs may be an adaptation by which our body deals with excess stress.

These spikes in stress hormone levels every time we eat a lot of meat may not just affect our health, but that of our children. Substantial evidence now suggests that high protein diets during pregnancy have adverse effects on the fetus. For example, back in the 60s, an experiment was performed on pregnant women in Motherwell, Scotland, in which they were told to eat a high meat diet in hopes of preventing preeclampsia, a disease of pregnancy.

It didn’t work; in fact, the lowest preeclampsia rates I’ve ever seen were among women eating strictly plant-based diets: only one case out of 775 pregnancies. Preeclampsia normally strikes about 5% of pregnancies. So, there should have been dozens of cases—suggesting a plant-based diet could alleviate most, if not all, of the signs and symptoms of this potentially serious condition.

But what did happen when pregnant women went from eating about one portion of meat a day to like two portions of meat every day? Mothers who ate more meat, and fewer vegetables, during pregnancy gave birth to children who grew up to have higher blood pressures.

One explanation for the adverse effects of high meat and fish consumption is that this may have increased maternal cortisol concentrations—which, in turn, affected the developing fetus, resetting his or her stress hormone thermostat to like a higher level. But, you don’t know, until you put it to the test.

And, indeed, researchers found higher blood cortisol levels in both the sons and daughters of women who had reported higher meat and fish consumption—about a 5% increase for every daily meat serving.

Such diets may present a metabolic stress to the mother, and kind of reprogram the adrenal axis of their children, leading to lifelong hypercortisolemia—elevated levels of stress hormones in the blood. This may help explain why every daily portion of meat during late pregnancy may lead to a 1% greater fat mass in their children by the time they reach adolescence. So, this could increase the risk of their children becoming obese later in life—and so, have important public health implications in terms of prevention of obesity.

Now, if they’re already born, you may be able to bring down their stress hormone levels with similar dietary changes. But this is just baseline stress hormone levels. Do children of mothers who eat more meat during pregnancy also have exaggerated responses to life stresses?

Researchers put them through a stressful challenge—public speaking, mental arithmetic—and measured their cortisol responses. If their mom ate less than two servings of meat and fish a day while she was carrying them, they got little shots of stress hormones from their adrenal glands. But those whose moms ate more really got stressed out. And those whose moms ate the most—17 or more servings a week (that’s more than two servings of meat a day)—appeared to be really quaking in their boots.

So, in a way, you are what your mother ate.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to milli_lu via Pixabay.

In a critique of the scientific validity of the dietary advice in Men’s Health magazine, they discovered nuggets like this, claiming meat can give men a testosterone boost. But we’ve known for a quarter century that a meal with that much fat drops testosterone levels nearly a third within hours. In fact, a significant drop of both free and bound testosterone in the bloodstream, within just an hour of it going in one’s mouth—whereas a low-fat meal of mostly carbs has no such effect.

Based on in vitro studies on the effects of fat on testicle cells in a petri dish, they suspect fat in the blood may actually suppress testosterone production in real time. But, even holding fat levels the same, if you feed people lots of meat, fish, poultry, [and] eggs, and then switch them to a diet with about the same amount of fat, but instead bread, fruit, vegetables, and sugary junk, all their testosterone levels go up.

But even more importantly, all their cortisol levels go down. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by our adrenal glands.

Having low stress hormone levels is a good thing, because high cortisol levels may strongly predict cardiovascular death in men and women—both with and without preexisting cardiovascular disease. In fact, this may help explain “death from a broken heart,” the heightened heart attack and stroke risk in the immediate weeks following losing a spouse. The higher cortisol levels days, months, or even years after losing someone you love may increase cardiac risk, and reduce immune function. And, you’ll note the rise in stress hormone levels losing a spouse—a bump of about 50 points—is less than the bump you may get eating a high meat diet.

Cortisol may also help explain why those who are depressed tend to put on abdominal fat. The reason obesity around the middle is associated with elevated cortisol secretion may be that abdominal fat kind of sucks it up. And so, the accumulation of fat around our internal organs may be an adaptation by which our body deals with excess stress.

These spikes in stress hormone levels every time we eat a lot of meat may not just affect our health, but that of our children. Substantial evidence now suggests that high protein diets during pregnancy have adverse effects on the fetus. For example, back in the 60s, an experiment was performed on pregnant women in Motherwell, Scotland, in which they were told to eat a high meat diet in hopes of preventing preeclampsia, a disease of pregnancy.

It didn’t work; in fact, the lowest preeclampsia rates I’ve ever seen were among women eating strictly plant-based diets: only one case out of 775 pregnancies. Preeclampsia normally strikes about 5% of pregnancies. So, there should have been dozens of cases—suggesting a plant-based diet could alleviate most, if not all, of the signs and symptoms of this potentially serious condition.

But what did happen when pregnant women went from eating about one portion of meat a day to like two portions of meat every day? Mothers who ate more meat, and fewer vegetables, during pregnancy gave birth to children who grew up to have higher blood pressures.

One explanation for the adverse effects of high meat and fish consumption is that this may have increased maternal cortisol concentrations—which, in turn, affected the developing fetus, resetting his or her stress hormone thermostat to like a higher level. But, you don’t know, until you put it to the test.

And, indeed, researchers found higher blood cortisol levels in both the sons and daughters of women who had reported higher meat and fish consumption—about a 5% increase for every daily meat serving.

Such diets may present a metabolic stress to the mother, and kind of reprogram the adrenal axis of their children, leading to lifelong hypercortisolemia—elevated levels of stress hormones in the blood. This may help explain why every daily portion of meat during late pregnancy may lead to a 1% greater fat mass in their children by the time they reach adolescence. So, this could increase the risk of their children becoming obese later in life—and so, have important public health implications in terms of prevention of obesity.

Now, if they’re already born, you may be able to bring down their stress hormone levels with similar dietary changes. But this is just baseline stress hormone levels. Do children of mothers who eat more meat during pregnancy also have exaggerated responses to life stresses?

Researchers put them through a stressful challenge—public speaking, mental arithmetic—and measured their cortisol responses. If their mom ate less than two servings of meat and fish a day while she was carrying them, they got little shots of stress hormones from their adrenal glands. But those whose moms ate more really got stressed out. And those whose moms ate the most—17 or more servings a week (that’s more than two servings of meat a day)—appeared to be really quaking in their boots.

So, in a way, you are what your mother ate.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to milli_lu via Pixabay.

65 responses to “Maternal Diet May Affect Stress Responses in Children

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Wow, this video really has quite a lot of new and interesting information. (At least new to me!) And it also just shows how complicated the human organism really is, especially in relationship to diet!




    0
    1. Something else I thought when watching the video is the behavioral effect of growing up in the home of a stressed out meat eating Mother. Not only is there the likely dietary component, but little ones are impressionable emotionally and pick up on the behavioral cues from Mama. Hypercortisolemic mothers mean little kids with anxiety. Who eat meat, growing into stressed out, meat eating adults. Sigh.




      1
      1. Yes, there are so many factors to take into consideration when analyzing human behavior! And also add in “gene expression” due to diet. Maybe in the future a super-computer can sort it all out … too much for the human brain :-)




        0
        1. Finally, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of mindfulness practices to help ALL of us manage our cortisol and stress levels. We see from Dr G today just how important diet is, but I too remind all of us that we can proactively manage our stress levels through brief, daily mindfulness practices. One App I love isHeadspace – makes mindful practice accessible and interesting.
          No conflicts, I’m just a happy subscriber! Check it out!




          0
  2. Interested in the bit about testosterone plunging when men eat meat. You said that a high fat meal caused it. How much fat was in those meals? Has the experiment been done using vegan foods and vegan fats? Given the same amount of fat, would a vegan meal produce the same testosterone lowering effect?




    0
    1. Even without any study or lab analysis of my systems I can assure you that WFPB eating boosted (or allowed a natural return) my testosterone at 49 years.

      Animal foods put our system in a bit of distress until they recover from it-is how I see it. Strongly Herbivorous am I.




      0
  3. I know it’s anecdotal, but it would sure help explain the differences in my children’s personalities. I ate meat during my first pregnancy and WFPB during my second. My four year old child is easily stressed and my two year old is super laid back.




    0
    1. That is really interesting, Christy! And you are right, it is anecdotal. There is a theory that the second children are more laid back because as mothers we are more laid back (or just darn tired) then with the first child. Also, did you feed either of your children differently? I also wonder about weight gain on a meat vs: WFPBD (guessing there is a big difference!) All I can say is I wish I had known/eaten a WFPBD when pregnant with my son 29 years ago. I’d be happy to list my other regrets, but there’s not enough time or space!
      Congratulations on your WFPB diet and lifestyle!!!




      0
      1. Lisa, funny you should mention weight gain because I almost included this. While MY weight gain was the same with both pregnancies, about 35lbs, my first child (meat eating pregnancy) weighed 8lbs 12oz, my second child (mostly WFPB pregnancy) weighed 11lbs 2oz! That’s not a typo, eleven pounds two ounces! And no, there was no gestational diabetes and I am of normal weight. My husband and I are big people but not big enough to explain an eleven pound baby.

        Children’s weight was mentioned briefly in the video but I think it’s too early to tell for my kids. They are both normal BMI but looking at birthweight alone they are opposite what you would think.

        I like to tell that story to pregnant women or people who think you can’t eat enough calories on this diet. I was nursing s toddler and gave birth to a healthy eleven pound baby.




        1
  4. This is very eye-opening for me. I was aware before that meat increased the chances of cancer due to higher IGF1 levels, caused inflammation due to the acidic nature of it, was harder on digestion and the kidneys. However, I didn’t realize that it could also lower testosterone (which as a weightlifter I’m concerned about) and raise cortisol (which I know I have too much of). I am seriously considering opting for a 90% vegetarian diet with fish perhaps a few times a week rather than my 40% animal protein diet which I had thought would shorten lifespan some, but not negatively affect the quality of life as I have just found out. I have been believing what many of the health gurus told me yet now I see that there’s a strange paradox. It actually makes sense though if you think about it. Most of the longest lived people don’t eat gobs of meat. These studies Dr. Greger have just shown reveal that I was right to stick to reading his articles for the past few months despite my disagreeing with him.




    2
    1. Adam620135, I would like to introduce you to David Carter, the 300 pound vegan. He is amazing – a professional football player who is WFPB and has amazing experience with muscle gain while eating plants. His own experience and story with WFPB eating is helpful for athletes like yourself. Congratulations for being a smart, thoughtful, educated athlete! Most health gurus are selling us something – Dr. Greger and David Carter are not!!!




      0
  5. Question! I ate meat during my first pregnancy (not much)- it was a hard pregnancy with tons of heartburn and nausea all the way till the end. When he was 4 months old we switched to a WFPB diet and when I got pregnant with my second I expected a much smoother pregnancy with less nausea if any. Boy was I wrong! 6 weeks hit and I not only had debilitating nausea but I was plunged into prenatal depression. I felt like my cortisol levels were just idling at a million. I was nursing at the time and exercise helped a little but I wasn’t free of depression until I stopped nursing my first child when my second child was about 4 or 5 months old. I thought maybe it was just the new stress in my life but as soon as I stopped nursing my first the depression vanished as if nothing had ever happened. My sister is now pregnant after switching to a WFPB diet for about 6 months and is encountering the same problem. I love my plant based diet and I will never go back but I’m worried that maybe I’m missing something in the hormone production department? What could be happening?




    0
    1. Gabrielle, I’m sorry you had such a hard time. Your story sounds very similar to mine except I didn’t experience depression and the nursing correlation, just a REALLY hard second pregnancy when I was WFPB. But I figured it was so hard because my baby turned out to be enormous (see my comment below). My nausea and other problems were so bad that I couldn’t stick to the diet 100%. I was somewhere between 70-90% because I just had to eat whatever I could stomach. I also think the second pregnancy was harder because I was parenting a two year old! So it could have been a lot of things besides the diet that made it harder. As much as I support the diet, I do think a pregnant woman should trust her cravings to some degree.




      0
      1. Yeah, after 6 weeks hit all I wanted was McDonalds and tuna subs- and I did sample those things but not after being totally desperate because nothing else would go down. It was a sad day when my delicious green smoothie ended up back in my cup when I was drinking it :( I ended up eating fake butter too to just get enough calories (seriously- the sound of 120 calories per tablespoon sounded really good to me when I could hardly eat anything!!). I didn’t do huge deviations but I definitely had my days. I get really frustrated with research about pregnant women because there just plain isn’t any! There’s a lot of anecdotal “people in other countries who eat plant based don’t even know what morning sickness is!!” I feel like it’s not even honest to put out information like that because I was eating a good plant based diet but maybe needing more of a certain thing and I was really, really sick. I have never been overweight and I have never been into junk food- I feel like there is no expert for vegan nutrition for pregnant women! Most things I know are from snippets I’ve pieced together from this website. Anyone know any good resources? McDougall is not helpful.




        0
        1. I want to second Tom Goff’s reference for VRG (Vegetarian Resource Group). They tend to have a lot of quality information, including info specific to pregnant women. If you take a look, I’d be curious to hear what you think.

          Tom Gave a very specific reference. Here is a more general reference with a higher level view of what they have to offer for pregnancy, kids, and teens: http://www.vrg.org/family/kidsindex.htm




          0
          1. Thanks for the suggestions- the VRG seems to have the most useful information and level headed info (non-anecdotal or flashy). The iodine stuff is new to me- and I was pregnant only 9 months ago!
            I hear a lot of talk about women who have had success balancing hormones by eating healthy and I’m wondering if the crazy surges and changes of pregnancy can in anyway be evened out (a few places said that morning sickness can be from the changes in hormones- not necessarily the hormones themselves- and by changes in blood sugar)? In theory blood sugar levels should be more even when eating lots of whole plant foods- I just feel like when I’m pregnant food only lasts me like 30 minutes and I just don’t know how to keep going all day without constantly shoving food in my face….!!

            I will definitely take a look at those books- reserved at the library already!!




            0
            1. I think it’s perfectly fine to eat every hour if that is what your body is telling you…it will definitely help stabilize the adrenals and blood sugar. Make sure the combination of foods is the right balance of mineral salts, potassium, and natural sugar, which will help support your glucose levels the best. One of my favorite snacks with this balance is apple slices (sugar), a few dates (potassium) and celery sticks (mineral salts). Looking at the combinations of foods may help you feel more even throughout the day.




              0
        2. I just remembered another resource: If you can get your hands on the book Becoming Vegan, Express Edition, by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, they have a section specifically on pregnancy. They go through the various trimesters and even have a special, sample menu plan.

          The authors of this book are recommended by Dr. Greger and have even been guest bloggers on NutritionFacts. That book is not one I read from front to back. But it is an awesome reference book to look up specific nutrients and to find information on specific populations (ex: pregnant women).




          0
        3. I wholeheartedly second GabrielleMary’s comments. With all appreciation to VRG (and to Davis & Melina), as far as I can tell, there is no one-stop, high-quality research-backed book devoted to healthy WFPB nutrition during pregnancy. It simply doesn’t exist… yet.

          Dr. Greger, would you please write such a book? It could be short, 100 pages, divided into four parts: a summary / outline of what the research tells us is the healthiest way to eat during pregnancy; a chapter on managing pregnancy-related afflictions through diet; at least a week’s worth of meal-plans + recipes (two weeks is even better); and a chapter on how this advice should be modified postpartum / during breastfeeding.




          0
    2. Gabrielle, I cannot really speak in your case because I don’t know you but here are my 2 cents with regard to WFPB in general.

      I think there is too much emphasis on WFPB without emphasizing that WFPB is not good enough if one does not have enough nutrition, so it should be called WFPB Daily Dozen instead. Let say a person eats in every meal a bowl of salad composed of some lettuce, some slices of cucumber and tomatoes and eat no meat, milk or egg. So by definition this is called a vegan WFPB diet but is it good? Obviously not because it is severely deprived of nutrition.

      So let’s put aside the ethical question of eating meat, if a person is a vegan then that person needs to substitute the sources of protein, iron and other nutrients in meat/milk/egg with sources in plant foods which are plentiful but one has to eat those foods to get it. So the Daily Dozen diet specifies what a vegan (or even meat eater) needs to eat at the minimum to get the proper nutrients and disease fighting substances. So unless a vegan eats enough WFPB foods then sometimes it is worse than meat eaters. We are sometimes too obsessed with avoiding poison in foods and forget about not eating enough foods.

      Now in addition to the Daily Dozen, a vegan needs to supplement with Vitamin B12, iodine if he/she avoids fortified salt, some plant fat such as olive oil, nut, seed, avocado, Omega-3 from algae. Pregnant woman may need more iron from some plant foods such spinach, etc, I am no expert on nutrition for vegan pregnant woman, but you get the drift and you can do your own research.

      So my recommendation is for you to check if you get enough nutrition by eating enough WFPB foods but eating WFPB alone does not warranty good health.




      0
      1. Thanks I’ve never heard of the “Daily Dozen”- reading about it now and it looks pretty helpful. Though it’s doubtful I can shove that much food into myself when I’m pregnant… :(




        0
        1. Since you cannot eat a lot of plant foods during your pregnancy, I suggest that you eat a half non vegan (meat, milk, egg) – half plant food diet until you deliver your baby and then you can go back to a vegan WFPB diet if you want. Because eating a pure vegan diet that lacks nutrition will cause a lot of harm to you and your baby. The following links suggest what pregnant woman needs to eat as vegan or non vegan diet:

          http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php (vegan)

          http://www.webmd.com/baby/features/must-eat-foods-pregnancy (non vegan)

          There is nothing that says that if you are a meat eater then you cannot eat a lot of plant foods or vice-versa.

          Also I don’t quite agree with this video by Dr Greger because it will make a lot of moms having the guilt for not eating a vegan diet in order to give birth to a healthy baby. And then they will end up not eating enough nutritious foods because they cannot eat a lot.

          You know, there were billions of moms who are meat eaters including my own mom, who giae birth to perfectly healthy babies. How long ago did the vegan movement start and what happened before that? Are there all sick babies and people? :)




          0
          1. Thanks Jimmy. People definitely don’t need more mom guilt!!! My husband and I always joked when I was pregnant with my first and was scared of like breathing air lest something dreadful happen to my baby that there were teens getting pregnant and delivering healthy babies who ate mozzarella sticks and mountain dew for lunch. It’s great to be healthy, it’s great to be as healthy as you can but in the end you can’t avoid every single bad thing and eat every last good thing without kindof becoming a psycho- as a Mom at least. My family eats a good plant based diet but because of that we have to cook at lot and use a lot of dishes and wash a lot of dishes after the kids go to bed and so we don’t get enough sleep and thus we are destroying our health and increasing our risks of disease…

            I did eat a little meat with my pregnancies- and I did some powdered food supplements (which I think is a little better option than the meat actually) but eventually meat, oil, and any amount of vinegar or tomato gave me so much heartburn that I avoided it like the plague. I needed to be real with myself and use supplements for what they are for- to SUPPLEMENT an otherwise deficient diet (because of eating too little).




            0
            1. Hi Mary, you echoed exactly what I thought. I am a working person and eating a complete WFPB diet takes a lot of time. In the morning, I have to get up early to eat and prepare the veggie breakfast for my family which is very complicated, a little bit of this and a little bit of that, then prepare lunch for everybody which is meat based with a number of plants foods such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, sweet potato, etc. and I repeat again in the evening. Right now it’s just me and my wife and the kids are all grown up and gone but still this is taking a LOT of time. So imagine a pregnant person with little kids and a lazy husband who does not help, having to do all of these activities on top of throwing up everything that she eats.

              I keep repeating that it is the things we don’t eat that kill us more than the things that we eat. By this, we need nutrition and above all, we need to eat foods that fight diseases, and worry less about this food is poisonous, contaminated and so on. The rest of the world just go on with their life and still live long and healthy while here we are either gorging on hamburger and hotdog, or being a health nut and worry about every single thing and still miss the important thing which is … eating.

              And I agree with you on SUPPLEMENT. As the name implies, it’s a supplementation to what we eat and not a replacement but a lot of people are so allergic to this and will revolt at the mere mentioning of the term.

              Not trying to fault Dr Greger or anything because he is doing a big service to humanity but there is a lack of emphasis on his part on supplementation while a lot of other health Doctors talk more about supplements and are often accused by people on this forum of being a snake salesman who tries to sell supplements. Have you seen the consequences of not having enough Vitamin B12, something that the vegans often miss?

              And last but not least, I applaud you for being a good mom and not having mom guilt and doing whatever best for you and your baby.




              0
    3. Don’t know that I can comment on the hormonal aspects, but I am very familiar with the heartburn aspects (though obviously not because I was ever pregnant). I am assuming that you tried frequent small meals so that your stomach, which is being constricted up by everything happening just below it, is never so full that it challenges the strength of the hiatal sphincter at the top of the stomach so that foods and stomach acid don’t back up into the esophagus. Also avoid/limit foods that are really high in protein and fat, don’t eat within 2 hours of going to bed, oh, and sleep on your left side so that what ever is left in your stomach isn’t pressed up against the hiatus.

      This is essentially the same thing that GERD patients are advised to do. My gastro doc never quite used the words plant-based or vegan, but if I did everything he told me to do then I would be essentially be eating a WFPB diet. In particular he told me to avoid oils and greasy foods since fat relaxes the muscles making up the hiatus (that acts is supposed to act as a one-way valve at the top of the stomach), increasing the likelihood of reflux. As for the protein suggestion, your stomach is able to detect how much protein is in the food and release more or less stomach acid as required to denature or unravel the protein (the first step in protein digestion) and activates the enzymes active in the stomach that start breaking down protein . So a high protein meal increases the acidity of the stomach contents. Thus the trifecta for heartburn is a large high protein/high fat meal that stretches your stomach, creates a lot of stomach acid and relaxes the muscle that keeps that acid out of your esophagus. So you can see why a 1/4 lb burger and large fries or a large pepperoni pizza is the perfect storm for heartburn.

      And you can see why a whole food plant based diet that gets a large percentage of its calories from complex carbohydrates with just the right amount of protein and fat to meet your body’s needs is the best way to avoid heartburn. One other thing to keep in mind is volumetric calorie and nutrient density (calories and nutrients per cup). In order to get enough calories but especially nutrient without so much volume that you run the risk of reflux, you probably want to do the opposite of what people who use a WFPB diet to lose weight do and that is to not eat a lot of raw vegetables. Cooking increases both the volumetric calorie and nutrient density so you can get the calories and nutrients from the limited volume of food you can eat at a given time. This is especially true of the leafy greens, which are the very healthiest foods you can eat. So maybe focus more on cooked greens and less on huge salads. Another is to blend leafy greens into fruit smoothies. Kale and spinach work great in smoothies, but you can blend in milder tasting greens like romaine lettuce if the other are too strong. Or throw in a little fresh ginger and you will never taste the greens, and the ginger is good for settling an upset stomach. Also cooking (and blending) in essence starts the digestive process before you even eat the food, so it can transit through the stomach faster, reducing the amount of time when reflux can occur.

      Oh, and I disagree with Jimmy about adding animal foods back into your diet, sorry Jimmy. The nutrients your body needs especially when pregnant are found in the largest amounts in plant foods. Animal foods contain a much less per calorie of most of the minerals, but especially the vitamins like folate, essential to growing a healthy baby. So I can’t see how adding animal foods back into your diet would help other than the fact that these foods naturally have a higher volumetric calorie density than plants. So you could get the same calories in a smaller volume, but like I said above, the high fat and protein levels in animal foods increase the risk of heartburn. And I think there are ways around the volume thing with vegetables.

      But I do agree with Jimmy on getting the DHA and EPA long chain omega-3 from algal sources rather than fish. Fish might have them, but most fish are contaminated with heavy metals especially mercury and persistent toxins like PCBs. Besides fish get most of their DHA and EPA directly or indirectly from marine algae anyway, so might as well go right to the source and skip the pollution. I like Ovega-3 brand algal DHA/EPA, but they are all basically the same since most brands obtain their omega-3 oils from the same supplier. Ovega-3 is the house brand of this supplier, so I often it is cheaper than others with an extra middleman.

      I hope this helps you and your sister.




      0
      1. I completely cured my pregnancy heartburn with my second pregnancy by avoiding meat, oil, tomatoes/tomato products, vinegar, lemon, and anything processed, and then capitalizing on vegetables. The alkaline vs acid thing was super important. I had to get really creative with finding ways to get good food down (drinking a smootie REALLY slowly, mashing beans so they wouldn’t dance around in my mouth, eating ONLY basmati rice because I thought other rice was disgusting, shaking on some vegan Parmesan cheese every now and then, and letting myself eat whatever healthy food I wanted no matter how expensive it was haha! etc….)

        In the end though, no amount of good food helped with my depression and that was- well- depressing!! So glad weaning my oldest worked!!




        0
        1. I still can’t believe this type of matter was even brought up when actually the government should be encouraging more people to adopt a vegan lifestyle, if not for health at least for the sustainable future of Italy (& the world).




          0
          1. Darchite: I totally agree. For me, it is both shocking and criminal.
            .
            My thoughts: In the advanced animal training world, there is a behavior concept known as extinction. (I may get bits of this wrong. Anyone feel free to correct me.) So, say you have a behavior that you want to go away. Say, excessive barking. There are (scientific and kind) techniques to make this happen. But an interesting phenomenon that often occurs as part of this process is that the behavior you want to go away actually has a marked increase at the last minute–just before it actually goes away.
            .
            I don’t think things will be that simple when it comes to helping people eat a healthy diet, but I sometimes wonder if the pro-animal consumption pushers are in that last gasp–where they push even harder to the point of pure absurdity before it all collapses.
            .
            Well, I can dream about the collapse part anyway.




            0
  6. Well, in Colorado and other states with legal recreational marijuana, the mother’s diet can well include marijuana. That drug is known to affect brains. Is there an active effort to track newborn health where the mother has been doing marijuana, even in breast feeding?




    0
    1. Please be aware that people all over are starting to smoke synthetic marijuana out of electronic-devices,
      the same devices that look just like e-cigarettes. And there is no way to detect the smell. All of us are breathing
      in this second-hand drug, and the scary thing is that these devices are also being used to smoke synthetic meth (speed),
      crack, opiates, and who knows what else. Do not let anyone smoke electronic devices inside, the second hand vapor
      we breathe in! People are smoking these devices on airplanes in bathrooms, and in bathrooms out in public. This is
      by far the single scariest health issue that should be concerning people worldwide, as we have no way of knowing
      what is inside the electronic-smoking devices they are smoking, as the smell can be eliminated and disguised, and up
      to now we all assumed it was just nicotine-vapor. Not so. Kids breathing this stuff in……airline pilots breathing in the
      synthetic-meth being smoked in airplane bathrooms, public library bathrooms, restaurant bathrooms, all this vapor
      being taken in by innocent folks. The pesticides on fruit and veggies doesn’t even come close to the menace that is
      slowly but increasingly polluting the air we breath.




      0
  7. As far as I know… DHEA supplementation after 65 or so reduces cortisol levels. DHEA plants can sometimes be found growing wild in the woods.




    0
  8. I recently saw a video that said the WHO says people should get at least 15% of calories from fat, and women of reproductive age as well as people with a BMI under 18.5 (underweight) should get at least 20%. Any basis for these claims? People seem to do very well on 10% calories from fat.




    0
    1. Well 15% sounds pretty good and comports with the 10%-15% recommended by studies reviewed by Dr. Greger. But the recommendation for pregnant women puzzles me. I would think that the only real requirement is that pregnant women get sufficient calories to support themselves and their developing child, and can’t see how switching the macronutrient profile would have a beneficial effect.

      Perhaps, WHO, which deals with impoverished areas of the world as well as the more well off areas, is slanting this advice to countries and populations who would have difficulty supply more calories at their normal macronutrient ratios but who could increase calories if they ate more fat. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense either because refined fats as well as high fat foods like nuts and seeds yields fewer calories per acre than do high carbohydrate foods like grains but especially tubers.

      Potatoes can yield up to 35,000 pounds per acre. With a calorie density of 350 per pound, that is over 12 million calories per acre per year! Wheat yields 3660 lbs/acre (60 bushels/acre @ 60 lbs/bushel). A pound of wheat contains 1538 calories/lb, so wheat yields 5.6 million calories per acre.

      Soybeans is a field crop that yields a high percentage of calories from fat. It can yield up to 1680 lbs/acre. At 2,204 calories/lb, soy beans yield 3.4 million calories per acre. If the advice is taken to consume more refined oil the drop in calories per acre is even higher. Soybeans are about 20% by weight fat. So But if you press the oil out, you get about 330 lbs of oil or 4989 grams per acre. Multiply by 9 calories per gram and soybeans grown just to produce oil only yields 1.4 million calories per acre. Now these are values for industrial agriculture and subsistence farming yields are much lower. But yields for all crops would be lower, so the ratio of calories per acre would still hold.

      So telling subsistence farmers to plant a higher percentage of their fields in higher fat crops so that pregnant women could be a higher percentage of their calories from fat would have the effect of lowering the total number of calories their fields yield.




      0
    1. I would love to hear the answer to that question too. I am a WFPB vegan who also lifts heavy weights – essentially a Mark Rippetoe routine based on powerlifting, 3 sets of 5 reps, squats, deadlifts, weighted
      dips and pull ups. I have been supplementing my vegetable and fruit rich diet with vital wheat gluten as a low
      calorie protein source as I am trying to keep my body fat levels low – currently about 8% – while building strength. All I have read so far about plant based proteins seems to be positive but this has always been as an aside in discussing the drawbacks of animal protein and suggesting that c. 10% of calories should come from protein.
      Can anyone point to research about the downsides of a HIGH PROTEIN (maybe 30%) WFPB diet?
      I would love to get your insights please Dr Greger…




      0
  9. Hey guys.
    My doctor have told me to take fishoil, and so far i can understand that it is not the best for the health.
    Is there any other product i can buy with same effect but without the down sides

    Thanks everyone




    0
  10. In the part where they check the children’s cortisol levels, have they adjusted for current rate of meat consumption? Couldn’t the mother eating alot of meat mean that she just taught her child to eat alot of meat, and that’s where the cortisol levels are from?




    0
  11. By serving of meat, do you mean 30g meat/chicken/fish? Also, how much meat do you recommend for a pregnant woman for the entire day to have the lowest cortisol levels, yet reach her total protein needs? THANK YOU! I absolutely love all your videoss!




    0
  12. Is it possible to regulate cortisol by eating a plant based diet? Is a high carb plant based diet the way to go? I am searching everywhere for the best way to lower cortisol and I can’t find an answer. My blood work showed an insanely high cortisol level and I’m at my wits end. I am vegan, so what am I eating that is allowing my cortisol to remain so high?




    0
  13. Hi Brooklyn, I’m one of the site moderators. Cortisol is one of the chemicals your body produces that varies during the day. Make sure you are having the level tested via a blood draw at a reputable lab, at the right time of day. If it is still high then you need a well orchestrated work up to determine that you are producing cortisol from your adrenals based upon normal stimuli. All of the variables that can go in to abnormals values can be extremely complicated and take a long time to sort out. I have a dear friend who had multiple hormonal problems for many, many years resulting in elevated levels. It took a lot of time, effort and multiple doctors to sort it all out and actually as I write this she is having a surgical procedure to correct the problem. I recommend you find a good endocrinologist and get good testing and good advice.




    0
  14. Hi.

    I was just wondering: I’ve had a lot of stress the past years and been feeling really tired, stomach pain and stuff like that for a while now.
    My diet changed a big year ago to plant based and blood tests had shown that my cortisol levels were really low and I now take hydrocortison. The doctor told me I have non classical AGS (adrenogential syndrome) but I thinks it’s more like adrenal fatigue.
    This is all knew for me, I never knew anything about my cortisol levels etc.
    So I was wondering, could it be that because of my plant based diet my cortisol levels are too low?

    Thanks in advance.




    0
  15. Sigrid,

    A few considerations, high stress levels can indeed impact your adrenal function. Typically, I have found clinically that the WFPB diet has a positive response reestablishing better cortisol levels…. however we concurrently also addressed other factors including the GI, immune, environmental and social aspects of stressful circumstances.

    Considering the time frame for your diet change and assuming that your supplementing your diet with both B12 and Vitamin D along with some DHA/EPA, I doubt that the diet is the cause.

    When you evaluate your adrenal system it’s critical to determine the proper cause of the problem. There is a good video training, intended for physicians, that would be an appropriate quick look at what you would need to evaluate to really appreciate what’s going on and resulting in your lower than normal cortisol. You will want to look much further than exclusively focusing on the cortisol. Keep in mind that other factors, such as toxic metals and a host of other environmental inputs can also affect your adrenal function. So cast a wide net when doing your evaluation.

    I used to use hydrocortisone clinically however, I also found multiple issues with withdrawal by the patient, after even a fairly short period of its use. The use of adaptogenic herbal products gave better results, with less issues and no real withdrawal syndromes. As a note I’m referring to products that have the active ingredient/s standardized, at high concentrations.

    Keep up the WFPB diet and supplements, but look at all the other potentials to check if indeed other problems are the cause.

    Dr. Alan Kadish moderator for Dr. Greger http://www.CenterofHealth.com




    0
  16. Ok, what about soy during pregnancy? I have read SO much information (or?) misinformation about soy during pregnancy.. that it is fine, and then other studies saying it’s dangerous for number of reasons due to the phytoestrogens. I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant and have been vegan for about a year. My head is spinning!! I eat soy, only organic when I do, and I have it approx 2-3 times a week. Now I’m freaked about that I’m going to cause some undue harm to my unborn son.. I wish I just had a straight unbiased answer about this!! Would dairy not be even more dangerous, given the ridiculous amounts of actual estrogen present?? Help!!




    0
  17. A recent review of vegan and vegetarian diets (including soy) found them a healthy choice. As ever, we’d advise B12 supplementation if you eat a plant based diet. Your doctor will likely rec a multivitamin with iron also. Also, a recent study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that soy during pregnancy was associated with less depression in the mother during pregnancy. ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) also finds no reason to avoid soy during pregnancy. No freaking out necessary! -Dr Anderson, volunteer




    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This