Epigenetic diets and metabolic programming have become popular topics in recent years and research has explored the many exogenous factors that influence the epigenetics and therefore health outcome of the offspring into adulthood. Such factors as environmental exposure to pollutants, nutritional exposures that influence the health of the mother and fetus as well as paternal influences have been investigated. Another interesting topic is the transgenerational effects of these exogenous factors, preserving the epigenetic changes of the phenotype into at least two generations. Much of the research to date has focused on perinatal under-nutrition - such as in times of famine - and the relationship to later developing chronic diseases, however over-nutrition is significantly more prevalent than under-nutrition, and the outcomes of the offspring are very similar. The purpose of this review article is to combine the current thoughts on epigenetic influences during pregnancy and provide practical applications in regards to pre-conceptual and perinatal nutrition in order to optimize the positive metabolic outcome of the offspring of the pregnant woman and minimize the predisposition for developing chronic diseases in adulthood.
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