Words can't express how excited I am about the Q&A session I had with Chris Kresser recently. Many of you may be familiar with Chris's work over at The Healthy Skeptic where he writes about important topics like heart disease and cholesterol, depression, thyroid disorders, diabesity (diabetes + obesity) and many more. I decided to ask Chris some questions since he has just recently released his highly anticipated program entitled “The Healthy Baby Code.” This complete at-home, online study course on how to optimally nourish a prenatal and breastfeeding mom and baby will quickly become a must-have and go-to resource for all moms-to-be out there. I know for certain that I will recommend his program to ALL of my clients and friends who are looking to become pregnant and will be following it myself if I choose to have children one day, that's how much I trust Chris's work and advice.
What motivated you to create The Healthy Baby Code?
Two things, primarily. First, a couple years ago my wife and I decided we were ready to have a baby. But like many others, we had difficulty conceiving. We tried a few different things, but months passed and we still hadn’t conceived.
So, being the research nerd that I am, I dove into the scientific literature, talked with specialists in the field and generally learned as much as I possibly could about proper nutrition for fertility. Both of us work in the “holistic health” field, so we had a bias toward finding a natural solution – or at least trying to before we moved on to assisted reproductive technology.
Both of us were already following very good diets, but I think the tweaks we made as a result of my research may have been what led to that happy moment in October of last year, when we found out Elanne was pregnant. She’s now 34 weeks and we’re expecting in mid-July. Of course we’re both ecstatic about that.
The second reason I created The Healthy Baby Code is that, as a health care practitioner and as a future father, I care deeply about the health of our children and of future generations. And there’s nothing more important to the health of our children than proper nutrition during the pre-conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding periods.
I think we all know that, on some level, but during my research I came across a theory called the Developmental Origins Theory. This hypothesis – which is well-accepted in the research community – is that the nutritional environment in the womb affects not only the baby’s health at birth and during early childhood, but also determines his/her lifelong risk of degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The Developmental Origins Theory holds that the 9 months of pregnancy is the most consequential period of our lives, influencing everything from the wiring of the brain to the function of organs like the heart, liver and pancreas. It also suggests that the conditions we encounter in the womb shapes everything from our intelligence & mood to our appetite & metabolism to our immune function.
Once I became fully aware of the Developmental Origins Theory and what it suggests about the importance of proper nutrition during the pre-conception and pregnancy period, I felt an obligation to get this information out there in an accessible format. I see so many women following diets during pregnancy that could be potentially harmful to themselves and their growing baby. My hope is that The Healthy Baby Code will have some positive impact, however small, on the health of future generations.
How is The Healthy Baby Code different from other resources on pregnancy-related nutrition?
First, it’s based on both traditional wisdom and modern research. Both are important, and both can teach us things about health and nutrition that the other can’t.
For example, we can get an idea about what foods are important for supporting a healthy pregnancy by observing what traditional cultures feed mothers and fathers-to-be. These cultures are characterized by high fertility rates and easy – sometimes to the point of seeming effortless – births.
Modern research, on the other hand, can tell us what the exact nutrients are in those foods that are essential, and why. This is important because it’s not always possible to meet nutrient needs through food (even though it’s preferable).
You could say that traditional wisdom gives us the view of the forest, while modern research gives us the view of the trees.
Second, this course is based on a thorough analysis of the most current scientific literature. Most people are surprised to learn that mainstream nutritional recommendations are often based on science that is 30, 40 or even 50 years old. Few doctors actually read the scientific literature, and even fewer take the time necessary to critically analyze the studies.
Third, this course is a start-to-finish solution. It doesn’t just stop with nutritional advice. It includes recommendations for exercise and movement, guided audio programs that help with stress management and reducing the pain and tension often associated with pregnancy, a discussion of how long to breastfeed and why it’s so important, and even a step-by-step method for introducing solid foods to your baby.
Who can use The Healthy Baby Code?
The Healthy Baby Code is for anyone that is thinking of getting pregnant or is currently pregnant or breastfeeding. It’s for both men and women. A little known fact is in cases where a heterosexual couple is having trouble conceiving, male infertility is the cause 40% of the time. So it’s important for men to follow these recommendations as well.
It’s also worth pointing out that the earlier a mother or father-to-be begins following these guidelines, the better chance they’ll have at conceiving naturally, having a smooth and uneventful pregnancy and raising a healthy, vibrant child.
What is the most interesting thing you learned that most people don't know while creating The Healthy Baby Code?
That’s a tough one. I learned so many important things that I think most people – even folks that are already following a Paleo or Primal approach – are unaware of.
I suppose one way to summarize those things would be to say that in this modern age, following a typical Paleo diet is often not enough to meet the increased nutrient requirements of fertility and pregnancy. There are certain nutrients, like vitamin A, folates, vitamin D, iodine and others that are difficult to obtain through food without knowing how to do so.
And in certain cases, it is necessary to supplement. But the problem here is that most pregnancy multivitamins contain too much of the wrong nutrients and not enough of the right ones, or they contain the synthetic rather than the natural forms of the required nutrients (like folic acid instead of tetrahydrofolate, for example).
Why should someone trust the information that you share in The Healthy Baby Code versus other trusted resources?
- Is it consistent with evolutionary biology and what we’ve observed from studying traditional cultures? Humans have evolved over 2.5 million years (77,000 generations) to live, eat and move in a certain way. You could say we’re “hard-wired” to follow a particular diet and lifestyle. If someone makes a recommendation that falls outside of this template, they better be prepared to explain why. For example, back when doctors were saying formula is better than breast milk, someone could have easily discredited that absurd argument simply by pointing out that breast milk is the product of millions of years of evolution, and in that sense is the perfect food for infants. We would not have survived and thrived as we have if that were not the case.
- Is it supported by the most current (and well-designed) scientific literature? Not shoddy science that is 3-4 decades old, but high-quality studies that adhere to the widely established standards of good research methodology.
- Is it supported by my own clinical experience and/or the clinical experience of professionals in the field. Even the best theory is still just a theory until it’s tested out. I think clinicians have an advantage over pure research scientists in this respect, because we’re working “on the ground” with patients every day, and this gives us additional insight into what works and doesn’t work.
Of course the information in The Healthy Baby Code has passed all of these tests with flying colors!
Thanks, Diane, for the opportunity to speak to your readers about this. I’m very passionate about the health of our children, and it’s so important to me that this information get out into the public awareness.
Chris Kresser is a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of integrative medicine. His practice is located in Berkeley, CA.
The Healthy Baby Code is Chris Kresser's comprehensive home-study course covering everything you need to know about natural fertility, pregnancy and health for your baby. Find out more about The Healthy Baby Code code by clicking here.