A father’s diet before conception can impact their newborn’s health, a study claims.
Researchers found that a low carbohydrate and high protein diet by the father will help the child’s healthier once they are born.
Experiments were performed on fruit flies and the results showed offspring were less likely to survive if their fathers consumed a poor diet of high carbs and low protein.
The insects were used because they have 60 percent of human genes, 75 percent of which cause diseases.
Doctors long have stressed the importance of good nutrition for expectant mothers, but the latest findings suggest the father’s diet plays a similar role in a baby’s health.
A father’s diet matters before conception of their child, a study claims. Researchers studied fruit flies and how their diet impacted their offspring. They found that the offspring was healthier if the father ate a low carb and high protein diet (file photo)
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, mated male fruit flies with females after they altered their diet.
Since fruit flies share similar genes to that of humans, the researchers believe the impacts of the bugs’ diet would correlate with that of men.
The study claims that men who want to become fathers should have a diet consisting of fish, meat, vegetables and fruit while cutting out pasta, rice and white bread.
Sugary foods such as sweets, cakes and biscuits should also be avoided.
Professor Michal Polak, biologist at the University of Cincinnati, said: ‘In many species, the moms do a lot of the care. So we expect there to be an effect from maternal diet on offspring because of that strong link. But it was a real surprise to find a link between paternal diet and offspring.’
The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, comes at a time when researchers are learning more about other influences men have on babies’ health that are not necessarily coded within genes, a concept called epigenetics.
These influences include direct environmental effects such as exposure to toxins that can be passed from the father to his offspring through his semen.
In many species, the moms do a lot of the care. So we expect there to be an effect from maternal diet on offspring because of that strong link. But it was a real surprise to find a link between paternal diet and offspring
Professor Michal Polak, biologist at the University of Cincinnati
Environmental cues can turn certain genes on or off. These epigenetic modifications, too, can be inherited.
During the experiment, female fruit flies were fed the same diet while males had different ones consisting of yeast and sugars.
The insects could eat all they wanted from the mixture in the bottom of their glass beaker homes, but the quality of the food varied from low to high concentrations of proteins, carbohydrates and calories.
After 17 days on the strict diet, the males were mated with two females.
The results found that embryos were more likely to survive if they had a father with a high protein and low carb diet.
Mortality was highest for offspring of males given a high carbohydrate, low protein diet.
Researchers also found a connection between the male’s body condition and his offspring’s mortality.
Males with lower energy reserves measured in whole body fatty acids, glucose and protein were more likely to have fewer surviving offspring.
‘There have been a fair number of studies that suggest male nutrition does affect reproductive capacity,’ said Professor Joshua Benoit, assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati.
These findings demonstrate the impact a male’s health can also have on its offspring.