The hatred of green vegetables starts in the WOMB! Babies smile for carrots but wince for kale

The hatred of green vegetables starts in the WOMB! 4D ultrasounds reveal babies smile when mom eats carrots – but winces when she opts for kale

  • Researchers scanned 100 pregnant women at 32 weeks and 36 weeks
  • Women had a carrot or kale capsule 20 minutes before the scan
  • Results showed babies smiled after carrot but grimaced after kale
  • Findings suggest what pregnant women eat could influence babies’ tastes

While the idea of ​​a salad will thrill some taste buds, for others the idea of ​​chewing on a bowl of vegetables feels more like a punishment.

Now, a study has shown that babies start responding to different flavors while they’re still in the womb.

Researchers at Durham University performed 4D ultrasounds of 100 pregnant women to see how their unborn babies reacted after being exposed to the flavors of foods eaten by their mothers.

The results showed how fetuses smiled soon after their mothers ate carrots – but grimaced when their mothers opted for kale.

The results suggest that what pregnant women eat could influence their babies’ taste preferences after birth.

If so, the findings could have implications for establishing healthy eating habits.

A smiling baby face

Researchers at Durham University performed 4D ultrasounds of 100 pregnant women to see how their unborn babies reacted after being exposed to the flavors of foods eaten by their mothers. Left: neutral baby face, right smiling baby face

When women ate carrots, fetuses tended to smile on the scan (stock image)

When women ate carrots, fetuses tended to smile on the scan (stock image)

Are you a super taster?

To find out if you are a supertaster:

1. Darken your mouth by swirling red wine

2. Take a piece of stationery with holes punched in the margin, which are about 6mm in diameter

3. Make a hole on your tongue and count the number of papillae – small fleshy protrusions – that appear

4. If you have less than 15 you are a non-taster, if you have 15-30 taste buds you are a taste bud and anything over 30 means you are a super-taster

Make a hole on your tongue and count the number of papillae - small fleshy protrusions - that appear

Make a hole on your tongue and count the number of papillae – small fleshy protrusions – that appear

Previous studies have suggested that babies can taste and smell in the womb by inhaling and swallowing amniotic fluid.

However, these studies were based on outcomes after birth.

Instead, researchers tested whether babies can taste in the womb by assessing their reactions to flavors before birth.

The team enrolled 100 pregnant women aged 18 to 40 and performed 4D ultrasounds at 32 weeks and 36 weeks.

The women were given a single capsule 20 minutes before each scan containing either 400mg of carrot or 400mg of kale powder and were instructed not to consume any other foods or flavored drinks that could affect the babies’ reactions.

Meanwhile, some women in a control group had no capsules.

The results revealed that a small amount of carrot or kale flavor was enough to stimulate a reaction in fetuses.

When the women consumed the carrot, the fetuses tended to smile on the scan – but when they consumed the kale capsule, the fetuses tended to grimace.

“It was truly amazing to see the unborn babies’ reaction to the kale or carrot flavors during the scans and to share those moments with their parents,” said lead author Beyza Ustun.

According to Professor Benoist Schaal of the University of Burgundy, co-author of the study, the results suggest that a range of chemical stimuli pass through maternal nutrition into the fetal environment.

A neutral baby

A grimacing baby

The results revealed that a small amount of carrot or kale flavor was enough to stimulate a reaction in fetuses. Left: a netural baby, right: a grimacing baby

When the women consumed the kale capsule, the fetuses tended to grimace (stock image)

When the women consumed the kale capsule, the fetuses tended to grimace (stock image)

“This could have important implications for our understanding of the development of our taste and smell receptors, and the associated perception and memory,” he said.

The results suggest that what pregnant women eat could influence their babies’ taste preferences after birth.

“As a result, we believe that this repeated exposure to flavors before birth could help establish food preferences after birth, which could be important when thinking about messaging around healthy eating and the possibility of avoid ‘food fuss’ when weaning, Miss Ustun added.

The team have now started a follow-up study with the same babies after birth, to see if their reactions to food in the womb are the same now.

Professor Jackie Bliessett of Aston University, co-author of the study, concluded: “It could be argued that repeated exposures to prenatal flavors may lead to preferences for flavors experienced after birth.

“In other words, exposing the fetus to less ‘liked’ flavors, such as kale, could mean that it becomes accustomed to those flavors in utero.”

“The next step is to examine whether fetuses show fewer ‘negative’ responses to these flavors over time, leading to greater acceptance of these flavors when babies first taste them outside the womb. .”

MICROBIOME: DOES IT CONTROL EVERYTHING?

Researchers now estimate that a typical human body is made up of around 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion bacteria.

These are essential for harvesting energy from our food, regulating our immune function and keeping the lining of our gut healthy.

Interest and knowledge about the microbiota has recently exploded, as we now recognize how essential they are to our health.

A healthy, balanced microbiome helps us break down food, protects us from infections, trains our immune system, and makes vitamins, such as K and B12.

It also sends signals to our brain that can affect mood, anxiety and appetite.

Imbalances in the gut are increasingly linked to a range of conditions. Last year, scientists at the California Institute of Technology discovered the first-ever link between the gut and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The composition of our gut microbiota is partly determined by our genes but can also be influenced by lifestyle factors such as our diet, alcohol consumption and exercise, as well as medications.

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