Nutritional and metabolic programming during the first thousand days of life
Authors: Massimo Agosti, Francesco Tandoi, Laura Morlacchi, Angela Bossi
The latest scientific acquisitions are demonstrating what has already been hypothesized for more than twenty years about the development of the state of health/illness of individuals. Indeed, certain stimuli, if applied to a sensible phase of development, are able to modify, through epigenetic mechanisms, gene expression of DNA, resulting in adaptive modifications of phenotype to the environment, which may reflect negatively on the health of every individual. This concept, applied to nutrition, has opened up important prospects for research in this area. The nutritional history of an individual, linked to the development of a healthy state, would begin very early. In fact, since the pregnancy and for the next two years (for a total of about 1000 days), the maternal eating habits, the type of breastfeeding and then the main stages of nutrition in the evolutionary phase represent those sensitive moments, essential for the development of important endocrine, metabolic, immunological alterations, better known as metabolic syndrome. This condition would represent the physiopathogenetic basis for explaining a series of disorders, known as non communicable diseases (NCDs) such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascolar disease and all those conditions that today affect the health of most industrialized countries and through the years are emerging especially in developing countries (South America, Asia), where new environmental conditions and increased food availability are changing food habits, with far-reaching public health impacts. This paper analyzes these new nutritional perspectives and the main implications of what has been termed the 1000-day theory.