Want A Boy? Eat Cereal!
Can a woman really determine whether she will have a boy or a girl? Folk lore offers lots of advice: Indulge in chocolate for a girl. Eat red meat for a boy. Conceive under a full moon to get a girl. Then there's the high-tech option: Fertility clinics offer "sperm sorting" for those willing to go the medical route.
But science has generally dismissed the notion that a woman can boost her chances of having a boy or a girl by what she eats. Well, guess what? A new British study suggests that a woman's diet may play a role after all.
Fiona Mathews of the University of Exeter and her colleagues studied 740 women who were pregnant for the first time.The more calories they consumed in the year before they got pregnant the greater their chances of ending up with a boy. Fifty-six percent of the women who ate the most calories had boys compared to 45 percent of those who consumed the least, the researchers reported this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
When the researchers examined exactly what the women ate, those who tended to eat cereal for breakfast were the most likely to have a boy. That's right: A big bowl of cereal. Same goes for potassium and salt -- providing support for those old wives tales.
All this might sound crazy. But Mathews says there is an evolutionary explanation that makes sense. And it fits with previous research involving other species. Males consume more resources -- they breastfeed and remain dependent on their mothers longer than girls. They also produce more offspring. So if a woman's body senses there's plenty of food around, it might give male sperm an edge during conception and sustain more male fetuses in her womb.
The findings could help explain why fewer boys are being born in many developed countries, including the United States and Britain. Despite the epidemics of obesity in those countries, overall women are consuming fewer calories on average. That's because a lot of women are dieting all the time. And that often means giving up the morning meal.
Now none of this means a woman should gorge if she wants a boy. The amount of food these women in the new study ate was not excessive -- just at the high end of what's recommended.
The take-home message: If you want a boy it can't hurt to eat a good well-balanced high-energy diet, including a potassium-rich banana every day. And don't skip breakfast.
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