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Posted on: January 24, 2019 at 8:59 pm
Last updated: February 6, 2019 at 4:21 pm

You are what your mother eats.

…or so they say. Women have tried since the dawn of time to influence the sex of their child. It’s not a new thing to want a boy and try to make sure you have a boy. Moms all over the world have done everything from drinking milk for girls to eating bananas for boys. Well, according to an, albeit, older 2008 study, eating bananas before conception can increase your chances of having a boy. Ok, so it’s not just about bananas specifically, but about the nutrients they contain. We know this sounds a little crazy and we aren’t the only ones. Not everyone in the scientific community agrees. 

Diets high in potassium and calories increase the chances of having a boy

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The study, led by Fiona Mathews gives a correlation between high potassium diets and conceiving male children. As published in the Royal Society B, 740 pregnant British women participated in the research. The scientists collected information on all their diet plans in the year before conception, especially in the 28-day cycle period. All women were completely unaware of the sex of their babies. At the end of the study, it was discovered that most women carrying male children followed pre-conception diet plans high in potassium and energy. Bananas are widely known as one of the highest natural sources of potassium.

It was also observed that 59% of the women who had boys consumed cereals every day in the year before conception. A theory suggested that high energy influences the speed of the sperm cells. It is said that sperm cells carrying the male-determinant Y-chromosome are faster swimmers (this fact is still under investigation). It takes some time for sperm cells to reach the eggs, and they absorb nutrients from the uterine fluids. They take in the high energy from cereal consumption and this propels them to reach the ovum faster than the X-carriers.

“It’s well known in IVF clinics that if you have high glucose concentrations in cell culture, it favors survival of male blastocysts,” says Dr. Mathews.

Good nutrition fosters a win-win situation

One medium-sized banana contains 442mg of potassium, 30grams of carbs and 110 calories. Bananas aren’t just good for ensuring a boy is conceived. They should also be consumed during the gestation period. Bananas are also a good source of folic acid, which helps to prevent preterm birth and the occurrence of neural tube defects. A medium-sized banana has about 24mcg of folic acid, which is about 6% of the recommended daily allowance.

The reverse is the case if you want a girl

If eating bananas makes you more likely to have a boy, then not eating them might increase your chances of having a girl. The scientists also discovered that women who skipped breakfast before conception were more likely to have girls. This is not a viable option though. Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day, and shouldn’t be glossed over.

During the course of the study, another sex-selection myth was debunked. Drinking cartons and cartons of milk before conception doesn’t increase your chances of having a girl. Calcium is actually suspected to contribute to the conception of boys.

Newer evidence doesn’t make the same connection

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It should be noted that this is an older study. While it’s not definitive that an adequate preconception diet will or will not influence the outcome, there is certainly some doubt. For instance, a 2010 study that examined this finding was unable to replicate the association. A more recent, 2018 study also stated,

“It can be concluded that there are not enough publications regarding the effect of maternal nutrition on the sex of the child in the literature. Accordingly, more researches are warranted.”

The Bottom Line? 

If you eat bananas regularly the year before conception, there is some evidence that seems to suggest it could it could help influence the sex of a child, however, newer evidence is casting doubt. In the end, a diet rich in healthfully sourced calories and potassium is healthy for all of us, mother and child included. It’s important to note that there are always exceptions. Simply eating or avoiding bananas doesn’t guarantee a boy or a girl. It’s not okay to purposely restrict calories or to avoid certain important nutrients. While this study was interesting, in the end, our children are gifts and we shouldn’t have to favor either of the sexes.

  1. Fiona Mathews et al. 2008, April 22. You are what your mother eats: evidence for maternal preconception diet influencing fetal sex in humans. Retrieved from https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2008.0105
  2. Admin. No date available. What foods are rich in potassium? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-rich-in-potassium#1
  3. Yvonne Miranda. 2018, September 20. Health benefits of eating bananas during pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/evewoman/article/2001296132/10-health-benefits-of-eating-bananas-during-pregnancy
  4. Sarah Weinberg. 2017, June 30. That Wives’ Tale About Pregnant Women And Bananas Might Actually Be True. Retrieved from https://www.delish.com/food-news/news/a54061/wives-tale-pregnancy-eating-bananas/
  5. Nutrition Data. No date available. Bananas, raw. Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1846/2
  6. Zhang Q et al. 2017. Effect of folic acid supplementation on preterm delivery and small for gestational age births: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27856370
  7. CDC. No date available. Folic acid helps prevent some birth defects. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/folicacidbenefits/index.html
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20504173
  9. http://www.ijwhr.net/pdf/pdf_IJWHR_223.pdf
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Stacy Robertson
Writer and researcher
Stacy Robertson is a writer and researcher with a B.A and an M.A in English Studies, and a strong will to literally touch all areas of life especially health by her own chosen form of artistic expression. Stacy has authored several articles on a range of different topics concerning nutrition plans and diet benefits for different kinds of people.

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