What does good nutrition really look like in pregnancy?
If you asked me what makes the biggest difference in pregnancy for the health of the mom and baby I would say NUTRITION. Yet, this is not a priority for most care providers. So many times I have heard women say their care provider said, ”It does not matter what you eat as long as you eat enough”. There is great confusion over what is nutrition, what actually provides health to the body. I do a food journal with each woman I walk through pregnancy and so often I hear, “I eat healthy,” to find they are eating Cheerios for breakfast. Yes, they may be organic and gluten free but there is no nourishment here. Cheerios are dead, processed, and in my mind not food, just calories. Yes, organic is important and gluten free is helpful to lots of people, but what is really important is to eat real foods.
Why is Nutrition Important?
- It is KEY to a healthy pregnancy
- It expands blood volume
- It give nutrition and oxygen to baby
- It builds healthy tissues
- It provides energy and vitality
- It prevents Anemia (Anemia often means low energy, low oxygen to baby, longer labors, postpartum depression, difficulty nursing)
- It gives the correct nutrients for healthy development of the baby.
What does Nutrition look like- a quick overview?
- Fresh and raw vegetables and fruit every day
- Some good protein
- Not too much dairy, but good quality dairy
- Good whole food vitamins
- Water, water, water
What to eat?
Aim to eat a large salad full of fresh vegetables every day.
Drink fresh vegetable juice every day. This is one of the best ways to support your nutrition, pregnant or not.
Salt your food liberally to taste with sea salt or Himalayan salt. You need salt for blood expansion and to prevent edema. Eat at least ½ tsp. good quality salt a day, but more is fine. The belief that you need to limit salt intake in pregnancy has a good deal to do with the quality of the salt and a lack of understand of physiology of pregnancy.
Take a digestive enzyme. In this culture most women come to me with unhealthy guts and poor digestion. They need to take a digestive enzyme to be able to absorb the nutrients from the food they are eating. It is pointless to eat food and not be getting nutrients from it.
Probiotics are super important all the time but even more so in pregnancy as the woman’s gut will determine the health of the vaginal passage and the foundation of the baby’s immune system.
Vitamin E--- at least 1,000 mg per day either from a good supplement or from food sources which include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, and pecans.
Bioflavanoids strengthen tissues. These give foods color and taste and are very medicinal. Food sources are blueberries, cherries, citrus fruits, pears, plums, grapes, cabbage, legumes, and onions. I recommend taking vitamin C with bioflavonoids in the last trimester of pregnancy to strengthen your amniotic sac.
Omega 3s and Omega 6s. Great sources of these are nuts and seeds, cold pressed oils, beans, and fish.
I especially recommend taking fermented cod liver oil. I like the raw butter and fermented cod liver oil mix from Green Pasture. Take 1 ¼ tsp. a day of this rich nutrient.
Hydration is very important. Make sure you are drinking enough water through out the day. Also, red raspberry leaf tea near the end of pregnancy will give your tissue more health and elasticity.
Please take good prenatal vitamins. Whole food vitamins provide the best nutrition the body can use to the mother and baby. Yes, they are expensive, but you get what you pay for. Throw away your synthetic vitamins. If you can’t afford whole food vitamins, all the more reason to eat well and juice. Here are the vitamins I recommend. Pregnancy Resources.
Protein is very important in pregnancy
- Protein is the building material of all structures of the body.
- Raw sources of protein are the easiest and most energy efficient for the body to break down.
- Animal source protein is difficult for the body to break down and consumes lots of energy.
- There are 23 amino acids- 8 essential and 22 non essential. An essential amino acid is one that the body does not manufacture. A complete protein is one that contains all 8 essential amino acids
- Here is a list of non animal complete proteins: Almonds, Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Pecans, Brazil Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Bean Sprouts, Dates, Coconuts, Bananas, Tomatoes, Okra, Squash, Alfalfa Sprouts, Broccoli, Carrots, Cabbage, Eggplant, Spirulina, Blue Green Algae.
It is recommended to get 80-100 grams of protein daily in a pregnancy with a single baby. Please understand protein, is only used well in the body if the women is getting enough calories. If calorie intake is low, the protein will be burned for energy instead of building. If calories are good quality and ample then only 20% of protein needs to be complete (so about 30 g). The rest can be incomplete proteins. This is why I don’t push complete protein on pregnant women. Quality is more important than quantity.
Nutritious foods in pregnancy grow a healthy baby, give you energy, and prepare you for labor. I believe it is the number one factor that influences the health of a pregnancy. Don’t’ underestimate the power of eating real food to grow a healthy baby and have a good labor.
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