Nutrition for Pregnancy - Part I
Whether you're currently pregnant (congrats!), or open to the idea of becoming pregnant down the road, it's clear that pre-natal nutrition for both mom and dad has a big influence on baby.
While we can't always plan for everything that life delivers, supporting baby's health truly starts before conception (dads - this means your diet too).
Integrating more clean, fresh, organic whole foods into the diet will help your odds of conceiving, as well as optimize baby's health.
We know that pregnancy can take a major toll on mom's nutrient stores. Here are a few nutrition tips to consider before and during pregnancy:
* Unrefined virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil supports fetal brain development and hormone balance. It also contains energizing, immune-strengthening fats like lauric acid (found in breast milk). Due to its blood sugar balancing effect, it may be helpful in offsetting gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
* Bone broths in soups, sauces and stews. Glycine, an amino acid present in bone broth, contributes to fetal growth and protein synthesis in the fetus. As a conditionally essential amino acid, we're usually able to make enough of it on our own, but during pregnancy it must be obtained through food.
* Saturated fat. Interestingly, nearly half the fatty acids in human breast milk are saturated. Saturated fats also make up almost half of our cell membranes and help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Nutrient-dense whole foods are the best sources of saturated fats (avocado, coconut oil, free-range eggs from pastured chickens). Extra weight gain during pregnancy involves total calories, and studies have shown that saturated fats aren't the culprit here.
* Meat from pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. Pregnant women require a higher daily intake of protein, and clean antibiotic-free sources of animal protein are prime.
* Colourful vegetables and fruits. Getting a vibrant rainbow of fresh produce offers a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and fiber for a healthy pregnancy (not to mention healthy bowel habits). Leafy greens are a rich source of folate, which is crucial in preventing neural tube defects.
* A whole food prenatal supplement containing folate, biotin, choline, vitamins A/D/E/K, and iron. A prenatal DHA supplement also promotes cognitive function and the development of nerves and eyes.
* Probiotics. Building a healthy gut and immune system for baby involves boosting mom's microflora. Although baby's gastrointestinal tract is sterile at birth, more research shows that gut health begins in utero from mom's digestive system. Not only do probiotics help replenish our healthy gut bacteria, they've also been shown to decrease the risk of Group B strep prior to delivery.
Things to avoid:
* Tap water containing fluoride, chlorine and chemicals
* Trans fat (or partially hydrogenated oils)
* Liquid commercial vegetable oils (corn, safflower, sunflower, canola)
* Refined or artificial sweeteners
* White flour and grains
* Modern unfermented soy products (tofu, soy milk)
* Microwaving foods
* GMO's and pesticides in produce & packaged foods (common ones are corn, soy, wheat)
While pregnancy has its own set of unique challenges and surprises, any positive shifts in diet and nutrition can help ease the transition - just ask Chief Caveman Kara McMaster:
I am not going to lie, I definitely encountered some challenges during my pregnancy. I experienced it all, the morning sickness, the swollen feet, mood swings, you name it! Giving up your body for nine months is hard work. My best advice is to be easy on yourself. My top 3 tips for keeping on track:
1. Meal Prep - The first trimester & third trimester you will be tired all the time! This is also a great time to get you geared up for when the baby arrives. Having nutritious food in a pinch is the key!
2. Snacks - Always carry snacks wherever you go in your purse. My go to's where carrot sticks, Nak'd bars, apples & boiled eggs. This is great practice for your future toddler who is always going to be hungry!
3. Know your "go-to" - I had crazy, insane morning sickness. So bad so I had to go on special meds to help keep my food down. My go to was steamed broccoli with salt, pepper & grass fed butter. I loved it, couldn't get enough of it. Be sure to keep lots of your go to in your fridge.
Ensuring both mom and baby are healthy (and happy) is the ultimate goal!
Always consult with your primary healthcare provider before starting a prenatal health or nutrition regimen.
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