As I continue my nutrition studies, I have really taken more of an interest in the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy. Not only because good nutrition, can usually prevent early physical degeneration, but more of my pregnant friends and many pregnant women in my neighborhood
have asked me for prenatal nutritional advice and guidance simply because their doctors do not provide them with this type of information. (Crazy to think, huh?) When a woman is pregnant, she is not simply carrying a baby, she is manufacturing one. This is why firmly believe that all pregnant women should get nutritional guidance throughout their pregnancy as the most important step to take in order grow a healthy baby.
The key to success is to be smart enough to accept the fact that you can simply not be an expert in everything. That’s why when it comes to prenatal nutrition, I wanted to direct you to some advice from Julie Matthews, Certified Nutrition Consultant specialized in healthy pregnancy. Julie also offers a comprehensive home study course on Nutrition for Healthy Pregnancy. In this post, I wanted to share a guide to healthy pregnancy that I learned from Julie.
Good nutrition during pregnancy and throughout life can change gene expression for the positive. There are plenty of nutrients that are essential for healthy pregnancy, but also keep in mind that what we don’t eat may have as much of an influence on the pregnancy as what we do eat. Here are a few essential tips to stack the deck in your favor.
Essential Nutrients During Pregnancy
- Folate - Folate, also called folic acid or folacin, is a B vitamin that is so important to the prevention of neural tube defects. It plays a critical role in making new cells and in making hemoglobin in red blood cells. It is recommend that ALL woman of childbearing age get enough folic acid - 400 micrograms from a synthetic source such as a multivitamin. Food sources include black-eyed peas, spinach, asparagus, green peas and broccoli. Keep in mind that folic acid can be destroyed by cooking, so prepare vegetables in as little water as possible for as short a the as possible.
- Vitamin A - Essential for the prevention of birth defects. Needed for optimum development of infants and children. Vitamin A is found in high concentrations in cod liver oil, fish eggs, grass fed beef, and wild salmon. Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil contains an easily usable form of Vitamin A.
- Vitamin K - Plays an important role in growth and facial development, normal reproduction, and development of healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin K can be found in cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, and grass fed beefs.
- Vitamin D - A very common deficiency in pregnant woman. Vitamin D is essential for fertility, proper development of the brain and immune system. Decreased Vitamin D levels increase the risk of preterm labor, heath of the baby, and deficiency has been linked with autism. The ideal amount is 1,000-4,000 IU for pregnancy. According to Dr. Sears, he recommends 5,000 IU’s for nursing women who are deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D can be obtained from the sunlight, cod liver oil, and wild salmon.
- Vitamin E - Important during all stages of pregnancy and even helps to prevent miscarriage. Vitamin E can be found in avocados, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, and almonds.
- Iodine - Iodine is essential for fetal brain and nervous system development. A study recently published in The Lancet provides evidence that mild iodine deficiency in pregnancy may be a factor in a child's IQ later in life. In the U.S., pregnant women are advised to get 220 micrograms of iodine a day, while breastfeeding women should aim for 290 micrograms a day. One simple way to ensure you get enough iodine is to check your prenatal vitamin – make sure it provides about 150 micrograms. Sea Vegetables are also a great natural source of iodine.
- Probiotics - Good bacteria is essential for our health, digestive function, immune system, and fertility. Why is this good for baby? Good flora balance helps the mother pass good bacteria to the infant during vaginal birth. Probiotics, ensure good bacteria in the baby and helps keep yeast in check during pregnancy. Consider a supplement or raw sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kubmucha, nut milk yogurt, milk-based yogurt.
What to Avoid During Pregnancy:
- Processed foods: Processed foods are devoid of nutrients and rob the body of essential nutrients, particularly when you are pregnant because you need to consume food with nutrients readily available to the baby.
- Artificial additives: deplete body of important nutrients and process all the junk out and really deplete the nutrients you need of a day by day basis. Food additives can cause hyperactivity, inattentiveness, aggression, irritability, headaches, pain, trigger asthma, are addictive.
- Pesticides: Pesticides are chemicals that mimic hormones and can have a huge cost to fertility. In studies, people in areas with high pesticide use had more infertility, premature births, and children with fine and gross motor delays.
Other Key Ingredients to avoid:
- Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Trans Fat
- Sodium Nitrate (Found in processed meats )
The key here is to eat REAL foods and don’t fill yourself up with empty calories. Eat Grass Fed Meat, Organic whenever possible, and consume foods that are nutritionally superior.