Real Food for Pregnancy
Growing a human is one of the most amazing things our bodies accomplish in its lifetime. Perhaps the coolest thing about it is, though, that very little thought needs to go into the act. After conception, a mother can go about her daily life paying little attention to her growing fetus and still create a fully functioning human. However, a general misconception most women have is that once pregnancy has been established, there is little that can be done to impact the growth and health of the baby, that genetically speaking the baby is going to be what it is.
I am here to tell you that this is only partly true.
Yes, humans are wired to reproduce correctly, even when conditions are not optimal. However, the things that are within a mother’s control during pregnancy—diet, exercise, sleep habits, stress, toxin exposure—can have significant effects on the pregnancy and can leave permanent imprints on the baby’s health. Inadequate nutrition during pregnancy can impair proper development and lead to lifelong metabolic changes that increase the risk of disease. By focusing on proper nutrient intake during pregnancy, not only can a mother create a better blueprint for her growing baby but also her future grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
So why real food? Modern nutrition tends to isolate and study single nutrients instead of whole foods. This is why a prenatal is suggested to most pregnant women—it takes individual ingredients and puts it into one capsule. Food and nutrients works synergistically, though, so why not look at how foods work together in conjunction with the proper function of the human body? In a nutshell, read food is made with simple ingredients that are as close to nature as possible and not processed in a way that removes nutrients. Below are some key points and suggestions to look for when choosing healthy, real foods.
- Do we really need to “eat for two” when pregnant? No, not really. Overall caloric intake only increases by a small amount so think about eating for 1.1. What does increase is the need for vitamin A, folate, vitamin B12, choline, iron, and iodine.
- Carbohydrates are the only thing that raise your blood sugar. Prioritize carbs that are nutrient dense and low on the glycemic index to help prevent a spike in blood sugar and unnecessary weight gain.
- Protein is the building blocks of human life! Every cell contains protein and is essential for new cell growth both for mom and baby.
- A body’s need for fat-soluble vitamins goes up during pregnancy. A baby’s brain is made up of 60% fat, and that fat needs to come from somewhere.
- Water is essential for maintaining good circulation, which brings nutrients to baby and removes waste products. Aim for 100oz per day.
- As a woman increases their water intake, electrolyte (including salt) consumption must increase as well. Electrolytes are necessary for cell and body function, and low salt intake can worsen blood sugar and insulin resistance.
In keeping with the theme of eating “real food” during pregnancy, there are certain foods that provide essential vitamins and nutrients to both mom and baby. Listed below you will find a list of whole food choices that any expecting mama should add to their diet. These are foods that build a healthy baby!
- Eggs: high in protein and contain large amounts of choline which is needed for fetal brain development and lifelong memory enhancement. Choose eggs from pasture-raised chickens for the highest quality protein and fat content.
- Liver: often described as nature’s multivitamin, liver is rich in almost every vitamin and mineral that modern nutrition has identified so far. It is the single richest source of iron, and also contains folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin A. Seek liver from healthy, pasture-raised animals.
- Bone Broth: the bone, skin, and connective tissues of animals are rich in protein, collagen, gelatin, glycine and minerals. When simmered, it creates an electrolyte beverage like Gatorade.
- Leafy Greens: nutritional powerhouses that are concentrated in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are the most abundant source of folate. All the nutrients in vegetables are fat-soluble, meaning they are best absorbed when consumed with healthy fat.
- Salmon and Fatty Fish: fish consumption in pregnancy is directly correlated to higher childhood IQ and communication skills. Be mindful to avoid king mackerel, tilefish and shark to avoid high levels of mercury; however, fish also contain selenium which binds with mercury and prevents it from exerting its toxic effects.
- Full-Fat and Fermented Dairy Products: significant source of K2, which is not widely available in our diets. This vitamin is essential for growth of the fetal skeleton, and maintaining the mother’s skeletal bone density. It also helps to increase insulin sensitivity, helping to maintain normal blood sugar through pregnancy.
So there you have it. Eat real, whole food to help support a healthy baby and set yourself up for a wonderful pregnancy.
Chiropractic Health & Wellness offers a holistic approach to health and wellness. Once your child is born we recommend pediatric chiropractic care to get an edge on healthy child health development. Reach out to us today to see how we can help!