Pregnancy and Nutrition

What a pregnant woman eats in the first few days after conceiving could have an important impact on the health of her child, according to a report in New Scientist magazine  Wednesday. A woman’s diet can affect whether her child will suffer health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes later in life because an embryo programs its rate of development according to its environment.”Now a team led by Tom Fleming of the University of Southampton (in England) suggests that programming may take place in the four or five days following fertilization, before the embryo even implants in the womb,” the weekly magazine said.The researchers fed rats a low-protein diet for four and a quarter days after they mated, the normal time between conception and implantation, and a normal diet for the remainder of their pregnancy.

Female rats born to the mothers had low birth weights but went through a spurt before reaching a normal weight. The males were born with an average weight but had abnormal growth patterns and developed enlarged kidneys, high blood pressure and small livers. “When the team took early embryos from mother rats on the restricted diet and counted their cells, they found  that these embryos had fewer cells than expected because they had gone through fewer divisions,” the magazine added. The researchers think the mother’s nutrition affects how the embryo’s genes are expressed. The same could apply to humans, they say.

The importance of proper nutrition

The importance of proper nutrition before and during pregnancy has been well documented for a long time. It has been shown that adequate intake of nutrients can prevent birth defects, result in a healthier baby and mother, and also an easier pregnancy and birth.

A lesser known fact is that the your generic pregnancy vitamins are not adequate, most are imbalanced, and many are harmful due to significantly high amounts of iron (ferrous sulphate), and other inorganic and poorly bioavailable sources of vitamins and minerals. Do not take them. The modern day pregnancy pill can lead to morning sickness (due to large doses of toxic iron ferrous sulphate) and miscarriage. It is no secret that taking “pregnancy vitamins” make many women suffer from nausea. Nausea and vomiting is the body’s way of defense. The body is trying to protect the baby from harm, and is telling you to stop taking toxic substances.(1) (See Chart)

The best would be to get all your nutrients from the food you are eating. This takes some planning and preparation, and you would be wise to include freshly pressed vegetable juices, wheat grass juice, herbal teas and fresh, nourishing herbs, and ‘natural’ supplements such as chlorella, spirulina, and flax seed oil. Eat only organic, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and protein preferably from vegetarian sources. Try to eat 70% or more of your food ‘raw’. Raw foods have all the nutrients intact, and are filled with enzymes (life giving force) for proper digestion.

Unfortunately, many of us are deficient in one nutrient or another, and need to “catch up”. This is usually due to high intakes of sugar, refined foods, poor soil (which the vegetables grow in), and a lack of a varied diet.(2,3,4) If you know you are deficient in one nutrient or another (most of us are), it is wise to supplement.

When supplementing with vitamins or minerals, hopefully in addition to your ‘perfect’ diet ;-), it is very important that the vitamins and minerals you take are well absorbed. We have listed the most bioavailable sources of each vitamin and mineral, and the least toxic. Even if you use supplements, you will benefit from having an excellent diet. Don’t think you can get every nutrient you need from pills! (See Chart)

Calcium

(as calcium hydroxyapatite-calcium citrate is also acceptable). 1000mg of this every day, but your needs may vary. Take calcium with vitamin D3 to enhance absorption.

Magnesium

(as magnesium asporotate or aspartate)1000mg of magnesium daily.

Selenium

(as L(+)selenomethionine with Bioperine to enhance absorption): Take a supplement of 50mg a day right now. Toxic in high doses.

Iodine

Kelp is very rich in iodine. It can be used as a seasoning instead of salt. You can also get iodine from iodinized seasalt.

Chromium

(as chromium picolinate) 100-200mcg daily. Best absorbed when taken with cobalt.

Zinc

(as zinc gluconate) 75mg daily.

Iron

Make sure you get what iron you need from the food you eat. If you are very low on iron, consider taking a natural supplement like “Herbal Iron” by Nature Works or Floradix.

Vitamin B Complex

B-100 complex daily.

Vitamin E

(as d-alpha tocopherol) 400 to 600IU a daily.

Vitamin C

(as calcium ascorbate): 1000mg of vitamin C daily.

Vitamin K

If you have problems with hemorrhaging, you might want to consider taking a low dose of vitamin K at the end of your pregnancy. It is also present in dark green leafy vegetables.

Chlorella

An amazing nutrient! It contains high amounts of RNA/DNA (for cellular regeneration), vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and is the world’s richest source of chlorophyll! A wonderful blood builder and healer.

Flax seed oil

Most potent vegetarian source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Important for development of the brain. 1-2 tablespoons daily.

Alfalfa

Rich in vitamins A, D, E, B12, and calcium, phosphorus, chlorophyll, and iron. tones the uterus and nourishes with vitamins and minerals. 2-3 cups daily. Or you can make a tea from 2 parts red raspberry leaves, 1 part comfrey, and 1 part alfalfa. These are all nourishing herbs. A quart of this daily helps tone the uterus, nourish the body, and helps prevent postpartum hemorrhage.(3)
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Foods (or nonfoods) to avoid when pregnant:

MSG: (monosodium glutamate or hydrolyzed vegetable protein) Unnatural, high in inorganic salt. May trigger water retention.(5)

Wax on fruits and vegetables: It is common to see fruits and vegetables in stores coated with wax to create a shine. The FDA has approved the wax safe, but the problem lies beneath as harmful pesticides and fungicides are sealed within the wax. Wash vegetables and fruits real well or try eating organic produce instead. (5)

Caffeine: Increases heart rate, and puts the fetus at risk for growth retardation and miscarriage.(5)

Alcohol: It has been linked to congenital malformations.(5)

Refined and processed foods: Your baby needs all the nutrition he can get. “Un-whole” foods leach nutrients from the body, and cause constipation and digestive problems. Eat natural, pure, fresh, and whole foods.(2)

Artificial additives and preservatives: Don’t overtax your body with these. Your body already has enough to do while pregnant. Many artificial additives and preservatives cause food sensitivities and allergies in babies.(2)

Certain herbs (first trimester): Basil, blue and black cohosh, caraway seeds, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, comfrey, ephedra, goldenseal, ma-huang, mistletoe, pennyroyal, shepherds purse, wild yam, and yarrow should not be taken during the first trimester. Ginger in moderation only for morning sickness. According to Margie Profet, ginger in the first trimester is not safe.(1)

Iron supplementation: Iron (that is not from food) should be avoided during the first trimester. It can cause morning sickness and miscarriage.(1)

Excessive dairy Products: Babies who are born to mothers who drink excessive milk have more difficulty breathing at birth due to too much mucus in the airways. The saying that you cannot get enough calcium without milk is a myth. Where do cows get their calcium from – Not Milk!(3)

All drugs and medications

Smoking should be avoided at ALL Costs!

References:

1.Pregnancy Sickness by Margie Profet
2.Food Healing for Man by Bernard Jensen
3.Polly’s Birth Book; Obstetrics for the Home by Polly Block
4.Optimum Sports Nutrition by Michael Colgan
5. Fit Pregnancy, Spring, 1997.