Nutritional Support for Pregnancy

Life has been pretty exciting lately. Major highlight: my best friend of over 2 decades is expecting! It’s such a trip. I’ve had other friends have children over the last decade or so, but nothing has felt quite like this. We grew up together, shared so many experiences together, and have become so close. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been about it, and it’s inspired me to post some tips for all the mamas-to-be out there. During your pregnancy, eating healthy is more important than ever, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Nutrients

  • Quality Protein: Most women need around 80 grams of protein every day for a healthy pregnancy. It’s literally the building blocks for you and your baby.
  • Healthy Fats: Consuming adequate fats is absolutely vital to baby’s organ and brain development. Also a fat-rich diet will help to reduce stretch marks!
  • Vegetables and Fruits: Vegetables and fruits have a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are helpful during pregnancy. Eating a varied diet including lots of green leafy vegetables can also help raise Vitamin K levels.
  • Water: A woman’s blood volume increases during pregnancy, and her body needs to supply fluid to replenish the amniotic fluid the baby is in. Drinking enough water (around a gallon a day) can help fight off morning sickness and also helps prevent constipation and make sure mom and baby are properly hydrated.
  • Probiotics: Best obtained from fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha. Babies are born with a sterile gut and rely on mom’s bacteria to get them going. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. We are only cracking the surface as to what our bacteria does for us (help digest food, create nutrients, send messages to our nervous system) . There are some major medical conditions out there (autism being one of them) that are linked to poor gut bacteria.
  • Omega-3s, DHA, RHA– Adequate good fats are absolutely essential for baby’s development. You can find them in cold water fatty fish like salmon, fresh tuna, or sardines, as well as chia, flax or hemp seeds. It can be hard to to get enough from diet on a regular basis, so you may want to supplement with Cod Liver Oil which also contains vitamin A & D (find a reputable brand).
  • Folate– Well known for its preventative effects against spina bifida and other developmental struggles, folate is another important supplement. Some foods rich in folate are lentils, broccoli, avocado & dark leafy greens.
  • Iron– Anemia can cause serious complications during delivery, and is easy to prevent. You can take a high quality supplement or try cooking with cast iron pans, eating red meat/grass fed liver, beans, pumpkin seeds, molasses and dark leafy greens to help optimize iron levels.
  • Vitamin D – Important for development, you can supplement or get it through sunlight, red meat, fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese, or egg yolks.

Foods

  • Chia & Hemp Seeds: Great sources of Omega 3, fiber, fat, and protein. Will also help keep your colon cleared out, making room for your baby/reducing discomfort.
  • Berries (especially blueberries): Rich in antioxidants, which are important during pregnancy because they reduce oxidative stress. They’re also low in sugar – Bonus!
  • Leafy Greens: Lots of what you need is packed into these foods. They’re rich in folate, easily digested fiber, high in antioxidants, calcium, iron, and much more.
  • Avocados: High in healthy fats, fiber, B-vitamins (including folate), calcium & potassium
  • Lentils: High in protein, fiber and iron!
  • Pumpkin seeds: High in B-vitamins (especially folate), calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and much more!
  • Sauerkraut: A tablespoon or 2 daily would be a fantastic source of probiotics.  It’s high in fiber, as well as vitamin A, C, K, and B vitamins. It’s also a good source of iron, manganese, copper, sodium, magnesium, and calcium, in addition to contributing a moderate amount of protein to your diet. It’s super easy to make too!

A quick word about supplements

Supplements are not regulated. Many of them are synthetic/unnatural and so the bio-availability is highly questionable. It’s always better to get your nutrition from real, whole food. But life is not perfect, I get it. I take fish oil daily, B vitamins when life is extra busy and multi-vitamins when I don’t make the best food choices. If you decide to supplement, please take a moment to research the brand you’re buying from; don’t buy blindly.

Nutrition Aside..

It’s important to do whatever you can to embody wellness as you start to prepare for the arrival of this tiny human. Some suggestions would be:

  • Take the time to make space (mentally, emotionally & physically)
  • Prioritize sufficient down time & relaxation
  • Get a massage (or give yourself one)
  • Check out some prenatal yoga classes
  • Connect with your baby (touch your belly, talk to them)
  • Download the “I’m expecting” app, which provides you with info on what stages your baby is at, and what food is a comparable size (My friend’s is currently the size of an onion!)
  • Build your support system. Friends and family (bonus if there’s someone who’s been through their own pregnancy, Midwives, and Doulas. Here are some Doula packages my friend Elizabeth Foster offers.

Last but not least, take it all in and enjoy the journey! What a beautiful thing it is to create life♥

The Importance of a Balanced Microbiome

80-85% of our immunity is located in our gut wall. Our microbiome is like the right hand of our immune system. If it’s compromised, then your immune system is left to do it’s job with one hand tied behind it’s back. On top of that, exposure to a whole host of toxic by-products from the opportunistic bacteria that is now dominating your gut keeps your immune system fighting an uphill battle. Eventually the gut becomes damaged and leaky, allowing invaders and undigested food to escape the gut and enter your blood stream – which your immune system also has to deal with, in addition to being malnourished, compromised, unbalanced and intoxicated. This is also how many allergies/intolerances develop. Good news is once you restore a healthy balance, those allergies/intolerances often disappear!

Here are some key reasons we must support our beneficial bacteria

1-Our healthy indigenous gut bacteria can neutralize many toxic substances (like nitrates, indoles, phenols etc), as well as chelating heavy metals and other poisons.

2-Antibiotics wipe out good and bad bacteria, but leave some microbes untouched (like Candida) allowing it opportunity to overgrow

3-Without protection from a health layer of beneficial bacteria, we become vulnerable to anything that comes along, as well as the opportunistic bacteria already present (which require management from beneficial bacteria otherwise they overgrow & wreak havoc)

4-When our beneficial bacteria is compromised, not only do we lose its protection, but also the nourishment it provides in assisting digestion, producing vitamins, hormones and neurotransmitters. Did you know our gut derives 60-70% of it’s energy from bacterial activity?

5-If our microbiome is damaged, the best foods and supplements you can buy may not be broken down, digested and absorbed.

6-Our beneficial bacteria produce a constant steady stream of K2, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, amino acids, hormones, neurotransmitters and much more. Without a healthy colony, there will be periods in the day where you’ll be deficient, even with supplementation.

So what damages out gut?

1-Antibiotics (whether prescribed, in our meat, or sprayed onto our produce)

2-Chlorine in our tap water

3-Other prescription drugs (steroids, birth control, sleeping pills, heartburn medication)

4-Diet (sugar and processed carbs support fungi, parasites and opportunistic bacteria)

5-Chronic stress

6-Environmental pollution/toxins

Our bodies are all capable of dealing with a certain level of exposure (some more than others), but every body has a breaking point, and in our current modern day lifestyle, many bodies are chronically being pushed past theirs.

If you’d like to learn more, and find out how to support your own microbiome, check out some of my other posts here & here, or book an appointment with me here.

Overnight Oats- A Must-Have In Your Diet

Overnight Oats with persimmons

Overnight oats provide magnesium, fiber, plant-based protein, potassium, essential fatty-acids, and they contain absolutely no sugar. They’re also an excellent prebiotic, meaning it feeds the good bacteria and helps maintain healthy gut flora. This makes them a solid go-to for healthy morning meals and they’re super affordable. Soaking them overnight breaks down their starches which improves digestibility, and their natural phytic acid (which all plants contain) is greatly reduced which makes them more easily absorbed by your body.

 

 

Plus, they’re sooooo versatile. You can soak them in plain water, coconut cream, yogurt, coffee, combine them with fruit, chia hemp or flax seed, nut butters, coconut cream, pumpkin & top them with cinnamon or maca powder, cocoa powder, vanilla bean..the list goes on and on. This makes for limitless breakfast ideas, even for every single day of the year. See how many different variations you can come up with!

 

Overnight oats soaked in blended strawberries and coconut cream, topped with Banana

Remember to choose organic, old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free options are great too) when you can. Rolled oats are higher in fiber than instant or quick cook oats and will provide you with sustained energy for longer. Organic oats are a smart choice to reduce pesticide and other chemicals sprayed on crops, and gluten-free oats are great for sensitive digesters that don’t tolerate gluten very well.

 

Easy Overnight Oats Recipe:

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup water or nut milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
  • Toppings of choice (mashed banana plus coconut flour makes it taste like cake – just sayin’)

Directions:

Place all your ingredients in a jar or bowl, give them a stir, and soak covered overnight. Enjoy int he morning. Simple.

 

Try some overnight oats at home and let me know what fun flavor combos you come up with!

Emotional Eating

Let’s be real; we’re all emotional eaters with complex conditioning: genetic, biological, neurological, environmental, cultural etc. Whether you turn to food to sooth emotional discomfort, combat boredom, distract yourself, ease your stress, provide pleasure, rebel against yourself, to fill a void, I think we can all agree that when we’re emotionally eating, we are not in the present moment (eyes glazed over, lost in your thoughts, numb). Emotional eating is an addiction, and addictions are an external answer for an internal problem. You’re trying to change the way you feel, based on how you think it will make you feel. But does it?Continue reading

Mental Health, Digestion and our Microbiome

It’s now widely common knowledge that our gut microbiome influences our digestion, allergies, metabolism and mental health. We’re also realizing how much our brain can influence gut health.

gut-brain

Imbalances in our gut microbiome can eventually lead to systemic inflammation including in your brain, leading to brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, depression and so much more. Going in the other direction, stress (whether conscious or not, acute or chronic) inhibits our digestive function, leading to nutritional deficiencies and an imbalanced microbiome.Continue reading

Black Bean Avocado Brownies

Confession, I have a pretty serious sweet tooth. I love dark chocolate and sometimes when i avoid it for too long, I end up making poor decisions (aka quick decisions that typically involve junk ingredients). I found this recipe for black bean brownies, tweaked it a little, and love it!Continue reading

Preparing Black Beans From Scratch

I hear you, canned beans are quick and easy. Dried beans need to be soaked for 8 hours, then cooked 40 minutes or longer. That takes time and commitment. But considering that canned beans contain about 100 times the sodium, are more expensive, not as fresh, and could have absorbed endocrine-disrupting properties from the lining of the can, and add to landfills, I like to cook them from scratch.

You can eat them throughout the week, or even freeze some for future use.Continue reading

It’s Cherry Season, and here’s why you should be eating them

The unofficial mantra of a Holistic practitioner is to help guide people towards eating live, natural, good quality foods. That includes buying fresh, local organic foods as much as possible. And guess what? Cherry season is among us! Grab yourself a pound or 2 and enjoy their sweet juicy goodness along with all of their health benefits.

Cherries are a nutritionally dense fruit rich in:

Continue reading