It seems like everyone is focused on nutrition this time of year, so we felt we should join in with some tips for proper nutrition in pregnancy. Nutrition can be a challenging topic to understand and even more challenging to make changes to improve your diet. In addition, there are many dietary recommendations that are unique for pregnancy. To help, we have simplified dietary recommendations, developed in conjunction with a Nutritionist, in our Healthy Pregnancy booklet. We are sharing our top ten tips to help make it easy to make improvements in your diet.
Eggs are Golden
Eggs (fully cooked) are a nearly perfect food for pregnancy. They contain protein, omega-3 fatty acids, cholesterol and many beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folic acid, calcium, zinc, B-vitamins and choline. Eggs from free-range hens may have higher omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A and E levels than traditionally raised hens.
Super Foods Pack a Punch
Super foods are foods that are packed with healthy nutrients and can give you the most bang for your buck or bite. Some examples include berries, citrus fruits, yogurt, beans, nuts, wild caught salmon, dark green vegetables, eggs, cheese, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and lean, pasture-raised beef and pork.
Water is Essential
Water can ease pregnancy discomforts such as nausea, constipation, headaches, heartburn, swelling, UTI’s and dizziness and is essential for the expanding blood volume of pregnancy and for maintaining amniotic fluid levels. If you don’t like the taste of water or prefer juice, adding a small quantity of fruit (such as a lemon wedge or frozen strawberry) to pure water can alter the taste without adding a lot of sugar to your diet.
Brain Growth from Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids are essential for fetal brain growth and may help reduce preterm birth. It is recommended that pregnant women consume up to 12 ounces a week of wild-caught, low-mercury fish for an excellent source of omega-3's, protein and vitamins and minerals. Also, pay attention to the amount of omega-6 fatty acids (from sources like sunflower and corn oil) that you consume and strive for a ratio of omega-3’s to omega 6’s between 4:1 and 2:1. Omega-3 supplementation should be discussed with your care provider or a nutritionist to get the safest products and dosage for your lifestyle and diet.
Benefits of Dairy
Dairy products contain calcium, protein and fat which are essential for maternal health and fetal development. 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day is recommended and dairy products are a great source. Many dairy products are also fortified with vitamin-D (see below). Alternative sources of calcium include, nuts, beans and leafy greens.
The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D aids in calcium and phosphorous absorption and adequate levels can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy complications. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight, but this controversial method is not recommended by some who cite the increased risk of skin cancer with sun exposure. Fish, fortified milk and juice, cereal, and egg yolks also contain vitamin D and supplementation may be recommended by your care provider. 600 IU is the current recommended daily amount, though some research suggests higher amounts may have more benefit during pregnancy. How much to take is something you should discuss with your care provider and/or nutritionist.
Steady Blood Sugar Levels
Pregnancy hormones change the way insulin is produced and used in your body, which effects the level of sugar (glucose) in your blood. To help maintain normal blood sugar levels, you should avoid processed and refined foods. They are high in simple carbohydrates which quickly convert to glucose after consumption. In addition, eat small snacks of protein or complex carbohydrates through out the day, which are slower to digest and convert to glucose. Some suggestions are nuts, whole grain cereal or crackers, cheese, Greek yogurt or hummus.
Iron sources from meats, plants and supplements can help boost blood volume and prevent anemia. Eat a variety of sources of iron along with a vitamin C rich food (see next topic) to help your body absorb the iron. Some foods with high iron levels include lean, red meat, beans, black strap molasses and leafy greens. If a supplement is necessary, ask about using Floradix or black strap molasses in place of the standard recommendation of an iron tablet (Slow Fe or similar), which can cause constipation and stomach upset. Note: avoid consuming iron rich foods at the same time you consume iron-inhibiting foods like whole grains, legumes, and dairy (calcium rich foods).
Get Your Vitamin C
Vitamin C foods aid in iron absorption, promote wound healing and build a strong amniotic sac. Citrus, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, mango, raspberries, cantaloupe, bell peppers, potatoes and tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C.
Whole Foods are Best
A whole foods diet is eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. This means eating an apple instead of an apple pie. A whole food based prenatal vitamin may help you get more of the nutrients that your body and baby need during pregnancy. Natural vitamins found in foods are digested and absorbed better (therefore more efficient and cost effective) and MAY cause less digestive upset than synthetic vitamins. Natural foods grocery stores often carry these, though check with your care provider before starting or switching nutritional supplements of any kind.
Additional information on nutrition and other topics can be found in our Healthy Pregnancy booklet and Prenatal Welcome Packets. In addition, these websites have great resources for additional information: the USDA's website ChooseMyPlate.Gov, the Mayo Clinic or the March of Dimes.
Disclaimer: All content provided is for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease and no alterations in diet should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Consult your physician on any topics regarding your health and diet. Plumtree Baby, LLC does not assume any liability for the information contained herein, be it direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.
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