GROW­ING GAINS

DR LIBBY WEAVER re­veals the top nourishing foods for preg­nancy and breast­feed­ing that will have mum and baby bloom­ing

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -

Dr Libby Weaver on preg­nancy and breast­feed­ing nutri­tion

It’s hard to imag­ine a more thrilling and nerve-wrack­ing time for a woman than dur­ing preg­nancy and the sub­se­quent birth of her child. The mir­a­cle of life is some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary to be­hold and that first mo­ment of hold­ing the new­est mem­ber of our fam­ily is some­thing that no par­ent, mother or fa­ther will ever for­get. For a woman’s body, grow­ing and nourishing a lit­tle hu­man re­quires an enor­mous amount of nu­tri­ents as our ba­bies draw them from our body and through our breast milk. Dur­ing this time, it is more im­por­tant than ever that our diet is nourishing and var­ied to make sure our baby is get­ting as much nutri­tion as pos­si­ble from us. At the same time, we need to be re­plen­ish­ing our body as well.

So what should I eat?

The best ap­proach through­out preg­nancy and breast­feed­ing (and beyond!) is to eat real whole­foods, as they come from na­ture, with the low­est hu­man in­ter­ven­tion pos­si­ble. En­sure that your diet is rich in plants, pay­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to dif­fer­ent coloured veg­eta­bles since each colour and va­ri­ety of­fers its own unique nu­tri­ents. Dur­ing preg­nancy and breast­feed­ing, there are par­tic­u­lar nu­tri­ents we need to fo­cus on. IRON The most com­mon di­etary de­fi­ciency for women, par­tic­u­larly women of child­bear­ing age, in the world. Preg­nancy can de­plete a woman’s iron stores even fur­ther as it is re­quired to build the in­creased blood vol­ume of the mother, as well as pro­vid­ing for the grow­ing baby. On av­er­age, a preg­nant woman will need around 22mg/day. Food sources of iron in­clude beef, lamb, eggs, mus­sels, sar­dines and green leafy veg­eta­bles. Va­ri­ety is key, as there is a small amount of iron in many foods. Iron from meat is eas­ily ab­sorbed by the body, while veg­etable sources of iron are bet­ter ab­sorbed in the pres­ence of vi­ta­min C. ZINC: Zinc is very im­por­tant dur­ing preg­nancy as it is in­volved in over 200 en­zyme sys­tems in the body and is cru­cial for the healthy de­vel­op­ment of brain func­tion and a com­pe­tent im­mune sys­tem in a grow­ing foe­tus. Foods that con­tain zinc in­clude oys­ters from clean waters, beef, lamb, pump­kin seeds and sun­flower seeds. FO­LATE This B group vi­ta­min has been shown to be par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant dur­ing preg­nancy as the de­vel­op­ment of the foe­tus’s ner­vous sys­tem, brain and spine takes place in the first trimester of preg­nancy. Fo­late de­fi­cien­cies have been linked to neu­ral tube de­fects such as spina bi­fida. Great sources of fo­late in­clude broc­coli, Brus­sels sprouts, cab­bage, cau­li­flower, English spinach, green beans, let­tuce, mush­rooms, zuc­chini, avo­cado, or­anges and nuts. IO­DINE Mod­ern soils used in con­ven­tional farm­ing are now mostly de­fi­cient in this es­sen­tial min­eral (or many soils around the world were never rich in io­dine in the first place) and with many peo­ple now avoid­ing ta­ble salt (opt­ing for rock or sea salt in­stead), we are see­ing an in­crease in its de­fi­ciency. Io­dine is vi­tal to brain and thy­roid func­tion and es­sen­tial to a baby’s growth and IQ de­vel­op­ment. It can be found in seafood, sea veg­eta­bles, such as kombu, nori and wakame, and good qual­ity salt. Many sea and rock salts are now avail­able for­ti­fied with io­dine. Check the la­bel of the salt you use. OMEGA 3 FATS Par­tic­u­larly DHA, omega 3 fats are es­sen­tial for a de­pleted mum as they are vi­tal for ner­vous sys­tem (in­clud­ing the brain) sup­port, as well as hor­monal bal­ance. The best source is oily fish, though omega 3 fats can also be found in flaxseeds, chia seeds and wal­nuts.

THE BEST AP­PROACH... IS TO EAT REAL WHOLE­FOODS, AS THEY COME FROM NA­TURE, WITH THE LOW­EST HU­MAN IN­TER­VEN­TION POS­SI­BLE

VI­TA­MIN C Vi­ta­min C cannot be stored in the body so we need to con­sume it ev­ery day. This stel­lar vi­ta­min is in­te­gral to strong im­mune func­tion, acts as an anti-in­flam­ma­tory, helps pre­vent dam­age from free-rad­i­cals and is es­sen­tial for col­la­gen pro­duc­tion in the skin. Our need for it is in­creased dur­ing preg­nancy. Find it in leafy greens, broc­coli, pars­ley, cap­sicum, le­mon, ki­wifruit, orange and grape­fruit.

VI­TA­MIN D Our bones re­quire vi­ta­min D to stay healthy and ad­e­quate supplies are re­quired to en­sure healthy bone de­vel­op­ment in the foe­tus and to sus­tain your baby with enough vi­ta­min D for the first months of its life. There are rel­a­tively few food sources of vi­ta­min D (or­ganic but­ter, oily fish and eggs); the most ef­fec­tive way to in­crease your vi­ta­min D sta­tus is to get some good (safe) sun ex­po­sure. MAG­NE­SIUM Mag­ne­sium is re­quired for more than 300 bio­chem­i­cal re­ac­tions in the body. It helps main­tain nor­mal mus­cle and nerve func­tion, keeps heart rhythm steady, sup­ports a healthy im­mune sys­tem and keeps bones strong. Most im­por­tantly, it ac­ti­vates en­zymes, con­trib­utes to en­ergy pro­duc­tion and helps reg­u­late cal­cium lev­els, as well as cop­per, zinc, potas­sium, vi­ta­min D and other im­por­tant nu­tri­ents in the body. Foods nat­u­rally high in mag­ne­sium in­clude brown rice, green leafy veg­eta­bles, nuts and seeds. Dark choco­late, quinoa, dates and ba­nanas also con­tain mag­ne­sium.

What about sup­ple­men­ta­tion?

Dur­ing preg­nancy, breast­feed­ing and af­ter­wards, sup­ple­men­ta­tion can be highly ben­e­fi­cial. It is, how­ever, best to work with a qual­i­fied health prac­ti­tioner be­fore sup­ple­ment­ing to en­sure you are get­ting the right amount of every­thing for you and your baby. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, zinc and iron lev­els are of­ten too low af­ter preg­nancy for the body to make the sub­stances re­quired for the restora­tion of sex hor­mone bal­ance, hap­pi­ness and op­ti­mism, so test­ing these lev­els once you’ve given birth can be use­ful. Get as much nutri­tion from food sources as pos­si­ble and in­clude a good qual­ity, or­ganic veg­etable pow­der to boost your over­all nu­tri­ent in­take. Also, gen­tle and restora­tive prac­tices can help sup­port your ner­vous sys­tem and the re­cov­ery of your body af­ter birth. A reg­u­lar yoga class, a tai chi, qi gong, med­i­ta­tion or sim­ple di­aphrag­matic breath prac­tice can help to re­store your calm so you can have the best time get­ting to know your pre­cious lit­tle soul. 

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