8 Foods for a Healthy Pregnancy
All women will have an optional 9-month part time job during pregnancy. It is a tough job but one of the most rewarding when done correctly. Thank God medicine and nutrition have come a long way.
One of my attending doctors was telling a story about her mom’s pregnancy in the 1950’s. It consisted of vitamins, red wine, and cigarettes.
The red wine was to increase the blood count, and the cigarettes were to make for an easier delivery…... Yeah
Now we know the dangers of drugs and what nutrients help the baby develop.
Not nicotine or alcohol.
Pregnant moms have a duty to eat a proper diet to ensure the health of the newborn baby by reducing the risks of low birth weight, premature birth, and other birth deformities. That means eating enough calories (about 400-500) more per day, drinking enough water, and taking in adequate nutrients (vit D, iron, folate).
During the first trimester is when the baby is doing most of the development of the major organ systems, this is the critical time to ensure proper nutrition and avoid infection.
The other trimesters the mom must deal with the increasing side effects of pregnancy like.
General- Mood swings and increased metabolic demand for calories
Blood- Increased number of blood cells and clotting factors. Decreased Iron
Heart- Increased blood volume and heart rate
Lungs- Less room in the chest and increased breathing
Gastrointestinal- Increased nausea, vomiting, and heartburn
Kidneys- Increased urine output
I never said this job was easy but thankfully wonderful women like my amazing mother were able to do this.
Now without further delay, here are some great foods that are nutritious for the mom and develop a strong/healthy baby.
Top Foods for Pregnancy
They can be mashed, boiled, and made into deserts. Sweet potatoes are a tasty yet nutritious food for pregnancy. This member of the yam family is also very cheap to buy at any store.
The best benefit of sweet potatoes is vitamin A. Beta-carotene is the active compound in vitamin A and is what gives the vegetable its bright color.
Vitamin A is important for developing healthy bones and skin of the baby as well as eye health.
However too much vitamin A can cause developmental problems so do not eat it in excess.
There is a good amount of fiber in these potatoes that help with pregnancy constipation and steady blood sugars.
Spinach, along with other leafy greens like kale, is rich in antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the body while preventing cancer. These are vitamins A, C, K, and E that neutralize the harmful “free-radical” molecules our body naturally makes.
The trick with spinach is to not overcook it, these valuable vitamins will be broken down if there is too much heat. The best way is to eat raw in a salad or blend in a juice.
Along with the antioxidants listed above, spinach is also rich in vitamin K and folate. Folate is necessary for proper spinal and neurological development. Vitamin K is needed for blood development for the baby.
One of the best superfoods is the avocado. They have a little bit of everything and is a nutrition bomb.
It has mono-saturated, polyunsaturated, and even omega 3 fats (all of the good kinds of fats).
It has antioxidant capabilities in the form of carotenoids and vitamins A, C, & E.
It has both water and fat soluble vitamins.
There is fiber with 0g of sugar and only 90 calories per avocado! One avocado a day will help baby and mom.
In pregnancy, women will experience higher blood sugars than normal. This is normal, but some women may need to be put on insulin to control their blood sugar.
Whole grain fibers are carbohydrates that are complex that will slow down both digestion time and the absorption of sugars into the blood. Foods like barley and oats are low on the glycemic index because of the high fiber content.
Also, most whole grains are rich in vitamins and trace nutrients like copper, phosphorous, iron, and manganese.
Speaking of superfoods, we feature another one in chia seeds. These seeds are the ones you put in water or milk, and they expand like a Chia Pet.
Chia seeds are maybe a better superfood than spinach or kale.
What makes them special? There are 40 grams of carbohydrates in a serving, and over 75% of those carbs are in the form of fiber. Wow!!!
That is almost all of your daily serving of fiber in one sitting!
And to top it off, it has over 16g of protein and omega-3 fats that make it heart healthy.
It is rich in calcium that will help the baby grow strong teeth and bones.
Also, it contains a large number of other vitamins and minerals.
While eating fish is beneficial, eating too much of it can give a woman high levels of methylmercury. This can cause mental problems or impair the developing nervous system. Here is a list of fish to avoid in pregnant women.
According to literature, the amount of omega-3 fatty acids needed for a pregnant patient are 650mg. This fat does wonders for the developing brain of the baby.
The best sources are fish like salmon and cod. Either eating the fish or supplementing one’s self with the oil capsules is effective.
Eating the fish is the better option as the mother and child can other valuable nutrients like iron. Iron is rapidly depleted from the mother as the baby is making its own blood. A lot of pregnant women are deficient in this key nutrient.
Fish is also a great source of B12. However as long as the mother eats some kinds of animal products, this deficiency is rare. However, it can cause defects in the development of the neural tube.
Beans are rich in both fiber and protein. They are calorie dense foods that help the mother meet her increased caloric demand.
Beans are richest in folate and copper. The folate is an important water soluble vitamin that helps in the development of the spinal cord. In the western world, most foods are fortified with folate, so this deficiency is not common in the U.S.
Take your pick, walnuts, almonds, or cashews will all do fine.
Being calorie dense, they satisfy the appetite of any hungry mother. The good fats in almonds help the mother prevent the cardiovascular complications of pregnancy like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Also, they are rich in the vitamins and nutrients that a mother needs. The best one being vitamin E that fights cancer and promotes skin health.
When it comes to pregnancy, proper nutrition is everything for the mother and baby. The mother needs to keep up with her increased demand for calories, and the baby must be supplied with the vitamins and nutrients for growth.
Besides pre-natal vitamins, most of the foods listed above are very cheap and nutritious.
If you follow my food recommendations, it will be the beginning of a healthy family!