Pregnancy Nutrition Articles

Pregnancy Nutrition- Is Caffeine OK?
Pre-Natal Vitamins – What the Mayo Clinic Guide doesn’t tell you
The Best Pregnancy Diet
Foods to AVOID during Pregnancy

Pregnancy Nutrition – Is Caffeine OK?

Back in 1980 the FDA published a warning advising pregnant women to restrict or eliminate their intake of caffeine because of its teratogenic effects (cause birth defects). This was echoed in 1994 with a review of over 200 medical journals by Dr. Astrid Nehlig that was published in The Journal of Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

Currently, the advice on caffeine intake during pregnancy nutrition is moderation - meaning less than 300mg. This is because new studies show no harm with intakes less than that. Due to the fact that scientific studies are showing new and different results, I tend to be conservative in my personal view on caffeine and pregnancy.

What does caffeine do?

Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system, leaches calcium, reduces iron absorption, has a diuretic effect and crosses the placenta into your baby. This means it has the following results in your body:

• Raises your heart rate
• Decreases the amount of calcium in your body
• Dehydrates you
• Increases your blood pressure
• AND the same things occur for your baby (except baby will steal from your bones to get needed calcium)

That’s not all - it also interferes with a normal fetal growth, is associated with lower birth weight and weakens adrenal glands, which affect your blood sugar regulation and stress coping abilities.

It is best to avoid or at least reduce your caffeine intake to no more than 300mg per day. Some experts say no more than 150mg per day. You may be able to handle the caffeine, but baby’s liver is immature and not able to get rid of it like you. Imagine if that 1 cup of morning coffee lasted you 40-130 hours as it does for your baby.


Common caffeine sources

• Coffee (100-200 mg per 8 ounce)
• Tea (black 60mg, green 40mg)
• Soda (40-75mg per can)
• Dark Chocolate (5-35mg per 1 ounce)
• Milk Chocolate (1-15mg per 1 ounce)
• Headache medicine (65-130mg)

If you are a caffeine user, I recommend reducing to less than 300mg per day (some studies show increase miscarriages with more than 300mg). Then gradually reducing to as close to zero as possible, which will not only benefit your baby, but also your ability to handle stress.

 

Pre-Natal Vitamins – What the Mayo Clinic Guide doesn’t tell you

The Mayo Clinic Pregnancy Guide has a lot right about what’s important to eat during pregnancy. They speak of how it’s critical to have good eating habits while trying to conceive because major organs form during the first few weeks of pregnancy-before you even know you are pregnant! Without the proper nutrients during this time your baby may be at risk for both short and long-term health issues.

They cover the usual suspects of pre-natal vitamins - calcium, folate, and iron which are indeed important, BUT none of them help with…

…fetal development of lung, visual system, skull, skeleton, kidney …baby brain development
…assistance with utilization of minerals like calcium, water soluble vitamins
…your protein digestion
…your optimal thyroid and immune system function
…your production of sex and stress hormones

What nutrient does all this?

It’s Vitamin A!!

Okay, now you may be thinking you’ve heard vitamin A is that vitamin associated with birth defects.
This claim is inaccurate and based on a study that used questionnaires from 22,000 pregnant women to find out about their eating and supplement habits. Researchers found a high rate of neural crest defects with increased dosages of vitamin A.

But - they did not distinguish between natural and synthetic forms of vitamin A nor did they get lab results for vitamin A blood levels.

Processed foods are fortified with synthetic form of vitamin A.

Also, people can’t be trusted to be good record keepers, so questionnaires are an unreliable way to measure a person’s nutrient intake. Do you remember what you ate yesterday??

Too bad the media didn’t jump all over another study done in Rome, Italy that found no congenital malformations in 120 infants exposed to 50,000IU or more of vitamin A per day.

The real issue is not how much, but what form- synthetic or natural.

The best all natural sources: cod liver oil, liver, butterfat, egg yolks, seafood, organ meats, grass-fed dairy and meats. Notice that these are all fat sources too. This is Mother Nature packaging the foods in the way your body needs them. Moms always know best!

 

The Best Pregnancy Diet

 

“What’s the best pregnancy diet?”

This is one of the most important questions every woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant should be asking. It is so important because they are solely responsible for feeding and nourishing their growing baby.

The best pregnancy diet is one that will supply all the nutrients needed to support optimal fetal development (such as brain, nervous and skeletal system) while also giving the mother’s body its needed nutrients. It’s also the one that will curb food cravings and prevent an unhealthy weight gain, which could put both the baby and mother at risk for many health complications.

Specifically, it will consist of the foods listed below:


High quality protein (grass-fed meats, eggs from cage free grass-fed chickens)
High quality dairy (raw grass-fed: cheese, cream, milk and butter)
Soaked grains and nuts
Stocks (bone broths)
Organic or locally grown fruits and veggies
High quality fat
Lacto-fermented foods
High potency fish oil
Filtered water


Eating the foods above will provide all the necessary nutrients a mother and developing baby needs such as:


B vitamins
Calcium
Iron
Zinc
Copper
Magnesium
Vitamin D
Healthy omega 3 to omega 6 ratio
Conjugated Linolenic Acid
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Folate
Cholesterol

This means that you will gain a healthy weight and have less to lose after pregnancy.

Why?

Because by giving your body and baby what is needed, you won’t be tempted to overeat or be a victim to food cravings! And that’s just another reason why it is the best pregnancy diet.


Foods to AVOID During Pregnancy


Knowing which foods to avoid (or severely limit) during pregnancy is especially important. It's a time in a woman's life when she should be especially careful to protect her developing baby. Some foods on this list are obvious, like alcohol, but others may come as a surprise.

1. Junks Foods

It will be challenging to find the time to burn off these extra dead calories. Plus they are full of detrimental non-foods that are bad for you and your baby.

"Junk food" includes the usual suspects: fried foods, margarine, soft drinks, sweets, anything made with white flour (crackers, cookies, bread, cereals) and most boxed foods. They contain synthetic vitamin A which is toxic, and best avoided while pregnant.

Do the "ingredient list test" - how long is the list and how many words look like something out of a chemistry text book?

2. Caffeine

It is best to avoid or at least reduce your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg per day. It reduces iron absorption, interferes with normal fetal growth and is associated with lower birth weight and an increased risk of miscarriage.

3. Alcohol

I'm sure it's not a big surprise to avoid alcohol while pregnant. It negatively affects the developing fetus. Enough said.

4. Trans Fats

Trans fats inhibit the conversion of fatty acids needed for fetal brain growth and decrease the fat content of breast milk. Also, it has been found to decrease sperm count.

Do not trust labels that claim products are trans fat free. If a food has half a gram or less per serving than it can be labeled "trans fat free". No big deal? Well, the Institute of Medicine even stated there is no safe intake level for trans fats.

It's not good for you and it's not good for your developing baby. If the ingredient list has the words "partially hydrogenated" it's got trans fat and it is a food to avoid during pregnancy.

5. Artificial and Refined Sweeteners

Artificial and refined sweeteners (like Splenda, Sweet-n-Low, Aspertame, Nutra-Sweet, etc.) are a source of empty calories and a great way to gain too much weight. They can also negatively affect your baby's ability to regulate blood sugar.

Artifical and refined sweeteners can increase your cravings for sugar (causing too much weight gain). So, the more you eat, the more you want to eat and this increases the demands on your body's insulin production (which is also the pathway to diabetes).

A study out of The University of Texas Science Center at San Antonio suggests that the more diet sodas a person drinks, the more likely they are to become over weight.

There's all kinds of information out there about how nasty artificial sweeteners are for you. It is a neurological toxin and can cause headaches and even seizures. Just say NO!

Stick to drinking water (filtered if you can), mineral water or lacto-fermented beverages to satisfy your thirst.

6. Commercial Fried Foods

It's no big surprise that fried foods aren't good for you or your baby. You are just consuming extra calories with out any nutrient benefits. They are also full of trans fat. (see #4 in Part 1 of this article)

7. Food Additives

Food additives (such as MSG) are neurotoxins (bad for the nervous system). I find it rather scary that a study found brain lesions on developing embryos assiciated with MSG intake.

MSG may appear in the ingredient list as: hydrolyzed protein, calcium, sodium casinate, textured protein, citric acid, soy foods, malt flavorings, flavorings, and natural flavorings - so CHECK YOUR LABELS!

As a side note, seasonings all usually contain MSG.

8. Soy

Soy food is a highly processed and refined food. It is also full of things that will block you and your developing baby from absorbing nutrients such as zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium. Consuming it also increases the mothers need for vitamin D.

Soy also contains phytoestrogens (a.k.a plant estrogen) which can negatively impact the fetal development of the reproductive organs and brain.

In recap, the eight foods to avoid during pregnancy are:

1. Junk Foods

2. Caffeine

3. Alcohol

4. Trans Fat

5. Artificial and Refined Sweetners

6. Commercial Fried Foods

7. Food Additives

8. Soy

Making at least some of these changes to your food intake will do wonders for your baby! And, if you can do them all, even better. For information you won't want to miss on eating and exercising for a healthy happy baby, check out our Fit and Healthy Pregnancy Guide.