by Florence Lim, L.Ac., DAOM
Benefits of Eating Well During Pregnancy
Numerous studies have shown that eating a wide variety of nutrient rich foods during pregnancy can have beneficial long-term effects for both you and your baby, such as:
Support healthy fetal development
Improving your child’s language and communication skills
Decreasing your child’s risk for future health issues like eczema & asthma
Supporting healthy skin and minimizing acne
Preventing pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy induced hypertension
Preventing or minimizing postpartum depression
For instance, multiple studies throughout the years have found that pregnant or breastfeeding moms who ate 2-4 servings of fish per week versus 1 serving had a 37 % lower risk of developing eczema and asthma, and also had better language and communication skills! Women who consume more vitamin D during pregnancy also help reduce the risk of asthma in their children.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Pregnancy
Fresh, preferably organic fruits & vegetables
Good fats (plant oils, fish)
Also make sure to thoroughly wash all raw fruits and veggies. Preferably, eat more warm, cooked veggies. From a TCM perspective, this is better for overall Spleen Qi and digestive function.
Avoid the following:
Alcohol, cigarette smoke, drugs like cocaine and methadone, lithium, pesticides, retinol products, certain antibiotics like tetracycline and penicillin, Valium, warfarin and many other substances are considered teratogens (cause problems in baby’s development)
Raw or undercooked meat or fish, soft cheeses, raw sprouts, unwashed produce, high mercury fish, raw eggs (may contain Salmonella bacteria), and deli meats. Note that raw eggs are also found in mayonnaise and Caesar salad dressing!!
Organ meats due to vitamin A toxicity. Limit to a few ounces per week
Unpasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juice
Caffeine: Caffeine easily passes through the placenta. Babies and placentas don’t produce the enzyme necessary to metabolize caffeine, so it can accumulate in the womb. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2008) found that pregnant mothers who consumed more than 200 mg of caffeine daily (about 10 ounces of coffee or 25 ounces of tea) doubled their risk of miscarriage and had increased risk for restricted fetal growth and low birth weight. Coffee, black tea, green tea, white tea, chocolate, soft drinks all contains caffeine.
Alcohol: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, which can results in facial deformities, heart defects, and intellectual disability in the newborn.
Processed junk food
Key Nutrients Needed Throughout the Pregnancy
1) Folate (Folic Acid, Vitamin B9)
• Involved in growth and division of cells
• Deficiency is linked to increased incident of neural-tube defects and lower birth weights
• Involved in formation of red blood cells and proteins
• Supplement: 800 mcg to 1 mg/day
• Folate-Rich Foods Include: Breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid, beef liver, beets, spinach, beans and lentils, asparagus, green peas, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado, peanuts, romaine lettuce, wheat germ, oranges, eggs, and papaya
• Iron is a part of your red blood cells, which help carry oxygen throughout the body
• Supports increased blood volume and development of baby’s blood cells. A pregnant woman's blood volume almost doubles during pregnancy, and therefore, her iron needs are quite significant during this time!
• Anemia is very common during pregnancy and can cause fatigue and shortness of breath
• Vitamin C enhances absorption of iron, so be sure to eat foods rich in vitamin C while eating foods rich in iron
• Iron-Rich Foods Include: Spinach and other dark leafy greens, dark meat, dried fruit (apricots, prunes, raisins, figs), beets, wheat germ, legumes, egg yolk, blackstrap molasses, clams or oysters, tofu, fortified cereals and grains, oatmeal, baked potato with skin, liver (no more than once per week)
• Cooking with a cast iron pan is another great way to ensure you are getting enough iron in your diet!
3) Calcium and Vitamin D
• Important for healthy bone development
• Decreases risk of preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in urine during pregnancy). Research has shown that supplementation with calcium (>1000 mg/day) can 1) reduce risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy in women with low calcium intake and 2) prevent preterm labor. It is recommended that you get enough calcium in your diet even before becoming pregnant, during early pregnancy, and also postpartum to prevent preeclampsia.
• May help with leg cramps (together with magnesium) and is important during delivery because calcium is needed for the muscles and uterus to contract during delivery
• Note: Avoid eating iron-rich foods and calcium-rich foods at the same time! Calcium interferes with iron absorption.
• Recommended: 1,000 mg/day of Calcium; 400 IU/day of Vitamin D
• Calcium-Rich Foods Include: yogurt, milk, cheese, tofu, fortified beverages, canned salmon or sardines with bones, soybeans, collard greens, soy nuts, bok choy, turnip greens, chia seeds, sesame seeds or tahini, figs (dried>fresh), almonds, hazelnuts, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans (navy, pinto)
• Vitamin D-Rich Foods Include: Eggs, milk, salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (which less mercury than white or albacore tuna), egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified orange juice or cereals, soy milk
4) Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
• Keeps energy levels up
• 25 mg to 75 mg of vitamin B6 can quell nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
• Recommended foods: salmon, chicken, fortified tofu, pork chops, meat, sweet potatoes, bananas, potatoes, avocadoes, pistachio nuts
• If you are suffering from morning sickness, below are some over-the-counter remedies that you can try along with acupuncture before resorting to Western medication (Western medicine doctors often prescribe Diclegis to treat morning sickness, but it is actually just a combination of vitamin B6 and doxylamine (aka Unisom), which can both be purchased inexpensively at your local drugstore):
Ginger capsules, 250mg orally four times a day; or 8 ounces of ginger tea four times a day.
For mild nausea without vomiting: Vitamin B6, 25mg with food, three times a day.
For moderate nausea with mild vomiting (≤ 2 times a day) or if no relief from Vitamin B6 alone, ADD Unisom (doxylamine) 12.5mg (1/2 tablet) at bedtime and continue Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 25mg three times a day.
If no relief after 4-5 days, try Unisom (doxylamine) 25mg at bedtime and 12.5mg (1/2 tablet) in the morning and midafternoon, PLUS Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 25mg three times a day. May also increase Vitamin B6 to 50mg at bedtime with 25mg in morning and midafternoon if needed.
Unisom can cause drowsiness. Start with bedtime dose for 4-5 days first to decrease drowsiness, then add as needed and as tolerated in morning and afternoon.
NOTE: Bedtime dose helps with morning nausea, morning dose helps with afternoon nausea, and afternoon dose helps with evening nausea, so adjust times for your particular needs.
• DHA is an essential fat primarily found in fish. Although seeds such as chia seeds and flax seeds contain a type of fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid (ALA) that converts to EPA and DHA, it is a very inefficient process, and the fetal liver is not mature enough to metabolize plant based ALA (alpha-linolenic acids) into EPA and DHA until 16 weeks after birth. Thus, fish is still the best way for pregnant mothers to get adequate amounts of EPA and DHA, particularly during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
• Research has shown that babies whose moms consumed 2-4 servings of higher-fat fish like mackerel, sardines, anchovies, salmon, and tuna during their pregnancy had higher IQs, better sleep, better vision, and better language and communications skills. They also had reduced risk for preterm delivery and low birth weight. Eating fish regularly, particularly during the last trimester, can lower rates of restricted fetal growth (Journal of Epidimiology and Community Health Report 2004, in a study that looked at 11,580 women) and prevent the development of asthma or eczema in children.
• Researchers in Denmark studied 8,729 whose seafood intake in early pregnancy was assessed by questionnaire. They found that 1.9% of women who ate fish at least once per week had premature birth, whereas this increased to 7.1% of women who never ate fish.
• Besides the benefits for the baby during the pregnancy, getting adequate DHA also reduces the mother's risk for developing postpartum depression.
• Wild fish is preferable to farmed raised fish
• Fish oil supplements should contain at least 300 mg DHA/day
• Omega-3 foods which contain both DHA and EPA include: organic free range eggs, sardines, wild salmon. Avoid cod liver oil fish oil supplements, as they contain high amounts of vitamin A that are potentially toxic during pregnancy. Omega-3 supplements derived from algae are excellent options for vegetarians.
First Trimester (Weeks 1-12)
First Trimester Characteristics
• During the first weeks of pregnancy, the sperm and egg unite, and cell division occurs. All this takes a lot of energy, which is why first trimester moms oftentimes feel exhausted and want to sleep all the time!!
• Spine, limbs, organs (heart, circulatory system) have started to form
• Body changes: blood volume almost doubles, heart rate increases, breasts enlarge, increased hormone production, mood swings, nausea and/or cravings
• Eating high quality, nutrient dense foods is more important than significantly increasing the quantity of foods you put at the table: aim for about 300 extra calories per day
• Morning sickness tip: sniff a lemon or orange. Sour or sour/sweet foods such as lemonade, applesauce, and ginger can often be helpful for pregnant moms with morning sickness
Key Nutrients Needed During First Trimester
• Protein: Protein is necessary for hormone production and is an important raw material of enzymes, which are needed to instruct cells to divide, grow, and metabolize
• Vitamin A: an important antioxidant that prevents DNA damage to the cells as they divide. The best and safest way to get vitamin A is through beta-carotene, which is the plant based form of vitamin A and found in a variety of orange colored fruits and vegetables such as butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, and dark green leafy veggies. Because vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E are fat-soluble nutrients, it helps to eat them together with some sort of fat or oil-containing food to aid in absorption.
• Vitamin E: another antioxidant that also benefits fetal growth, possibly due to improved blood flow and nutrient supply to the fetus
• Folate (folic acid)
• Iron: eat together with foods rich in vitamin C to enhance its absorption.
Superfoods for First Trimester
These foods are chosen because they are easier to digest and may be more palatable for women experiencing morning sickness. It is common for women to crave simple carbs like bread during the first trimester, but try to select healthier choices such as brown rice crackers with peanut butter, oatmeal, or popcorn rather than grabbing that bag of potato chips!
• Fruits: Bananas, Watermelon, Applesauce, Lemons, kiwis
• Vegetables/Herbs: Sweet Potatoes, leeks, chives
• Spices: Ginger
• Nuts/Seeds: Almonds, Sesame Tahini
• Fish: Anchovies
• Meat: Dark meat, Bone broth
• Whole Grains: Brown Rice, Multigrain Cereal, Oatmeal, Popcorn
• Legumes: Beans, Peanut Butter (peanuts are considered legumes, not nuts!)
• Dairy: Yogurt, Cheese
• Beverages: Ice chips and water, mint tea (or other herbal teas such as ginger, chamomile, lemon balm, citrus peel, and rose hips), bone or vegetable broth
· great source of folate
· aim for 20 to 25 almonds per day;
· low glycemic index;
· Eat with the skin, which contains most of the antioxidant activity
· Can be good for those who crave something salty during the first trimester
· Good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids; 3 ounce serving has 450 mg EPA and 775 mg DHA
· Contains calcium, iron, and vitamin D
· Also contains choline , which researchers have found that in addition to folate, helps to lower risk of neural tube defects in babies. Eggs are also an abundant source of choline.
· Sour, great for morning sickness and easy to digest
· Make sure to buy organic due to pesticides
· Very high in flavonoids such as quercetin. Quercetin helps to prevent free radical damage to your cells and the baby’s developing cells.
o Eating foods packed with antioxidants helps give your body the energy it needs to repair cellular damage caused by free radicals
· Good source of chromium, which is important for protein synthesis in growing baby’s tissues, and also it regulates blood sugar levels.
Sweet Potatoes: Rich in vitamin A (beta-carotene, fiber, and B6)
· Packed with fiber, protein, and minerals like copper, selenium iron, phosphorus, and manganese
· Copper is important for formation of red blood cells
· Phosphorus and calcium work together to help with bone growth
· Baby’s teeth already begin to form during the first trimester, so it's important to eat phosphorus and calcium rich foods
Nuts, seeds, and legumes are good protein options for patients who have meat aversion during the first trimester.
Second Trimester: 4-6 months or 13-27 weeks
• Baby’s major organs have formed by the 15th week of pregnancy, but some organs such as lungs, kidney, and heart continue to develop during the 2nd trimester.
• At week 17, baby starts to accumulate fat underneath the skin, which will provide energy and keep the baby warm after birth. Intake of healthy fats is also important for absorption of fat soluble nutrients like vitamins A, E, D, and K. Foods like avocados are an excellent source of healthy fat during the second and third trimesters.
• Baby will be about 11 to 14 inches and 2-2.5 pounds by the end of the 2nd trimester, and the mother's belly will start to show.
• Although the morning sickness will typically go away during the second trimester, other symptoms such as acne, heartburn, constipation, leg cramps, low energy, backaches, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, and dizziness may occur. Dizziness is caused by the increased blood volume, which causes blood vessels to dilate.
• Eat smaller, more frequent meals, which will help minimize the heartburn. Tums can be helpful for women experiencing heartburn during pregnancy, and it contains calcium, which pregnant women need more of.
• Avoid spicy, overly greasy, or fatty foods
• Eat more high fiber foods and hydrate regularly to minimize constipation and prevent urinary tract infection (UTI), which is more common during pregnancy.
Third Trimester: 28 weeks until labor
• Baby’s brain is 60% fat by weight - mostly made up of DHA - and developing very quickly
• Common symptoms: Increased digestive discomfort, heartburn, increased urination, back pain, feet and ankle swelling.
• Staying hydrated (8 to 12 8-oz glasses/day), decreasing sodium intake, and eating potassium-rich foods will help the body maintain normal fluid balance, which will help with swelling.
• Eating fish regularly during the last trimester can lower rates of restricted fetal growth (Journal of Epidimiology and Community Health Report 2004, in a study that looked at 11,580 women)
• Losing a pound or two during the last month of pregnancy can be normal d/t decreased amniotic fluid and decreased space around stomach
• Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), which can be characterized by increased blood pressure, swelling in the feet, protein in the urine, low platelet count, and elevated liver enzymes, among other things, can occur during pregnancy or the postpartum period and can create complications for both baby and mother or result in early delivery. While research on the relationship between preeclampsia and nutrient deficiencies has not been definitive, there is some supporting evidence that supplementation with calcium (>1000 mg/day) throughout the pregnancy in women with low calcium intake (but not in women with already adequate intake) is associated with decreased risk for preeclampsia. Some of the research seems to suggest that flavonoid-rich foods such as dark chocolate, apples, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, nuts, and green leafy veggies like kale, as well as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as fish oil might also be candidates for the prevention of preeclampsia. Although there is conflicting evidence for the use of other nutrients such as antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E), magnesium, zinc, and selenium for the prevention of preeclampsia, it is beneficial to eat foods rich in these nutrients during pregnancy, in any case.
Key Nutrients During 2nd and 3rd Trimesters
• Folate: 800 mcg/day
• Vitamin A: 2700 IU/day
• Vitamin B12: 2.6.mcg/day
• Vitamin C: 85 mg/day
• Vitamin D: 400 IU/day
• Calcium: 1,000 mg/day
• Iron: 27 mg/day
• Sodium: 2,400 mg/day
• Zinc: 15 mg/day
• Calories: extra 300 to 450 calories/day
• Protein: minimum of 60 grams/day
• Fiber: 25 to 30 grams/day
Superfoods for 2nd and 3rd Trimesters
• Fruits: Avocado, cherries, figs, cranberries, papaya, kiwi, prune juice
• Vegetables/Herbs: Basil, carrots, kale, spinach (and other leafy greens!), romaine, celery, rhubarb, crimini (or other) mushrooms, lettuce, scallions, watercress, parsley
• Spices: chamomile tea, turmeric, garlic, red raspberry leaf tea (3rd trimester only)
• Nuts/Seeds: Chia seeds, hemp seeds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds
• Fish: Tuna (canned light, NOT canned white albacore), wild salmon, herring, sardines, and other high fat fish
• Dairy: eggs, cheese, yogurt, kefir
• Legumes: Chickpeas, tofu, black beans
• Fats: Coconut oil, avocado
• Sweetener: Blackstrap Molasses
Importance of Vitamin C
· Vitamin C is important for the production of collagen in your skin, which allows your skin to stretch and rebound after being stretched. This is important during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, when your skin will stretch significantly. When collagen levels drop in your skin, the skin can look more bumpy, wrinkled, and saggy. Vitamin C can help the skin produce collagen to keep it looking young and stay resilient postpartum! Thus, foods like cherries, cranberries, and kiwi are excellent sources of vitamin C during this time. Cherries also contain melatonin, which can be helpful for sleep.
· Eating vitamin C rich foods together with iron can aid in the absorption of iron.
Importance of Protein (60 grams per day)
· Necessary for growth and development of baby
· The hormones needed to develop your breasts to produce enough milk are made of protein.
· Enzymes and antibodies are all made from protein, so it’s important for immune system as well.
· High in fiber and great source of non-dairy calcium. 1 cup/8 pieces of figs has 5 grams fiber and about 150 mg calcium
· Also contains iron and vitamin K
· Increased pressure on the bladder as the baby grows can cause frequent urination and make pregnant women more prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs) due to the fact that bad bacteria may accumulate and linger more easily in the bladder and urinary tract during pregnancy.
· Cranberries can prevent bacteria from binding to the lining of the bladder and thus prevent the risk of UTI.
· Purchase either fresh or frozen whole cranberries and add it to smoothies, or buy pureed,j unsweetened cranberry juice
· Contains an enzyme called papain, which is helpful for indigestion and heartburn, especially during the last trimester. Also contains lots of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, and folate.
· Eat ripe papayas only. Unripe papayas, if eaten in large amounts, may cause uterine contractions because they contains greater quantities of latex, which affects oxytocin and prostaglandin levels.
· Nuts are a great source of selenium, especially Brazil nuts (544 mcg in 6 to 8 nuts)
· Some studies suggests that low levels of selenium in the diet may be associated with preeclampsia . Research in the UK in 2004 found that women with low levels of selenium raised their risk of developing preeclampsia as much as four times over women with normal selenium levels. (normal is considered blood selenium level of > or equal to 95mcg/L. However, the research is not definitive.
Sesame seeds (has both calcium and iron!)
· Rich in calcium, iron, protein, and fiber; B vitamins, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus
· As mentioned earlier, calcium is not only important for bones and teeth, but also needed for nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Important for baby’s nervous system development, which is still happening in the last trimester.
· ¼ cup of raw sesame seeds contains 351 mg of calcium
· Chia seeds contain more omega-3 than flax seeds – about 5,000 mg per ounce. They also contain good amounts of phosphorus and manganese, two minerals needed for proper skeletal development of the baby. An ounce of chia seeds also contains 180 mg calcium.
· Chia seeds and flax seeds are a good vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, the conversion of the alpha linolenic acid (ALA) found in chia seeds and flax seeds into EPA and DHA is a very inefficient process, so fish is still the best way of obtaining the recommended amounts of EPA and DHA from your diet.
· Good for constipation, high in protein, and healthy omega-3 fatty acid
· Rich in magnesium, which is important for turning fats, carbs, and proteins into energy for the body. Besides being important for bone growth, sleep, and the treatment of muscle cramps during pregnancy, a deficiency in magnesium can also cause fatigue.
· Pumpkin seeds are also high in zinc. Zinc deficiency has been linked to impaired cognitive function and motor activity in the infant.
· Kale is high in the phytonutrient sulforaphane, which helps the liver produce enzymes that neutralize cancer-causing chemicals. During the 2nd trimester, if you are having a girl, she is already producing all the millions of eggs that will be formed by birth and during her reproductive years. Foods like kale can help protect against ovarian cancer for both of you in the long run!
· Very high in the antioxidants A and C, and also contains calcium and iron.
Romaine lettuce and other darker leafy greens
· Also high in vitamins A and C, vitamin K and folate
· Known as the beautifying vegetable due to its high content of silica and vitamin C, both of which are important for tone and firmness of skin, helping the skin to rebound after being stretched. Rhubarb and asparagus are also high in silica.
· A deficiency of silica results in weak, saggy skin; vitamin C plays an important role in the formation of collagen in the skin.
· Besides being high in water content and therefore good for hydration, celery also contains potassium and sodium, which are very important for fluid balance in the body. It can help with puffiness in the feet or under the eyes during pregnancy
· Other sources of silica include unrefined cereals, apples, cherries, almonds, oranges, fish, oats, and seeds
· Very high in selenium (an antioxidant) and folate
· Most mushrooms such as crimini, shiitake, oyster, reishi, and maitake mushrooms are very high in selenium, an important antioxidant
· Do not buy white button mushrooms, which have much less nutrients than crimini
· The wonder vegetable! Contains 1 mg iron per cup, and is rich in folate, vitamin A and vitamin K.
· Also contains 4 peptides that are similar to ACE inhibitor medication that lowers blood pressure.
· Contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two antioxidants found in high concentrations in the lens and retina of the eye. The baby's eyes are developing quickly during this time period, so getting enough of these two antioxidants is important for the baby's eye health and color perception. Since lutein is a fat soluble nutrient, make sure to eat spinach with some type of fat or oil.
· Like spinach, watercress is also high in antioxidants (vitamin C, A) and the two antioxidants which are important for eye health - lutein and zeaxanthin.
· ½ cup of watercress contains 500 IU vitamin A.
· Contains much higher amounts of vitamin C and A than other types of onions (red, white, yellow).
· Contains a bunch of different nutrients, including vitamin E, A, C, and K; small mounts of B vitamins; minerals like phosphorus, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, etc.
· Flat leaf variety is more nutritious than the curly kind.
· 1 cup per day is safe during pregnancy
· Can help with sleep and insomnia
· Good alternative to caffeine
· High in manganese, which is important for skeletal development and also involved in sex-hormone production.
· Contains curcumin, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal function
· Curcumin can bind with heavy metals like cadmium and lead, which are harmful to you and the baby, including the baby's brain.
Garlic (especially 3rd trimester)
· While it is has not specifically been proven that garlic reduces the risk for preeclampsia (although given that it is a flavonoid rich food, it may), there is some evidence that shows it is helpful for patients with hypertension.
Red raspberry leaf tea
· Research is mixed as to whether it can help stimulate uterine contractions to reduce the length of labor. Some research shows that it may reduce the second stage of labor, which is when the mother is in actual delivery and pushing the baby out. It is often used by midwives to facilitate delivery.
· Contains all the essential amino acids, which is important for protein synthesis and helping muscles rebuild and stay strong with increasing weight of baby.
· Rich in lutein, which is important for baby’s eye health.
Cheese, Yogurt, and Kefir
· Cheese, yogurt, and kefir are excellent sources of Calcium, which, as discussed above, is one of the more important nutrients to obtain before, during, and after pregnancy. Milk is also a good source of calcium but may be difficult for some women to digest.
· 3/4 cup plain yogurt, 1.5 oz. hard cheese, and 1 cup milk contain 300 mg of calcium
· Rich in many minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium, copper
· Also high in manganese, which helps with skeletal development; and calcium for bones
· A study that examined the food habits of people over the age of 70 in 4 different countries (Japan, Greece, Australia, Sweden) found that beans and legumes emerged as the food most linked to longer life; legumes was the only food consistently and significantly linked to survival across all populations.
· Rich in antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, which are also found in grapes, berries, and cranberries
· Also rich in manganese, iron, thiamin, phosphorus, magnesium, and fiber
· One cup has 15 grams of fiber and 250 mcg folate
· Can help with sleep because it contains tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid used to make niacin and serotonin (feel-good hormone that stabilizes mood and promotes sleep).
· High in calcium, iron, and protein, esp. for vegetarians
· ¼ block of tofu contains about 7 grams of protein
Tuna and Fatty Fish:
· Avoid high mercury fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore and yellowfin tuna, and golden snapper. Canned light tuna and skipjack tuna are low in mercury.
· Japanese women have lower rates of osteoporosis even though they don’t consume high amounts of calcium. This may possibly be due to their diet high in fatty fish, which is high in vitamin D. Vitamin D intake is believed to help protect against osteoporosis, heart disease, and certain cancers.
· Although it is high in saturated fat, the type of saturated fat is called lauric acid – a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) - which has natural antimicrobial function and is naturally found in high amounts in breast milk.
· The body tends to use MCT for energy rather than for fat storage.
· The antimicrobial fats help support healthy immune system.
· The lauric acid in breast milk is believed to help prevent infants from viral and bacterial infection. Researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University found that when lactating women consumed coconut oil, their breast milk contained higher amounts of antimicrobial lauric acid within 6 hours.
· Make sure to purchase virgin or extra virgin coconut oil! Don’t buy hydrogenated coconut oils.
Blackstrap Molasses (preferably organic, unsulphured )
· Rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron
· Also has B6, which is important for sodium/phosphorus balance (electrolytes) and in how much water is in your body; thus, it is good as a sweetener during the third trimester if you have swollen feet and ankles. B6 also important for getting energy out of the foods you eat.
· Ways to use: as a sweetener in oatmeal, smoothies, or yogurt, or in breads and baked goods
Let us know if you found this informative by liking our post! Feel free to leave any comments, questions, or suggestions below. We wish you a healthy, happy pregnancy, and encourage our patients to come in for regular acupuncture treatments throughout the pregnancy (not just at the beginning and end!) to optimize their health and the health of the baby.
If you would like to watch the YouTube version of this blog post, which includes Dr. Jing's lecture on pregnancy care during the first half and Dr. Lim's pregnancy dietary recommendations in the second half of the video, you can click on the video below: