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Nutrition and pregnancy: what to know

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Good nutrition before and during pregnancy provides essential building blocks for mom and baby alike.

While most moms-to-be are reminded not to drink alcohol or eat canned fish while pregnant, additional nutritional advice is still lacking.

A mother’s nutritional requirements during pregnancy are not much different than normal. Other than an increased need for calories, the same basic nutritional principles of high nutrient density and whole foods still apply.

It is generally recommend that, during pregnancy, women eat a diet high in green leafy vegetables, good starches, organic proteins, fruit, nuts and seeds. Chemically processed junk foods should reduce to a minimum or be eliminated completely.

A growing baby needs the right building blocks to ensure a healthy pregnancy as well as a healthy baby later on. The foods mom eats will go on to create baby’s skin, hair, muscles, organs and other tissues.

One of the problems many expecting mothers encounter is morning sickness. Morning sickness usually occurs in the first trimester, as the baby feeds throughout the night and borrows vital nutrients from mom.

You might be surprised to know that for some mothers, morning sickness may just be a sign of nutritional deficiency.

One of the best solutions for morning sickness is simply ensuring you have consumed a good amount of healthy carbohydrates the night before. For example, a dinner consisting of lean proteins and starchy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, will absorb slowly and can give your baby sustenance throughout the night.

Another common mistake made during pregnancy is to begin a low-fat diet. Good fats during this time are critical for baby’s brain and nervous system development. A woman’s body is composed of 60% fat when you remove all the water, so eating healthy saturated fats such as cold-pressed oils, organic, lean meats, and nuts are always a great idea.

In addition to eating whole, natural foods, expecting mothers may want to consider the following supplements as well:

Folate – This is the active form of folic acid, which has been shown to prevent birth defects.

Fish oil – A good quality source of omega-3 fatty acid is critical for brain development, especially during the third trimester.

Vitamin C – Is a powerful antioxidant and helps build collagen. It can also help fight off illness during pregnancy.

Vitamin D – The "sunshine vitamin" is essential for brain and immune system development, especially during the winter months.

Multivitamin – In some cases, where whole foods may be hard to come by, a good quality multivitamin can be used.

Finally, pregnancy is never the time to diet or calorie restrict. Focus on the quality of your food and eat until you are full. Supplement wisely and stop consuming processed foods and sugary drinks, which are of limited nutritional value. Proper nutrition before, during and after pregnancy while breastfeeding will give your baby a healthy head start.

Dr. Christian Chatzoglou, D.C. is a chiropractor, writer and natural health expert. For more information on this and other topics, visit www.drchrischatzoglou.com

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