It is no mystery to anyone today that pregnant women’s lifestyle and diet can affect the health of the baby to be. Research continues to show that maternal diet and possible deficiencies not only have a determining effect on the mental and physical health of babies and children, but also that of adults even late in life. This article will touch briefly on the major aspects of diet and supplementation during pregnancy but also provides interesting reading for anyone seeking to improve their health.
In fact scientists in this field now consider maternal nutrition to be a risk factor for cancer, diabetes and heart disease, regardless of when these might occur in life. Not only, but this risk factor is independent of other known factors like a person’s own diet, lifestyle and genetics. Lack of nutrients in pregnancy can turn on genes that would otherwise lie dormant and cause no harm, but that once activated become triggers for illness at any time in life.
In most cases, aside from being told to “eat well” and take a multivitamin, women are not informed of new research in this field or all the components of a healthy pregnancy that contribute to thriving babies who grow into healthy adults.
The three major dietary factors that were found to adversely affect the baby are insufficient protein, excessive sugar and starchy foods, and lack of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Protein is basically what the body is made of. It is the most essential building-block for the baby to be, but it is also as essential for the mother’s own health maintenance. Lack of protein in pregnancy can deplete the mother setting the stage, among other things, for post-partum depression.
The body has no way of storing protein, so it has to be consumed on a daily basis, and preferably several times a day. In the excellent book (now out of print) “Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy”, Thomas Brewer, MD showed how pre-eclampsia and eclampsia can be effectively prevented by making sure women eat enough protein during pregnancy.
According to the FDA a pregnant woman weighing 150 lbs needs 75 grams of protein a day. This is likely to be an underestimate because of a medical anti-protein bias that exists today and therefore it should be considered as a strict minimum. To give you an idea of how much food is involved, 2 large eggs contain a total of 12 grams of protein, lean meats or seafood around 7 grams per ounce, hard cheese 10 grams per ounce, and beans 7-10 grams per half cup cooked.
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