Dr. Mercola: Healthy Eating Tips for Pregnant Women

Posted on November 4th, 2011 by author  |  3 Comments »

healthy pregnancyPregnancy is the most nutritionally demanding time in a woman’s life. She is expected to nourish not only her child’s body, but also her own. Dr. Joseph Mercola says that proper nourishment is essential for all stages of fetal development, so that the baby will come out normal and healthy. After all, no mom ever wants her child to have birth defects.

You Should Eat Healthy Even Before Pregnancy

According to a recent research, women who consumed a vegetable-rich diet at least a year before their pregnancy had a significantly lower risk of having a baby with certain birth defects – such as neural-tube defect, cleft lip, cleft palate, and spina bifida – compared to women who ate an unhealthy high-sugar diet (link).

Dr. Mercola says you should practice healthy eating before and during your child-bearing years. This is because it takes time for your body to process and absorb the nutrients. The earlier you practice eating healthy, the better you and your baby will reap the nutrients.

“If you wait to start eating healthy until you are already pregnant, the fetus will miss out on important nutrients in the first crucial weeks of development, when the foundations of your baby’s organs are forming. Many are not aware of this, but it is between 17 and 56 days of pregnancy that the embryo is most vulnerable and susceptible to influences that may interfere with its normal development,” Dr. Mercola warns.

Crucial Nutrients Pregnant Women Should Not Miss Out On

Dr. Mercola says that a healthy diet for pregnancy should have minimal amounts of processed foods but abundant in healthy fats, vegetables, and high-quality protein sources. Here are some nutrients that are crucial for a pregnant woman.

  • Vitamin B12

This is one of the eight B-complex vitamins that are found naturally in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, and milk products. Vitamin B12 is critical for normal neurological development and maintenance. Deficiency of this vitamin can lead to permanent birth defects. Many vegans or vegetarians are usually deficient in vitamin B12.

  • Metafolate (Folic Acid)

Having insufficient folic acid (vitamin B9) increases your child’s risk of spina bifida and other birth defects at the time of conception. This is why folic acid supplements are taken by many women as part of their prenatal vitamins. However, Dr. Mercola says folic acid performs best if it is in its biologically-active form L-5-MTHF. This form can cross the blood-brain barrier and carries out important brain functions.

Since almost half of the population has difficulty converting folic acid to 5-MTHF due to a genetic reduction in enzyme activity, make sure your multivitamin contains metafolate or metafolin and not folic acid. Fresh, healthy and organically-grown vegetables also provide you with the correct form of folic acid you need.

  •  Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats

Fetal cells cannot form omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA, meaning a fetus must get these from his mother’s diet. If a mother lacks omega-3 fats during pregnancy, her child’s nervous system and immune system may never fully develop, leading to emotional, learning, and immune system disorders.

“Omega-3s are simply powerhouse nutrients to ensure that your baby will develop properly and reach its highest potential. These nutrients help to maximize the intelligence of your child, and protect your baby from brain injuries such as autism, pervasive developmental delay, and ADHD,” says Dr. Mercola.

Dr. Mercola says krill oil is the best source of animal-based omega-3 fats. Its EPA and DHA are formed in a double-chain phospholipid structure that is far more absorbable than the omega-3s in fish oil. Krill also does not have contamination risks that are found in some types of seafood.

  • Fermented Foods and/or Probiotics

 Having an optimal ratio of good to bad bacteria in your body during pregnancy helps protect your child from eczema and childhood allergies, improve the symptoms of colic, and optimize your baby’s weight later in life. It also reduces your risk of going into premature labor.

Consuming traditionally-fermented foods rich in probiotics – like lassi, kefir, natto, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and other fermented veggies – can provide you with beneficial bacteria for optimal gut health. Probiotic supplements are also a good option.

 This nutrient reduces your risk of premature birth and high blood pressure while protecting your child from birth defects and autism. Dr. Mercola says that sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D, although you can also use a safe tanning bed or take oral vitamin D3 supplements.

 Avoid This Harmful Food Ingredient during Pregnancy

Dr. Mercola says that consuming undercooked meat and unpasteurized milk is okay for pregnant women, as long as the food comes from clean and safe high-quality sources and not from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Fructose should be avoided during pregnancy because it increases insulin and leptin resistance and promotes inflammation in your body, which can lead to pregnancy complications. Fructose is found in processed foods, soda, cookies, candy, crackers, and bread. Fruits are also abundant in fructose, so make sure you consume them in moderation.

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