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July 25, 2016

Your body is never more of a temple that when it has a precious new occupant. Naturopath Loula George advises how to look after it from the inside out. 

We know that simple dietary changes can greatly improve the chances of having a healthy baby so it’s more important than ever to eat well in pregnancy. Here are some guidelines for a good diet.

  • Protein – is essential during pregnancy. It is the building blocks of life. Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, deep sea fish, dairy, tofu and eggs. Aim to have one serve of protein at least twice a day. Avoid fish with possibly high levels of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tuna.
  • Antioxidants – yellow and green vegetables are particularly important as they are a good source of folic acid. Choose fruits which pack ‘nutritional bang for their buck’ such as blueberries, pomegranate, kiwifruit, apples and plums.
  • Organic Produce – reduce your exposure to chemical pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics by eating organic and free-range foods wherever possible. Research also shows that certified organic fruit and vegetables contain higher levels of nutrients than non-organic foods. If you’re unable to access organic produce, ensure that fruit and vegetables are washed well.
  • Essential Fatty Acids – are needed for your baby’s brain and eye development. It is important that fats are of the right type and to not eat too much. Avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, sardines, salmon, chia seedsare all excellent sources of good quality unsaturated oils. Avoid trans-fats.
  • Whole grains and Legumes – can be included for fibre and nutrients. Try gluten-free grains such asbasmati rice, quinoa, buckwheat and oats.

Drink plenty of filtered or spring water, coconut water, vegetable juices and herbal teas as your fluids.

Listen to your cravings and adjust. If it is for salty foods, choose olives, slivers of Parmesan or tomato with sea salt on toast. If it is for sweet foods, choose fruit with yoghurt and seeds, make a smoothie with protein powder, banana, honey and cinnamon or slowly chew a small bowl of brown rice with rice milk, a drizzle of honey and a few almonds.

Follow the 80/20 rule. No one can eat perfectly 100 per cent of the time. There will be meals that may not be as nutritious as you would like. Guilt suppresses the immune system! Enjoy the moment, move on and make the next week count.

Building  Blocks For Baby

  • Vitamin D 

is essential for calcium absorption and increases calcium and mineral deposition in bone. It is also important for cell growth and development, and a healthy immune system. Getting 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposure each day will help support your vitamin D status.

TIP Food sources are sardines, egg yolk and milk.

  • Selenium 

is a major natural antioxidant which supports healthy thyroid and immune function. Our New Zealand soils are low in selenium, so it is important to ensure adequate intake of this important nutrient.

TIP Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts, mushrooms, egg yolk, wholemeal flour, fish, oats and sesame seeds.

  • Iron 

is a common deficiency during pregnancy, therefore it is important to have your iron levels assessed by your healthcare practitioner.

TIP Iron-rich foods include red meat, eggs, dried apricots, lentils, white beans and whole grain rice.

  • Zinc 

an estimated 82 per cent of pregnant women worldwide may have inadequate zinc intakes. Low zinc status has been associated with labour complications, low birth weight and premature delivery.

TIP Zinc-rich foods include nuts, chicken, tomatoes, eggs, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peas and spinach.

  • Calcium 

is essential for the skeletal development of your baby and the maintenance of your bone health. 

TIP It can be found in hard cheeses, dairy products, sardines with bones, almonds, broccoli and sesame seeds.

  • Iodine 

is essential for healthy thyroid function and is important for developing nervous tissue and the foetal brain.

TIP Research has shown that many pregnant women are iodine deficient. Iodine-rich foods include sea salt (with added iodine), fish, egg yolk, seaweed, cocoa and milk.

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