Making healthy nutrition choices during pregnancy is extremely important for you and your baby. Consuming functional foods that provide all the nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy and baby’s development is key. Here are some of the most important nutrients in pregnancy, and how to get the most out of your diet:
Carbohydrates provide the main source of energy for the fetus and your body needs them when you’re pregnant. Cravings for these types of quick energy foods likely mean you need calories now because your blood sugar is low. Insulin levels increase in early pregnancy as a means of ensuring that mom stores fat for later. This means your glucose or blood sugar can get low quickly making you not just want, but need calories. Aim for the least processed carbs you can find: beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, fruit, oats and rice.
Protein is incredibly important in pregnancy and can be obtained from animal or vegetarian sources. Aim for 70-100 grams of quality protein per day through animal or vegetarian means. Great options are 100% grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon and pastured chicken and eggs are great choices. Beans, lentils, nuts and seeds are good sources of vegetarian protein. All of these foods contain various important pregnancy vitamins and minerals like choline, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12 and many others.
A good balance of healthy fat is important in every diet. Try these superfoods:
Avocado- they have high amounts of vitamins C and K, folate and omega 3’s. They are also high in unsaturated fat ( the good kind). You will feel nice and full after snacking on one.
Wild-caught fish, like salmon–this fish is packed with omega 3’s, vitamin D, and calcium which are all essential to bone health and brain development. Just remember to limit your fish consumption due to possible mercury content.
Yogurts, milk and cheese
Coconut oil (look for unrefined/virgin oil) is a great source of lauric acid which is antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial and thus helps support you and your baby’s immune system. It’s also present in breast milk, consuming it now will help build your stores of this fat and increase the concentration in your milk if you breastfeed. This tropical oil may also help balance blood sugar and prevent gestational diabetes. Finally, coconut oil can also help with constipation. A little in hot water, coffee will help get things moving.
Fruits and Vegetables- no explanation needed!
Leafy Greens- provide high levels of folate, a B vitamin that is instrumental in neural tube development, brain and spinal development, and the production of red blood cells. B vitamins have also been shown to help reduce stress, which can be especially helpful during pregnancy. Try kale and spinach!
Blueberries- vitamin K to fight cancer and promote bone growth–essential for your growing baby. They are also high in vitamin C, and are a fiber rich fruit, aiding digestion and helping you feel full. Blueberries have one of the lowest glycemic index ratings for fruit, and its iron content promotes cell growth, liver function, and oxygen transportation.
Sweet Potatoes-beta carotene can help support your immune system and is converted into vitamin A in your body. Also an excellent source of fiber, which can help support healthy blood sugar levels and improve digestion.
Keep color in mind. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables means you’re getting a variety of nutrients.
Talk with your healthcare provider about your dietary needs and make the best choices you can. If you need help, we have the resources. Contact us for more information.