The right time to plan for a pregnancy is before it happens.
Good health should be at the top of the list when deciding to plan a family. There is now substantial evidence that residues left in food by artificial pesticides and other chemicals can be harmful. A Danish study showed that sperm counts in Western men have dropped dramatically over the past 50 years. To off set that, an article in the Lancet reported that organic farmers and growers who ate organic produce had sperm counts that were nearly 50% higher than men working in other professions who did not.
An unhealthy woman and man cannot hope to conceive and deliver a healthy baby. Both parents need to be properly nourished, have adequate exercise, fresh air and clean water, have regular rest and relaxation, have a positive outlook and be spiritually and emotionally balanced to produce a healthy, happy “little person”. Ideally the preconception preparatory phase should be six to twelve months long.
Nutrition plays an important part in creating healthy pregnant parents and a healthy baby. You should eat one serving of vegetables for each 25lbs of pre-pregnant body weight every day. Cooked vegetables should be just lightly cooked or sautéed to preserve nutrients and enhance digestion. Raw vegetables, although high in nutrients and enzymes, can some times be difficult to digest and therefore require careful chewing. Fruits and vegetables should be local and in season for them to be at their prime nutrient value. Vegetables are an important source of vitamins C and A, both are crucial for your fetus’s development and for your own immune system. Vitamin C is essential for prostaglandin production, while vitamin A helps your immune system produce the lymphocytes that identify and kill enemy invaders. The best vegetable sources of both C and A are tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, kale, and peppers. Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are rich sources of vitamin C. Carrots, spinach, squash and sweet potatoes are all excellent sources of vitamin A. Vegetables are one of the most nutritious snack foods you can eat, and they contain almost no fat.
Protein is critical for health. Red meat and poultry should be lean and organic. Moms to be are able to enhance their energy and reduce sweet/carbohydrate cravings by consuming three to six servings of protein per day. These servings should be as thick as your palm and one half as wide. Try to eat at least 12 ounces (three 4 ounce servings) of fresh cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, sardines or bluefish every week.
These fish are rich in omega -3 Essential Fatty Acids, which are vital for the developing nervous system of your fetus, and may also be important for the developing immune system. It will also help to support your own immune system during this time when a pregnant women’s immune system is slightly depressed and keeps your body from rejecting the developing embryo. Another alternative for meat as a protein is to combine legumes and whole grains together in a meal. Beans supply several essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and copper and when properly combined with grains, a meatless protein.
Breads, pasta and cereals made with natural whole and ancient grains are a good addition to the meal plan. These are important sources of fibre and B vitamins. Vitamin B-6 helps turn EFA’s into prostaglandins to keep your immune system in tune.
Calcium is vital to your diet, if the developing fetus does not get enough from what you are eating, it will be taking it from your bones and teeth, leaving you depleted. Excellent sources of calcium, are cottage cheese, green leafy vegetables such as chards, spinach, kale, mustard greens. Other sources are canned fish with the bones; corn tortillas, dried beans- red kidney, white or fava beans or chick peas, almonds and filberts are the nuts with the highest content of calcium. Pumpkin and sesame seeds are also great sources of calcium. Natural Yogurt is also a good source of calcium and is very versatile. Mix it with dill, chives and garlic for a delicious dip or spread for vegetables.
White and yellow sugar and artificial sweeteners are absolute no- no’s, as are refined carbohydrates, processed meats, smoking (anything), caffeine- containing drinks such as tea, coffee, cocoa and all soft drinks such as colas. Alcohol and over the counter or street drugs should also be avoided. Alcohol can lower a baby’s birth weight and has been linked with neurological damage and delayed development in infants. Water is essential, but must be pure. City tap water is always chlorinated and may contain a variety of environmental pollutants. In addition, it may contain lead leached in from the soldering on pipe joints. Studies have shown that substances produced by chlorination can damage genes. Leached lead can damage the fetus’s developing brain.
Avoid packaged and prepared foods. They contain large amounts of preservatives, hydrogenated fats and sodium.
Cook without salt, replace it with lemon, herbs and spices instead and do not add salt to foods at the table. Salt helps to expand the volume of blood needed to nourish your placenta. both common complications in the last months of pregnancy.
Stay away from margarine and imitation butter which contain hydrogenated vegetable oil which is destructive to your immune system. Butter, which is also a source of vitamin A is much better for you. Also use fresh olive oil and flax oil (do not heat) for salad dressings.
Nutrition plays an important part in creating healthy pregnant parents and a healthy baby.
The healthy development of your child’s defense system starts with the foods you eat.
While you are pregnant, the nutrients in the foods you eat nourish your developing fetus. The strength of your unborn baby’s future defensive forces depends to a great extent of the quality of those nutrients. Your own immune system, if kept healthy with essential nutrients, protects your unborn infant from most infections that may threaten you. It actually goes on protecting the baby for the first three months of life.