Series: Diet for a Healthy Pregnancy

Posted on by Paula Gallagher

In the last two posts about healthy pregnancy, I have discussed common problems during pregnancy and what supplements you should take. Today, I talk about my favorite topic, FOOD! As I said before, when it comes to pregnancy, I like to keep it simple. Sticking to whole foods is best for most women. And although pregnancy only requires 300 extra daily calories, the need for protein, essential fats, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc increases dramatically. Here are some important things to include in your diet for a healthy pregnancy. Quality Protein Pregnancy is a time of growth, making amino acids and protein especially important. A pregnant woman’s need for protein increases to 50 grams daily. Choose organic sources of protein to avoid exposure to pesticides, hormones, and other chemicals that can be found in non-organic meat and dairy. There are also fantastic vegetarian sources of protein like nuts, seeds, tofu and beans. Good Fats Fats provide essential fatty acids (omega-3 and -6) needed for optimum reproduction and cell membranes for the placenta. Some studies have indicated that supplementing with essential fatty acids during pregnancy may help prolong gestation, even among women at high risk of preterm birth. Maternal DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) intake during pregnancy may aid infant visual and cognitive development. A 2003 study published in Pediatrics tested children whose mothers had supplemented with DHA during pregnancy and lactation. At 4 years of age, these children scored higher on standardized intelligence and achievement tests than children whose mothers had not supplemented with DHA. Food sources of good fats are salmon, walnuts and flaxseeds. Carbohydrates High fiber diets are linked with lower rates of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include vegetables, whole grains, legumes and whole fruit. Limit sugar and simple carbohydrates like while bread. Water Staying hydrated during pregnancy is important to help prevent constipation as well as leg cramps, which are common in pregnancy. Aim for 8 to 10 glasses per day. Photo from here, with thanks.