What pregnant women need to know about an ideal pregnancy diet and how acupuncture may be able to help.
What you eat during pregnancy has a significant impact on an optimal ovarian environment, embryo implantation, and development of a healthy baby. But what constitutes a healthy preconception and pregnancy diet? Due to the risk of misinformation, it’s essential to obtain recommendations regarding this question from credible sources with a proven record such as Centre of Balance Cambridge. Our experts encourage adoption of an individualised diet depending on a person’s unique characteristics.
What are the recommended Dietary Constituents?
According to scientific studies, fertility and diet have a strong positive relationship. Specifically, a study by Harvard nurses on over 18,000 participants found out that women who consumed a low GI diet comprising of monosaturated fats, vegetable protein, among other whole foods recorded the highest fertility rate. Moreover, these women supplemented their diet with multivitamins and regular exercise. Based on the finding from this study and over 10 years experience at Centre of Balance, the following dietary constituents are recommended for pregnant women:
- Vitamins and minerals– The Harvard Nurses’ Study showed that incorporation of multivitamin-mineral supplements increased the chances of conception and implantation by maximizing nutrition to developing eggs. They include iodine, iron, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B, vitamin, C, and vitamins D. However, these supplements should be used along with fresh food.
- Good oils– These are oils derived from whole plants such as olives, avocado, seeds, nuts, and coconuts. Good oils improve hormonal sensitivity and reduce inflammation, and may increase fertility.
- Fresh vegetables and fruits– The anti-oxidant properties, vitamins, and carbohydrates in fruits, herbs, spices, and vegetables are known to boost immunity and combat inflammation.
- Proteins– Although pregnant women should ensure that proteins constitute 25% of their diet, it’s advisable to eat plant-based proteins especially from seeds, nuts, lentils, peas, and beans.
- Carbohydrates– We all know that carbohydrates are essential for energy. However, high GI foods such as sweetened and flour products have been shown to reduce the rate of fertility in women. On the other hand, slow release carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains improve fertility.
- Whole foods– This includes foods high in antioxidants, enzymes, fibre, and nutrients. Additionally, they do not contain trans fats, sweeteners, preservatives, colours or artificial flavours.
Although the fresh food and supplements highlighted above are general guidelines, it is advisable to seek the input of professionals regarding specific foods due to individual conditions and requirements.
Things to Avoid during Pregnancy:
An ideal pregnancy diet is not merely about recommended foods, it also includes substances and practises that women should avoid during preconception and pregnancy. In order to improve fertility, the following substances should be avoided:
- Alcohol– Alcoholic beverages have been shown to have adverse effects on the fertility of women by delaying conception. This is due to the inability of the female body to metabolise alcohol as effectively as the male body.
- Caffeine– Caffeinated products such as tea and coffee are associated with increased miscarriage rates and reduced fertility in women. Therefore, it is prudent to minimise the intake of caffeine during pregnancy.
- Smoking– Cigarette smoking is known to reduce the uterus receptivity to embryo implantation, reduced success of IVF cycles, cause early menopause, and delay conception. Moreover, marijuana smoke interferes with ovulation and it’s toxic to a developing egg.
- Toxic chemicals and fumes– Exposure to industry by-products, household cleaners, insecticides, and pesticides reduces the success of IVF, depletes follicle numbers, and reduces egg viability.
Where does acupuncture fit?
Regarding the pregnancy diet, acupuncture treatment aims to:
- Facilitate the proper absorption and utilisation of nutrients.
- Address digestive issues such as low appetite, cravings, reflux, bowel disorders, and bloating.
- Help patients with various addictions, which hinder their fertility such as smoking and alcoholism and to cope with withdrawal symptoms.
- Reduce stress which is known to hinder ovulation and consequently reduce fertility. Acupuncture treatment may help tackle this problem by regulating ovulation, relieving anxiety, and reducing stress hormones in the body.
- Boost fertility by improving circulation in the uterus and regulating reproductive hormones.
Additional Lifestyle Tips
In order to improve the efficacy of acupuncture and the pregnancy diet, it is also important to incorporate a few lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a body mass index (BMI) of between 20-25. According to practitioners at Centre of Balance, it’s important to avoid processed foods. Although some people may cite the price and accessibility of whole food as an excuse to consume processed foods, it’s not worth the risk. For more information on healthy diets, pregnancy, and acupuncture, do not hesitate to visit our clinic or contact us directly.
Fill in our online questionnaire for free – and save the $135 it would cost you to do this detailed medical history in person with a practitioner. You can request a phone call from a practitioner after they have read your online form, or just book your initial exam. Call us on 07 846 7956 to book, or fill in the questionnaire now.
Chavarro, J., Willett, W., & Skerrett, P. J. (2008). The fertility diet: groundbreaking research reveals natural ways to boost ovulation & improve your chances of getting pregnant. New York, NY, USA:: McGraw-Hill.