Staying Healthy During Pregnancy
A mother’s health (and father’s health at conception) are a huge part of what makes healthy babies.
This doesn’t need to be complicated. Here is a list of things proven to positively impact your baby’s health while you are pregnant.
- Limiting alcohol to one drink a day, slowly
- Limiting coffee to 3 cups a day
- Eating a high fiber, nutrient dense diet
- Taking prenatal vitamins including folate
- Avoiding infections and food poisoning
- Avoiding exposures like air pollution, water pollution, and unnecessary drugs / medications.
- Continuing aerobic exercise, as possible, even if that means slow walks
You may notice that this list could apply to anyone, not just pregnant women.
A mother’s diet is super important for her overall health, especially her gut health. And the gut biome you have at delivery is the biome your baby will inherit -- the gut biome that may decide if they develop food allergies.
For both mom and baby, the gut biome can always be made better. “Better” in this case means that the gut has more species that reduce inflammation, digest foods, and improve the strength of the intestinal lining.
Eat Fermented foods
Almost every culture eats fermented foods, so it’s no wonder our guts have evolved to need them. In the fermentation process, bacteria break down the sugar in foods and create happy colonies.
Research has shown that fermented foods promote a healthy gut microbiome because eating fermented foods can repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria.
Your gut needs foods fermented with salt, not vinegar. A good rule of thumb is that healthy fermented foods are in the refrigerator section of the grocery store because they contain live bacteria.
Just remember to eat them as-is, and not cook them, because that can kill the live bacteria.
Best fermented foods to eat while pregnant:
- fermented vegetables (i.e.indian pickles)
- kefir / yogurt
Eat Your Veggies
The bacteria you want in your gut live off of fiber. Eating a diet high in vegetables, especially fibrous ones feeds the gut bacteria that you want to keep around. High fiber foods are sometimes called pre-biotics because they feed probiotics.
Make sure to include foods like:
- Spinach / collards/ kale / mustard greens
- whole grains
Avoid High Sugar Foods, Especially Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar is tasty but it feeds damaging gut bacteria. If you eat sugar, bad bacteria will grow. If sugar replaces fiber, your gut will fill with nasty, pro-inflammatory gut bacteria and crowd out good bacteria.
A study in animals suggested that the modern American diet includes too much sugar and fat, and may be the biggest cause of the unhealthy, leaky guts and the rise in immune diseases. Too much sugar goes way beyond cavities. It can mean allergies, diabetes, and even autism in children.
Fake sugars are no better. Another study concluded that the artificial sweetener aspartame was worse for good gut bacteria than natural sugar. Artificial sweeteners were linked with the growth of gut bacteria that increased the risk of diabetes, high blood sugar, and heart disease.
Other Steps to Maintaining a Healthy Gut
Just like the information above, nothing in the list below will shock you. But “preventing allergies in my baby” is now one more reason to do them!
- Get sleep
- Try to reduce stress
- Exercise, especially aerobic exercise
- Avoid smoking or excessive drinking
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotics
Further reading: learn about the benefits of prenatal probiotics and how they can help lead to a healthier pregnancy.