You are embarking on a special journey called motherhood. Your pregnancy is a special time in your life that needs to be enjoyed and cherished and remember it with affection.
Pregnancy is also a time of great physiological change for both mother and the growing foetus and later infant. Nutritional status before, during and after pregnancy greatly influences maternal and infant health outcomes in the short term and the development of chronic disease later in life. A broad range of certain nutritional factors need to be accounted for and dietary as well as lifestyle modifications need to take place in order to achieve this.
- Poor nutrition before and during pregnancy has lifelong effects on the growth and development of your baby. If it’s ever important to eat healthy in your life then this is the moment.
However we cannot expect to get the entire nutrients mother and baby need through diet alone. Supplementation (where required) with micronutrients is an essential part of pregnancy (and pre-pregnancy) care. This is NOT just folate. Research shows that a multivitamin & mineral approach provides better outcomes for mothers and babies. (Zerfu TA, Avele HT. Nutrition Journal; 2013, 12:20). This is due to the fact that not one nutrient acts in isolation in the body – but all nutrients support each other in all physiological processes (eg. folate needs B6 &B12 to work more effectively).
Also, if one nutrient deficiency is identified then there is a greater likelihood that other nutrients are low as well but are yet to be detected.
Common nutritional deficiencies in pregnancy include:
- Vitamin D
- and Omega 3 fatty acids.
One of the first things to consider in pregnancy is the energy requirement which will vary from one woman to another.
A healthy ratio of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits whilst reducing and eliminating processed foods from the diet should be a priority.
During pregnancy there is an increased need for energy which is required for the development of the foetus, placenta and the wellbeing of the mother.
From the 3rd through the 6th month of gestation much of the energy is used for the growth of the uterus and other maternal tissues.
In the last trimester the focus is switched on the growth and development of the foetus and the placenta.
This does not mean that the “eating for two” principle should come along. Quality of food is the focus not the quantity!!!
- Protein is needed to support tissue growth in both mother and foetus and it provides the required amount of essential amino acids needed for optimum functioning of various bodily functions
- Iron is required mainly in the 2nd and 3rd trimester due to the increase in maternal and red cell mass and the developing foetus and placenta. Deficiency is related to increased risk in pre-term delivery, low birth weight, significant delays in nervous development that can persist into adulthood.
- Zinc is needed for growth and development and as such if the mother is deficient during pregnancy Zinc stores can be further depleted after birth andAlso poor zinc status has been linked with post partum depression therefore this nutrient must be part of any pregnant woman’s dietary intake.
- during lactation. Deficiency is related with increased maternal pre-eclampsia and toxaemia, premature birth, low birth weight infants to name a few.
- Calcium is one of the critical nutrients during pregnancy especially during the gestational period of 20-33 weeks when the greatest foetal mineral accretion is most active.
Prevention of Pre-eclampsia is also a key factor in pregnancy as women with the risk of hypertension and low calcium intake have been found to have share a strong link and calcium intake therefore in such group reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Magnesium is important as it reduces leg cramps which are a common issue in pregnancy. Also optimum magnesium levels are associated with fewer rates of preterm birth, low birth weight and fewer small-for-gestational age infants.
- Vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for developing glucose intolerance during pregnancy and women with gestational diabetes have been found to have lower levels than women without, suggesting a strong correlation with insulin sensitivity. Also low levels have been found to raise risks of adverse musculoskeletal effects, bacterial vaginosis, small for gestational age babies, pre-eclampsia.
- Iodine– Maternal iodine is transferred to the foetus in the second trimester for the production of thyroid hormones, deficiency being closely linked with impaired foetal development, miscarriage and mental retardation in the offspring.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids-DHA is one of the main fatty acids needed for neural, visual and cognitive development of the growing foetus.
- Probiotics- specific strains of probiotics have been found to play an important role in reducing the risk of gestational diabetes, post-partum obesity, childhood asthma, eczema & hayfever, childhood diarrhoea& infection and mastitis risk.
During pregnancy some women have individual health needs that require professional assessment and prescription, these include:
- Significantly overweight – your nutrient demands will change;
- Significantly underweight – your nutrient demands will change;
- If you’re a teenager who’s still growing, you’ll need more nutrition (such as calcium) for the two of you.
- If you’re expecting multiples, you’ll have additional nutrition needs of course!
- If you develop gestational diabetes or have pre-existing diabetes, your diet needs to change and closely monitor your blood sugar levels and communicate regularly with your healthcare team.
- If you are an athlete– you may have entered pregnancy with specific nutritional deficiencies or demands.
- If you have a short space between pregnancies (less than 1 year between birth of one and conception of the next), you may not have repleted your nutritional reserves, especially if you breastfed.
- If you experienced a previous pregnancy with complications such as premature labour, pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure, a low birth weight baby, a baby with a birth defect or postnatal depression/anxiety you will benefit from extra nutritional supplementation.
Main points to follow for a healthy pregnancy are:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Follow a wholefood, unprocessed, fresh food diet.
- Avoid junk foods, processed foods, high sugar foods and high fat foods (trans fat).
- Use organic produce where you can, particularly when eating animal products such as dairy, beef, eggs and chicken.
- Aim for organic fruits and vegetables, and if this can’t be done ensure you always wash/scrub before eating.
- Read food labels and avoid additives.
- A healthy diet is the cornerstone of lifelong health and healthy eating habits from gestational stage, after birth and early childhood, as these have long lasting effects throughout life.
- Improving your nutritional status during pregnancy can help in establishing successful breastfeeding and by continuing healthy eating habits you will also help your child’s nutritional needs at each milestone he/she will progress to.
- By instilling healthy, nourishing and nutritious foods in your life you will avoid
- or at least reduce the chance of having a “fussy eater”.
- Seek professional advice for your individual needs in order to achieve a better outcome for your pregnancy and your future child as this is a lifelong investment.
Yours in health,
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Foods for the skin
We are constantly bombarded in the media of all kinds, with the latest products that promise glowing, young looking skin and many other miracles. The truth is most of them are very expensive and contain harsh chemicals that are anything but wonderful for our whole bodies let alone for our face. Beautiful skin comes from within because nourishment comes from what we put in our bodies and it’s shown on our skin.
The skin is our external reflection of how our body is functioning internally and problems may occur as toxins and waste products accumulate within the body and place additional stress on the skin.
Healthy skin needs help from the inside of the body as various lifestyle and dietary factors play a role in how it looks and feels. So the saying “You are what you eat” is very much spot on maybe in this case we can say “You show what you eat” instead. To get nourishment for healthy skin we need a variety of specific nutrients from our diet.
Here is a summary for these and what they do:
ANTIOXIDANTS-to prevent free radical production, anti-aging;
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS-Decrease inflammation, hydrate the skin;
HUMECTANTS-to draw moisture to the skin;
WATER AND FAT SOLUBLE VITAMINS AND MINERALS-nutrients/food for the skin;
ADEQUATE FOOD AND WATER INTAKE-For optimal health and hydration.
INFLAMMATION – is said to be the key link to aging and therefore reduced skin integrity, hence why anti-inflammatory actions are important .
COLLAGEN – is the most abundant protein in the body; it makes up to 70% of the dry weight of human skin and is a critical component of the vascular and muscular system, hence why adequate collagen synthesis is important.
ANTIOXIDANTS – are substances that destroy free radicals, which are harmful compounds in the body that damage DNA and even cause cell death. Free radicals are believed to contribute to aging as well as the development of a number of health problems, including skin cancer.
HYDRATION – Is essential for proper skin cell integrity/production, as well as flushing impurities from the skin. Water and fresh fruits and vegetables (which are mostly made up of water) are responsible for this. There is a strong need to drink 2-3 litres a day, eat 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit to maintain proper hydration.(quantities are estimates and depend on the individual).
- VITAMIN A – Retinol- precursor to Beta Carotene
SPECIFIC SKIN FUNCTION – Lipid antioxidant, assists epithelial production, assists mucous membrane integrity, protects skin against epithelial carcinoma, and sunburn, increases resistance to microbial infection and anti-aging. FOODS – Barley grass, cod liver oil, green leafy vegetables, egg yolk, mint.
BETA CAROTENE FOODS – (Orange foods) apricots, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, mango.
- VITAMIN C – Ascorbic Acid
SPECIFIC SKIN FUNCTION – Collagen production, potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, maintains integrity of connective tissue and cell membranes, promotes wound healing. FOODS – Aloe Vera juice, Black currents/berries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, red capsicum, parsley, citrus fruit, pawpaw, rosehips, tomato.
- Vitamin E – Tocopherol
SPECIFIC SKIN FUNCTION – is an oil-soluble vitamin antioxidant and a reducing agent (best in combination with vitamin C), intracellular antioxidant, lipid soluble antioxidant, maintains lipid membrane integrity, kills free radicals, prevents tissue polyunsaturated fatty acid peroxidation, stabilizes cell membranes, anti-inflammatory. FOODS – Almonds, apricot oil, beef, corn, egg yolk, hazel nuts, safflowers, sunflowers, wheat germ.
- OMEGA 3 ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS – Linoleic Acid
SPECIFIC SKIN FUNCTIONS – brings hydration to skin cells, cell and tissue communication, maintenance of cell membranes and fluidity, decreases inflammation (inflammatory mediator, prostaglandin precursor) prevents dry/flaky skin. FOODS – Cod liver oil, mustard seed oil, linseed oil, cod, salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, walnut oil, linseed oil.
SPECIFIC SKIN FUNCTIONS – Assists wound healing and proper skin cell proliferation, improves immune function, cofactor for prostaglandins, improves hydrochloric acid levels (so we can absorb the nutrients in these foods). FOODS – Beef, bilberry, brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, sea food, whole grains, ginger, herrings, milk, liver.
SPECIFIC SKIN FUNCTIONS – anti-aging, assists with cross-linking in collagen and elastin, assists collagen synthesis, humectant, assists the architecture and resilience of connective tissue. FOODS-Barley, brown rice, bell peppers, oats, horse tail plant, root vegetables, pumpkin skin, whole grain cereals.
- GREEN TEA (Always drink an hour away from meals)
SPECIFIC SKIN FUNCTIONS- Potent antioxidant, Promotes hydration to skin, anti-inflammatory, prevents free radical damage and decreases skin cancer production.
COCONUT OIL -my personal favourite!-
Most of the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil are attributable to its high content of Medium-Chain Saturated Fatty Acids such as Capric Acid, Caprylic Acid and Lauric Acid which are a “healthy” form of saturated fats compared to trans fats.
Unlike most other dietary Oils, Coconut Oil (if not hydrogenated) does not contain Trans-Fatty Acids (due to its very low content of Unsaturated Fatty Acids).
Coconut oil is an excellent massage oil for the skin, it acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skin, including dry skin.
The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Fortunately, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin from the application of coconut oil.
Coconut oil therefore is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It delays the appearance of wrinkles and sagging of skin which normally accompany aging. Coconut oil is very good at hydrating skin.
It sinks in deep, conditions, moisturizes, and softens skin. It isn’t pumped full of water or petroleum byproducts like many commercial cleansers or lotions either. Skin is kept clean by an oily substance called sebum.
When sebum mixes with too much dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells it can clog pores and lead to acne and other blemishes. Coconut oil naturally clears away dirt, grime, and dead skin cells. It even has some antibacterial properties, killing off harmful bacteria.
It truly is the all-in-one natural solution to all your skin problems. It soothes bug bites, speeds healing, helps with rashes, gets rid of flaking skin, softens and shrinks wrinkles, protects against sun damage, keeps tans longer, acts as an antioxidant to prevent cellular aging, and so much more.
It removes makeup easily and even makes the perfect massage oil. When choosing coconut oil bear in mind that it has be organic, pure, extra virgin coconut-basically it is supposed to be white, thick (if cold weather) or a clear-yellowish liquid and smell of coconuts! So there you have it in a nutshell how to make your skin looks better. Make sure to update your shopping list with the ingredients mentioned before.
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Prasopita Kozanis (Leek tart)
Preparation time:20 minutes Cooking time: 50 minutes Difficulty: easy
Ingredients: 6 leeks
100 ml olive oil
1 bunch dill 2 bay leaves
1 cup cooked quinoa or 2-3 tablespoons psyllium husks
pinch salt, grounded pepper
1 scant cup/100 g grated Gruyere/kasseri/fetta/ goat chevre cheese + extra 10-15 cubes of fetta cheese.
Trim off the tough green part of leeks and the root of the leeks, then slice the white and the light green parts into rounds. Rinse thoroughly in a colander under running water to get rid of any dirt.
In a saucepan gently fry leeks for 5 minutes in a little oil, keep stirring then add chopped dill and bay leaves and stir for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
Remove bay leaves and add the quinoa or psyllium and mix again. Season with salt and pepper.
Whisk eggs in a separate dish then add to the leek mixture and stir well. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese.
Oil the bottom of a ovenproof dish with olive oil or butter (not too thick).With a spatula arrange the leek mixture evenly in the dish.
Arrange the fetta cubes at regular intervals over the leek mixture the put in oven pre-heated to 220 C for 30 minutes and serve hot.
The original recipe calls for semolina and breadcrumbs. I have substitute these for more lower carbohydrate content alternatives. Semolina amount is 1/2 cup and 2-3 tablespoons breadcrumbs.
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