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Key Nutrients For Pregnancy
Good nutrition can help ensure your child's development and well-being well before your child is conceived, believe it or not. If you are trying for a baby or are already pregnant, there are a handful of key nutrients for pregnancy to support both your health and the health of your child.
Key Nutrients For Pregnancy
It is important to eat a wide variety of foods during pregnancy, and the amount of food you need to eat will increase. Your baby will be the first one to tell you this - you can expect to have an increase appetite as the pregnancy. Gaining some 'baby weight' (that is, additional body weight,
the weight of the baby) is also normal. You can expect to gain between 11 to 18 kg of baby weight during pregnancy. If you feel like weight gain during your pregnancy has become extreme or is a problem, talk to your doctor... dieting during pregnancy can be harmful to both you and your baby, so a professional's advice is important. For an in-depth look at diet during pregnancy, visit the Victorian Government's Better Health Channel's
on the topic. Let's take a closer look at the key nutrients you should be aware of during pregnancy.
1. Folate / Folic Acid
Folate (also 'folic acid') is one of the B vitamins. It is important during pregnancy as it can help with neural development and protect your unborn child against neural tube defects. 400mcg. a day is the recommended amount.
Brocoli, asparagus, lentils, spinach and citrus fruits are all high in folate / folic acid.
Your iron requirements increase during pregnancy, because your baby is also drawing on your intake of food sources of iron. During pregnancy, your recommended daily intake of iron rises from 18mg a day pre-pregnancy to 27mg a day during pregnancy (source : NRV.gov.au). Iron deficiency is common during pregnancy and iron supplements may be necessary. However, consult a doctor before starting an iron supplement, as too much iron can be harmful to mum and bub. Note: the iron content of some foods is reduced by cooking. Steaming vegetables for the minimum amount of time possible helps it retain it's iron content.
Lean beef, chicken, eggs, berries and lentils are all good sources of dietary iron during pregnancy.
Iodine deficiency is increasing in Australia. In adults, iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid problems. In infants, the effects of iodine deficiency is much more severe, causing moderate to severe developmental problems in unborn children and infants.
Iodine can be found in 'iodised' table salts. Fish is a good food source of iodine, yet eating fish during pregnancy should be approached with caution.
Many fish types contain higher trace levels of heavy metals
like mercury than others. Mercury can be harmful to a baby. Furthermore, eating raw fish or semi-raw fish should be avoided during pregnancy.... cooked fish only. Increase consumption of dairy products, which are typically rich in iodine. Talk to your doctor about whether an iodine supplement is required.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The huge number of benefits from adequate omega-3 consumption are well documented. One type of omega-3 in particular called 'DHA' (docosahexaenoic acid) is important for mental development of unborn babies. Studies show that babies born of mothers who had high blood levels of DHA during birth had accelerated mental development compared to babies born from mothers with low DHA blood levels.
Best food sources of DHA include seafood and marine algae. Vegetable sources of omega-3 such as chia seeds and flaxseeds are often recommended to increase omega-3 intake for pregnant women, but these contain a different type of omega-3 (ALA) that does not appear to have the same link to brain development. An omega-3 DHA supplement may also be a good idea.
Your doctor should become like your best friend during pregnancy. Whilst you will receive advice from nearly everyone you know, the best person to turn to for advise on nutrition and/or supplements during pregnancy is your doctor. ----- This article was provided by our online health partner Health365. For more information on
Your Diet And PMS
Do a foul mood, weight gain and uncontrollable food cravings sound all too familiar? Your diet could be making your premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms worse. PMS affects up to 30% of women during their childbearing years. For those who struggle to control their symptoms every month, it can be quite a nightmare. PMS symptoms can be varied and may include anxiety, mood swings, depression, tearfulness, irritability, fatigue, breast tenderness, swelling and pain, weight gain, water retention, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, migraine, cramps, backache and cravings for various types of food. These symptoms usually start about 7 to 10 days before the onset of menstruation, increasing in severity as menstruation approaches. Most women experience the worst symptoms during their actual period and, in some cases, afterwards. PMS occurs more commonly in women over the age of 30.
Possible causes of PMS
Research on PMS is still in its early stages, and no single nutritional or hormonal imbalance has been consistently identified as the cause of this syndrome. However, a variety of theories have been proposed. These include:
1. Hormonal Imbalances
Not just imbalances of the female hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen, but also of hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which may be involved with water-retention symptoms.
2. Imbalances in neurotransmitters
For example, an imbalance in serotonin production could cause symptoms such as cravings for sweet foods and depression.
3. FATTY ACID METABOLISM DISORDERS
An imbalance in the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid ratio (due to inadequate or unbalanced intakes) can lead to the production of certain compounds called prostaglandins. These can affect brain and nerve function, and/or cause inflammatory-type reactions.
4. DEFICIENCIES OF NUTRIENTS, SUCH AS VITAMIN B6
This could lead to irritability, fatigue, depression and other symptoms.
Research On PMS and Diet
International research studies have produced the following preliminary results:
In one study, test subjects who took 50mg of vitamin B6 a day reported improvements in depression, irritability and fatigue, but not in other symptoms of PMS.
Studies using essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and 6 fatty acids have produced positive outcomes in relieving symptoms, particularly breast tenderness, swelling and pain. The use of 1 to 2g of evening primrose oil (gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid) significantly reduced PMS symptoms, particularly painful breasts.
Another study found that women who took up to 1,200mg of calcium on a daily basis reported significantly fewer PMS symptoms than women in the control group.
Some studies indicate that there’s also a link between stress and PMS, i.e. women who struggle to cope with stress often struggle with PMS symptoms, which are often also more severe than in women who are more relaxed.
Solutions to PMS
At this stage, scientists and doctors can only make general recommendations for the control of PMS symptoms. Try some or all of the following steps, eliminating those that don’t produce a beneficial effect after 3 months:
Consult your doctor or gynaecologist to check if you’re suffering from hormone deficiencies. If you lack female hormones (either progesterone or oestrogen, or both), your doctor may prescribe hormone supplements.
Ask your doctor to prescribe a mild diuretic that you can take during the 7-10 days when the symptoms appear. This should help to control swelling and water retention.
Do everything in your power to control stress: do yoga, Pilates or another form of exercise, do a few breathing exercises, meditate, or consider psychotherapy to learn how to manage your stress.
Do regular exercise – not just when the symptoms strike (when you may not feel up to doing exercise anyway).
Get sufficient sleep and, if you suffer from insomnia, try drinking a glass of warm, low-fat milk before you go to bed. Milk is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin production.
Follow a balanced diet that contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, unprocessed cereals and grains, lean meat, fish, low-fat milk and dairy products, and margarine or oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E.
Take B-complex supplements that contain vitamin B6.
Take a calcium supplement if you’re not drinking sufficient low-fat milk or eating other high-calcium foods such as low-fat yoghurt, cottage cheese, and other cheeses.
Reduce your intake of caffeine (coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks containing caffeine) and sweetened cold drinks.
If you suffer from cravings, try to resist them, as eating large amounts of salty or sweet foods will make the symptoms worse. Nibble on healthy snacks such as fruit (fresh and dried, for potassium that controls water retention), wholewheat crackers or bread with cottage cheese (provides B6 and calcium) or fresh vegetables like carrots and celery sticks (also high in potassium), and low-fat milk drinks or yoghurt (for calcium and tryptophan).
Take evening primrose oil supplements to increase your omega-6 intake or, better still, take a supplement that contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are increasingly used as therapy for severe PMS. Speak to your doctor about a possible prescription of one of these antidepressants if none of the above steps improve your symptoms.
Superfoods for PMS
In addition to the above tips, you may also like to try the following superfoods to help manage PMS. They contain key nutrients that support women's health, hormonal balance and may help reduce PMS symptoms:
: try our
Banana, Maca and Quinoa porridge recipe
: try our
Banana Split Smoothie recipe
: try our
Berry Breakfast Pudding recipe
. ------ This article was provided by our online health partner Health365. For more information on
women's health issues
, visit www.health365.com.au.
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3 Recipes for Strong Bones
Try these 3 recipes from our Superfoods Recipes archive to help you get more calcium and magnesium into your diet to support stronger bones and good muscle health.
1. Banana Split Smoothie
Calcium and magnesium are both critical for maintaining strong bones as we age. And the ingredients in this recipe have magnesium and calcium in spades. The recipe also contains bananas, which can help the body better absorb calcium. Use soy milk over almond milk (soy milk has more calcium) to make this simple, tasty smoothie even better at protecting your bones.
Try the Banana Split Smoothie now.
2. Chia-Crusted Salmon
Super Chia Seeds
in this recipe are rich in calcium (which we already know is important for joint health), salmon is rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D makes your body much more efficient at absorbing calcium, and is very important for maintaining strong bones over time.
Try the Chia-Crusted Salmon now.
3. Chocolate Date Balls
Several studies have found that the more magnesium people consume in their food, the denser their bones as they age. Dense bones are strong bones. There are a number of foods that are high in Magnesium, but our favourite is Cacao. Use our
, which is ultra-high in magnesium, to support bone and muscle health for years to come.
Try the Chocolate Date Balls now.
Benefits of Maca for Women
With all of the buzz around (and misuse of) the term 'superfoods', it is sometimes useful to remind ourselves that
superfoods really do exist.
is one of these true superfoods. It's amazingly high nutrient density, it's ability to support energy production and it's
ability to improve men's health
are well documented. Now, let's take a closer look at the benefits of Maca for women.
Benefits of Maca For Women
1. Maca Offers Numerous General Health Benefits
Let's start off with some of maca's general benefits. Maca can help boost energy, endurance and stamina. It supplies iron and helps restore red blood cells, which aids anemia and cardiovascular diseases. Maca keeps your bones and teeth healthy and allows you to heal from wounds more quickly. When used in conjunction with a good workout regime you will notice an increase in muscle mass. Warning: If you have a cancer related to hormones like testicular and ovarian, among others. If you have liver issues or high blood pressure you should ask your doctor before having maca.
2. Maca Supports Ability To Withstand Stress
Maca is a type of food known as an 'adaptogen': a natural food that helps us deal with the effects of stress. It is rich in a number of key vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids that our body needs heightened levels of during times of stress. It can promote homeostasis (where your body is in a state of equilibrium and balance) during times of stress, when your body can otherwise be experiencing a hormonal rollercoaster.
3. Maca may help treat menopause symptoms
Maca has been traditionally used in menopausal women as a natural form of hormone replacement therapy. This use has persisted for hundreds of years in Peru and has become commonplace in many Western countries, including Australia. Whilst maca
appear to help balance hormones, it's exact benefits for treating menopause are yet to be clinically proven.
4. Maca Gives Support During Menstruation
Maca has also been traditionally used for helping relieve menstrual symptoms. Central to this is Maca's effect on stabilising mood and hormone levels. It's high nutrient density may also be part of the reason, as it provides key vitamins and nutrients that may help relieve cramping and other menstrual pain.
3. Maca Supports Skin Health
Some people find maca helps clear skin blemishes and balanced oily skin types. Another benefit for your skin is that is decreases sensitivity. In hot or cold weather, maca may help your skin withstand extreme temperatures.
Want to know more about Maca's benefits?
Nature's Way Super Maca
. ------ This article was provided by our online health partner Health365. To
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