Top 5 Things to Avoid for a Healthy Pregnancy

Top 5 Things to Avoid for a Healthy Pregnancy

So, you’re preggers or plan to be?

As a woman in my early 30s, I’m now at the age where most of my friends are having beautiful baby boys and girls! While I haven’t experienced the joys of pregnancy and childbirth myself yet, I do know that the health of a mother greatly affects the health of her offspring. With the increasing amount of toxins, chemicals, and health hazards in our environment, it’s becoming more important to wisely choose the things you put in and on your body.

While reading through the book Brighton Baby by Roy Dittman, OMD, MH, I learned that most of the damage from consumption of heavy metals and toxins takes place within the first three months of pregnancy. Therefore, it’s often too late once you’ve conceived to try to cleanse the body of these harmful substances. Priming your body before you plan to have a child is extremely important. So just how do you go about doing that?

1. Be choosey about fish.

Mercury and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are found in contaminated fish. Excessive consumption of mercury-contaminated fish can severely impact a child's development, especially their attention, verbal learning, motor function and performance. In addition to certain fish, heavy metals can also be found in tap water, silver amalgam fillings from dental work, vaccines like flu shots, and old paint. PCBs have been linked to lower birth weights, smaller head circumferences, and abnormal reflex abilities and mental impairment. Check out this safe fish-eating guide before you choose any seafood for dinner.

2. Avoid cans and plastic containers.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a man-made compound that can be found in the lining of canned goods and certain plastic bottles including baby bottles. BPA has been shown to exhibit hormone-like properties that raise concern for all of us, but especially those who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant. The FDA has identified possible hazards BPA can cause to fetuses, infants and young children. Early developmental stages appear to be the period of greatest sensitivity to its effects, and some studies have linked prenatal exposure to later physical and neurological difficulties such as hyperactivity and reproductive difficulties. To limit or avoid exposure, buy boxed food items (luckily I’m seeing more and more of these on the grocery store shelves!) or cans that are BPA free (this will be clearly marked on the can). Do not use plastic with the recycling symbol #7 as this indicates mixed plastics that may contain this compound. While you’re at it, go ahead and toss all plastic Tupperware and utensils and opt for glass or ceramic. And never microwave plastic, EVER.

3. In addition to staying your distance from these harmful toxins, focus on ridding them from your body.

If already pregnant please note that this is not the time to cleanse. Ask your OBGYN for options and choose healthy organic foods. Detoxes should be done prior to conception. Include parsley and fresh cilantro in your diet. These herbs have natural chelating agents that can help your body eliminate the burden of heavy metals. Follow a detox diet by avoiding alcohol, tobacco, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, processed/packaged foods, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and meats, fish, poultry and eggs. Try one of our NutriBlast cleanses here. We have a three day and two-seven day options! Remember though, that the effects of a life-long unhealthful diet won’t be remedied in just one week, so think of this as a jump-start to a healthier diet and lifestyle for both you and your baby.

4. Buy organic.

Pesticides found in conventional produce may also harm your unborn. Choose organic foods only. The higher price is worth it for the health of your baby. Studies show that mothers who carry pesticide residue in their bodies may give birth to a low birthweight and pre-term baby, which may lead to future health implications. In addition, grass-fed organic meats are free of added hormones and antibiotics.

5. Drink wisely and invest in a water filtration system.

You wouldn’t take someone else’s prescription medication would you? Well, you may be getting small doses of pharmaceutical drugs through your tap water. In addition it may contain other problematic contaminants like lead, mercury, industrial pollutants, and chlorine among others. PUR is an excellent option available for home water filtration.

While most of us already know that alcohol and caffeine shouldn’t be on your radar while pregnant or if looking to conceive, you want to also be mindful of limiting or avoiding beverages with loads of added sugar (not just high fructose corn syrup!) and artificial sweeteners, and other stimulates often found in these energy drinks that are all the rage.

A recent peer-reviewed study published in the July issue of Nutrition Journal — "Consumption habits of pregnant women and implications for developmental biology: a survey of predominantly Hispanic women in California" further enlightens us to the unseen dangers of consuming these toxins in foods and beverages that are not typically thought of as unhealthy for a developing fetus. I encourage you to read further about this topic as there are too many issues to touch on here.

Now that we know what to avoid, what can we do to provide nourishment for a healthy growing baby?

A NutriBlast is a great way to get in more nutrients for both you and your baby! Research shows that what the mother eats can affect the baby's development and even their taste preferences. In general, most NutriBlasts are filled with vitamins and minerals one requires during pregnancy. Any supplements should be cleared with your doctor.

Some nutrients to pay attention to are:

  • Folic acid - spinach, beans, asparagus, beets
  • Vitamin D - fortified dairy alternatives, mushrooms, the sun!
  • Calcium - beans and greens and fortified foods
  • Iron - fortified cereals, beans, spinach, nuts/seeds (add some vitamin C from berries, citrus, or red peppers to enhance absorption)
  • Protein - nuts/seeds, beans, legumes, veggies and grains
  • Essential fatty acids - walnuts, avocado, nuts/seeds
  • B12 - important to make sure you get enough of if vegetarian/vegan

As with any new dietary change, please consult with your doctor. He/she knows your health history and can provide personalized recommendations.

Registered Dietitian

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