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Now that you have prepared your body, you are ready for conception and pregnancy. Please continue to maintain all the changes you have made thus far.
Pregnancy is the time to start the epigenetic programming of your foetus, to create a beautiful baby that grows up healthy, happy and bright. Consider promoting the following healthy epigenetic programmers:
Healthy weight gain to prevent insulin resistance:
Weight gain during pregnancy is normal but you must avoid putting on excessive weight. Overweight is linked to gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy).
In turn, this programmes insulin resistance in your foetus, which will lead to obesity and other metabolic disorders in the future.
You need not "eat for two". Just let your natural appetite be your guide. You need to eat more only towards the final three months of pregnancy. Even then, you need to eat only about 1o percent more than what you normally eat. But you must, of course, eat nutrient-rich foods to nourish both you and your foetus. For detailed guidelines on weight gain during pregnancy, refer to Chapter 4, Lifetime Nutrition.
Nutrition for the foetus
Many problems that arise during pregnancy are the direct result of sub-optimal nutrition. Because of modern agricultural practices as well as food refining and processing, many natural foods contain only a fraction of the nutrients that they are supposed to have. Sub-optimal nutrition affects the mother and, more critically, is linked to many problems affecting the foetus. They include:
Slowed brain development
The brain of a foetus is highly complex. It develops very rapidly and by 40 weeks, the foetus will already have 10o billion brain cells, acids and cholesterol are essential.
the same number as an adult. Brain foods like phospholipids, omega-3 fatty
Additionally, vitamin B6, vitamin mB12, folic acid and zinc support methylation, which is required for DNA formation and brain development. Amino acids like L-tyrosine, DL-phenylalanine, taurine and glutamine are also important for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Tryptophan further supports the formation of serotonin, a hormone that has a calming effect. In turn, serotonin produces melatonin, the sleep hormone.
can arise from disruptions in organ formation, due to deficiency in the essential methylation vitamins such as vitamin B6, vitamin mB12 and folic acid.
Pregnancy is phenomenal in terms of nutritional requirements and hormonal changes. Careful nutritional supplementation can go a long way to help reduce sub-optimal nutrition that can undermine the health of both the mother and her foetus. Consider the following needs:
Due to a massive release of hormones during pregnancy, there is a high chance of developing gestational diabetes. The hormone release is natural, but the modern high-glucose diet is not. To prevent gestational diabetes, reduce high glycemic index foods. Exercise, along with supplements of chromium and vitamin B3 can further reduce the risks;
This condition is common during pregnancy, due to the rapidly expanding volume of blood. You can boost your level of red blood cells with supplements of vitamin mB12, folic acid and iron. This will also boost your energy level;
About 10 to 15 percent of women experience depression during pregnancy and after childbirth. This is very often due to - or at least worsened by - imbalances in the body chemistry. Supplements of zinc, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids can help alleviate depression. These nutrients are especially important from the last three months of pregnancy till the first eight months after childbirth.
like rashes and a worsening of asthma and eczema can be reduced by balancing the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Some foods, if not properly stored, handled or prepared, can develop deadly bacteria and toxins. During pregnancy, you will want to minimise such risks by avoiding the following foods:
Unpasteurised cheese, usually soft cheeses like Camembert - look for the words au lait creu, which mean "with raw milk";
Raw eggs and poorly cooked poultry meat;
Sashimi, sushi and other raw seafood like cockles;
Green and sprouting potatoes;
Unrefrigerated cooked food.
Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are also toxins that affect the brain and nervous system.
The effects of caffeine can last up to 100 hours in a foetus. Continue to avoid foods, beverages and tobacco products that contain these substances.
Nutritional supplements during pregnancy will help both mother and child. Studies show that supplements can decrease the risk of birth defects, miscarriage and low birth weight babies. By minimising such risks, you also minimise the risk of your child developing problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life.
This content is adapted, with permission, from Book 1 of 2 : The Wonders of Nutrition by Dr Ang Poon Liat. MBBS, M.MED (PAED), MRCP (UK PAED), FAMS, MD.