Why is this so important in pregnancy?
This blog compares whole foodsto real foodsin terms of their nutritional value, firstly clarifying the profound difference between the two. Whole foods sit between a broad range of industrially made products that consist of a wide variance in quality.Using thisexample, I share the process of real food to the base ingredient of flour. Bread and pasta are made from wheat grain, which apart from a small number of organic growers, will come a from a monocrop farm that uses chemicals to gain the greatest harvest. When the grain reaches maturity, it is harvested, threshed and winnowed to extract the grain and then stored in a granary. From there it isthoroughly cleanedto remove sand, dirt and stones. This process determines its characteristics and colour. Magnets are used to remove metal fragments from earlier processing, then it is rested for 24 hours to attain the right moisture.Various grains are mixed before it is milled to make the type of flour desired. During milling, the grain is crushed to separate bran from the endosperm, and the flour is sieved repeatedly until the desired fineness is attained.White flour is bleached, and enriched flours have folates, calcium etc. added. Whole wheat uses a different quality flour, higher in fibre and nutrient, using the same process. Wholewheat sourdough bread does not avoid processing and nor do other whole foods. Although sold as nutritional products, fibre and valuable vitamins and minerals are lost in the extraction processleaving us with less essential nutrient per mouthful. Wholefoods will be incorporated into our everyday diet; the emphasis of this blog is to draw attention to the importance of predominantly eating real foodsto attain maximum nutrient intake.
Real food refers to unprocessed or minimally processed ingredients as we would find them in nature;foods that contain no additives. Examples include seasonal fruit and vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, milk, and includes fermented products. In season produce gives peak nutrient value, andnothing is addedto lengthen the shelf life. Theedible product from the unrefined source is nutrient dense and the glycemic loading is lower, so blood sugars are more stable.The simplicity of eating real food is that we are not trying to decipher the myriad of diets prescribed by hundreds of food gurus and recipe writers. It makes sense of keto or paleo diets as real food diets. There are literally thousands of real food recipes available online that cater for every taste. On my webpage, I will add an easy to prepare recipe weekly with a photo, to offer a simple nutrient dense meal or snack for inspiration. Real food can be deeply filling or light and fresh. It is food our bodies know how to digest and its what humans have been eating for millennia. Surprisingly for many, delicious real food meals can be made quickly and being nutrient dense they are satiating.
Neither whole nor realfood industries promise chemical free agriculture and horticulture. As farming and crops are predominantly monoculture systems in modern times, chemical fertilizers and pest control measures are widely applied. As much as possible, prioritize organic produceto minimize exposure to these chemicals, which add to the inflammatory response in our body as it tries to break the chemicals down for excretion. Chemicals only benefit the grower, who uses them to increase productivity; intensively raised animals and plant crops with a perfect appearance give high turnover. The major difference with organic food lies in the quality of the soil in which a plant or animal is grown or raised. Food science analyses show a higher nutrient value in organically grown foods, so we can eat less whilst gaining the nutrition our body requires.
Ideally, three months prior to conception would be a minimum for building the nutrient value in a woman’s body in readiness for the huge changes that occur in the first trimester.During early pregnancy, digestive changes may lead to aversions, expulsion,or preferences for foods not normally chosen. Although hormonal changes are often discussed as the factors behind morning sickness and hyperemesis, inflammation in the body is the greatest disrupterof wellness at every stage, with no one system being affected in isolation.
The less well-nourished the woman’s body is the greater the impact on the developing embryo and placenta as the quality of placental implantation is dependent on a low inflammatory response. Raised inflammation levels can significantly reduce blood and oxygen flow from placenta to baby, particularly in the late stages of pregnancy, which affects fetal growth and tolerance as the baby’s need for both increases. The topic of inflammation is beyond this blog as its enormity needs a book.It is fair to say though, that whatwe referto as lifestyle diseases are a compilation of inflammatory reactions that have been rising exponentially since colonization and the industrial age changed food production and consumption.
The demand for real nourishment continuesthroughout pregnancy as the growing fetustakesevery nutritional element it can to support the massive growth of its developing brain and body. The mother therefore mustcontinuously replenish her stores,so she too remainswell. Keep in mind, a pregnant woman’s immunity reduces in pregnancy and is constantly fluctuatingdue to inflammatory responses in her body. Extra inflammation from processed foods only add to the physiological stress she may experience.
A well-nourished mother and baby will both tolerate pregnancy and labour much better than thosewho are poorly nourished. The benefit is found in the increased chance of a normal birth so baby can receive the essential microbiomes, we now know are imperative to its future health. Postnatal recovery in a well-nourished mother will benefit her healing capacity and continue to support her emotional and physical wellbeing throughout breastfeeding. All of this contributes to healthy mind and body wellness from pregnancy to parenting.