Reflecting on my three pregnancies, I have many wonderful memories. It seems that everyone is always happy to see a pregnant woman and offer advice, hold doors and generally complement everything about you and your growing belly. However, for every new mom-to-be there are side effects that are not the most pleasant to endure. The good news is that most of them can be treated naturally, simply by basic diet adjustments. Read on to learn more about five of the most common pregnancy ailments that can be easily prevented by or treated with food.
INDIGESTION & HEARTBURN
Heartburn is crippling, particularly during the final trimester. During my first pregnancy, I had indigestion on a level I never thought possible. It was near impossible to sleep at night. Desperate for advice, I spoke to a friend who already had two children. She mentioned that she ate through a roll of Tums about every three days with both pregnancies. I beelined it to the closest pharmacy to pick some up. When I flipped the package over, I read the ingredient list: calcium carbonate, maltodextrin, polyethylene glycol, talc, powdered cellulose, natural and artificial flavor, mineral oil. Not to mention the warning: “Do not use more than two weeks straight.” Hmm…it was hardly anything I would want to consume, let alone force upon my fragile unborn child. So I set out to find a cure through whole foods. After a few days of research, I happened upon ginger root. I found that steeping pureed ginger in hot or warm water twice a day (morning and immediately before bed) literally cured my heartburn! If the spicy ginger flavor is a little too overpowering, you can use honey or coconut nectar to sweeten it up a little.
Ginger Root Tea
Ingredients: 1 ginger root, warm water & honey or coconut nectar
Preparation: Peel and thoroughly wash the ginger root under cold water to remove all potential dirt. Chop the ginger into ½” in pieces. Place the ginger in your food processor or blender. Process for 5 minutes until a creamy paste forms. Add 1 tablespoon of the ginger root paste to hot or warm water and allow it to steep 5 minutes before consuming. Add honey or coconut nectar if a sweeter taste is desired. Enjoy!
LEG & FEET CRAMPING
Charlie Horses! Is there anything worse than getting shocked awake by lightening bolt cramps from your toes all the way up your legs? Only labor pains can top these bad boys. So, let’s talk about how to keep them from popping up during your pregnancy… potassium! A potassium-rich diet will help prevent those pesky spasms. Potassium works with sodium to control the fluid balance in your body, and they have to be in the right proportions to each other in order to work effectively. Below are some simple steps you can take everyday to boost your potassium levels.
1. Drink coconut water. Not only does staying hydrated prevent cramping, but also the extra-high concentration of potassium in coconut water will keep cramps at bay.
2. Eat more stone fruits. Did you know that apricots have over 20 percent of your recommended daily value of potassium? Other stone fruits such as peaches, plums and nectarines, are almost as potassium dense. This includes dried stone fruit as well, so keep a few bags of dried apricots in your purse or at work for snack time.
3. Include a serving or two of salmon in your diet each week. Salmon has about 20 percent of your recommended daily value in each serving.
When you are pregnant, exhausted and can’t fall asleep, it may feel like your world is falling apart. Growing mommies (and babies) need their rest, and insomnia is no joke. Try eating tart cherries or drinking cherry juice about an hour before bedtime. They are among the food sources richest in melatonin, the same sleep-inducing hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. A study in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that small doses of melatonin (about 0.3 milligrams) helped insomniacs get a better night’s sleep. One cup of tart cherry juice, or about 4 tablespoons of dried tart cherries, contains roughly the same amount. Sweet cherries also contain melatonin but not as much. If the tart flavor is a bit much for you, try mixing pineapple juice with the cherry juice to even out the flavor. Sweet dreams!
This is a pregnancy side effect that no one is actually fond of speaking about, but the unfortunate truth is that it happens to all of us at some point when pregnant. It is critical not only for your growing baby’s health but also for your own comfort that you maintain a fiber-rich diet throughout your pregnancy. So what foods are rich in fiber? Any type of bean or pea is a great, lean source of fiber. Navy and white beans have the highest fiber content of any food. One cup of cooked navy or white beans has a whopping 19 grams of fiber, or 82 percent of your recommended daily value. Another great option is including chia seeds in your diet. Two tablespoons of raw chia seeds added to your daily diet will offer 10 grams (or 40 percent DV) of fiber. Below you’ll find a chia seed pudding recipe that is a perfect breakfast for healthy mamas.
Chia Seed Pudding
Ingredients: 3 tablespoons raw chia seeds & 1 cup warm water
Preparation: Whisk together the chia seeds and water in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes while the seeds “gel,” forming a pudding or tapioca consistency and voila: breakfast! If you’d like a little more flavor (like me!), just add half of a sliced banana, 1 teaspoon honey and a few dashes of cinnamon. The pudding can keep in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 10 days so double or triple the recipe and you will always have pudding ready to go.
Dry, itchy skin seems like a rite of passage with pregnancy. But it doesn’t need to be. There are two ways you can battle this pregnancy challenge: moisturizing from the inside and moisturizing from the outside. Read on for a few easy peasy suggestions.
Moisturize from the inside out:
1. Itchy skin during pregnancy is caused 99 percent of the time by dehydration. One of the best things you can do is drink water, water and more water. There is even an app for that!
2. Eat more avocados. Avocados are Mother Nature’s remedy for dry skin. They are rich in Vitamins A, D and E — all of which help keep skin smooth, hydrated and itch-free. Try to eat half an avocado each day (or every other day) to help keep skin smooth, moisturized and balanced.
Moisturize from the outside in:
1. Take an oat bath! Oats have been used for centuries to treat dry skin but only recently have we discovered that it can keep the itch at bay too. Simply grind 1 cup of oats in your bathtub as the water fills then soak for at least 15 minutes.
2. Use olive oil in place of your regular lotion. Often times our lotions are secretly hiding very harsh ingredients and chemicals. Shockingly 80 percent of lotions sold in the U.S. contain alcohol – hardly what sensitive, itchy skin needs. Try using olive oil instead. It is extremely high in Vitamins A & E. Olive oil is best absorbed by damp skin so try to use it immediately after a bath or shower to optimize its benefits.
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” –Thomas Edison
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