Showing posts with label naturopathy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label naturopathy. Show all posts

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Importance of Folic Acid in Pregnancy

We hear a lot about folic acid and its vital role during pregnancy. But do you actually know why it’s so important? 

Let's have a look at why you should pay attention to these important nutrients both before and during your pregnancy.

What is folic acid, or folate? What's its role?

You may be most familiar with 'folic acid'.  Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate.  Folate is naturally occuring in foods we consume, and you can also get it is a natural supplement.  Folic acid that is a synthetic version of folate.  Whether you chose folate or folic acid, they are both part of the B complex of vitamins, specifically B9. You can explore the differences between folate and folic acid here.

In pregnancy, folate is essential to the development of the baby's spinal cord and nervous system. It helps to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs). Since the spinal cord and nervous system are amongst the first things to develop in the baby, it's important that women take a daily supplement of folate or folic acid both while trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy. It's difficult to get enough folate just from your diet so a supplement is needed, either as folate or folic acid. The human body does not store folate, and because of this, we need to consume it every day to ensure that we have enough in our system.

Deficiency in Folate

A deficiency in folate can increase the likelihood of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
Women who have an increased risk of carrying a baby with a neural tube defect are usually advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams (5mg) of folate or folic acid each day until they are 12 weeks pregnant. You may have an increased risk if:

·        you or your partner have a neural tube defect 
·        you previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
·        you or your partner have a family history of neural tube defects
·        you have diabetes
In addition, you should consult your GP for advice if you're taking anti-epileptic medication, as you may also need to take a higher dose of folate or folic acid. Your GP or midwife may also recommend additional screening tests during your pregnancy.

Daily recommended dosage

Women are advised to take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid while they are trying to conceive and should continue taking this dose for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the baby's spine is developing. However, it is safe to continue taking folate supplements after 12 weeks.

On rare occasions some people find that supplements give them an upset stomach. If you take more than the recommended amount of folate or folic acid by accident it shouldn't cause any problems. Because it is a water-soluble vitamin your body will just naturally excrete any it doesn't need.

Having a good diet helps

As well as your daily supplement, you can also find high amounts of naturally-occuring folate in broccoli, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, peas, chickpeas, brown rice and  green leafy vegetables. Other useful sources of folic acid include fortified breakfast cereals, some bread and some fruit, such as oranges and bananas.

Stay healthy, stay happy!
Zakia Mance
Naturopath and Hypnobirthing Practitioner


Monday, 2 October 2017

Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Pregnancy

Being pregnant brings a plethora of questions regarding what women should eat or how much they should eat. In today's blog, Zakia helps us understand how to get a nutritionally-balanced diet as a vegetarian or vegan during pregnancy.  

So you're pregnant and thinking about how to best nourish youself and your growing baby bump.  There are many guidelines on nutrition during pregnancy and it can be quite overwhelming for women to know what’s best for them. It’s even more true for vegetarians and vegans.  Even the most committed and knowledgeable may face doubts when pregnant. Let’s have a look at what each group needs to be aware in order to enjoy a healthy pregnancy. 

A healthy vegetarian diet during pregnancy

If you eat a variety of healthy vegetarian foods, you should be able to get all the vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients that you and your baby need. Have something from each of these four main food groups every day:

·        Fruit and vegetables - a combination of fresh and frozen vegetable is fine, and try to have five portions a day. A glass of fresh fruit or vegetable juice counts as one portion.

·        Carbohydrates - these starchy, filling foods include wholegrain bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Wholemeal and wholegrain options are healthier, will fill you up and help to prevent constipation.

·        Protein - eggs, beans, pulses and nuts are also a good sources of iron.

·        Dairy - these milk, cheese and yoghurt, if you are not lactose intolerant

It's especially important to include enough vegetarian protein, iron and calcium in your diet. Try to eat one or more of these sources of iron every day: green vegetables and pulses.
Avoid having tea and coffee with your meals, as these drinks contain tannins and polyphenols, which make it harder for your body to absorb iron from vegetables. However, if you have food or drink that is rich in vitamin C with your meals, such as orange juice or broccoli, it helps your body to absorb iron.

What to be aware of when vegan and pregnant

One of the most common questions asked if you are vegan is how do to get enough proteins in your diet.  During pregnancy, you should you get around 75g of protein daily. Proteins are essential to the growth of your cells, so it’s no wonder they are an important part of your pregnancy diet. Getting enough protein is vital to your baby’s growth. 

The third trimester of your pregnancy is when your baby’s brain will be developing. Proteins high in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA provide the nutrients necessary for proper cognitive activity and growth. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to get an adequate amount of protein during those last few months of pregnancy. Good sources include chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds and walnuts, and try to use rapeseed oil for cooking.

The other question vegans get asked often is about calcium and vitamin D. Most people think the only good source of calcium are dairy products but the best bioavailable forms of calcium are from dark leafy vegetables like kale, as well as from almonds and sesame seeds. Calcium also works with other vitamins like vitamin D, so make sure you are also benefitting from some sun exposure and eat vitamin D rich foods (fortified unsweetened soya, rice and oat drinks, sesame seeds and tahini, pulses) brown and white bread (in the UK, calcium is added to white and brown flour by law) dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots
The regular use of vitamin B12 supplements or fortified foods is recommended for all pregnant vegans as vitamin B12  is found primarily in foods of animal origin and plays an important role in the developing foetus. Fortified cereals are a good source and of course you can take specially formulated food supplements for vegans.

A vegetarian or vegan diet doesn’t mean your health or your baby’s health is at a higher risk of being depleted of essentials nutrients. If you choose carefully, your sources of proteins and have a diet rich in dark leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and good oils you are set to give  your baby and yourself a very healthy start.
Stay healthy, stay happy!
Zakia Mance
Naturopath and Hypnobirthing Practitioner


Monday, 27 March 2017

Nausea in Pregnancy - how to alleviate it naturally

For most women, morning sickness is the first sign of pregnancy and 80% of us will get some form of morning sickness during our pregnancies. How long it lasts for and how bad it gets depends from woman to woman. Some women might just feel nauseous first thing when they wake up, but might feel better as the day progresses. And sadly, some women will feel nauseous - they will throw up and that will go on throughout the pregnancy. 

What causes morning sickness?

It’s actually still unknown exactly why one of the first signs of pregnancy involves spending a lot of time feeling nauseous or being sick. It’s most likely that the feelings of nausea are all down to pesky hormones, particularly Beta hCG, although it is also thought that it can be due to a lack of vitamin B6, too.

Would morning sickness harm my baby?

Don’t worry, morning sickness will have no adverse effects on your baby as long as you’re still able to eat and drink something, however small it is. It might be that you can only eat a certain type of food without feeling nauseous -  that’s fine, go with what feels right and what stays down. 
There’s plenty of time during your pregnancy for your baby to get all the nutrients it needs, so focus on eating and drinking whatever it is that you can. One important nutrient you baby will require is Folic acid. This helps your baby’s spine and nervous system to develop, so take a daily supplement of folic acid to help development.

What can I do to help morning sickness?

Avoid Foods that Make Morning Sickness Worse. Greasy, fatty foods are harder to digest. Skip fried foods, fatty cuts of meat and  lots of cheese. Most packaged foods are high in salt, added sugar, refined fats, preservatives and artificial ingredients that aren’t good for you or your baby. Fresh, low-processed, cooked foods that aren’t too spicy tend to be easiest to digest. And finally coffee and alcohol are also to be avoided.

Consume foods that help lower morning sickness symptoms
  • Ginger (fresh ginger root, ginger tea or ginger slices): use grated ginger when cooking, sip on cooled or heated ginger tea, or even chew on real ginger chews or mints between meals. 
  • Fresh fruit: Fruits like berries, apples, kiwi, citrus and melons are high in antioxidants like vitamin C, other vitamins, fibre and water.
  • Peppermint tea & drinking lemon juice diluted in water. 
  • Healthy fats: Nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and coconut oil provide essential fats and are easy to digest.

Other tips…..

Don’t skip breakfast. Eat something early in the day, and if you already feel nauseous, try something bland like toast. Eat smaller meals throughout the day, instead of several large meals. Try not to go more than three or four hours without a snack. Drink plenty of water or herbal tea, It’s very important to stay hydrated. 

Take supplements to reduce Morning sickness symptoms

Before taking herbal supplements, it’s a good idea to run them by your doctor, especially if you take medications. Interactions can sometimes occur even when an herbal product is natural, so err on the safe side. 
  • Magnesium and calcium: These are important for lowering muscle cramping and reducing other symptoms associated with nausea, such as dizziness and headaches.
  • Vitamin D: The best way to get vitamin D is from spending about 20 minutes outdoors in the sun. However, a supplement can help if this isn’t possible.
  • Probiotics: These gut-friendly supplements help establish a healthier digestive and immune system, lowering risk for complications.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These help lower inflammation that can contribute to hormonal problems and digestive issues.
  • Vitamin B6 and vitamin B12: Taking Vitamin B6 (50 milligrams) daily has been shown to help ease pregnancy-induced nausea. Vitamin B12 can also reduce fatigue and help with digestion.

Try acupuncture, hypnosis or/and meditation they all  help  women feel calmer. 

Essential oils that can help calm your stomach, lower cramping, and improve your mood or appetite include ginger, chamomile, lavender, frankincense, peppermint and lemon. Inhale them through a diffuser, or add several drops to a bath for the best results.

Try gentle exercise: it can help control nerves that might contribute to nausea and also regulate hormones and improve appetite. Studies also show that exercise helps release natural endorphins that can reduce digestive pains and make you feel happier and more awake. Prenatal yoga is also beneficial as well as gentle swimming and cycling.

I hope at least some of these tips will help relieve some of the discomfort and if you are finding morning sickness very debilitating do ask for help from your midwife, GP or contact the pregnancy sickness support group which I have included the link below.

Stay healthy, stay happy!
Zakia Mance, Naturopath and Hypnobirthing Practitioner