Digest This….The Importance of Digestive Health and Food before, during and beyond Pregnancy
These are just a few startling statistics that children may encounter in their lifetime, there are so many more around learning, attention and overall health not included in this graphic. So how can these predictors and statistics be changed? It starts with us, as parents.
We can start as early as preconception; mom and dad’s health prior to conception can and will impact the health of their child from newborn well into their late adulthood. Some key measures that can be done in preconception (and any phase of your life) include:
- Get Your Digestion working! Most people have a compromised digestive system and liver function without even realizing. As a society, we have come to believe that our digestion is working well if we eliminate periodically (once over many days or even weeks) and not daily. Our digestion is a key indicator to how healthy we are; 70%+ of the immune system resides in the gut, so if our digestion is not working neither will our immune system and vice versa.
- How? Some simple and easy ideas include: dry skin brushing, probiotics, eat whole foods, drink lemon water, and consume dark leafy greens.
- Cleanse toxins from body. Once your digestion is working properly, then a food elimination diet/cleanse that is whole food based would be very beneficial. Fruits and vegetables were designed to pull toxins from our cells and remove them from our body. Place additional focus on cleansing the liver (with remedies like lemon water, coconut oil, milk thistle), it is the body’s filter and responsible for 500+ functions in the body including hormonal health, cleaning the blood, making bile, and so much more.
- Identify what foods (even if they are considered healthy) do not work well in your body and remove them. A whole food elimination/cleanse diet will help you easily discover what foods do not work well in your body. When you reintroduce foods after the elimination diet, pay attention to how you feel. If you feel lethargic, bloated, foggy, stuffy nose, etc, those are just some indicators to stay away from that food. Those foods may cause challenges for your digestive system and immune system.
- Consume primarily Whole Foods and high quality supplements to build up your health and nutritional stores.
In pregnancy, what we as moms consume will shape our baby’s taste buds. Therefore the more and wider variety of whole foods, the healthier you and your baby will be right now while also building baby’s taste buds for when he/she is older. Consuming probiotics during pregnancy (and ongoing) is also very beneficial. It supports moms digestion, which is especially helpful because digestion slows down during pregnancy, it builds/supports the immune system, creates vitamins in the body, improves the digestive system, and provides baby with good gut flora for his/her own digestive health (passed from mom to baby when coming down the birth canal).
So….. what if you have already had your children, how can you help support their health and their digestive system?
- Lead by Example. Consume a lot of whole foods, try new things, and offer more whole food options (especially vegetables). Get moving, have your child join you. Get chiropractic adjustments for alignment, boosting immune system, and ease of elimination.
- Start the day off with healthy proteins and healthy fats. These will help stabilize blood sugar levels (less sugar and bad carb cravings), improve focus and learning, and keeps them feeling fuller longer
- Offer and encourage fermented drinks like water kefirs, milk kefirs (if dairy works well in their body), and/or kombucha or homemade fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, fermented vegetables, etc. These all provide the body with natural probiotics
- Connect and ask if they are eliminating regularly; explain that this is important for their health; determine if their digestion is compromised or healthy and provide support
- Make eating healthy tasty and fun; make smoothies together, juice, cook together, grow your own produce (even if it is only a few items in containers, it can spur children to eat what they grow and understand where food comes from)
- If you or your child take antibiotics, replenish your and/or your child’s gut with healthy bacteria (aka probiotics and fermented foods) to rebuild the immune system
- Incorporate additional supplements, if possible, such as: high quality fish oil, probiotics, vitamin d, whole food nutrition (which can help facilitate more fruit and vegetable cravings), elderberry or aronia berry syrup….
Melanie is the Wellness Coordinator for Willowsong Midwifery Care, a Certified Health Coach (through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and AADP), and more importantly a mom of 3 small children. She is very passionate about empowering moms and children in attaining overall health and wellness and loves supporting Willowsong Families with health classes, free initial prenatal consults, information via blogging and much more! Melanie approaches health from a holistic perspective, meaning that she believes each component of our lives creates our overall health and wellness. You are welcome to connect with Melanie anytime via email (Melanie@Food4Thoughtdm.com).
Please don’t just take Melanie’s experience…as always consult with your medical professional and your own self understanding when making health decision; Melanie is not a medical professional, a nutritionist or dietician. She does not hold a degree in medicine, dietetics, or nutrition. Melanie makes no claim to any specialized medical training, nor does she dispense medical advice or prescriptions. This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, preconception or pregnancy health. It is intended to be provided for informational, educational, and self-empowerment purposes ONLY. Please consult with your doctor or wellness team if you have questions and then make your own well-informed decisions based upon what is best for your unique genetics, culture, conditions, and stage of life