Nutrition for Pregnancy 101

Nutrition for Pregnancy 101

Mental Health Gut Article

It can be an amazing experience to get pregnant and know that you are growing a life. But it can also be overwhelming as you begin considering what you can and can’t do, and what you can and can’t eat to ensure the health of both you and the new person growing inside of you.

To maintain a healthy pregnancy, you must be consuming approximately 300 extra calories each day. Ideally, these calories will come from a balanced diet of protein-rich foods, quality fats and oils, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Sweets and processed fats should be kept to a minimum. A healthy, well-balanced diet can also help to reduce some pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea and constipation.

So what is a healthy weight gain during pregnancy?

A woman who was average weight before getting pregnant should gain 25 to 35 pounds after becoming pregnant. Underweight women should gain 28 to 40 pounds. And overweight women may need to gain only 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy.

In general, weight gain occurs as approximately 2 to 4 pounds during the first three months you’re pregnant and 1 pound a week during the rest of your pregnancy. If you are expecting twins you should gain 35 to 45 pounds during your pregnancy. This would be an average of 1 ½ pounds per week after the usual weight gain in the first three months.

But where does all this extra weight gain go? Here is the break down:

What To Eat To Support Pregnancy

As mentioned above,  eating a balanced diet with a variety of whole foods helps ensure that you are getting the full spectrum of nutrients to support you and your baby’s development. Consuming whole grains, clean and lean cuts of meat, good quality fish high in omega 3, raw nuts and seeds and lots of fruits and vegetables, are all really important. Some key nutrients and foods that are needed are highlighted below.

Eat Your Fruits And Vegetables

No surprise here! We all know fruits and vegetables are healthy for us! Set yourself the goal of “eating the rainbow”. Consume bright coloured fruits and vegetables of all different colours to get a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Pregnant women should focus on fruits and vegetables, , and consume between five and 10 tennis ball-size servings of produce every day.

Folate

Folate is a naturally-occurring B-vitamin that taken or consumed before and during early pregnancy reduces the chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect or other birth defects.

Foods high in folate include:

Romaine lettuce 2 cups = 152mcg
1 cup of spinach = 262 mcg
1 cup of asparagus = 262mcg
broccoli 1 cup = 93 mcg
lentils 1 cup = 358 mcg.

Taking folate or folic acid (the man-made version of folate) daily in a dose of at least 400 mcg for at least 2 to 3 months before trying to get pregnant and while you are pregnant is generally recommended for reducing birth defects and risk of anemia (2). Folic acid and/or folate are found in prenatal supplements. Some women need higher doses, and some women don’t synthesize folic acid into folate efficiently. Talk with your health professional about how much and what type of supplementation may be right for you.

Iron

You will need more iron during your pregnancy than you did before becoming pregnant. This extra iron supports the creation of additional blood in your system and supports the growth of the placenta and fetus.

Pregnant women are recommended to consume 27mg of iron a day, which is double the amount needed by women who are not expecting, according to ACOG. Getting too little iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia, a condition resulting in fatigue and an increased risk of infections. Most prenatal vitamins include iron.

There are two main types of iron, heme from meat sources and non-heme from vegetable sources. Meat sources are more easily absorbed into the body than vegetarian sources. But that doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from the vegetable sources!

Foods high in Iron include:

Non-heme:
spinach 1 cup = 6.4mg,
swiss chard 1 cup = 35mg
lentils 1 cup = 6.6 mg

heme sources:
3 ounces of cooked beef = 2.1mg or more
3 ounces of canned sardines, canned in oil = 2.1mg

Often iron supplementation is recommended in addition to consuming iron-rich foods. However, some iron supplements can cause an upset stomach and constipation, depending on the form of iron present. Taking iron at bedtime may decrease the chance of stomach upset, as can using a more gentle formula. The body absorbs iron best in small amounts when eaten with vitamin C, so you may want to take your iron throughout the day in lower doses. Unfortunately, taking iron supplements in the first trimester may aggravate morning sickness. If morning sickness, constipation or upset stomach are a concern for you, talk to your health care provider, as there are many forms of available that may be better tolerated.

Calcium

Calcium is needed for the development of your baby’s bones. You can get enough calcium in your diet by eating or drinking a variety of foods. Pregnant women age 19 and over need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day.

Sources of calcium include:
Swiss chard 1 cup = 101.5mg
spinach 1c up = 245mg
= 447mg
Broccoli 1 cup = 74 mg
basil 2 tsp = 63mg

Calcium-fortified soy and rice beverages, canned fish with bones (such as salmon and sardines) and cooked beans, legumes, and lentils, are all good sources of calcium as well.

The Takeaways

To help ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby ensure you’re consuming approximately 300 extra calories per day from whole food sources including “eating the rainbow” of fruits and vegetables every day. Focus on consuming or supplementing with enough folate, iron and calcium.

For more information to guide you through your pregnancy journey, please schedule an appointment with Koru nutrition today.

10 Christmas Survival Tips

10 Christmas Survival Tips

Mental Health Gut Article

Stringing the lights on our houses and decorating our Christmas trees while watching the snow fall… it really is a magical time of the year. But, with all the Christmas wonder and excitement, this is the time that we tend to over indulge in food and beverages – which leads to struggle with putting on a few extra pounds.

This year will be different with social gatherings limited due to COVID, so it may seem like there’s not much else to do other than eat! At Koru, we want to make sure you can enjoy your Christmas festivities and food delights without over-indulging and feeling just as stuffed as your stuffed turkey! We just might be able to help you avoid that food coma…

So, let’s look at some ways to help you not feel stuffed like your turkey!

Here are 10 Christmas Survival tips: 

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Are you hungry or thirsty? Dehydration caused by not drinking enough water can be easily mistaken for hunger cues, which can be dangerous when you have a big meal ahead of you. Drinking water can fill you up and help to keep your portion sizes under control.
  2. Lighten up! Try making your traditional recipes a little lighter by using low-sodium chicken broth in the gravy and to baste the turkey. Try plain Greek yogurt in the mashed potatoes, dips and casseroles to benefit from the good bacterial cultures. Use sugar substitutes such as swerve, xylitol and pureed fruit in place of sugar in baked goods.
  3. Use a smaller plate. Recent research suggests that we consume around 3,000 calories in our Christmas dinner – more than the entire recommended daily intake for a grown man! So, pay attention to your plating. Use a smaller plate because larger plates lead to larger food intake. Consider limiting yourself to one serving only. Besides, second helpings always taste better as leftovers the next day. Try dividing your plate into: 25% protein, 25% starches/grains, and 50% non-starchy vegetables.
  4. Let the body and brain connection catch up. Once dinner is done, it is suggested to wait 20 minutes until you indulge in anything else, such as second helpings and/or dessert. This will allow your brain to recognize how full you really are and hopefully avoid over-indulging and the potential food coma!
  5. Walk it off! How about instead of taking a nap after the feast, go for a walk around the block? Breathing in some fresh air and getting the blood pumping can help your digestion. This is also a great opportunity to get out of the house and avoid ongoing nibbling of food.
  6. Look at staggering your meal throughout the day. Maybe have appetizers at 11:00am, dinner at 2:00pm and dessert at 5:00pm. That way you space out your 3 course meal over the day and get to enjoy your dinner with a lot more time to relax and chill out afterwards.
  7. Focus on non starchy vegetables for dinner. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and green beans are all wonderful traditional Christmas options. Plus, you can switch out mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower
  8. Fit in fitness this Christmas! Whether you are busy or bored, your fitness routine normally takes a major dip this time of year. We recommend completely changing your fitness routine during the holidays so that you force your body to adapt to something new, stay enthusiastic about fitness, and keep burning off that eggnog.
  9. Many of us consume more alcohol at Christmastime. At the very least, steer clear of sweet cocktails and creamy liqueurs. Have a glass of water after every alcoholic drink to keep down the calorie count – it also has the benefit of leaving you with a clearer head the next morning.
  10. Be mindful! Christmas is a time of plenty, and with nuts, chocolates, mince pies and cheese straws wherever you look, it would be rather Scrooge-like to suggest that you don’t eat any treats over the festive period! But rather than mindlessly popping whatever is in front of you into your mouth, spend a moment thinking about whether you really want it, or are just eating it because it’s there. Prioritize where you want to “indulge” and where other temptations can be avoided without much regret. Then truly savour those foods you choose to indulge in. Enjoy every bite!

Wishing you a happy, and healthy, holiday season from all of us at Koru Nutrition!

    6 Ways Your Diet May Be Impacting Your Sleep

    6 Ways Your Diet May Be Impacting Your Sleep

    Mental Health Gut Article

    Sleeping problems are on the rise and for a number of reasons. When we don’t get enough sleep not only do we feel tired and grumpy the next day but, we often tend to gravitate to stimulants such as coffee, sugar or carbs to help keep us going. When we don’t get appropriate sleep quality or quantity, our body does not have the chance to do all the amazing activities and tasks that kick in when we are asleep.  As a result ongoing sleep issues can lead to numerous health problems.

    A study conducted by Dr. Charles M. Morin at Université Laval revealed that 40% of Canadians had experienced one or more symptoms of insomnia at least three times a week and only 13% said they had consulted their doctor about it.

    The most effective way to deal with insomnia is identifying the underlying cause of it and then apply the appropriate recommendations. The most common causes of insomnia are depression, anxiety and stress, but your insomnia can also be due to hormonal imbalances, calorie restricting/eating disorders, food allergies, blood sugar imbalances, toxic build up and nutrient deficiencies. 

    So, let’s explore a few of these…

    1. Consuming Stimulants such as Coffee and Alcohol

    People often think having that one or two glasses of wine or beer a night can help them to relax, take the edge off and get a better night sleep but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although alcohol can help you feel relaxed, it actually interferes with sleep. Alcohol can reduce overall sleep time, and cause shorter, lighter, and less restful sleep. Alcohol also impairs the transport of tryptophan into the brain which is important in making melatonin to help us sleep.

    As much as we love our cup of coffee it can hinder us getting a good night’s sleep and believe it or not even 1 to 2 cups a day can be problematic. That’s because caffeine can remain in our bodies for up to 20 hours so even sipping on your morning cup of joe can inhibit your sleep at night. As we know coffee gives us a pick me up; that is because it produces stimulating hormones such as adrenaline, nornepephrine and cortisol which help us to feel alert and energized. Caffeine has been associated with insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and periodic leg movement. Remember caffeine is also found in hot chocolate, chocolate and teas, so if you are not a big coffee drinker you might be having a problem with the caffeine in these foods and beverages.

    Both caffeine and alcohol can also decrease the absorption of nutrients essential for sleep such as B vitamins, magnesium and calcium. They are also a natural diuretic so can cause you to have to wake up during the night to use the washroom.

    Monitor you intake of these beverages and see if you notice a difference when you consume them and when you don’t.

    1. Food Allergies

    Believe it or not food allergies can be a common culprit of insomnia. Food allergies can cause difficulties falling asleep and cause frequent awakenings. Foods that are high on the allergenic profile include wheat, corn, milk, chocolate, nuts, egg whites, seafood, red and yellow dyes and yeast, but basically it can be any food. The problem with food intolerances and sensitivities is that it can be hard to detect as there can be up to a 3 day delay in a response to a specific food that you ate. Imagine something you ate on Monday and having insomnia problems on the Wednesday. The other issue is that you may consume that problematic food on a daily basis and subsequently have sleeping problems every single night. Food intolerances can also cause the  release of histamine which can also disrupt the brain chemistry and lead to sleep disturbances.

    Although you can do blood work for food allergy testing, the best way to determine if you have an issue is complete the food elimination diet for 2 weeks and then reintroduce one food type back into the diet for 3 days and monitor symptoms. If there is no change in sleeping patterns then this food is not the culprit and you repeat this procedure until you identify the problem food.

    1. Blood Sugar Imbalances

    Consuming too much sugar and skipping meals can contribute to unbalanced blood sugars which can induce nighttime hypoglycemia. When blood sugars drop the body releases hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol that stimulate the brain and indicate that it is time to eat. This can awaken you or prevent you from entering into deep sleep.

    1. Avoid Smoking

    Nicotine is a stimulant and as a result many smokers have difficulties with sleeping problems. In a poll conduced by the National Sleep foundation 46% of smokers reported experiencing sleep insomnia a few nights a week as compared to 35% of non-smokers. Nicotine found in cigarettes stimulates the release of adrenaline and norepinephrine, which are hormones that activate the body, increase heart rate  and elevate blood pressure as well as keep us awake.

    1. Dieting

    Anorexia or when losing weight/dieting can contribute to poor sleep  with many experiencing frequent waking at the second half of the night. Both animal and human research has shown that starvation-level calorie restriction leads to sleep interruptions and a reduction in slow-wave sleep, also known as deep sleep (1).

    In another small study of 10 young women, four weeks of dieting led to greater difficulty falling asleep and a decrease in the amount of time spent in deep sleep (2). Feeling as though you are too hungry to fall asleep or waking up hungry are major signs that you’re not getting enough to eat.

    1. Nutrient Deficiencies

    There are a number of nutrients that help us to get to sleep and maintain sleep throughout the night and deficiencies in these nutrients can cause us to experience difficulty falling asleep and having restful sleep. Vitamin and minerals deficiencies include B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, and vitamin E.

    Deficiencies in copper and iron have ben linked to greater difficulties in getting to sleep and decreased sleep quality. Studies indicate that low levels of iron correlated with an increased incidence of restless leg syndrome and vitamin E deficiency may also be a factor in restless leg syndrome (3). Although B vitamins are good for energy they are also important for sleep. Deficiencies in folate has been linked to insomnia and restless leg syndrome and  your body needs vitamin B6 to help convert tryptophan into melatonin which is our sleep hormone (4).

    Calcium and magnesium are natural calming sedatives to the central nervous system. Magnesium is a natural muscle and nervous system relaxant so also important if sleeping issues are related to pain but also for stress, anxiety and irritability.

     

    References

    1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15033150/

    2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8310984/

    3 Arthur C, Guyton, MD and John E Hall PhD Textbook of medical physiology 9th edition (Philadelphia)

    1. Kennedy, Tighe, Brow. “Melatonin and Cortisol switches during mania, depression and Eythmia” Depressed Nocturnal plasma melatonin levels” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 1777:5 (1989), 300-303

    Chia Oats With Kiwi

    Chia Oats With Kiwi

    Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast

    This can not only be a great breakfast but also a great dessert or bedtime snack to promote healthy sleep and it only takes 10 minutes to make!

    Believe it or not kiwis can help with sleep. In a 4-week study, 24 adults consumed two kiwifruits one hour before going to bed each night. At the end of the study, participants fell asleep 42% more quickly than when they didn’t eat the fruit before bedtime. Additionally, their ability to sleep through the night without waking improved by 5%, while their total sleep time increased by 13% (1).

    The sleep-promoting effects of kiwis might be attributed to serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps regulate your sleep cycle (1,2,3). It has also been suggested that the anti-inflammatory antioxidants in kiwis, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, may also be partly responsible for their sleep-promoting effects (1,4).

    Chia seeds for their little size chia seeds pack a big nutritional punch. A one-ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains: 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat 5 of which are those healthy anti-inflammatory omega 3’s. They are loaded with antioxidants to help neutralise free radicals. It also contains 18% of RDI for calcium and 30% of RDI for magnesium which are also important minerals to reduce anxiety, stress and promote sleep. The word “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.”

    Oatmeal is high in fiber and has been reported to induce drowsiness when consumed before bed. Additionally, oats are a known source of melatonin (5).

    Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to four days. For best results, reheat with additional liquid over the stove or in the microwave.

     

    References:

    1. http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/APJCN/20/2/169.pdf
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015038/
    3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22652369/
    4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4629050/
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409706/

    Chia Oats With Kiwi

    Prep Time 10 mins
    Total Time 10 mins
    Servings 4 servings

    Ingredients
      

    • 2 cups Water
    • 2 cups Oats rolled
    • ¼ cup Chia Seeds
    • 2 Kiwi chopped

    Instructions
     

    • In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the oats and chia seeds. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until cooked though. Be sure to stir often.
    • Divide the oatmeal between bowls and top with Kiwi. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Protein - 8g
    Sugar - 4g
    Fiber - 8g
    Carbs - 37g
    Fat - 7g
    Calories - 235
    Salmon Chowder

    Salmon Chowder

    Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast

    This is a beautiful rich and hearty meal that helps feed the soul and is absolutely delicious. But the great thing about this meal is that it can also help support and promote sleep if consumed in the evening.

    The combination of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in salmon has the potential to enhance sleep quality, as both have been shown to increase the production of serotonin (1,2,3).

     

    In one study, men who ate 5-10.5 ounces (150-300 grams) of Atlantic salmon three times a week for 6 months fell asleep about 10 minutes faster than men who ate chicken, beef, or pork. This effect was thought to be the result of vitamin D. Those in the fish group had higher levels of vitamin D, which was linked to a significant improvement in sleep quality (4).

    It is important avoid high protein meals at night as this can interfere with sleep. This meal is a well proportioned mix of carbohydrates (20g), proteins (21g) and fats (23g), making it a great balanced meal and low on the glycemic index to support healthy blood sugar balance and subsequently support great sleep. 

    You can store this in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it.

     

    References:

    1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015038/
    2. https://faseb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1096/fj.14-268342
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/
    4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013386/

     

    Salmon Chowder

    Prep Time 5 mins
    Cook Time 35 mins
    Total Time 40 mins
    Servings 4 servings

    Ingredients
      

    • 2 tbsps Coconut Oil
    • 1 bulb Fennel sliced
    • 2 cups Celery Root peeled and cubed
    • 2 cups Rutabaga peeled and cubed
    • 2 cups Organic Chicken Broth
    • 12 oz. Salmon Filet
    • 1 cup Organic Coconut Milk
    • ¼ tsp Sea Salt or more to taste
    • ¼ cup Parsley chopped, optional garnish

    Instructions
     

    • In a large soup pot, melt the coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the sliced fennel, celery root, and rutabaga. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender.
    • Add the chicken broth to small saucepan and place the salmon skin-side down into the broth. Bring to a simmer and poach the salmon for 5-10 minutes. Remove the salmon and set aside.
    • Add the chicken broth to the pot with the softened veggies and bring to a simmer. Let cook for 10 minutes, then use an immersion blender to blend about half the soup so the texture is still chunky.
    • Remove the skin from the salmon, and flake the fish into chunks. Add to the soup pot along with the coconut milk. Season to taste with sea salt.
    • To serve, divide between bowls and garnish with chopped parsley if desired. Enjoy!

    Notes

    Sugar - 8g
    Fiber - 5g
    Carbs - 20g
    Fat - 23g
    Protein - 21g
    Calories - 373
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    © 2020 Koru Nutrition Inc. All Rights Reserved.

    Koru Nutrition logo 2

    © 2020 Koru Nutrition Inc. All Rights Reserved.