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  • Borja Conde Serrano

Your 12 most important foods during pregnancy

Here you have my list of favourited foods which are absolutely essential not only for the months of pregnancy but for supporting your fertility and prepare yourself for conception, as well as your weeks of post-partum, and the lactation period. Actually, all through the child bearing years these foods are key for the health of the mother, the father and the growing child.

1. Cod liver oil.

Cod liver oil is jam packed with vitamin A and D, and omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

Vitamin A is critical for the expression of the genetic expression, for strong bones, healthy skin and eyesight, mineral metabolism, hormone production, mental stability, among other important functions. Vitamin A supports the signaling for the fetal stem cells to differentiate into various organs, so that, they know where to locate themselves and what kind of tissues to become.

Vitamin D is needed for calcium and phosphorus absorption and is essential for strong bones, healthy teeth and normal growth, and consumed before pregnancy will prepare the mother's bones, teeth, organs and brain for the additional stresses of pregnancy.

Richest natural sources of Vitamin A are: yellow-colour butter, egg yolks, organ meats, fish, shellfish and cod liver oil

Richest natural sources of Vitamin D are: Sunlight, butterfat, eggs, liver, organ meats, marine oils like cod liver oil and seafood

Vitamin A and Vitamin D work together to ensure optimal development of the fetus.

Vitamins A, D and K are gonna come up in some of the essential food list. They are fat soluble vitamins only found in animal food. According to researches, the levels of these 3 vitamins in traditional people is way higher than the amount of those vitamins in a standar western diet.

2. Eggs and Egg yolks.

Especially egg yolks (the orange/yellow part) are jam packed with nutrients. They are very easy to digest and absorb for most the people. And egg yolks you can eat them as many as you want. Raw is the best way to keep all nutrients. The bacteria salmonella is mainly found in eggs from conventional farm raised hens, and that is why free-range and organic eggs from hens that roam freely on green pastures in the sunlight is very important.The white part can be allergenic for same persons.

One way that works for children (and probably for adults too) to know if a food gives allergic reaction is to put a couple of drops of that food in your wrist overnight and if the next morning that area is red with kind of eccema, then stop for same time with that food.

Egg whites provide perfect protein and egg yolks contain a powerhouse of nutrients like choline, cholesterol, vitamins A, D, K and E as well as folate, biotin, and minerals like iron, zinc and selenium.

Choline is critical for the development of the brain and the mother's intake of choline can have a beneficial effect for the entire life of her child. Eggs are the richest source of choline and it also occurs in liver and dairy foods and to a lesser extent in meats, nuts and legumes.

3. Butter

If you tolarate it well, then just spread butter without any fear. Another food full of nutrient dense substances. Best grass-fed and organic. If it is difficult for you to digest because of them lactose or because of the protein casein, then you could try to make your own ghee or clarified butter which is only fat with very small traces of lactose and casein or nothing. It is very easy to make it.

Butter is the queen of fats and is a rich source of vitamins A, D, K, and E as well as selenium, copper, zinc, chromium, cholesterol and lecithin. Also contains DHA and arachidonic acid. All critical for optimal development of brain and body.

4. Dairy

If possible full fat dairy derived products. Grass fed and organic if possible. I do not really advise drinking milk, but I do with cultured milk products, like yogurth, kefir, cheese, creme fraiche and similar. The best yogurth and kefir is made with raw milk. Raw milk is not easy to find but there are still dairies where one can make a deal with the owners and get raw milk. If the dairy is clean there is no problem with bad bacterias in the raw milk, but it is important to make sure that the dairy is clean.

Full fat dairy cultured products are rich sources of calcium, vitamins A, K2, E, omega 3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid.

And if you cannot tolarate any milk product, then we need to pay extra attention to your consumption of food rich in calcium.

5. Liver and organ meats.

They are the most nutrient dense food in the world, especially liver. According to investigations, liver, chewed by the mother, is the first food given to a baby in many tribes. And liver is the food kept for pregnant women and babies, and consumed together with the people who has hunted the animal. In north america, among the Lakota tribes is one of the most sacred foods and often eating raw with family and friends and it Is part of the sacred foods eating after ceremonies. It is has been considered a sacred food in almost all traditional cultures for long time.

An easy way to consume lever is to buy or make your own leverpate or to buy freeze-dried capsules.

Organ meats in general have a strong taste and if you are not used, this is the best way. To reduce its strong taste soak it in water with either lemon or yogurth/kefir for 12 – 18 hours and change water as often as possible (every 3- 4 hours could be enough). One way to eat liver is in small cubes (as a medicine) fried in plenty og butter so it soaks the taste of butter.

Liver is a rich source of vitamin A, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, choline, biotin and folate. Vitamin C and vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 in the diet ensure wide, attractive facial development with plenty of space for the teeth to come in straight

6. Seafood, shellfish and meat.

The approach here is to eat "nose to tail". In regard to meat, the most digestible way to eat it, it is in the form of soups and stocks together with its fat. Meat should be always consumed with the fat and in the case of poultry, with the skin. Meat is a rich source of complete protein, iron and zinc. Meat fats provide important minerals, fatty acids, CLA and arachidonic acid.

About fish, small blue -fatty- fish are the best: jam packed with good nutrients like vitamin D, cheaper and very little chemical toxic compound found. Local small white fish would come on the second place. Seafood is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids and iodine and trace minerals.

The more nutrient dense types of seafood include the skin of fish fillets, the vitamin A-rich heads for making fish soups, shellfish such as shrimps, crabs, lobster, mussels and oyesters, and above all, fish eggs or roe. Fish eggs are rich in vitamins B12, vitamin k2, cholesterol, choline, selenium, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, zinc, iodine, trace minerals and DHA

7. Bone and Fish broths

Homemade broth made of the bones of chicken, duck, beef, lamb or fish is a wonderful gelatin-rich food that will support your digestion, will contribute to strong bones, tendons, connective tissue in both yourself and your developing baby, and will protect the integrity of your digestive tract.

Homemade bone broth is rich in the amino acid glycine which is essential during pregnancy. Glycine is needed for the synthesis of the placenta and protection of both mother and baby from toxins and stress.

8. Coconut oil and olive oil

Best vegetables oils to consume. Avocado oil as well. There is a big controversy about the consumption of other vegetable oils like canola, sunflower, soja that I do not advise to use them. Plenty of coconut oil and olive oil are welcome in most of the cases. Important is that both are cold pressed virgin extra.

Organic animal fats are very welcome (from pig, duck, goose, etc)

9. Fermented food

Lacto-fermented foods are rich in enzymes, lactic acid and they are essential to jam packed your gut with beneficial bacteria that will help your digestion.

The most common is saurkraut. Kimchi is very nice too and both can be done at home. Tamari, miso, natto can be bought in shops and they are derived from soja. Buttermilk, yogurth and kefir are fermented food aswell derived from dairy. Kombucha, Beet Kvass and fermented grain drinks. Other lacto-fermented foods include traditionally made salami and gravlax (lacto-fermented salmon)

The best is to make them at home, if not, try to buy them unpasturised.

10. Whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds

Wonderful foods, rich in nutrients that can provide excellent nutrition.

they require proper preparation to minimize their anti-nutrients substances which can cause irritation and indigestion, as well as block assimilation of nutrients. They require to be soaked in water overnight in most of the cases. Grains and legumes with warm water and some lemon juice, apple cider vinager, yogurt or kefir. And nuts and seed in warm water with a little bit of salt. Nuts if they are slow roasted afterward they taste amazing.

The combination of warmth, moisture and slight acidity over time breaks down the anti-nutrients, neutralizes irritants like tannins, increases vitamin content, liberates minerals and makes the grain, legumes, nuts and seeds much more digestibles.

Legumes provide choline, folate, phosphorus and many important minerals like magnesium. Nuts are a nutritional powerhouse and our best souce of magnesium.

There is so much controversy about gluten that I would advise to give priority to gluten free grains. And remember the importance to rotate and bring biodiversity in relation to grains, legumes, nuts and seeds intake.

11. Vegetables and fruits

Bring biodiversity and richness of colours to your plate. They are great, but not by far as nutrient dense as the food described above. However, they are good sources of vitamin C, folate and minerals like magnesium.

Always organic and if you know, or have a friend who knows, how to forage wild plants, include them as often as possible to your diet. They are the best. The best way to eat vegetables is by cooking them. Some raw veggies a day are also important.

Choose your vegetables and fruits by season and as local as possible.

12. Salt

Your body needs salt and it plays a critical role in your child’s neurological development.

The best salt is unrefined sea salt which provides sodium chloride, magnesium and many trace minerals.

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