When you're pregnant, you have to remember that you're eating for two! That means you need to get enough protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients not just for yourself, but also the little one growing in your womb.
Your baby needs the foods that will feed not only their developing body, but especially their brains. If you want to know what is a good brain food for pregnancy, here is a list of things you should be adding to your diet:
Omega-3 fatty acids are SO important for the development of a healthy brain!
The brain is composed primarily of fats, so it's no surprise that eating more fats will contribute to the growth of healthy brain cells. But Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are important. They keep your nervous system working well, promote healthy neurotransmitter function, and keep the electrical signals flowing through your brain effectively.
For babies, it's even more important! Eating more Omega-3 foods will encourage healthy brain growth and reduce the risk of neurological and mental disorders.
If you want a healthy baby, fish is a good brain food for pregnancy. Salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel are probably the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids, but pretty much any fatty fish will do.
Not so fond of fish? Try these other awesome Omega-3 foods:
• Chia seeds
• Cod liver oil
• Egg yolks
Include at least one of these foods in your daily meal plan, and you'll benefit from the amazing Omega fatty acids!
There are A LOT of vitamins and minerals that will play a role in the growth of your child:
• Vitamin C helps to produce the collagen that will encourage healthy skin
• Vitamin D and calcium work together to produce strong bones
• Zinc plays a role in the development of the baby's brain, as well as their immune system
• Vitamin B12 and iron both encourage the formation of red blood cells
• Folic acid can reduce the risk of birth defects and spinal cord problems
A pre-natal multi-vitamin is an excellent addition to your daily health routine. It's a quick, easy way to ensure you're getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to function.
Note: Vitamin supplements aren't as easy to absorb as the vitamins and minerals in regular foods. You should try to get as much iron, calcium, folic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and other nutrients from the food you eat. However, adding a vitamin supplement is a good way to be 100% certain your diet is providing the nourishment your child needs.
Your baby is so small that his/her body is unable to protect itself against anything. If you want to enhance protection, eat more antioxidants!
Antioxidants from fruits and veggies will protect your baby's brain tissue, reducing the risk of damage as a result of exposure to toxins, chemicals, and free radicals in your body. They will also promote healthy brain, cardiovascular, and organ function as the baby is growing. It's definitely wise to add a lot more fruits and veggies to your daily diet!
Warning: Unwashed veggies may contain bacteria that could cause infections that affect the baby. Make sure your veggies and fruits are thoroughly washed before eating them. Better safe than sorry!
Protein is possibly the single most important nutrient for a healthy body—not just your body, but the baby's as well.
Protein is needed for the formation of muscle tissue, but it's also vital for fat management, metabolic function, and the production of hormones. Adding more protein to your diet will help your body to cope with the stresses of being pregnant, and will encourage the growth of healthy muscle and tissue in your baby's body.
It's recommended that you increase protein intake by as much as 10 grams per day (roughly 5-10% of your daily intake) in order to provide the amino acids the two of you need.
The best sources of protein:
• Red meat
• Chicken and turkey
• Beans and lentils
• Peanut and almond butter
• Whole grains
• Chia seeds
Have more protein with each meal—it's for the baby!
Vitamin A and Whey Protein
For example, did you know that a high protein intake (and insufficient fat consumption) can lead to a lack of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is vital for your overall health, but it plays a huge role in the health of your skin. If you don’t have enough Vitamin A in your diet, you’re all but guaranteed to develop stretch marks during pregnancy.
A lack of Vitamin A can also lead to more serious problems–both for you and for the baby. Vitamin A deficiencies have been linked to birth defects (excess Vitamin A has also been known to cause similar problems)–such as cleft lips, cleft palates, hydrocephalus, and heart malformations.
Vitamin A is also the vitamin that is needed to help your child’s facial structure form. Without enough Vitamin A, your child may end up with asymmetrical features–both facial and physical.
Iron is one of the most important minerals for a healthy body during pregnancy. It will encourage the development of new red blood cells. This is vital because your red blood cells are carrying the nutrients and oxygen not only around your body, but also to your growing baby. The more red blood cells, the more oxygen and nutrients baby gets.
The sad truth is that many women are iron-deficient before they ever get pregnant, and that can lead to health problems, such as anemia. Iron-deficiency during pregnancy can cause poor fetal growth and even stunted brain function or lower IQ. You should try to get as much iron as possible in your diet by eating foods like:
• Lean beef
• Fortified breakfast cereals
However, just to be safe, you may want to consider adding an iron supplement to your diet. It may not be as easy for your body to absorb and use the iron in a supplement, but every little bit helps!
Warning: Mercury, Alcohol, and Raw Animal Products
These are the three things you need to be most worried about during your pregnancy. Why is that?
1. Excess alcohol intake can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, but even moderate or light drinking can have a negative effect on your child's brain—causing memory, attention, and learning deficits down the road.
2. Mercury is found in tainted fish, and it can cause serious damage to baby's brain. Stick with fish like salmon, tilapia, tuna, and whitefish, and avoid the higher-mercury fish like shark, tilefish, and swordfish.
3. Raw animal products (undercooked meat and raw eggs) may contain parasites that can not only affect your health, but can have serious negative consequences for your baby's neurological development. Make sure your meat and eggs are VERY well-cooked, and avoid cross contamination with any raw animal products when cooking.