Monday, February 25, 2008

Research: Diet & Related

Well, it's been over a week since I actually posted any research, so here goes!

Diet. It's really hard to post about this, because the research is not too well-proven (nothing is with HG - no known cause and no known cure) and I have only found snipits here and there.

Most of the research I've found concerns pre-conception diet, which makes sense, since if you have HG you're too sick to eat anyhow! That doesn't help anyone currently suffering from HG, but if you're a one-time HG mum who is looking into trying again, some of this data might be helpful.

One of the main things that I've found is a link between pre-conception saturated fat intake and risk of HG - if your diet during the year prior to conception is high in saturated fat, you have an increased risk of contracting HG. Let me find a quote to substantiate this:

"In a Harvard University study, women with a high intake of saturated fat (found mainly in meat and dariy) during the year prior to pregnancy had a much higher risk of severe morning sickness than did women eating less saturated fat. An increase in saturated fat intake of 15 grams per day (the equivalent of a four-ounce cheeseburger or three cups of whole milk) was associated with a greater than threefold increase in the risk of developing morning sickness."

- Delicious Living article "Morning Sickness", p.2

This is bad news for me, let me tell you, as I have a longtime love affair with saturated fat (mainly in the form of dairy). Also, I've been extremely fond of beef ever since recovering from my first pregnancy (why, I don't know - iron? protein?). So I guess I should try to watch it, but it's hard to do considering that I'm trying to up my protein count, and dairy is a lot easier than figuring out how to eat more beans!! :)

Moving on....

There is also the issue of diet quality pre-conception. Here is a quote:

"If moms begin preparing their bodies for pregnancy prior to conception, they will have a better chance of avoiding morning sickness (as well as other health risk factors)..... Two to three months prior to pregnancy, if possible, or as soon as pregnancy is confirmed, the Whole Foods Diet should be adopted and followed regularly."

- Shonda Parker, "The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy, p. 170

I have been doing my best with this one for the past couple of months, although it is hard and I tend to buckle when it comes to sugar. Thankfully my hubby is on a health kick right now so I can avoid having to have desserts in the house - a temptation to which I nearly always succumb.

Basically, it makes sense that (1) the healthier one is before conception, but better one will be able to withstand stress, and (2) the less toxins one's body has to deal with while also dealing with a pregnancy, the less morning sickness one will have. I have terrifically improved my diet since Caleb arrived - I've ditched almost all processed/prepared foods and am even eating things like beans from scratch, yogurt, raw milk, real maple sugar, greens, etc. I've learned a lot, thanks in great part to my good friend L., so in that sector of things I'm much better than I was.

Also mentioned in this area are things like cleansing and fasting:

"Some researchers feel that morning sickness is the body's natural way to protect the baby by removing toxic chemicals from the body with regular purging. I find that mothers who prepare for pregnancy by following a regular program of cleansing and fasting for six months or so have much less morning sickness."

- "Herbal Remedies for Dummies," Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac., p. 240

I did a liver cleansing diet this past winter, to prepare for a pregnancy, but I'm not sure it'll do me any good for the following reasons: (1) I did it in January, and we're not even planning to try to conceive until probably this summer, (2) I only lasted 3 of the 4 weeks, and (3) I cheated. But at least I tried!! It was NOT easy!!

Shonda Parker (see above) recommends liver cleansing factors, such as the Whole Foods diet, water with lemon, and milk thistle (which I will cover in a different post). Basically, the healthier one's liver is, the better it will be able to filter toxins and be able to deal with the increased hormonal load of pregnancy.


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