What is the most valuable supplement to take in Pregnancy?

by redblossom on March 8, 2010

The single most valuable way to support your child, is to avoid stressors, rest appropriately when pregnant, eat well and eat fermented foods with every meal.

What are fermented foods?

Fermented Foods include yogurt, kefir, refrigerated sauerkraut and kimchee.  They are foods that have had beneficial bacteria introduced to it.  The bacteria grow as the food is prepared, and becomes an essential source of probiotics.

Why are fermented foods important?

In the past, our ancestors were in greater contact with the natural world, drinking water from the earth and eating more fresh plants that are enveloped in bacteria.  In the 1940’s human discovered antibiotic pharmaceuticals, and began to believe that infectious diseases were caused by pathogenic microbes. In naturopathic tradition, we believe that the health of the individual is equally important to the strength of the pathogen (virus or bacteria that harm humans).  We call this, the soil or terrain of the individual and we believe that it is critical to health, to support this.  Fermented foods fortify the individual’s intestinal tract with life-supporting bacteria, crowding out the bad guys.  Bacteria can turn genes like the celiac disease (wheat intolerance) genes on, they process food for us and supply us with nutrients like B-vitamins and Vitamin K.  They can regulate hormones and neurotransmitters, and digest dairy products for us.  The bacterial cells outnumber our own human cells 10 to 1!  Therefore, having 85% beneficial flora, and 15% other (not good, not bad), is really essential for being strong and healthy.

Supplementing with laboratory-made probiotics is helpful if the brand is reputable, and with situations involving tenacious “bad bugs”, or antibiotic use.  The probiotic industry is fraught with fraud, therefore I prefer for my patients to eat fermented foods with every meal, most of the time.  For some reason, I have yet to understand, fermented foods seem to work better – and it may be that the organisms in the food are themselves, more vital, than living in a dried capsule or powder.

Why are fermented foods so important in pregnancy?

When a child is still in the womb, there are no bacteria inside.  All the bacteria that line the skin and intestines come from the birth canal of the mother (if born vaginally) or from the operating room (if born via cesarean birth). Next, breastfeeding is the source of microbes. For the first 21 days of life, the infant has an open door policy regarding which microbes will become settlers.

When a baby is fussy often, or has colic, it is likely that there is a less than optimal profile of bacteria forming in the GI tract (intestines).  These babies are more likely to be unhappy in their bodies.  They are more likely to suffer from rashes, and develop asthma and allergies as they develop.

I also believe that the more recent regressive type of autism, ADHD and other neurological diseases are a result of bacterial imbalance.  This is due, in part, to the “bad” bacteria releases toxic by-products that irritate and damage the nervous system over time.

For all these reasons and more, I believe that all pregnant women (and especially women who are not yet pregnant!) should consider a comprehensive stool test to explore the “floral landscape” residing within.  If spending $200 on a comprehensive stool test is not possible, then proceed straight to supplementation with fermented foods.

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