Planning Nutritionally for Labor and Delivery Part 7 - Top 10 Foods for Preparing for Labor and Delivery
First off, I want to thank you for following along on this series. I have been really excited for this one. I am sure there are parts that I missed, or questions that have arisen. Please feel free to email me, or comment below. I love discussion.
To top of this series, I want to simplify it a bit. I want to list my FAVORITE foods for preparing for labor and delivery. Some of these may seem different from what you've been told during pregnancy. That's okay, we are trying to deliver a baby at this point, and some of the nutritional needs change slightly. If you have a medical condition (such as diabetes) than some of these foods (like bananas) may not be an option.
1. Bone in, Skin On Meat and Broth
This is my number one! Sorry vegetarians (there are other options, but they require more work on the system). We talked quite a bit in this series about proteins, minerals and that amazing chemical Hyaluronic Acid.
Protein is the building block of oxytocin. Leucine and Isoleucine make up a portion of the hormone and they are essential amino acids, meaning they cannot be made in the body. By cooking the meat on the bone and with the skin, you increase the amount of amino acids you get in that meal.
Hyaluronic Acid is found in the cartilage and connective tissues of the body (ie that joints and skin). By eating chicken with the skin on and cooked on the bone, or ribs, you are accessing the hyaluronic acid from these animals in a usable form. There is no converting necessary, no added nutrition to take carbohydrate and turn it into hyaluronic acid with the use of estrogen (remember those steps involved). No, it's just hyaluronic acid from a food source...done.
The bones, blood vessels, and connective tissues of animals are rich in minerals. When you cook the meat on the bone, these minerals are cooked out of the bone (to some extent). Specifically Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Phosphorus.
Broth, in my opinion, is the culmination of all of these in one easy to use food. By cooking the carcass of a chicken, for example, with some meat and skin still attached, you are creating a super nutrient dense food that can be consumed on its own and a nutritional drink, used to make soups, added to grains, or other meals. Adding a dash of vinegar to the cooking process increases the minerals that are removed from the bones, and helps to breakdown the cartilage to access the hyaluronic acid.
Usually starting at 35/36 weeks, I recommend clients eat brothy soups, or make a broth and drink it daily.
2. Green Leafy Vegetables
I am a huge fan of cooked greens. I grow a couple of varieties each year in my garden (Swiss Chard, Kale, Arugula, Beet Greens). During pregnancy and especially leading up to labor and delivery the nutrition they provide is essential.
On of the big nutrients that has been brought up quite a bit in this series is Magnesium. Minerals like Iron, Zinc, Calcium, and Magnesium, Omega 3's and Fat Soluble Vitamins like Vitamin A, K, and E, as well as high amounts of Vitamin C. All things we have talked about in this article series.
Cooking leafy greens breaks down the chemical bond of Oxalic Acid (a chemical that holds minerals within plants). In order to access the mineral in these plants, they need to be cooked.
Most green leafy vegetables provide extremely high amounts of vegetable based Vitamin K. This form, known as K1, but be converted to K2 through bacterial fermentation (remember the probiotic gut health). For those who have weak gut bacteria health, there may be a large portion of the K1 that is not converted to K2, and thus is not functional. Also, the fat soluble vitamins must be accompanied with a dietary fat to be absorbed through the digestive system.
Sea Vegetables are also a part of this group...but they provide something that none of the others do...IODINE. We did not discuss this, as its role in labor and delivery is not that encompassing. But iodine is essential for thyroid function. Some women experience hypothyroid issues postpartum. Adding in some amount of sea vegetables may help to prevent these symptoms.
Variety is key. Having some cooked and some raw, but not extreme either way, will give you the balance you need to get the most of what these awesome vegetables have to give.
Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, Beet Greens, Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, Sea Vegetables
3. Nuts and Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Almonds and Quinoa are my favorites for preparing for labor. There are plenty of others that are nutrient dense, but these are my go to.
Pumpkin Seeds are very dense in minerals (iron, zinc and magnesium), as well as proteins and EFA's. There are also other compounds (phytonutrients) in pumpkin seeds that can be beneficial. There is research that compounds in pumpkin seeds helps to regulate insulin levels, which is beneficial for those with insulin resistance or gestational diabetes in pregnancy (PCOS clients). The volatile oils in pumpkin seeds also help to regulate probiotic balance by killing microbes like bacteria, fungi and viruses that can cause probiotic imbalance (hello Group B strep)
We talked in the articles about the necessary balance of copper and zinc. Sesame seeds have good amounts of both. As well as other minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus). Phosphorus is something we didn't talk much about, but it is important nonetheless. Phosphorus is a building block of many different enzymes and hormones.
Sunflower Seeds are rich in Vitamin E, which is great for tissue softness, progesterone function, and makes up a portion of the nutrients found in amniotic fluid. Low Vitamin E levels are associated with preterm labor. Like the other nuts and seeds, they are also rich in minerals (magnesium, copper), but these seeds also have high amounts of B vitamins (B6 and Folate), which helps create healthy blood. I like sunflower seed butter more than peanut butter...
Almonds are also very rich in Vitamin E, and minerals (magnesium, potassium, copper). They also provide rich amounts of EFA's especially Linoleic acid, which necessary for prostaglandin production. Almonds are also beneficial to those with gestational diabetes or insulin resistance. Research shows that phytochemicals in almonds decrease blood sugar spikes after meals.
Technically a seed, but used as a grain, Quinoa is a complete protein, providing all 9 essential amino acids. It contains many of the minerals needed for healthy enzyme and hormone functions (phosphorus, magnesium, zinc) as well as folate, and fats (a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6).It is easy to cook, and unlike most grains, doesn't need to be soaked before cooking. There is controversy over the grain/seed and it's effects on the environment and culture where it is grown. I ask you to look for sustainably sourced quinoa.
4. Potatoes; Especially Sweet Potatoes
Oh yes, if you are a meat and potatoes kinda gal...now is your moment; pot roast with potatoes...yep, crock pot chicken with colcannon (oh you need to try this), no problem.
Sweet potatoes are the big star here (not really a potato, but a yam). They provide the starches and estrogens needed to make hyaluronic acid in the body. The phytoestrogens in yams do not gum up the receptors like xenoestrogens. Instead they mimic natural estrogens. In the labor process, this can stimulate an increased production of our body's own estrogens, oxytocin, and prostaglandins.
Nutritionally Sweet Potatoes/Yams have high amounts of Vitamin A (hence the color), Vitamin C, B Vitamins (B6), and minerals (potassium, phosphorus).
Sweet potatoes, over white potatoes, have been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels. This means they may be an option for those with insulin resistance or gestational diabetes.
Research also showed a decrease in NERVE inflammation and pain perception in those who consumed yams. So, it may also help with endorphin production, and the reduction of unnatural pain during labor by reducing inflammation in nerves.
Phytochemicals in sweet potatoes also stimulate the production of fibrinogen...remember when we talked about this with hyaluronic acid. It is a protein that helps with blood clotting.
Think of Sweet Potatoes/Yams, as a cervical effacement tool.
Like sweet potatoes, bananas help with hyaluronic acid production, by containing a small amount of plant based hyaluronic acid.
Contrary to what some would have you believe, you do need sugars in your diet...just not processed, nasty, chemically separated sugars. Natural sugars. Your brain, cells and body needs an element of fructose and glucose to maintain certain functions. Bananas can be used as a healthy sweetener to reduce your refined sugar consumption and also provide some added nutrition.
Bananas have always been known for their potassium levels (white potatoes actually have more.), but they also have good amounts of B Vitamins and Vitamin C.
Pre-eclampsia is a concern as we get closer to labor. B Vitamins, Potassium and Magnesium are known to reduce pre-eclampsia symptoms.
Many of you have heard the old wives tale about eating dates, but some of you haven't. It actually comes from the Middle East. Where it was said that women who ate dates would have easy births. (It is actually in the Quran).
Science has backed up this old wives tale.
A study done in 2008 showed those women who ate 6 or more dates per day for the 4 weeks prior to delivery had
7. Grass Fed Butter
Many of the fat soluble vitamins are very difficult to find and get enough of in the diet. Grass-Fed Butter is rich in Cholesterol, Vitamins A, D, E, K, B Vitamins, and more.
Cholesterol is the building block for Estrogen, as well as a key to Oxytocin receptors. Your cholesterol needs increase significantly during pregnancy, and especially towards the end of pregnancy for hormone production and function.
Vitamin D and Vitamin K play a crucial role in Labor and Delivery. Vitamin D helps to regulate reproductive hormones. They also work together for many functions and aid in the absorption of one another.
One study showed that 82% of pregnant women were Vitamin D deficient. Women who are Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to request an epidural than women who had sufficient vitamin D levels. Why? Vitamin D helps to regulate pain nerve sensitivity.
Vitamin K deficiency is an epidemic. Not enough K2 is being consumed, and not enough K1 is being consumed to be converted. Vitamin K is famous for it's funcitons in blood clotting. There is an epidemic of postpartum hemorrhaging starting creep up, that may be partially to do with not enough Vitamin K2, specifically, in the diet.
Let's be honest, no one is eating enough liver these days, and it is the best nutrient dense meat source for all reproductive health (prenatal, labor and postpartum).
Liver is full of easy to absorb Iron, ALL of the B Vitamins (super high in B12 and Folate), Vitamins A, D, E, K, and CoEnzyme Q10.
B Vitamins are important for the production of red blood cells, which have a high turn over rate in pregnancy, specifically the heme portion that holds and transports oxygen. In combination with Iron, Magnesium and Zinc, Liver is a great blood building and oxygenation food. Making sure your stores are up leading into labor and delivery, will also heap with postpartum recovery. Also, if you are planning on using NO (Nitrous Oxide) as a pain management technique, make sure to consume extra B12 leading up to labor, as the gas depletes the body of B12.
Maintaining hydration is important toward the end of pregnancy. Hydration is already difficult because you are not only needing to consume enough H2O for your daily body needs, but also for that of your baby and the constantly replenishing amniotic fluid your baby lives in. As the placenta begins to age, its ability to make efficient amounts of amniotic fluid begins to decline. Staying hydrated will decrease your risk of low amniotic fluid levels.
Our modern tap water is nutritionally deplete and chemically rich, which doesn't make for a super absorbable and usable form of H2O (the Flouride and Chlorine actually deplete your body of nutrients as well).
Melons are my trick for increasing amniotic fluid levels. Melons like Cucumber and Watermelon, specifically, contain high amounts of electrolyte trace minerals. These mineral can increase the amount of H20 absorbed by double the same volume of water. Watermelons not only contain 92% water, and the same electrolyte minerals, but also plant chemicals that further increase H20 absorption.
When I have clients that seem to be having a decrease in amniotic fluid, or multiple dehydration symptoms, I will recommend 1 cucumber or 1/4 a baby watermelon per day.
10. Cultured Foods
Not only are the probiotics that are created in the natural fermentation process important for balancing the overall flora of the body, but they help to breakdown vitamins, such as Vitamin K, into a more usable form. This decreases the work your own body needs to put forth to absorb and assimilate them, and increases the amount that can enter the body.
Yogurt, kefir, and other cultured dairy products can provide a good amount of probiotics that help regulate vaginal flora (lactobacillus). Always buy and eat full fat and grass-fed yogurts.
Traditional fermented veggies are super easy to make. Once you get the hang of it, you'll have fun trying new veggie and flavor combinations...my kids love beets/kale/cabbage with juniper berries. The fermented veggies offer K2 in an easy to absorb form, as well as the probiotics.
Fermented Soy in the form of Natto, Tempeh, and Miso are also important to add into the last weeks of pregnancy. They are rich in phytoestrogens that work to support the normally high estrogen functions that lead to labor and delivery. Fermented soy also provide K2 in very usable forms, as well as B12.
Miss a Part in the Series?
Planning Nutritionally for Labor and Delivery Part 1 - Biology of Labor
Planning Nutritionally for Labor and Delivery Part 2 - Oxytocin "the Love Hormone"
Planning Nutritionally for Labor and Delivery Part 3 - Estrogen and Progesterone
Planning Nutritionally for Labor and Delivery Part 4 - Cervical Ripening
Planning Nutritionally for Labor and Delivery Part 5 - More Than Just Progression
Planning Nutritionally for Labor and Delivery Part 6 - Probiotic Health
I thought it would help to start with the foods that really work hard at reducing inflammation in the body. These foods are those that you should be having daily. These are the foods that will speed your healing and recovery. These are your new favorite foods!
We are going to be going into quite a few things over the next couple of days that may seem like you can't eat anything. Starting with a strong list of foods to include is a great, positive way to start any new change.
1. Cruciferous Vebetables
This is the cabbage family. It includes: Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussels, Cauliflower, Bok Choy, Mustard Greens, Kale, Arugula, Kohlrabi, and Radishes. This is a big group, but they each offer great anti-inflammatory properties. As a group, these vegetables are superstars. Often the richest sources of minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, and fiber in the plant world.
It is important to have a moderate mix of cooked and uncooked forms of cruciferous vegetables. Each method provides a slightly different nutrient profile. These are great vegetables for culturing, as the natural fiber in the plants is the ideal food for culturing bacteria (as it is for our own digestive bacteria).
2. Leafy Greens
There is some overlap between the Cruciferous family, and the category of Green Leafy Vegetables, as many of the green leafy vegetables are cruciferous. It also includes a variety of culinary and medicinal herbs that can be used as teas. When choosing green leafy vegetables, the greener the better. Chlorophyll in green vegetables works like hemoglobin and helps to oxygenate cells in the body. The greener they are, the higher their nutrition and nutrient content as well. This group includes: Spinach, Chard, Beet Greens, Romaine Lettuce, Green/Red Leaf Lettuce, Rapini, Watercress, Dandelion, Stinging Nettles, Chickweed, Celery, Parsley, Cilantro, and Basil.
The bulk of the produce you eat should be from these 1st two groups.
3. Onions and Garlic
Onions and Garlic are part of the Allium family. All of these plants offer great healing benefits and include: Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Chives, Garlic Chives, Ramps, and Shallots. All alliums are rich in sulfur compounds, which give them their pungent flavor and smell. Research supports that the Alliums reduce inflammation, increase bone growth and healing, increase connective tissue healing, treat arthritis, lower the risk of cancer, help to regulate blood sugars, and strengthens the blood vessel. But, the kicker is that in all these studies, alliums needed to be consumes daily to see the benefits. So, don't skip them.
Raw onions and garlic have the most enzyme and antibacterial benefits.
4. Beets and Sweet Potatoes
Colorful root vegetables are not only pretty on the plate but contain rich amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
The red color of beets is a dead give away of their high amounts of Betaines (just like the red stems on chard).
Beets can be eaten raw, boiled, roasted, grilled, and cultured. Each still providing anti inflammatory antioxidants.
Sweet potatoes are another anti inflammatory food. The flesh color of sweet potatoes can vary from white, light golden, orange, fire, red to purple. Each providing slightly different antioxidants. The Thai purple sweet potato (See it below in my hash) has been studied specifically in the treatment of inflammation, specifically with inflammation of the blood vessels. Unlike white potatoes, which are a member of the Night Shade Family, sweet potatoes and yams have edible leaves. If you grow them yourself, you can use the leaves in salads or sauté them like spinach.
The best way to eat sweet potatoes is to cook them. Unlike white potatoes, you CAN eat sweet potatoes raw, but they don't taste very good. I prefer baking, roasting, and boiling. They are the perfect substitute for white potatoes. Don't Fry Them. Frying and starchy vegetable or food creates inflammatory and carcinogen chemicals, Acrylamides. These Acrylamides are well documented to be a toxin in the body. Acrylamides are produced anytime a starch is cooked at high heats. This can be in the baking of breads (especially at high heat or if the curst is very dark and burnt, or in making toast), but also, more importantly, in the frying of foods at high heats. French Fries, Fried Pies, Fried Okra, Doughnuts, etc… Acrylamide not only is associated with causing cancer, but is also a neurotoxin that can cause damage to the neurological functions of the body. Acrylamide exposure can make certain inflammatory conditions worse: Neuropathy, Nerve Damage, Fibromyalgia, and other Skin Pain relation conditions.
I grew up eating LOTS of seaweed. I joke with friends now. Remember the scene from the move "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" where Tula is a child and eating lunch. The cool kids ask her what she is eating and she says Moussaka, and they all laugh saying Moose-Ka-Ka? Well that was me, but add in stinky Kim Chi, Rice and Seaweed!
For those who are not aware, part of my family is Korean. We eat and ate a lot of Korean food as a kid, and now. Korean food has a lot of seaweed in it. It makes me happy to see seaweeds becoming more popular. Most of the kids at my daughter's school bring little packages of seaweed snacks. LOVE IT!
Iodine deficiency is becoming epidemic. Our main sources of iodine are grass-fed dairy and seafoods (fish, shellfish, sea salts, and seaweeds). Do not try and get your iodine from iodize table salt. That stuff is junk. It's been bleach, and loaded with synthetic iodine that does not absorb well at all. Stick with natural salts and seaweeds for you iodine needs.
Why are we so Iodine deficient?
The main symptoms of iodine deficiency is Hypothyroidism. There is also some evidence coming out to links with other hormone imbalances in the body, specifically PCOS. Other symptoms of deficiency can be chronic fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, and cold hands and feet.
Why is iodine so important for inflammation?
In additional to Iodine, sea vegetables are rich in highly absorbable iron, zinc and magnesium, as well as other trace minerals.
6. Cultured Vegetables
There are a variety of vegetables that can be fermented, but cabbages are the most common and popular. Traditionally, every culture had some form of fermented food in there diet. Sauerkraut in Germany, and Kim Chi in Korea. This is one of those traditional food preparation methods that have been lost to the recent generation.
Our gut is an important part of our immune system, inflammatory pathways, and is the way we get our nutrition. If our gut is not happy, our system isn't happy. A BIG part of the benefits of cultured vegetables is the natural probiotics created in the fermentation process. The natural fibers in the plants, that would feed the bacteria in our guts, is digested during the fermentation process by plant and airborne bacteria. Consuming the already fermented vegetables give you a boost in your own probiotic colonies.
I have fond memories of watching my grandmother make Kim Chi in her kitchen. I have carried on that tradition, and now make a variety of different cultured vegetables (which my kids LOVE). It's easy, fun, and you can get creative with the seasonings. I've usually got a couple of mason jars on the counter during harvest season. If you want to start making your own, message me and I would be more than happy to give a crash course in fermentation…it really is easy, and if I can do it, you can.
7. Berries and Cherries
Consume a large variety of different berries; Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tart Cherries, Blueberries, Elderberries, Currants, Goji, and Cranberries are all good choices. They are all full of good antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
The key to choosing berries, is to buy organic, or find wild! Berries are highest on the list of pesticide use.
Pineapple is as effective as many anti inflammatory medication for reducing systemic inflammation but without the side effects. This is due to an enzyme called Bromelain. Bromelain is a protein digesting enzyme. It has been to treat intestinal inflammation, joint pain and inflammation, allergies, sinus infections, arthritis, autoimmune disease, swelling from injury, asthma, and to speed recovery from joint surgery like ACL.
To access the this amazing anti inflammatory enzyme, eat your pineapple raw.
Ginger is a root that is used as a flavoring in many Asian dishes, as well as a Chinese Herbal Medicine to Benefit Digestion, Neutralize Food Poisoning, Stop Nausea, Open the Lungs, Increase Circulation.
Today, research has shed light into its many different phytochemicals. It has started gaining recognition for its use in treating arthritis, digestive inflammation, parkinson's, diabetes and cancer, as well as its ability to regulate digestive bacteria growth.
Fresh ginger is best. It can be grown indoors as used as need, as well. The minced and packaged type is typically full of preservatives as well, and the dried ginger is probably pretty weak in medicinal properties.
Cinnamon is delicious! I use it frequently to make things seem sweeter. But, did you know it is medicinal? In Chinese Herbology, Cinnamon has been used to Release the Muscle Layer, Warm the Channels and Treat Wind-Cold, Move Blood Stagnation, Open the Chest, Resolve Edema.
Today, like Ginger, modern science is beginning to open up the answers as to how Cinnamon works to treat various inflammatory conditions; Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Diabetes, Viral Infections, Asthma, and other inflammatory conditions.
Any form of cinnamon bark will work. Use it in cooking, or as a topping. Make vitamin waters with the whole pieces with apple chunks...yum!
If you are suffering from inflammation or pain, you have already heard about Turmeric and are probably already using this as a supplement. If not, you might just start!
For centuries, turmeric has been known for it's anti inflammatory properties. The main active ingredient is called Curcumin. Curcumin has beens shown to have beneficial properties in conditions such as: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cerebral injury, CVDs, cancer, allergy, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, renal ischemia, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, depression, fatigue, and AIDS.
The Down Side: Curcumin is extremely hard to absorb! It is metabolized and excreted quickly. To increase absorption, Curcumin supplements should have added Vitamin C, and should be taken with a food containing quality fats.
There are no known side effects to Curcumin.
12. Primitive Grains
Wheat is currently the world's staple grain. But modern wheat is longer wheat (in my opinion) it has be so changes over the decades with the introduction of Genetic Modification and high pesticide use. It is now higher in Gluten, and a different form of Gluten as well. Although I am not anti-grains, there is so much research on wheat and it's role in increased inflammation. If you are suffering with Chronic Inflammation, I recommend removing wheat products.
Ancient Grains are those that have been consumed in the same state for thousands of years, and have changed very little. These include: Quinoa (south american seed grain), Amaranth (north american seed grain), Chia (south american seed grain), Sorgham (african seed grain), Teff, Millet, Buckwheat, Oats, Wild Rice, Pigmented Rice.
Each offer different nutrient profiles, some are gluten free other are lower than modern wheat.
Grains should not make up a larger portion of your diet, as modern nutrition would have you think. The key to incorporating grains into your diet, especially if you are in a Chronic Inflammatory cycle, is to keep them whole, soak them, and do not consume them sparingly. Avoid Wheat and even ancient Wheats if you have significant inflammation. Stick to seed grains that are naturally gluten free, and richer in fats, vitamins and antioxidants.
13. Nuts and Seeds
With the exemption of peanuts (which are not even a nut, but a legume), nuts and seeds are rich sources of fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to help reduce inflammation.
There is a large variety of nuts and seeds that can be consumed, some better than others in different ways. The key is to keep a variety.
Seeds and Nuts go rancid quickly, meaning the oils in them go bad (don't eat funky smelling nuts, or oils). If you can, buy them in the shell and hull yourself. If you buy already shelled, buy as fresh as you can and store them in the freezer or fridge to keep them longer. Like Legumes and Grains, sprouting your nuts and seeds will break down a portion of their anti-nutrients, and increase the amount nutrition available.
14. Healthy Oils: Olive/Coconut
Yummy fats, we will talk about this more, but everyone needs to eat more good fats.
Cooking with vegetable and nut oils is tricky…please look at some of my previous posts on more detailed information on the different types of fats in our diet, as well as the different cooking oils available.
Differentiating Your Dietary Fats
Understanding Cooking Oils
Olive Oil has gotten good reviews for reducing inflammation for years now. The Phenols in Olive Oil have been shown to reduce inflammation markers, as well as have an analgesic affects (reducing pain perception).
Coconut Oil has also gain some superstar status in recent years. The research is still limited, but what is out there seems promising. Showing a reductions in inflammatory markers, reduce internal heat, and a reduction in pain perception.
There is controversial research out there on inflammation and diet….
High Fat, High Carbohydrate diets are associated with inflammation
High conventional red meat diets, Low vegetable diets associated with inflammation
Low-fat, High carbohydrate diets are associated with inflammation
Mediterranean diets are associated with a reduction in inflammation
High Fat, Low Carb diets are associated with a reduction in inflammation
Ketogenic diets are associated with nerve protection and reduced inflammation
The key here is that high levels of Carbohydrates (pretty much refined sugars, breads, and too much starchy foods and grains) is associated with increases in inflammation, NOT increases in nutritional fats, or quality fats.
15. Grass-Fed Butter
Grass fed butter is butter from cows that, well, eat grass. This is actually a much better way to ensure you are getting the nutrition that should be present in grass-fed beef (that is usually grain fed before slaughter). This butter is rich, as the cows are not given grains, but only grass.
When you buy are see grass-fed butter, you'll notice it's ORANGE, not WHITE. This is a clear sign that this is quality butter. The orange color is the antioxidants and vitamins (specifically A). SO COOL to actually see it, in my opinion, vs. me just telling you its better and it looking the same, right?
Bring on the butter, but make it grass-fed only!
16. Real Cultured Dairy
As I've mentioned our gut health is important in the management of inflammatory symptoms. Cultured/Fermented foods in general are good for our bacterial health, as well as Vitamin K metabolism. Like vegetables, most cultures have a form of fermented dairy that they consume regularly; Yogurt, Kefir, Sour Cream, etc...
Culturing dairy helps to remove Lactose. During the culturing process, the lactose becomes food for the growing bacterial colonies. Those who have lactose issues can typically consume cultured dairy products (REAL Cultured Dairy products).
If you consume dairy, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE choose full fat. Stop buying skimmed milk products NOW! That is your final warming. But, seriously, skim milk is glorified sugar water with added vitamins and minerals that cannot me absorbed.
And lastly, choose grass-fed…for reasons mentioned above
Buy Plain, not flavored, that are full of added sugar and often preservatives, like Carrageenan (which is highly inflammatory). They actually use carraganeen to induce inflammation in lab animals to study the effects of anti-inflammatories. This is one additive you need to stay away from.
17. Fatty Fish
Like Olive Oil, Fish have been given top ranking status as an anti-inflammatory food. Fish, in general, are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
In our body there needs to be a balance between inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids and anti inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids. In our modern diets, this is highly skewed to being higher in Omega 6 fatty acids. Fish are naturally high in Omega 3's, especially those fish from cold waters that have more fat on them.
Farmed fish, sadly, is often fed unnatural diets so are falling into the same sad fate as the quality of our conventional meats. Low in Omega 3, high in Omega 6. This is why choosing sustainable fished wild caught is the best choice.
There is a worry about Mercury and other contaminants in wild caught fish. Salmon in the Seattle area were found to be contaminated with dangerous amount of hormones and anti-depressants…hooray for mediation in the water system (did you know that you cannot filter that out, you may want to test your tap water). Choosing fish species that are lower on the food chain will minimize the amount of contaminants you are exposed to…sardines, anchovies. There are also online lists that rank fish on their toxin levels. It's a good idea to print this off and have it with you to help you make good fish choices.
I mentioned this yesterday in my Chicken Soup Notes. Broth is full of great nutrient than can help reduce inflammation, specifically joint inflammation and spinal inflammation. If you are making your broth with not just bone, but joints, cartilage, and skin you are going to be getting a very important nutrient that is hard to find in modern diets….Hyaluronic Acid.
Our body can make it's own hyaluronic acid, but after a certain age it stops and all hyaluronic acid must come form food sources. Hyaluronic acid is found in high amounts in our connective tissues, cartilage, synovial fluid, and skin. It is the lubricant of our body. It helps to increase lubrication in joints, and fills the doughnut like spinal discs. This is an important nutrient for those who are suffering from joint inflammation, herniated or bulging discs, age related arthritis, or skin inflammation.
How do we get Hyaluronic Acid in our diet? Well, how much cartilage and skin are you eating these days? Probably not much! Back to the days of poor nutritional guidelines of low fat-high carb. Everyone was told to eat boneless and skinless chicken. Well, you have just thrown out your source of hyaluronic acid. If you are a vegetarian, you are probably deficient in hyaluronic acid. Sorry!
So, how do we get it back in our diet. The best way, in my opinion, is to make your own Chicken Stock. This is very easy, and once you figure it out, you'll do it all the time. When you buy a chicken, buy a whole chicken, cook it (eat the skin), and save the bones. Take these bones and any leftover meat and skin. Put it in a crockpot with your desired herbs and some vinegar (you won't taste it), and cook on high for 12-24 hours. Done. You've now got a super nutritious broth that you can use to cook with, or drink.
I have had clients with chronic joint pain and inflammation recovery simply by doing this!
19. Pasture Raised Animal Meats
I talked about this yesterday when we were talking about how to Eat Clean.
To me, this is more important than choosing organic produce. The quality of meat we eat will either cause disease or treat it. This is a good example of this.
Conventionally raised meats are fed poor, unnatural, cheap feed. This creates nutritionally imbalanced meat that is low in vitamins and minerals, and high in poor quality saturated fats and dangerously inflammatory polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acids.
Like all animals we accumulate and change our biochemical buildup based on what we are eating.
Grass-fed and pasture raised animals are nutritional and anti-inflammatory superstars. Beef especially is changes significantly by simply changing its feed.
Sun exposure is another bonus to nutrition. Vitamin D is a sunshine vitamin. It is created by chemical reactions when cholesterol and UVB rays meet in our skin. If cattle, chicken, pigs, etc…are not given access to sunshine, they are deficient in Vitamin D…why many diary products are given synthetic Vitamin D supplements (so much better to have the real thing).
20. Pasture Raised Eggs
Just like Diary and Meat, choose pasture raised. Pasture raised means the chickens are not only cage free, but are given access to pasture to graze. This is the the natural way of eating for chickens and this makes a big difference in the quality of their eggs. Crack a conventional egg and a pasture raised egg side by side. What did you see? It's a big difference, like the butter. The pasture raised eggs are brilliant orange (almost fire orange), and shiny, the conventional egg is kind of a pale, cloudy orange. Thats a visible difference to show you the nutritional difference.
Eggs in general are a super food. They provide nearly every nutrient you need. For years there was worry over cholesterol in eggs and blood cholesterol levels. This is not accurate, and we will discuss how excessive sugar consumption actually causes high cholesterol, not cholesterol in the diet.
Try to incorporate eggs into your diet daily if yo can. My family of four goes through 2-3 dozen eggs per week! Look for local egg suppliers. They do not need to be organic, but pasture raised and allowed to forage on grasses and especially bugs!
Breakfast #3: Brussels and Sweet Potato Hash; Fried Egg; Black Coffee
In a Cast Iron Skillet add butter, and melt. Add Onion and Garlic, cook till fragrant, add Brussels, Carrot, Celery and Sweet Potato, stir to coat. Season with S/P/Thyme. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth if it looks dry. Cook until all vegetables are soft and browning.
Makes 4 servings of hash
In a separate cast iron skillet, heat 1/2 tsp grass-fed butter, add egg and cook until desired doneness.
Lunch #3: Turkey, Hummus, Veggie Lettuce Wrap; Vitamin Water
I have learned the hard way that you MUST wrap lettuce wraps in butcher paper to keep it from falling apart and making a big mess. Get creative with your ingredients, add your favorite vegetables, leftover meats, etc.. Mine was a combo of Hummus, Turkey, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Red Onions, Avocado, Olive Oil, Balsamic, and Roasted Garlic.
I made a large pitcher of vitamin water today…with frozen watermelon, cucumber, and lime slices. I drank 2 of these pitcher on my own…they are so good, the longer they sit the better.
Snack #1: Fresh Strawberries with Coconut Cream; Vitamin Water
I dont' snack often, but I needed one today. Balancing snacks is just as important as balancing meals. Combining carbohydrates with proteins and fats to keep your metabolism and digestion working properly.
Dinner #3: Dijon Herb Pistachio Crusted Salmon; Wild Rice; Steamed Broccoli; More Vitamin Water…it's that good!
Preheat Oven to 400
Make a paste with Dijon, Lemon Juice, Parsely, Green Onions, and Garlic.
In an oven safe dish coat salmon with oil, and season with S/P. Top each salmon fillet with dijon mixture, and sprinkle with pistachios. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is cooked through.
In a sauce pot, cook Wild Rice as directed with Chicken Stock.
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Basic Dietary Principles to Start Reducing Inflammation + Day 1 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Cleaning Up Your Diet + Day 2 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Sugar and Chronic Inflammation + Day 4 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Sugar as a Drug + Day 5 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Natural Sugar Options + Day 6 Menu Plan
Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Learning to Love Fats + Day 7 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Fat Soluble Vitamins + Day 8 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Food Allergies and Environmental Toxins + Day 9 Menu Plan
Anti-inflammatory Diet: Tips to Implement the Anti-Inflammatory Principles + Day 10 Menu Plan
We've spent a lot of time, now, talking about what you should NOT have! I seem to say NO quite a bit in life…maybe that's why my children "lovingly" call me Mommy No-Fun!
I feel I need to redeem myself a bit with you all. I KNOW this sounds like there is just nothing in the world you can eat. I promise you, there is a world of delicious foods out there for you. It may take some experimenting and time to get use to them and how to cook them, but it is worth it.
Here are the TOP TEN foods that I think every women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) should eat regularly.
1. Green Vegetables
There are a LOT of great green vegetables, so instead of making my entire top too vegetables, I made one category for them...they are that important and cool! Most of us, not just those with PCOS, need to increase the green. This really does many anything GREEN! Green vegetables are a rich source of Vitamins and Minerals, many of which are extremely important to those managing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). There really is no set right green vegetable that is better than another. I think variety is the best way to approach. My rule of thumb is to have something green at each meal, if you can, if not at the very least once a day. Here are some of my favorites and why?
Most Green Vegetables, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, work to cleanse the Liver. They are also used to Nourish the Yin (cooling aspect and fluids) and Blood (well, blood).
There many others, but these are common, easy to cook with, and taste great. Get creative, and go GREEN.
Use herbs to flavor foods naturally, while giving a little extra boost in nutrition. Many of the herbs be use in cooking are excellent sources (much like the greens up top) in vegetable base fat-soluble vitamins. They add flavor that is satisfying and creates dishes that are notch above just plain salt and pepper.
Herbs, as medicine, are a big part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Parsley works similar to other leafy greens being good for the liver, yin and blood. Herbs are often used in TCM cooking to create a stronger medicinal effect on the dishes.
There are definitely others, but Parsley is the King.
Most people have Cinnamon in their pantry. Not only does it have beautiful and slightly sweet and spicy flavor, but it is medicinal.
Known as Rou Gui and Gui Zhi in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Cinnamon is warming. It is good for helping to regulate the digestion and body temperature. It is a common remedy for alternating fever and chills, or hot flashes followed by chills. It warms the Spleen and Stomach
Beans, Beans the magical fruit….we all know how it goes, right? There is a wide variety of beans, and some are higher on the glycemic index, so take a look. Most of the common varieties are just fine, and very good for our digestive systems, as well as giving us good protein, and nutrients. The combination of Fiber and Protein is beneficial for helping with blood sugar control. The fiver in legumes, works similarly to the fiber in leafy greens to inhibit amylase enzymes that breakdown carbohydrates, thus slowing the breakdown and absorption.
Avocados are crazy popular these days. Mostly because of the health benefits associated with the fat in the fruit. I think most people think it is the saturated fats in Avocados that are so healthy (since there has been a swing to better saturated fats), but honestly, Avocados are only 1/9 saturated fat, the rest is a combination of Omega 6 polyunsaturated and Oleic Acid Monounsaturated. They are 75% fat, with vitamins and minerals.
Read my article on differentiating Dietary Fats for more on these fats.
REALLY all nuts should be welcome on your plate. They are each full of wonderful nutritional benefits…Walnuts with Omega 3. I really like Almonds.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, nuts (in general) warm the essence, the internal energy, of the body. Almonds in particular, are good for the intestines.
7. Primitive and Wild Grains
I say "Primitive and Wild Grains" because these are the grain that tend to be lower on the glycemic index, and contain a better ratio of proteins and fats, and more nutrients. My favorites are Quinoa and Wild Rice. They give a steady flow of GOOD glucose (because we do need some), while being balanced. Always combine with other proteins and fats.
When you are choosing grains, always choose WHOLE GRAINS. This means in their natural form and fully enact with bran.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Grains are good for nourishing the Spleen and Stomach, and nourish the blood.
Not everyone loves fish, and that's okay. We now have awesome, quality nutritional supplements that help you get your fish…hooray for fish oils. FIsh is a great way to get our Omega 3 fatty acids. Like I mentioned before ALA is the plant form of Omega 3. When an animal consumes plants based Omega 3, it must be broken down into EPA and DHA to actually be used in the body. The food chain of fish is Algae, small fish, and then large fish. By eating fish like Salmon, we are eating a concentrated form of Omega 3. Algae is a high source of plant based Omega 3. All the little fish eat the algae, and the salmon eat the smaller fish and they accumulate more. Fish is our highest meat source of Omega 3 fatty acids in a very usable form.
Caution when choosing fish sources. Choose sources that are low in mercury. If you do consume mercury rich sources, limit.
Most seafood, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is Yin nourishing.
I absolutely love eggs for anything reproductive…fertility, pregnancy, postpartum. In several tribal cultures, eggs were only given to women and children. With pregnancy women consuming up to a dozen a day. Why?
Egg are made to grow and sustain life. They provide almost every nutrient, in high amounts, needed for reproduction, pregnancy, and breast-feeding.
There is a difference in quality though, not all eggs are created the same. Commercial chicken eggs are often very devoid of the nutrition that should be there. BECAUSE these chickens are missing out essential foods (insects), as well as sunshine (poor caged chickens.) When choosing eggs, go with pasture-raised (not just cage free), they are worth the price!
Pasture Raised eggs have twice as much Vitamin E, twice as much Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and a Third more Vitamin A. They also contain Vitamin D, and B vitamins.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Eggs nourish and tonify the Kidneys (the main organ responsible for reproduction in TCM)
Good Quality oils are super important for good fat sources. Add a drizzle of cold pressed oils to top off your meals. It will an array of different forms of healthy fats, without the worry of ruining them in cooking. There are several fun and creative options to try, (like using the Walnut oil as a drizzle on my sweet potatoes.)
Look my previous post on CHOOSING COOKING OILS, for more information...
Breakfast #9 "Paleo" Biscuit Sandwiches with Berries
Makes 4 servings
For Biscuits: Preheat to 350
In a bowl add Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, and Salt. Combine with a whisk. Add in one egg at a time and incorporate smoothly. Fold in cooled Fat (should be somewhat solid, but not hard). GENTLY roll into 4 equally sized biscuits. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown. Let cook 10 minutes before slicing.
In a skillet add sausage patties and cook through, set a side. In same skillet fry eggs.
To assemble: slice biscuits in half, add sausage, egg, and top with other biscuit half. Serve with 1/2 cup berries.
Dinner #9 Mediterranean One Skillet Chicken; Quinoa Tabbouleh
PCOS Nutrition Part 1: Basic Dietary Principles
PCOS Nutrition Part 2: Avoiding Dairy
PCOS Nutrition Part 3: Sugar
PCOS Nutrition Part 4: Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load
PCOS Nutrition Part 5: Building Your Meal
PCOS Nutrition Part 6: Understanding Hormones
PCOS Nutrition Part 7: Fat Soluble Vitamins
PCOS Nutrition Part 8: Increasing Dietary Fats
PCOS Nutrition Part 10: Tips for Implementing the PCOS Diet
I bet you all were expecting me to have a Bean and Cheese Burrito in this lunchbox this morning. That is one dinner that we rarely have leftovers. My kids love them. After a dinner that was hard to swallow the night before, both my kiddos actually, sincerely THANKED ME, for making burritos. I think it was mostly a thank you for not trying anything crazy and new (which I am prone to doing).
If any of you have read and followed my Facebook Page, or my other Blog Posts, you'll remember that in the fall I spend a couple weeks making and freezing food. One of the things that I made were Spanakopita - Spinach and Feta Cheese Pies. This is the first one to come out of the freezer.
I love making and freezing meals, it makes meal prep easier, and helps you save time later on down the road. These spinach pies defrost and toast beautifully, make great lunches for both adults and kids, and are packed with a variety of green vegetables and herbs. You can customize them too. These are actually not spinach, they are Swiss Chard...did you see that coming?
At the time I was making these, last fall, my Chard plants were prolific and a freeze was coming, so I needed to cut them and use them. Some became pies and some were blanched, chopped and frozen (I use it like frozen spinach in recipes). I have made this Spanakopita recipe MANY, MANY times with MANY, MANY different green vegetables. Every time it's delicious.
I actually have this recipe on my Recipe Blog, Click Here.
So, several of you have asked about my Banana Bread Recipe. Your in luck! Today I am giving you not one, but TWO recipes.
A little background on my Banana Bread Recipe...
This recipe began as a modification of a wonderful family recipe I have. It's always been a crowd pleaser, but it's never been, what I would call "healthy." It had a LOT of sugar in it, white flour, and no additional protein sources for balance. Of course, I felt the need to take it upon myself to modify the bejeezus out of it. My goal, was to create a still very moist Banana Bread that had less of an effect on blood sugar, and provided sustainable energy and satiety. My kids love Banana Bread, but I hate giving then sugary, overly sweet foods. This newer version gives me a little bit more piece of mind.
So, what did I do? I cut the granulated sugar by 2/3, and added some Coconut Sugar (but still decreased the overall sugar from the original recipe), used sprouted grain flour, added Walnuts and Chia Seeds, and a good helping of Cinnamon. Why? Follow the link below to my recipe and I'll explain it all. The Glycemic Index for this recipe came to 51, and the Glycemic Load per serving came to 27-34 depending on the serving size. That's an improvement on the original GI of 64, and GL of 35-43. Not to mention the added health benefits of using sprouted grain flour, coconut sugar, and nuts/seeds.
Please take a look at it and let me know what you think (I love feedback). Click Here
I would have to say that in today's lunch the food that M1 is probably not the most excited about is the celery. She'll eat it, but it's not her favorite. I don't blame her, I'm not a fan either. But with peanut butter, it's a different game...drifting off into a childhood memory of ants-on-a-log.
I was on vacation last week, and my body is still on Florida time. I have been waking up at 5:30 every morning since I got back on Saturday. Sigh! At least this gives me time to be productive. I made an egg casserole for the family for breakfast, packed my lunch, and my daughter's lunch. All by 6:30! Not the norm at our house, but when life gives you the time, do what you can with it. (There were also some dishes that got done, and some work on my book. For those of you who do not know, I am working on a book!)
I tried to think of a good health topic to discuss in today's post, and I think I've got one.
Balancing Oxalic Acid in Your Diet - The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Okay, let's just say I'm beating a dead horse on this Oxalic Acid thing. I talk about it A LOT! In clinic and in my previous blog posts. It's important, and most of us don't really know about it. It can change how your body processes and utilizes your food, and can offer protection against our toxic world.
So, let's start!
What is Oxalic Acid?
Oxalic Acid is an organic compound found in plants; specifically in food plants like Spinach, Kale, Chard, Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels, etc... In Rhubarb it is extremely high and is part of what causes it's very sour taste before cooking, and it is so high in the leaves that they are actually poisonous. It can also be produced by the bacterial breakdown of carbohydrates, and from unused Vitamin C, but that's another discussion so let's just stick to vegetables.
Why do Plants have Oxalic Acid?
There are several reasons why plants have Oxalic Acid.
What Makes Oxalic Acid Bad?
Because of it's ability to bind with minerals, Oxalic Acid will bind with essential minerals within our body preventing their absorption. Most notably Calcium, but also Iron, Magnesium, Sodium and Potassium. All minerals that are essential to the health of every cell in our body. Why is this bad?
Are There Any Benefits of Oxalic Acid?
Actually, there are. Which is why it is important to balance our diets and not exclude leafy greens.
Can We Change the Amount of Oxalic Acid in our Foods?
Yes we can! I typically recommend people cook or ferment their green vegetables more often than not. No method removes all of the Oxalic Acid in the plants, but it lowers it.
Oxalic acid has it's pros and cons. People who are healthy and eat a balanced diet should be able to manage Oxalic Acid in the diet. Those who have symptoms of mineral deficiencies, or have symptoms of Arthritis, Kidney Disease, IBS, Chrones, or Gout, should limit the amount the amount of Oxalic Acid in there diet. As a general rule, I cook or ferment my green vegetables 90% of the time to decrease the overall consumption of Oxalic Acid (remember there will still be some present). 10% of the time I eat them raw.
I try to use history as my guide. How have cultures traditionally ate these vegetables? Honestly, I sometimes think that if we stopped overthinking it, and looked at what our ancestors did before us, we would be doing just fine dietarily. It took them thousands of years to develop their culinary culture, and I believe it was through trial and error and learning how to use these foods. How often do you find traditional vegetables recipes that are raw and not either cooked for fermented? Just a thought.
For a list of Oxalic Acid levels of individual foods click here - It's not that good, but gives some.
So, why did I bring up Oxalic Acid?
Because today, M1 wanted me to add RAW SPINACH into her lunch. This was her pick today. M1 loves salads, and will often order them for dinner at restaurants. As I have mentioned in the past, I am normally NOT a salad fan. She is and I find that neat, and if that is what she asks for, I make it. I added in some protein sources too (If I let her, she will eat raw lettuce with no dressing and call that a salad...). I made a bunch of bacon bits on Sunday, let's be honest you can always find ways to use bacon bits during the week), and boiled some eggs last night.