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By Dr. Gabriel Cousens….
As I move into a discussion on the optimal diet for pregnancy, I want to remind the reader that from the conscious eating perspective there is no one optimal diet for everyone. The secret to a successful vegetarian, vegan, or live-food diet is understanding your dominant dietary type and Ayurvedic dosha. This applies to everyone at any time and not just during pregnancy.One additional point is that people often confuse a therapeutic diet with building or long-term healthy optimal diet. Therapeutic diets such as only fruits for cleansing, less than 10% fat diet for heart disease, or prolonged juice fasting have specific roles and specific effects. For some who stay on them for the long term or for pregnancy, they may actually create deficien-cies. Therapeutic diets aim to cure disease and restore health. They are not necessarily the best diets for long-term use or for pregnancy.
Keeping these ideas in mind, I want to state strongly that vegetarian, vegan, or live-food women can continue their basic diets during pregnancy and have very healthy if not healthier babies than if they decided to add red meat, chicken, or fish. There are many reasons for this, such as significant pesticide and radioactive contamination, bacterial, viral, and parasite con-tamination, and heavy-metal toxicity in the flesh-food diet, all of which I discuss in other chapters in this book. A diet free of flesh foods has pro-duced healthy and strong people for centuries in cultures around the world.
A study from The Farm, an intentional community in Tennessee, reported on eight hundred vegan pregnancies. It showed that all had normal preg-nancies and bore full-term, normal-weight infants. A healthy pregnancy and infant can be achieved easily even with our modern industrialized and polluted planet. It does require some conscious effort and thoughtfulness.
The first step is to understand and master the basic principles of healthy nutrition and to learn the most important foods for every woman to eat during pregnancy. Depending on one’s constitution, the ratios of these foods will vary, but they will still be your main foundation.
During pregnancy there needs to be an increased protein intake by at least thirty grams, to approximately sixty to seventy-five grams per day depending on your constitutional type. A fast oxidizer or parasympathetic type will need to be higher in protein, and a slow oxidizer or sympathetic type will do better on the lesser amount of protein. For the general health of the mother and the fetus, and specifically for the optimum development of the immune system, endocrine system, central nervous system, and brain of the fetus, there needs to be a significant intake of the following: essential fatty acids (EFAs), calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese, copper, iodine, the full range of the vitamin B complex (especially B6, B12, and folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E. All of these can be obtained from the following basic vegetarian foods, food concentrates, and food-grown supplements. Food-grown supplements are organic supple-ments still in their organic matrix and which are extracted from foods.
The first part of this general approach is to eat whole, organic, natural foods, and primarily living foods. I expand on this in Chapter 13, “General Guidelines for a Healthy Diet.” As our environment becomes more polluted and the soils more depleted of nutrients, going 100% organic, if possible, is the best thing one can do for oneself, a developing fetus, and the environ-ment. Pesticides, herbicides, and other forms of pollution interfere with the metabolic pathways of many nutrients and thus indirectly interfere with the development of the immune, endocrine, and neurological systems. Eat-
ing as many of our foods in their live (or biogenic) form or raw form preserves 70-80% more vitamins and minerals. I rarely see live-food mothers or children who are deficient in vitamin B12, but it is not an uncommon occurrence in mothers who follow a strict macrobiotic diet in which all the foods are cooked.
Grains, nuts, and seeds are the most potent health-building foods of all. Eaten raw or sprouted if possible (some grains need to be cooked), they contain all the essential nutrients for human growth, sustenance, and ongo-ing optimal health. These foods contain the germ power of the plants. They are the reproductive power and energy that ensures the perpetuation of thespecies. Particularly when eaten in their live form, they release this regen-erative and reproductive growth power and energy into us. Sprouting the seeds, nuts, and grains activates them and enhances their general nutritive content and specifically the vitamin content. The seeds, nuts, and grains contain high-quality protein. Buckwheat, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and almonds are complete proteins.
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Nuts, seeds, and grains are the best natural sources of unsaturated fatty acids and lecithin. They have a high vitamin and mineral content, especially vitamin E and the B-complex vitamins. Vitamin E is important for general endocrine development and hormonal building for the fetus and is specific for healthy pituitary gland development. Vitamin E increases fertility for men and women and helps to prevent miscarriages and stillbirths. The B-complex vitamins help protect against stress and are important as meta-bolic intermediates in the brain and central nervous system. Nuts, seeds, and grains are high sources of magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum, selenium, chromium, fluorine, silicon, potassium, and phos-phorus. All of these minerals are needed during pregnancy. Paciferins, which have an antibiotic-like resistance to disease factor, boost the immune sys-tem. Grains, nuts, and seeds provide organic natural fiber and roughage, which helps protect the pregnant mother from constipation, a common problem during pregnancy. The best seeds to use are flax, sunflower, chia, sesame, and pumpkin. Flaxseeds are excellent and the highest vegetarian source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, important for the immune system, nervous system, and brain development. I recommend one to two tablespoons daily of the uncooked and unheated oil or 3 to 6 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseeds.
Flax is a highly mucilaginous food and so it is excellent for keeping the bow-els moving during pregnancy. However, depending on your bowel sensitivity, too much ground flaxseed can cause loose stools.
Almonds are the best nuts to use in the diet because they are the most resistant to rancidity. Hazelnuts (filberts) are also a high-quality nut for preg-nancy. According to Paavo Airola in Every Woman’s Book, buckwheat and millet are the most beneficial grains for pregnancy. Buckwheat is a complete protein and is high in magnesium, manganese, and zinc. As explained in Chapter 3, “A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Personalizing Your Diet: Link-ing Food Ratios to Physiological Types,” in the section “Blood Type Approach,” wheat is a lectin food and also a panhemagglutinin. It reacts to form anti-body-antigen complexes with all the blood types. It seems to cause allergy
reactions in general, especially for many women who are blood type O.
Vegetables are the next most important food for pregnancy. The leafy green vegetables are complete proteins as well as excellent sources of minerals, enzymes, and vitamins. They are high in calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, and the B-complex vitamins. They also contain small amounts of the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. These leafy greens include alfalfa sprouts, green beans, broccoli, bokchoy, Brussels sprouts, vegetables in the cabbage family, collards, cucumbers, kale, leeks, mustard greens, pep-
pers, romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnip greens. Yellow vegetables are high in the fat-soluble vitamins A and E. These yellow vegetables include carrots, corn, pumpkin, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, and acorn, butternut, Hubbard, spaghetti, and summer squashes.
Fruits are an important food group for pregnancy, providing a good source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and biological water. Raisins and apricots are high sources of iron. Citrus is high in vitamin C, and melons are high in vitamin A. Fruits have an important role in cleansing as well.
Incorporate seaweed and blue-green algae, to avoid deficiencies.