If you’re interested in gut health, feeling amazing, your health in general PLUS are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant soon, this post is a must read…
Like loads of people, for many years now I’ve had issues with my gut. It started at the age of 17 when I was working in Singapore and Malaysia. About two days before leaving I began to feel very unwell. When I arrived back in Perth, I went to the doctor for some testing and it turned out I had Salmonella poisoning. Not fun at all. I got down to 48kg and had that many strange noises coming from my stomach that my cat became scared of me.
At the time, I didn’t realise how taking antibiotics would have such a detrimental affect on my already very sick gut. Plus my gut was probably already not functioning properly due to having tonsillitis so often as a teenager that penicillin became part of my vocabulary.
If you do need to take antibiotics – and I definitely did – you must repopulate the gut with friendly bacteria and eat a diet containing minimal toxins (more on this later).
Since then I’ve probably been back to Asia at least 20-30 times and picked up something on many of those trips. I’ve also suffered from candida on and off for years – another sign of an unhappy gut filled with bad bacteria and fungi. And although I’ve had a highly nutritious diet for at least 6 years now (not perfect but definitely good!), done several detoxes and gut/parasite cleanses, I’ve never seemed to 100% cure my gut problems. It is significantly better mind you, but I know there’s more work to be done.
And I’m on a mission to get my gut health in tip top shape, once and for all, because my partner and I plan on getting pregnant soon (YAY). The research tells us that gut health is not only incredibly important for your children’s health, but the health of your children’s children! Mind-boggling.
Why Gut Health Is So Important During Pregnancy
Firstly, I’d like to make it clear that gut health is immensely important whether you are planning for a baby or not.
Gut health contributes to proper immune function because 75% of the immune system is in the gut. Poor gut health can predispose us to everything from autoimmune disease, allergies, asthma, skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, cognitive difficulties, depression, anxiety and metabolic problems like obesity and fatty liver.
During pregnancy, your microbiome (also known as gut flora) is crucial for your baby’s health.
To get a little more insight into microbiome and why it’s important to your health and your baby’s health, take a peek this short animated video.
As you can see from the video, the natural birthing process has been shown to affect an infant’s microbial profile. This is in part why it’s so important for pregnant women to become mindful of their gut health, as it will affect not just their own health, but also that of their child.
If for some reason you are unable to have a natural birth, which seems to be the case of many women these days, breast milk has lots of fantastic good bacteria for your baby…so don’t fret. There’s also a procedure being used in c-sections called ‘seeding’, where the mothers vagina is swabbed and then it’s placed in the baby’s mouth. Make sure you have this written in your birth plan in case you require a cesarian!
To finish up this post, I’m going to quote an excerpt from a podcast by Chris Kresser. I think this sums up everything I want you to know beautifully. In this excerpt Chris will describe the kind of diet he recommends during pregnancy, which is based on the Paleo diet but less restrictive (still includes dairy).
After reading about this in length, this is how I intend to continue eating whilst pregnant (this is pretty much how I eat now, but I probably need to increase the amount of organ meat I eat), however I’ll also include nutritious sprouted grain bread when and if I feel like it. I certainly won’t be counting calories or watching my weight, that is for sure!
9 months of pregnancy are now considered by a lot of researchers to be the most consequential period of our lives. Just think about that for a second. They’re saying that before we’re even born is the most important period of time in determining our health for the rest of our life. It’s kind of not fair really.
This period, the gestation period, they’ve found that it permanently influences the wiring of the brain and the functioning of the organs like the heart, the liver and the pancreas. It also suggests that the conditions encountered during pregnancy shape everything from our susceptibility to disease to our appetite and metabolism to our intelligence and temperament. There’s some amazing research that is shown, and I cover this in the presentation, that has shown that babies that are born at a low birth weight, which is primarily determined by maternal nutrition, have a significantly higher risk for diseases like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and things like that later in life independently of lifestyle risk factors
I mean there were 2.5 million years and 77,000 generations of humans eating a Paleo diet and somehow we managed to procreate and make it all the way up to the present day. The idea that it’s not safe to be on a Paleo diet while pregnant is just preposterous. I don’t know how anyone with any kind of grasp on evolutionary history can say that. Just on a really common sense level, it’s obvious that it’s safe.
More specifically, Paleo diet is one of the most nutrient dense approaches to eating that there is so if you’re doing a Paleo diet and you’re eating organ meats and muscle meats and glycine rich foods like skin, bone broths made from skin and bones, a variety of vegetables and fruits and starchy tubers and a moderate amount of nuts and seeds and then you add some really nutrient dense raw fermented dairy, high fat dairy products, you’re eating cold water fish for the long chain omega3 and you’re avoiding all food toxins like industrial seed oils and grains, especially gluten containing grains and excess fructose and soy, that’s it. You can’t really be doing any better than that.
Unfortunately, as I’m sure most people who are listening to this podcast know, the conventional medical paradigm is far behind and off the track when it comes to nutrition in general and nutrition for conception and pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Interesting stuff! Over to you – what issues have you had with your gut health and how did you fix them? Scroll down below and leave a comment – I love hearing from you.
Image via here.