Did you know that textbooks use to consider the fetus fully “insulated” from the bad effects of mother’s diet? Doctors believed that the fetus could still get whatever nutrients needed from the mother regardless of what she ate. We now know, thanks to more research on drinking, smoking and drug use during pregnancy, that this isn’t the case. What the mother consumes affects not only her own physiology, but also the baby’s.
May is preeclampsia awareness month. Pre-eclampsia is a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, swelling, and protein in urine which can lead to seizures.
Did you know that malnutrition was documented as the main cause of pre-eclampsia? Malnutrition doesn’t mean starvation like most people assume, but simply lacking the proper levels of nutrients needed to support the system. Which isn’t crazy to believe right? Consider the American diet: processed foods, additives, take-out, etc. all lack vital nutrients found in whole foods.
In addition, most often, researchers find that women with pre-eclampsia tend to have a diet deficient in protein. Dr. Peat goes on to outline that without adequate protein, the liver function is impaired. This leads to a cascade of events that ultimately result in thyroid dysfunction.
When it comes to pre-eclampsia, Dr. Ray Peat details the physiological process that leads to this condition in his article “Eclampsia in the Real Organism.”
1. Low thyroid causes sodium to be lost.
2. The loss of sodium albuminate causes tissue edema (swelling), while the blood volume is decreased.
3. Decreased blood volume and hemoconcentration (red cells form a larger fraction of the blood) impair the circulation.
4. Blood pressure increases.
5. Blood sugar becomes unstable, cortisol rises, increasing the likelihood of premature labor.
6. High estrogen, hypoglycemia, viscous blood, increased tendency of the blood to clot cause seizures.
It all begins with the physiological state of the mother. This is great news too, because it means, unlike the thought process of most modern medicine, we aren’t at the mercy of our genes, but can address and lower the likelihood of this condition through proper nourishment.
A healthy diet and lifestyle prior to pregnancy is essential. For women, getting adequate protein from eggs, grass fed beef, chicken, seafood, and broth/collagen is essential. During pregnancy, aim for at least 100g of protein a day. From there, the restriction of sea salt is not recommended. In fact, pregnant women need more sodium than non-pregnant women due to the increased blood volume. Balancing blood sugar is vital to keep the body free of excess stress. Eating complete meals (protein, fat and carb) along with glucose & fructose (roots and fruits) regularly throughout the day will give the body the energy needed to grow your little human while maintaining a healthy physiological state. Avoid low-carb diets. Lastly, supplementing magnesium and zinc is also important as these markers are typically low in the American diet.
As you can see, when we peel back the layers of conditions and disease, we always find a similar “one thing leads to another.” Knowing this means that we have the power to avoid disease, and bring about our own health simply through food!