Optimum nutrition for you and your baby
Optimum nutrition for you and your baby
08:30 (GMT+2), Wed, 25 May 2011
Q&A with Patrick Holford
We caught up with Patrick during his trip to South Africa to talk about his latest book The Feel Good Factor: 10 Proven Ways to Boost Your Mood And Motivate Yourself, and to get answers to critical nutrition-related questions – particularly with regard to pregnancy, breastfeeding and child nutrition.
Q What advice can you give moms regarding nutrition for themselves and for their babies and young children to maximise brain development and avoid future mental problems, mood instability, ADHD and behavioural problems?
A Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are exactly that – essential. We know them as omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats. If Mom doesn’t get enough of these during pregnancy, Baby will take what he needs from her, thereby depleting Mom. Being depleted in these can literally shrink your brain. It’s a case of “Mom, I shrank your brain.”
If Mom doesn’t get sufficient essential fats, it will also predispose Baby to certain conditions such as ADHD, diabetes and behavioural problems in childhood.
Having a good source of omega-3s also gives you soft, supple skin, improved concentration, and reduced addictive cravings, anxiety, aggression and pain, and it lowers your risk of heart disease.
To get what you need, Patrick suggests that moms eat fish three times a week, although five times a week is optimal. Or you can supplement them. Patrick says that he does both.
Also essential for the brain are phospholipids, particularly phosphatidyl choline. A study with animals in which mothers were given extra choline showed that their babies had superior intelligence and more brain connections. They were literally hardwired for higher intelligence. Choline can be supplemented, and a good food source of it is lecithin and lecithin granules, which can be found in certain supermarkets and at health shops.
The big villain is sugar. If you haven’t got your own blood sugar under control, you can develop metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance and a higher risk of diabetes, which can actually change genetics. It switches off the genes that promote healthy ageing. Gene switching then also occurs in offspring, so you could possibly be programming your children for poor health. Getting your blood-sugar levels right can be achieved by maintaining a low GI diet and supplementing the mineral, chromium. See Patrick’s book for more info.
Finally, keep up this nutrition in your children after they’re born and as they grow, and look for chewable vitamins for kids. These are also available in Patrick’s range.
Q If you’re a vegetarian mom, what can you eat/supplement in place of fish and fish oil?
A Nuts, seeds and eggs (if you eat eggs). Now available in South Africa are chia seeds, which are the richest source of omega-3s. Patrick recommends one tablespoon a day. Otherwise, you can eat pumpkin seeds and ground flax seeds. You also find omegas in green leafy vegetables, corn, grains and nuts.
Q Postnatal depression – can nutrition eradicate this?
A This is more serious than people realise. Some women suffer really badly with it. If you’ve become nutritionally depleted through nourishing your baby during pregnancy and also breastfeeding, Patrick suggests extensive supplementation. From his range, he suggests the multivitamin, vitamin C, Mood Food and 5HTP. If you’re nutritionally depleted, your mood will naturally be low.
Depression is also sometimes caused by a progesterone deficiency or hormonal imbalance. In Patrick’s new book (to be launched in June), he talks about how natural progesterone helps recovery from depression.
Zinc is also required in larger quantities during pregnancy, and if you don’t get enough, your zinc levels will also be lower in your breast milk, which will affect Baby’s health negatively.
With optimum nutrition and supplementation, depression can be improved within a week or up to a month. Consult Patrick’s book for further details.
Q what about pregnant moms with bipolar disorder? Can nutrition help?
We’ve had great success with this. We use the same strategy as for depression. Optimum nutrition for the mind is essential. First, your homosystine levels need to be checked. Homosystine is a substance in your blood that can predict your chances of suffering from a number of illnesses, including depression. If your homosystine levels are above 9, it needs to be lowered by taking in the right nutrients, particularly the B vitamins, omegas, 5HTP, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and chromium. Also, high doses of Niacin or vitamin B3 (1 000mg per day) is beneficial, but remember that taking Niacin can actually make you blush, so get the “no-blush Niacin” (also available in Patrick’s range).
Improvements have been seen within a month. What impacts the results of this method is if you’re on medication for bipolar. But it’s important to note that you cannot come off medication quickly. Particularly with bipolar, Patrick suggests that you are weaned off over a period of six months, under the guidance of a psychiatrist. See Patrick’s book for more info and suggested supplementation and treatment.
Q What about mood swings in pregnancy? How can these be improved or eradicated?
A Women often get away with poor nutrition before they become pregnant, but when you’re pregnant, you need to improve your nutrition intake and be optimally nourished. This will keep your moods stable.
Q what about the argument about eating carbohydrates and proteins together?
A Dr Hay originally came up with the diet that avoided eating proteins and carbohydrates together. He decided this because of the fact that beans are part carbohydrate and part protein and therefore have a flatulent effect. We now believe that it’s best to combine them in order to achieve optimum nutrition and maintain blood sugar levels. The glucocides in beans are difficult to digest but if you take the glucocidase enzyme (which breaks down fat, sugar and carbohydrates), this won’t happen.
Q What’s your message to moms about nutrition?
A The role of nutrition in your child’s physical and mental health is vital. Lead by example. Avoid sugar and avoid giving your child sugar and diluted juices. How do you get your children to take vitamins? There are chewable vitamins available. It’s the same as getting them to brush their teeth … it’s not an option – you just do it.
Get your kids involved in nutrition and food. Let them grow, care for, and pick their own veggies. And let them have their own signature meal that they prepare. Give them a choice – you either get involved in food preparation or the washing up – you pick. They may rebel at first, but later, they’ll appreciate it.
Moms, coo over good food. Be as enthusiastic about broccoli as you are about chocolate pudding. Offer desserts on occasion only – not as an end to every meal. And don’t give kids the wrong message, e.g. “if you eat your greens, then you can have dessert.” This reinforces the idea that if they “get through the yucky stuff”, they can have the nice stuff.
For picky eaters, give them small quantities. Mix it in with food they do like. Mix brown and white pasta to get them off white pasta gradually.
Avoid the “beige food phenomenon” where everything looks the same, tastes the same and has a similar colour. Make their food colourful and interesting and expose them to a variety of tastes.
And most importantly, eat healthy food during pregnancy and your baby will like what you ate once he’s born.