Undeniably, modern medicine and supplements are very effective in treating and managing a range of medical issues. But it’s been found that balanced nutrition can support your body’s immune system, boost your energy levels and improve your sense of wellbeing. This is especially advantageous when you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or running after a busy tot.
Nutritional therapist Hannah Kaye and Dietician Ashleigh Caradas share their shopping list of health-boosting foods.
Include fresh blueberries, raspberries, or any other berries you can get your hands on in your diet on a regular basis. Eat them plain or topped with yoghurt.
For maximum benefits, have two servings of spinach, rocket, bok choy or broccoli a day (a serving is one cup of raw greens). Wheatgrass, barley grass and blue-green algae, like spirulina, can be taken in juice or supplement form for an extra boost. They’re all safe to use during pregnancy.
3. Orange fruit and vegetables
Include butternut, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangoes and paw-paw in your diet.
4. Oily fish
Sardines, pilchards and other fatty fish – including mackerel and salmon (just be careful, some salmon has high mercury levels) – are a premier source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Oily fish is also high in DHA that’s essential for eye and brain development.
As sardines and pilchards are low on the food chain, they absorb less toxic mercury than other fish. This is why they’re best for moms-to-be. Remember, fish should be cooked through if you’re pregnant.
If you don’t really like fish, you can get your omega-3s from green vegetables and nuts.
Garlic is rich in a variety of powerful sulphur-containing compounds including thiosulfinates and sulfoxides. While these compounds are responsible for garlic’s characteristically pungent odour, they’re also the source of many of its health promoting effects. These include lower cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral activity, as well as protection against cancer. Immunity often drops while you’re pregnant, so garlic is great pregnancy superfood.
Nuts and seeds help manage blood sugar levels and are a good source of protein and healthy fats. Most nuts – especially almonds – are rich in calcium, a much-needed mineral during pregnancy. They’re also a healthy on-the-go snack. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E, which has reproductive health-boosting properties.
A powerful anti-oxidant, called lycopene is behind much of the tomato’s anti-ageing properties. Lycopene has been shown to help prevent heart disease by protecting your blood vessels against oxidative damage. It’s also been shown to help protect your body against many types of cancers. Lycopene concentration is highest when tomatoes are heated (like as a sauce). It’s also fat-soluble, so adding some extra-virgin olive oil to the meal helps the body absorb this anti-oxidant.
Quality, unsweetened yoghurt is a good source of calcium and probiotics (which helps protect your gut). Yoghurt is also digested easier and is less acidic than milk. Having an extra one or two servings of calcium-rich foods a day is a must in pregnancy – especially if it’s not your first baby or if you’re expecting multiples.
Wholegrains supply much needed fibre and are a source of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. It also helps with constipation and low energy levels. Good sources are wholewheat and rye bread, brown rice, barley, oats, quinoa, millet and legumes.
They’re rich in healthy vegetable fats that help boost your immunity.
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