A happy pregnancy starts with a healthy diet, a balanced lifestyle, and positive emotions. Welcome to our guide to pregnancy wellness, created with the help of Dr Cecilia Kitic—Director of The IVF Project and Fertile Gut. Follow our tips and advice for a happy, healthy pregnancy.
Pregnancy Wellness: Finding Your Path to a Happy Pregnancy
With Dr Cecilia Kitic—Director of The IVF Project and Fertile Gut.
Dr Cecilia Kitic
A Pregnancy Meal Plan: Healthy Foods to Eat While Pregnant
There are many aspects of lifestyle that can influence the health of our gut microbiome during pregnancy, including how much exercise we are getting, our mental wellbeing and the food we ingest.
Whether you are partial to an omnivorous, vegetarian or vegan diet during your pregnancy, eating healthy food while pregnant is your best bet to increase the diversity and resilience of your gut microbiome. The best pregnancy advice we can give you is to incorporate a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and legumes into your pregnancy meal plans. Try to include a few more plant or seed-based meals each week and experiment with new ingredients until you find your favorite recipes!
Prenatal Nutrition: DHA and Vitamin D in Pregnancy
Before and during pregnancy, Omega-3s—and both EPA and DHA—have many benefits.
While Omega-3s ensure the health of your cell membranes and their function, they also play an important role in inflammatory and immunological reactions. Their involvement in inflammation supports reinforcement of the intestinal barrier, regulating the translocation of immune-stimulating endotoxins into the bloodstream. Omega-3 fatty acids essentially help to reduce the inflammation cascade. This really goes a long way for fertility and pregnancy.
Normal Vitamin D Levels are important in pregnancy. It contributes to healthy and effective reproductive organs and guts. Vitamin D helps regulate tight junctions in the gut, which ultimately results in a stronger gut barrier and better health overall. High vitamin D levels have been associated with improved outcomes from fertility treatments and reduced risk of gestational diabetes.
Dr Cecilia’s tip for pregnant women and couples trying to conceive: a combination of Omega-3s, vitamin D and olive oil has been shown to improve sperm health and embryo development. Omega-3s combined with olive oil delivers synergistic support as the natural protective polyphenols in olives protect the Omega-3s from oxidation— safeguarding their absorption and bio efficacy.
Consuming plenty of foods rich in Omega-3s during pregnancy has many benefits. The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The first is found predominantly in plant oils (the main ones being flaxseed, soybean, and canola oil). The other two are mostly found in fish and other seafood, making them harder to include on a regular basis in a vegan or vegetarian diet. If you feel that your meal plan is lacking in these Omega-3s foods for pregnancy, you may wish to incorporate supplements to your diet.
Prenatal DHA and Omega-3 Benefits in Pregnancy
Prenatal DHA helps reduce the risk of preterm birth and promotes healthy brain and eye development in the fetus. Omega-3s during pregnancy have benefits for the baby’s health as well as for maternal mental well-being. They are crucial in a healthy pregnancy. Establishing and maintaining balanced Omega-6:3 levels have benefits from preconception to birth and beyond. Including essential fatty acids in your baby’s or toddler’s diet is one key factor to healthy growth and development of your child.
Gut Health and Pregnancy: The Microbiome
Significant changes in the gut microbiome have been shown to lead to hormone imbalances, dysregulated immune response, gastrointestinal dysfunction, and gut barrier disruption. Nurturing your gut microbiome positive encouraged to increased fertility and a healthy pregnancy.
Dr Cecilia Kitic believes there is an incredible bi-directional communication that happens between the gut and the rest of the body. It influences the health of eggs, sperm quality and even how receptive the uterus is.
The maternal microbiome plays a key role in pregnancy and baby’s development. Nurturing your gut health prior to conception provides a foundation for conception and a healthy and happy pregnancy.
Pregnancy and Exercise
While diet is a potent modulator of our gut microbiota, exercise can also improve the diversity of our gut bacteria. Exercise during pregnancy increases the proportion of beneficial bacteria living in our gut—increasing beneficial metabolites for both the child and the mother.
The Winning Combo: Benefits of Exercise, Healthy Food and Mental Wellness During Pregnancy
A happy, pregnant mother is more likely to experience a happy, healthy pregnancy. Dr Cecilia Kitic has three main tips for pregnancy care:
Get Moving. Just as exercise is beneficial for fertility, exercise is important for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Some of the health and fitness benefits to you and your child include boosting baby’s brain activity, improved muscle strength, reduced lower back pain, anxiety, nausea and faster recovery time from labor. Exercise is also good for your gut microbiome—promoting diversity and benefiting your overall health.
Diversity is Key. Our gut bugs love variety—particularly lots of different plant-based foods. Diversity in your diet will mean you are eating lots of different foods, each delivering their own special polyphenols, minerals, and vitamins. Make a list and see if you can count 30 different plant-based foods in your diet each week.
Prioritize Your Wellbeing. Our gut and brain are intricately connected. When we are constantly on the go or facing times of greater stress and anxiety, it is common to notice changes in your gastrointestinal system. Implementing strategies to calm our sympathetic nervous system helps nurture our beneficial microbes and lower inflammation. Exercising during pregnancy, singing out loud, deep, slow breathing and omega-3s all benefit our gut and nervous system to help build resilience.
Zinzino’s Approach to Pregnancy Nutrition
Pregnancy is a special time for women, as the body prepares to host and deliver your bundle of joy. Nutritional needs of new mothers change too, and their diet needs to be adjusted to match the new pace. Various vitamins and minerals are needed for a healthy pregnancy and baby, including a balanced intake of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids. To make sure pregnant women get the nutrients they need, Zinzino has developed a pure, high-quality Polyphenol Omega Balance food supplement that will aid in supplementation of some of the necessary vitamins and minerals required by a pregnant woman’s body. It will also in turn, deliver the benefits to the unborn child in the early stages of the infant’s life.
BalanceOil+ is an Omega-3 fatty acids supplement, high in olive polyphenols and vitamin D3. The high polyphenolic content puts the BalanceOil+ in a league of its own when compared to traditional fish oil in terms of ensuring that the nutrients are absorbed in the body. The synergistic formula safely adjusts and maintains EPA + DHA levels and the Omega-6:3 ratio in the body, while olive oil polyphenols protect cells from oxidation and optimize absorption. The premium blend of oils derived from wild-caught small fish and pre-harvest extra virgin olive oil, BalanceOil+ ingredients contribute to normal heart(ref:), brain(ref) and immune function(ref). BalanceOil+ is a morning ritual that will long outlast the pregnant, baby and toddler phases.
If you are looking for a vegetarian or vegan option, the solution may be Zinzino BalanceOil+ Vegan, which contains Omega-3 ALA EPA, DPA and DHA from seaweed, antioxidants and omega-9 from olive oil and Omega-3 SDA from Ahiflower® seed oil. It holds no dangerous ingredients. BalanceOil+ Vegan ensures safe and effective dosing, as well as the optimal absorption of Omega 3 fatty acids.