Ayurvedic Nutrition and Pregnancy

Traditional nutrition recommends an increase of protein, salt, and calories. Nutrition is the relationship of food to the health of the human body. Good nutrition implies that all the essential nutrients are supplied in adequate amounts and are being properly utilized to maintain optimal health and well-being. This is often called a whole food diet. It consists of whole grain bread, natural cheese, and real eggs, foods high in vitamins. Vitamins are organic nutrients required in tiny amounts to maintain growth and normal metabolism.  Vitamins function with chemicals called enzymes.  Enzymes have 2 parts: a protein molecule and a coenzyme which is often a vitamin.  Enzymes are responsible for the delivery of nutrients to the cells and elimination of wastes from the cells.  The also play major role in growth, metabolism, cellular reproduction, and digestion. In addition to vitamins minerals are also important.

Minerals are inorganic substances which may appear in combination with each other or with organic compounds, which are required for physiological processes.  Minerals are organic and inorganic.  The act as catalysts for many biological reactions such as muscle response, neurological transmissions, digestion, and the utilization of nutrients from food.  The are important in the production of hormones and maintain fluid balance and PH within the body. 

Protein is also important. Proteins are made up of amino acids there are 29 commonly found varieties.  Eight are essential amino acids because the body doesn’t synthesize them.  There are tryptophan, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, isoleucine, valine, and threonine.  At least 12 of non-essential amino acids are produces within the body using available chemical substances.  Of the 80 grams of protein needed thirty grams should be total protein. 

Calories Calorie needs should be adequate to compensate for woman’s stress levels and meet her specific metabolic needs.  Approximately 1,500-2,000 calories with 90 grams of protein.

Sodium Maintains fluid balance.  Sodium works together with albumin to maintain normal circulating blood volume.  Pregnant woman require additional sodium for amniotic fluid to expand plasma volume, and some goes to the baby.  The increase in breast and uterine tissue and the loss due to sweating or vomiting. 

Fluids Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day. Fill a two quart jar and see how much is left at the end of the day. 

Vegan women should take a B12 supplement. B6 necessary for the utilization of carbohydrates

Folate acts as a coenzyme in DNA synthesis, important for healthy cell division and replication.

Calcium: Most abundant mineral in the body.  Strengthens bones, teeth, transmits nerve impulses, essential to normal blood clotting, maintains parathyroid function, and balances blood PH.

Iron: ferrous citrate, ferrous gluconate are good supplements

Outline of a basic diet for pregnancy

  • 1 quart of organic whole fat milk
  • 2 eggs a day
  • 2 other servings of protein rich foods
  • 2 servings of green vegetables
  • 5 servings of grain products
  • 3 parts of organic butter
  • 1 iron rich food weekly
  • 5 yellow or orange vegetables a week
  • 3 baked potatoes weekly

This is what standard nutrition recommends for pregnancy.

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Ayurvedic nutrition is composed of six tastes.

Six tastes

The six tastes are related to the five elements

  • Sweet is earth and water, VP-K+, cool
  • Sour is earth and fire, V-KP+, warm
  • Salty is water and fire V-KP+, warm
  • Bitter is air and ether, KP-V+, cold
  • Astringent is earth and air, KP-V+, cool
  • Pungent is fire and air, K-VP+, hot

It is also based on the three Doshas of Pitta, Kapha, and Vata.

Pitta. In the tropics our ancestors survived comfortably on a diet rich in carbohydrates from fruits and vegetation, along with occasional fats from foods such as fruits, fish, coconuts, avocados, and nuts readily available according to the season.  The summertime diet was used to cool and energize the body for the long hot days.  It did not spike blood sugar levels because a sufficient supply of fats such as coconuts burned slowly and provided a baseline of steady energy.
70% Carbs 15% Protein 15% Fat

Kapha. In the spring fats are restricted as nature provides low fat, low mucus foods like sprouts, leafy greens, berries, and roots.  Fat free forces the body to burn its own fat and that is where the body naturally stores toxins so spring  cleaning happens.
60% carbs (mostly vegetables and 1 part whole grains, starchy veg) 10% fats (dairy or meat) 30% protein  (meat or legumes).

Vata. In the North. Where food was not dependable the body learned to burn fat as a baseline energy supply and carbs for high energy and to store sugar for emergencies.  They relied on food sources rich in Lipids (animal and vegetable fats) which made the energy last for days until they needed another meal.  The protein gave them strength and the fat gave them energy.  A certain amount of mucus production is necessary to keep our system from drying out in the colder months.  To the extent that you got dried out by not eating high fat, high protein, and warm moist oily foods is the extent to which you will suffer from excess mucus in the spring in the form of asthma, allergies, coughs, and yeast.  40% protein 30% carbs 30% fat

Mothers Unusual Cravings

The embryo is said to be able to communicate with the mother.  There hearts are as One.  It is therefore recommended that a person not ignore the desires of the fetus through the pregnant mother.  Unusual cravings and dislikes are said to be the desires of the fetus attempting to satisfy the desires it experienced in a past life.  Some cravings and their meanings as described in classical texts are

  • Desire to be among the rich and powerful indicates that the child will be driven to hold a high position in life.
  • Desire for fine silks indicates the child will be born with a fine aesthetic taste.
  • Desire for solitude indicates that a pious child will be born.
  • Desire to see savage animals indicates that the child will have a savage and cruel temperament.
  • Desire for beef indicates that the child will be strong and vigorous.

General practices to avoid during pregnancy

  • Uncomfortable seats
  • Excessive exercise
  • Bumping and jerky motions
  • Looking down great distances
  • Sleeping outdoors in the night air
  • Misuse of the senses
  • Wearing to much of the color red- attracts demons
  • Oversleeping- creates a dull, lethargic child
  • Sleeping on the back
  • Too much of any one taste-sweet causes diabetes, sour causes excess bleeding, pungent weakens semen of male offspring, bitter causes emaciation, salty graying of the hair, and astringent causes constipation. 
  • Physical or vocal abuse

Monthly pregnancy routines

  1. Month one: Room temperature milk with proper diet
  2. Warm milk with sweet, tonic herbs
  3. Milk with honey and ghee
  4. Milk with butter (12g)
  5. Ghee
  6. Medicated ghee with sweet herbs
  7. same
  8. Milk with ghee and gruel
  9. Anuvasana Basti, oil on cotton in the vagina.

In India these preparations are commonly used:

  1. White Sandalwood, Shatavari rice water, and milk
  2. Lotus, Manjishta, Shatavari, rice milk
  3. Shatavari, amalaki, warm water
  4. Gokshura, lotus, warm water
  5. Blue lotus and Shatavari
  6. Red sandalwood, blue lotus, milk, rock candy
  7. Shatavari lotus
  8. Coriander seed, rice water or cilantro juice
  9. Shatavari and rock sugar
  10. Ginger, licorice, cedar, and milk

Shatawari is the most often recommended Ayurvedic herb. Shatawari is a cooling, calming, nourishing and purifying herb which has a special affinity with women though it is also excellent for men. It is rich in Vitamin A, nutritious starches, and hormone analogues. Shatawari tones, cleanses, nourishes, and strengthens the female reproductive organs and so is traditionally used for PMS, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, leucorrhea, menopause, and pelvic inflammatory disease like endometriosis.  It also supports deeper tissue and builds blood and so it helps to remove infertility, prepare the womb for conception, prevent miscarriage and acts as a post-partum tonic where it helps to increase lactation and normalize the uterus and the changing hormones.

So many of these benefits abound because Shatawari contains phyto-estrogens, hormones that normalize estrogen levels and also play an important role in preserving women’s long term health. Clinical studies suggest that plant estrogen’s are better than drugs for hormone balancing since they do not produce negative side effects such as uterine cancer. This gentle herb will promote an easier balanced life.

It is also recommended for seniors because it soothes the systemic dryness which is part of the natural aging process. For post-menopausal women it is especially good when taken with a cup of saffron milk. It has a strong rejuvenating, nurturing, and stabilizing effect on excessive air, gas, dryness and agitation in the body and mind. As such it is traditionally used for nervousness, anorexia, insomnia, hyperactive children, and people who are underweight.

Conclusion

As you can see the Ayurvedic recommendations and standard recommendations are very different, by using both you will be able to have a ease-full pregnancy. I wish you well on your pregnancy.

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