This article is Part 1 of a 3 part series about health before, during and after pregnancy.
You are happily married, or a newlywed, you and your spouse decide it’s time to start a family. How exciting! Questions begin to go through your mind, “I wonder how long it will take me to get pregnant?” “Do we want a girl or boy?” “What if we are blessed with twins!” “How many children do we want to have?” These are all common questions that couples have before starting a family.
Thirteen years ago when my husband and I decided to have children, these were some of the questions we had. However, I wish I had more questions. For instance, “What types of food should I be eating to prepare for pregnancy?”, “Nutritionally speaking, what is the best spacing between children?”, “How long will I breastfeed?”, “What are we going to feed our children?”, “Are we going to vaccinate or not?”.
We have personally been blessed with 3 healthy, beautiful boys. With each pregnancy we did start asking some of these “newer” questions. However, looking back, I would have done so many things differently in regards to my diet and the feeding of my children.
Fast forward to the year 2014! As a holistic dietitian, I am constantly learning new things about nourishing habits and foods. When I was studying nutrition science, we were taught that saturated fats were the cause of heart disease and many other ailments. It was recommended to replace butter, lard and coconut oil with canola oil, soybean oil and other vegetable oils. Along with that, we were told that we should be eating lean meats and should recommend that our patients choose white meat over dark meat. We were also taught that “salt” is a cause of high blood pressure and should be limited.
At the same time, heart disease is still rising, obesity is at epidemic levels and many children are born with ailments our grandparents never saw. My great-grandmother was taught to cook with lard, butter, bacon drippings and the like. Heart attacks were unheard of in her day and age. The first recorded myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, in the U.S. was in 1921. By 1930, there were 3,000 deaths from MI and 500,000 deaths by 1960.
Wow! What changed? Do you want to take a guess when Crisco was introduced? In 1911, Crisco hit the market with full fan flare! By the way, Crisco is hydrogenated vegetable oil, not lard. By 1913, Proctor and Gamble published The Story of Crisco. This free cookbook was handed out to women in grocery stores with every recipe including Crisco. Their marketing campaign stated that women who used Crisco:
♦ Were more modern
♦Were more enlightened
♦Had cleaner houses
♦Had children of better character
Now, I am going to save the full orb of this fat debate for another article, however, even without all of the “true” Framingham data and other data that debunks the “Lipid Hypothesis”, there is definitely a correlation to health regression and the introduction of Crisco. Specifically, Crisco consists of a blend of soybean oil, fully hydrogenated palm oil and partially hydrogenated palm and soybean oils! Ugh! If it weren’t for Dr. Mary Enig and colleagues, you and I would have never known that hydrogenated oils were bad for us. The edible oil industry and their lobbyists tried to shut her down multiple times and her compelling data!
Not to digress…but having highlighted the demise of healthy fats in America and focusing on the fact that our children are developing at a rapid rate, what do our precious children need to thrive? I’m glad you asked! They need building blocks (amino acids) from protein for growth, repair, cellular replication and replacement, enzymes and hormones. They need carbohydrate to fuel their organs, tissues and cells. Most importantly, they need fat!
Healthy fat supplies nutrients that are essential for proper growth, provide energy and assist in the metabolism and absorption of other nutrients. The cell membranes need fat to remain healthy and pliable. The body cannot produce hormones without fat! As an aside, warn all your family member and friends who are on lipid lowering drugs now. Having been intimately involved in the pharmaceutical industry in my “previous life”, I know full well the shortcoming and destruction of these products. What you may not know and the media won’t tell you, is that oxidized cholesterol causes heart disease, not cholesterol by itself. What causes cholesterol to oxidize? Eating food cooked in vegetable oil! The body reacts in such a way that triggers inflammation. I will take a more “in depth” look in my article about fats.
So, I hear your next question. What fats are best during pregnancy, nursing and childhood development? Contrary to what your doctor may tell you or what you may hear in the media, we should all be avoiding vegetable oils! The healthiest fats are grass-fed butter, preservative free lard, coconut oil, palm oil, unheated olive oil, beef tallow and bacon drippings. Shocking, I know! The mainstream media and “diet dictators”, have been endorsing vegetable oils and demonizing healthy saturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats contain precious fat-soluble vitamins that are lacking in the American diet today.
Also, your grandmother was right again! You need cod liver oil, specifically, fermented cod liver oil! My patients that are planning to get pregnant are nursing and those with small children are all on fermented cod liver oil and butter oil. Fermented cod liver oil contains the fat-soluble vitamins A and D. Based on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, “… cod liver oil was found present in the diet of primitives in amounts ten times higher than in modernized diets.” Most importantly, these primitive cultures exhibited no disease.
Cod liver oil is also rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docasahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body can make the above fatty acids from omega-3 linolenic acid. EPA is necessary for the body to produce prostaglandins. DHA is important for the proper function of the brain and nervous system. If you are consuming large amounts of polyunsaturated oils, it may be very difficult to produce EPA and DHA. The source of fermented cod liver oil I use in my office is from Green Pasture.
In my next post, I will be discussing high vitamin butter and its benefits, American’s love for sugar and more.
If you are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant and/or nursing, feel free to contact me and I can guide you down a healthy path.