Pregnancy is one of the most amazing times in a woman’s life, but constant nausea can make the experience uncomfortable. About half of all pregnant women suffer from morning sickness, which many experts believe is due to surging hormones. Fortunately, there are several ways to ease morning sickness, and the right diet before pregnancy may help prevent it altogether.
Today’s modern diet is filled with processed foods that are lacking in both vitamins and minerals. These nutritional deficiencies, such as low levels of magnesium and vitamin B6, may be partly responsible for making the nausea and discomfort experienced during pregnancy even worse.
Studies have shown that increasing these two vital nutrients can significantly reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. The only way to truly know if you’re deficient is through a blood test, so speak with your OB-GYN about getting your levels tested and considering any necessary supplements.
Surveys done in the United States have consistently shown magnesium intake to be lower than the recommended amount, which can contribute to the uncomfortable feeling of morning sickness. Magnesium levels can also be further depleted through profuse sweating, prolonged periods of stress, and through the consumption of excessive salt, coffee, alcohol and even phosphoric acid found in soda. Adding in some magnesium-rich foods such as bone broth, almonds, cashews, spinach, kelp, buckwheat, beans and avocado can help. Since vitamins D, B6, B12 and calcium are all essential for magnesium absorption to occur, make sure to eat plenty of foods containing those nutrients as well.
Unfortunately nausea during pregnancy doesn’t only happen in the morning, and for some, it can last well beyond the first trimester. Eating small, frequent, meals rich in proteins and healthy fats throughout the day can help stabilize blood sugar and prevent morning sickness. Even a small snack such as hard cheese or nuts before getting out of bed and before falling asleep can help stabilize blood sugar, keeping nausea and dizziness at bay.
Focusing on proteins that are high in vitamin B6 will give you extra protection against the waves of nausea. Foods rich in B6 include chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, yams, asparagus and broccoli. Also, make sure to get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables while eliminating, or reducing, processed foods, which can fill you up without providing nutritional benefits. Sipping on bone stock throughout the day can help stop nausea while providing hydration and healing minerals such as calcium, magnesium and gelatin that can even help prevent stretch marks.
The under consumption of heart-healthy fats and dietary cholesterol may also be to blame for morning sickness. Fats are necessary for healthy hormone production and dietary cholesterol is required for the body to produce sufficient pregnancy-supporting hormones, as well as the production of bile, which helps digest fats. If the body doesn’t have enough fat coming in, it will first be used for important sex hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen that are crucial for a healthy pregnancy. If the fats are not be broken down by bile, it may lead to nausea.
Studies have shown that cholesterol is such an important part of the diet that women whose levels are too low have an increased risk of having babies with developmental problems.
Some excellent sources of dietary fat include pastured eggs, full-fat dairy, wild fatty fish such as salmon or herring, coconut oil, pastured butter and olive oil.
If you are already pregnant, making changes in your diet to more nutrient-dense foods and fewer processed foods can also make a difference. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also recommends nauseated mothers take 250 mg of ginger every morning and before going to bed.
Besides changes in diet, you can also help prepare your body to deal with the surging hormones of pregnancy with some simple lifestyle changes. Cutting down on stress, or learning to successfully manage it can help. Try using stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, meditation and acupuncture.