January 10, 2010

Superfoods –What you and your baby need; what will help with your hormones and body balance

First and foremost let me start by saying that your body has certain needs and requirements on a daily basis that we tend to be unaware of. We put things into our mouths without really thinking about it. I am going to provide you a list of the most important superfoods you’ll ever need for your pregnancy. Our babies deserve to have to most nutrient-dense, energy filled foods that we can provide them as they are developing, and let me tell you that keeping these superfoods in your daily diet is going to eliminate (mostly) the cravings you have for unhealthy food choices. Notice that what I’m trying to get you to do is introduce new foods into your diet without telling you all the things that you shouldn’t be eating. That never works. Well hardly ever. If you start introducing these foods into your diet, you will begin to crave other such healthy choices. Remember, like craves like. If you give your body tons of simple carbs, white flour, refined sugars, meats and fried foods that is what you will continue to crave.

Whether or not you have an addictive personality doesn’t matter, your body will very easily become addicted to what you expose it to; sugar, caffeine, salt, etc. The superfoods Bible as I now call it, is such a great book. You need to get this book and read it for yourself. I’m going to give you a basic list here but you have to get this book and do your own research. It is written by David Wolfe and it is called simply Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future. I’ve learned so much from reading his books, and you will too. Remember, when you’re pregnant is the time to turn your body into a fine-tuned machine, so picking up a book other than a baby book about nursing, birthing or child rearing is OK. You want a fat-free pregnancy just like me, so let’s get you started:

• Goji berries
• Cacao (not chocolate, but organic, raw cacao)
• Maca
• Bee pollen/bee products
• Spirulina
• AFA blue-green algae
• Marine phytoplankton
• Aloe vera
• Hempseed
• Coconuts and coconut products (i.e. Raw Coconut Oil!)

I can already see you rolling your eyes and/or staring quizzically at the list wondering what half of these items are. Now I’m not telling you to go out to Whole Foods and purchase everything on this list and start eating it. I’m just cluing you in as to what your body needs, and we’re going to work these things slowly into your diet. It is not always easy, but it is doable. I’ll tell you the way I work 90% of these items into my diet is through my smoothies. Oh yes. Every day I make a giant blender full of green, water-rich, nutrient dense smoothie that I “graze” on through the day. I cram as much of these foods into that smoothie as possible, and don’t worry about the rest.
I am going to briefly tell you about the benefits of a couple of these foods, but again, encourage you as always to do your own research and come up with your own opinions and decisions that you can live with. For more detail on these foods, and to read about foods I don’t explain, purchase David Wolfe’s book. http://www.davidwolfe.com/, http://thebestdayever.com/

Every little bit helps, and again let me encourage you that in adding these foods into your diet, you are going to reduce your cravings for unhealthy or unnecessary foods, reduce your sugar cravings, and help your body only add on pounds that are going to benefit both you and baby, and come off easily after you’ve delivered. Trust me. And read David Wolfe’s book. That is where I am getting this information I am about to share with you. The proof is always in the pudding, and so far my pudding’s been fat-free.

Goji Berries

These little berries are outstanding! Quite possibly the most nutrient dense fruit on earth, providing us with a complete protein source, including 19 different amino acids, all 8 essential amino acids, 21 or more trace minerals (such as zinc, iron, copper, calcium…) and vitamins B2, B6 and vitamin E. Goji berries can contain up to 11mg of blood-building iron per 100 grams and much, much more. They are some of the highest antioxidant=containing foods in the world. They have 2-4 times the amount of antioxidants in blueberries. ALL these things good things for you AND your baby!

So how do you work these berries into your diet? Many people that I know eat them and love them just plain. You can add them into your homemade trail mixes (with almonds, raw cacao nibs, other dried fruits/nuts), or if you’re like me, and for some reason, especially in my first trimester, I just couldn’t stomach them. No reason why, it was just one of those things that I couldn’t get down. So I simply began throwing a handful into my smoothies, and that works great! You can find these berries at Whole Foods, or online usually, but make sure you are getting the real, organic deal. Navitas Naturals is a good brand, as well as the berries carried by www.sunfare.com (where you will also find the other top 10 superfoods).

Raw Cacao

Cacao is delicious, and so easy to add into your diet, right? Especially those of us who love the dark chocolate flavor; those of you who do not like the taste of dark chocolate, don’t despair, we can add this into your smoothies etc. so you hardly know it is there.

Cacao is the very best food source of antioxidants, magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc, copper, vitamin C, omega-6 fatty acids, PEA (phenylethylamine; a major class of chemicals that we produce in our bodies when we fall in love!), anandamide (an endorphin that the human body naturally produces after exercise, that “feel good” feeling), tryptophan (critical for the production of serotonin; serotonin diminishes anxiety and improves our body’s stress-defines), serotonin (the primary neurotransmitter in the body), fiber and methylxanthines (such as theobromine, which is an effective antibacterial substance. Again, these are all amazing things for your body and for your developing baby, don’t you think? I for one throw a handful into my smoothies (a yummy one is unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a banana, a scoop of chocolate green powder, some maca powder and a banana, a little ice, blend) and also eat it just a few pinches at a time with some almonds, or alone. It has almost an espresso taste too it, in that it is chocolaty, but slightly bitter.


This food is KEY for us ladies. This will help keep your hormones stable as we’re going through all these changes and experiencing all these hormonal surges. I’m not saying that it will prevent emotional ups and downs, and that you’ll never have a melt-down, but it helps keep things more regulated, and keeps you feeling more “normal.” This root is just a little miracle, and has been around for thousands of years. “Peruvian biologist Gloria Chacon de Popovici, PhD, suggests that maca acts on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands as well as the adrenals. She has theorized that by activating these endocrine glands maca is able to increase energy, vitality, and libido. Maca words on the master gland of the brain, the hypothalamus. The proper functioning of the endocrine system is deeply correlated with the proper functioning of the immune system. Maca is one of the greatest superfoods not only because of its caliber of nutrients, amino acids and fatty acids, but also because it helps to increase fertility, so if you are having trouble conceiving a child, maca is a great superfood to add to your diet. After pregnancy, maca also helps women to produce more breast milk.”

Maca is known to help improve these following conditions: anemia; chronic fatigue; depression; infertility and sterility in humans and livestock; lack of libido; malnutrition; menopausal symptoms; menstrual discomfort and disorders; poor memory; stomach cancer; stress tension; tuberculosis.
WOW! Obviously we need to be making this food part of our daily diets, wouldn’t you agree? The protein alone in maca contains 20 amino acids and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids. Maca is a great source of hormone precursors and amino acids and provides many of the same effects that are created by a high protein diet, without the downfalls.

That is huge for us pregnant girls! We need lots of protein, and protein fills you up, not leaving much room or craving for unhealthy carbs and sweets, right? Maca is also rich in calcium (so good for baby’s bone development) magnesium, phosphorous, potassium (key if you are working out like I am), sulfur, sodium, and iron and contains many trace minerals such as zinc, iodine, copper, selenium and more, as well as vitamins B1, B2, C and E. Are you sold on this food yet? And its not at all hard to incorporate into your diet, let me tell you. In David Wolfe’s book there are TONS of recipes you can take advantage of for all these superfoods, ideas and ways to get them into your body and your baby’s developing little body. Unlike soy products, wild yams, flaxseeds etc. maca is free of plant hormones.

I buy maca powder, and just add it to things I’m making. That’s how I get it into my diet. Mainly I put it in smoothies, but you can add it to homemade desserts, sprinkle some in your hot/cold cereal, or anyway you like. It has a slightly malted flavor, is slightly sweet, and some people thing it has a slight butterscotch flavor. I put a scoop in my hot chocolate the other night and mixed it all up, it was delicious!!! Get David Wolfe’s book (again, where I am getting all this info from) and there are tons of recipes for you.

Bee Pollen

This alkaline food is considered to be one of the most complete foods found naturally in nature. It is high in antioxidants; is a potent aphrodisiac and has fertility-improving properties; increases strength, endurance, energy and speed, providing a quicker recovery from exercise; reduces the production of histamine, thus neutralizing many allergies; has outstanding B vitamin concentration, building up our defense shield, increases longevity clears acne; helps relieve type 2 diabetes symptoms, anemia, constipation, colitis, sinusitis, asthma, and bronchitis.

It is a source of 18 vitamins, including nearly all B vitamins (except B12), as well as C, D, and E. Bee Pollen is one of the richest sources of bioavailable protein in nature. Pollen is approximately 25% protein. Gram for gram, pollen contains 5-7 times more protein than mean, eggs, or cheese. This is definitely something you want to start eating! I take a pinch and chew it up. It tastes like honey. You can throw a few pinches into any smoothie, mix it into your tea, put some on your cereal, the options are endless. The best pollen for you is a local one, try finding it at a local farmers market or health food store. I’ve had no trouble finding my local bee pollen at both those places.


Yet another amazing food source; you will want to put this into your diet right away. I love the Barlean’s Greens brand of green powder, this is the one I use in all my smoothies. It tastes great, and they even use stevia to sweeten it. They have a whole mess of amazing green ingredients for you in there, including a great dose of sea greens, which has 1250mg of spirulina.

Spirulina includes chlorophyll, protein, vitamins, major minerals, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, nucleic acids (RNA & DNA), polysaccharides, and a ton of antioxidants. Spirulina is 65%-71% pure protein (the highest concentration found in any food) , is a complete protein source, contains all 8 essential amino acids, and 18 amino acids total. It is rich in vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, E and K (vitamin K is a shot that they will give your baby as soon as he/she is born to promote blood-clotting factors… spirulina can give your baby a head start with producing vitamin K!) Full-spectrum proteins sources are so important because they help balance brain chemistry. And let’s face it girls, our brains aren’t exactly balanced through pregnancy, so this food source is key for us.

Spirulina also is an excellent asset in blood building (your blood volume nearly doubles during pregnancy!), is full of antioxidants, boots our immune system (pregnant women are automatically considered “immunocompromised,” which means we are more susceptible to illness/disease), has GLA (gamma-linolenic acid, which aids our bodies in producing breast milk, makes our skin and hair shiny, soft and strong, which will help us feel beautiful all pregnancy long!). You can also buy spirulina powder and add it into your smoothies if you like, or purchase spirulina capsules and take it as a supplement. For questions about how much you should be taking, purchase David Wolfe’s book, or talk to your ND.

Aloe Vera

Simple enough, isn’t it? We’ve all seen the plant, or you’ve probably seen the jugs of the juice you can buy at your local health food store or Whole Foods. Let me just touch on aloe vera here, and you can do the rest of your own research. Aloe contains vitamins A, C and E, the minerals sulfer, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium and chromium, as well as antioxidants, fiber, amino acids, enzymes, sterols, lignins, and, most importantly, polysaccharides (help your immune system fight chronic viral, nanobacteria, and fungal infections). Aloe is lubricating to your joints (this really helps towards the end of pregnancy girls), brain, skin and nervous system.

Aloe is crucial when it comes to weight loss, because it has been shown that ingesting aloe helps you lose weight but also gain lean muscle mass at the same time. Sound good? I think so. Getting this into your diet is easy, especially if you live in my state of Arizona. You purchase yourself a nice aloe plant, and use it. You want to use the gel that is inside the leaf, adding it to smoothies, etc. You simply will cut off a leaf, remove the stickers on either side, separate the gel from the skin with a knife, and toss into your blender.


This food is such an easy one to add ladies. First of all there is delicious Hemp Milk. It comes in plain, vanilla or chocolate flavor, and you can use it in your smoothies, on your cereal or drink it plain. There is excellent Hemp Protein Powder, which is what I use in my smoothies daily. I personally prefer the Living Harvest brand of Organic Hemp Protein powder with Fiber, which you can find at your local health food store or online. They have a chai flavor which I haven’t tried, but the original flavor is just plain, you can’t taste it at all.

Hemp is considered to be one of the most nutritious food sources on the planet. Hempseeds contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life.
Does that sound like a good deal for you and your baby? I think so. No other single plant has all these nutrients in such an easily digestible form, or such a perfect ratio of fatty acids to meet our human nutrient needs. Hemp has 33%-37% pure digestible, complete protein. Approximately 47% of each hempseed is composed of an ideal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (crucial for your baby’s brain development).
Hempseed is also an outstanding source of omega-9, which is another healthy energy source and a high quality beautifying oil! It contains lecithin, which is a lipid substance important in brain building and liver-support. Like spirulina, hempseed also contains GLA. And remember, GLA is known to help balance hormones.
This means that hempseed (and spirulina) may help improve PMS, mood swings, pregnancy hormone ups and downs, and breast pain reduction. Other than a couple of weeks in my first trimester, I’ve had no breast pain whatsoever, and am hoping that this will also help ease breast pain when my daughter is born, and I begin nursing. (***Update: It totally did!)


Who doesn’t want to eat more coconut? I love it! Well, maybe you are one of those that hate coconut flavor, or maybe you are having an aversion to it since you’ve been pregnant. Let me see if I can help change your mind if that’s the case, because this nut is just too good to pass up.
Coconut products are beneficial in the following ways: they improve digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and amino acids (when we’re pregnant girls, we need all the help we can get, right?!); they contain antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial saturated fatty acids, helping to naturally fight off viruses (colds and flu’s ladies, H1N1, and other viruses you might be struggling with such as HPV, HSV1 or 2, and more), bacteria (UTI’s!!!), and fungal overgrowth (i.e. yeast infections).
Coconut improves the utilization of blood sugar, and lessens the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Coconut improves the absorption of the right kind of calcium and magnesium (more for your baby!), and consists of 90+% raw, saturated fat (not to be confused with saturated animal fats, this is different), which is an important building block of every single cell in the human body. This is important as we are not only sustaining ourselves, but building another little human being from scratch!
Coconut contains powerful antioxidants, it helps regulate and support healthy hormone production (this includes the HCG hormone that is crucial at the beginning of pregnancy, helping our bodies support and maintain that tiny embryo in the first trimester, and helps produce and stabilize other pregnancy hormones); coconut increases the speed of our thyroid (many women begin having thyroid troubles during pregnancy, this is key for you ladies), helps restore natural saturated fat levels to the skin and cell membranes (so you have that pregnancy “glow”), and increases your metabolisms, helping with weight loss (after birth, and preventing excessive weight gain during pregnancy). Those are just a few of the benefits of coconut… in David Wolfe’s book you can read about more, and get some great recipes.

I drink coconut water after every Bikram yoga session to replace all my electrolytes naturally without any of that sugary, useless stuff in Gatorade, Powerade, etc. A great site to check out about more coconut nutrition is: http://www.cocotap.com/nutrition.htm. In the electrolyte department, an 8oz. serving contains: 600-680mg potassium (12%-14% of the daily value), 40-60 mg sodium (2%-3% of the daily limit), 4%-6% of your daily calcium needs and 6%-10% of your daily magnesium needs. All in a tasty, clear, coconut water. This is a great way to rehydrate and get these nutrients into your body.

Now just because I wasn't able to get into the Marine Phytoplankton or AFA Blue/Green Algae, doesn't mean they are not important! Its just that I didn't want you to stop reading my blog because it was too long... because it really is already too long, ha! Marine Phytoplankton has played a crucial role in my health. Read up on it and TAKE IT. Same with AFA. Take 2-4 capsules first thing in the morning.

I hope this gives you a good place and a good reason to start researching these superfoods on your own and adding them into your diet. As I mentioned several times I would get a copy of David Wolfe’s book and devour it. There are so many other great books out there, and David provides many other resources in his book as well.
Start adding in one thing at a time, and play it by ear. If you are an “all or nothing” kind of girl like me, go for it! Start making smoothies as I do and cramming as many of these superfoods into them as possible. You’ll notice a change in your hormone and energy levels almost immediately, I promise. Not to mention you’ll be sleeping better at night and able to have more energy evenly spread throughout the day. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself!

My Top Favorite Sites for Purchasing Superfoods:





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