It seems that everyone is always happy to see a pregnant woman and offer advice, hold doors and generally complement everything about you and your growing belly. However, for every new mom-to-be, there are side effects that are not the most pleasant to endure. The good news is that most of them can be treated naturally, simply by basic diet adjustments. Read on to learn more about five of the most common pregnancy ailments that can be easily prevented by or treated with food.
1. AILMENT: Indigestion & Heartburn
CURE: Ginger Root
Heartburn is crippling, particularly during the final trimester. During my first pregnancy, I had indigestion on a level I never thought possible. It was near impossible to sleep at night. Desperate for advice, I spoke to a friend who already had two children. She mentioned that she ate through a roll of Tums about every three days with both pregnancies. I beelined it to the closest pharmacy to pick some up. When I flipped the package over, I read the ingredient list: calcium carbonate, maltodextrin, polyethylene glycol, talc, powdered cellulose, natural and artificial flavor, mineral oil. Not to mention the warning: “Do not use more than two weeks straight.” Hmm…it was hardly anything I would want to consume, let alone force upon my fragile unborn child. So I set out to find a cure through whole foods. After a few days of research, I happened upon ginger root. I found that steeping pureed ginger in hot or warm water twice a day (morning and immediately before bed) literally cured my heartburn! If the spicy ginger flavor is a little too overpowering, you can use honey or coconut nectar to sweeten it up a little.
2. AILMENT: Leg & Feet Cramping
CURE: Coconut Water, Stone Fruits, Salmon
Charlie Horses! Is there anything worse than getting shocked awake by lightening bolt cramps from your toes all the way up your legs? Only labor pains can top these bad boys. So, let’s talk about how to keep them from popping up during your pregnancy… potassium! A potassium-rich diet will help prevent those pesky spasms. Potassium works with sodium to control the fluid balance in your body, and they have to be in the right proportions to each other in order to work effectively. Boost your potassium levels with coconut water, stone fruits (think apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines) and salmon.
3. AILMENT: Insomnia
When you are pregnant, exhausted and can’t fall asleep, it may feel like your world is falling apart. Growing mommies (and babies) need their rest, and insomnia is no joke. Try eating tart cherries or drinking cherry juice about an hour before bedtime. They are among the food sources richest in melatonin, the same sleep-inducing hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. A study in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that small doses of melatonin (about 0.3 milligrams) helped insomniacs get a better night’s sleep. One cup of tart cherry juice, or about 4 tablespoons of dried tart cherries, contains roughly the same amount. Sweet cherries also contain melatonin but not as much. If the tart flavor is a bit much for you, try mixing pineapple juice with the cherry juice to even out the flavor. Sweet dreams!
4. AILMENT: Constipation
CURE: Beans, Peas and Chia Seeds
This is a pregnancy side effect that no one is actually fond of speaking about, but the unfortunate truth is that it happens to all of us at some point when pregnant. It is critical not only for your growing baby’s health but also for your own comfort that you maintain a fiber-rich diet throughout your pregnancy. So what foods are rich in fiber? Any type of bean or pea is a great, lean source of fiber. Navy and white beans have the highest fiber content of any food. One cup of cooked navy or white beans has a whopping 19 grams of fiber, or 82 percent of your recommended daily value. Another great option is including chia seeds in your diet. Two tablespoons of raw chia seeds added to your daily diet will offer 10 grams (or 40 percent DV) of fiber.
5. AILMENT: Itchy Skin
CURE: Water, Avocados
Dry, itchy skin seems like a rite of passage with pregnancy. But it doesn’t need to be. Itchy skin during pregnancy is caused 99 percent of the time by dehydration. One of the best things you can do is drink water, water and more water. There is even an app for that! Eat more avocados. Avocados are Mother Nature’s remedy for dry skin. They are rich in Vitamins A, D and E -- all of which help keep skin smooth, hydrated and itch-free. Try to eat half an avocado each day (or every other day) to help keep skin smooth, moisturized and balanced.
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