Water is the safest drink for a healthy pregnancy. However, we had concerns about the pesticides, chlorine, fluoride, and other heavy metals that inevitably come with the tap water. Before pregnancy, we were using the Pur faucet purifier and found out that wasn’t enough, so I switched to Reverse Osmosis (RO) water, the problem is though RO water takes away all the necessary minerals and it takes about 7 gallons of water to get 1 gallon of RO water, its not environmentally friendly for that reason. There’s also sanitary concern about the membrane especially on home unit. Then we looked into the UV light and learned that the reason UV light filtering is popular is for the cheaper cost for water plant, since charcoal will be too expensive. So we finally went with Doulton, a UK company that makes counter top 2-candle ceramic filters, with .2 micro surface size, which takes out bacteria, chemicals, the secondary candle removes fluoride and heavy metals.
Doulton was recommended by our friend David, and we also took his advice on getting a chlorine KDF shower filter so we can enjoy hot shower without inhaling the chlorine.
The documentary “Fluoride Deception” (free on YouTube) investigates the history of the non-essential mineral fluoride, and the myth around fluoride and your teeth, but rarely known, fluoride is an industrial waste by product from manufacturing aluminum.
Organics, GMO & the Dirty Dozen
With industrial farming, more and more pesticides, herbicides are widely used in so many foods that we consume on a daily basis. We only trust the organic foods since the babies do not need to be eating chemicals instead of real food! Take milk for example, Monsanto’s rBGH, which is banned by EU, is almost in all milk in any supermarket chains. Even Stonyfield Farm was acquired by large food company. The reason to use rBGH is to increase the milk supply. Most cows are raised with corn, not grass, these days, and they can’t live more than 6 months, so the hormone is also used to increase their weight gain before they get sick or die, and to prevent infection which causes disease and death, antibiotics are used. And both rBGH (which is a hormone) and any drugs cross the placenta so we only trust Seven Starts Farm, which is guaranteed hormone and antibiotics free.
The same story applies to the pollutants in vegetables and fruits as well. Carefully check the label, and we stay away any code starting with 3 (GM product), rarely buy 4 (conventionally grown) and mostly go for 9 (organic). EPA also published the list called the Dirty Dozen: strawberry, raspberry, peach, nectarine, potato, celery, spinach or other green leafy vegetables, pears, grapes, peppers, apple and cherry. To grow these 12 produce, it requires a lot of pesticides, so these are the must-buy organics.
As to GMO, many believe they are fine, and many crops in the US are GMO products already – soy beans, corn, etc. – we believe this is the most dangerous category of food that’s out there. We highly recommend the following documentaries:
- Food, INC.
- Future of Food
- The World According to Monsanto
- King Corn
I was surprised when Dr. Gil advised me to cut off all sugar, including table sugar and organic cane sugar, “anything ends with ‘-ose’ has to go“, he said. I wasn’t sure about it but looking back, I am so glad that I followed his advice. Growing up in China I never really ate too much sweets so never really had too much desire for deserts, candy or cakes but I do like my bubble tea, bean paste which is loaded with real sugar. I knew enough to stay away from soda, which contains High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) since mid 1980’s. HFCS was invented in Japan in the 70’s and the biggest problem with it is that the body can’t convert it to glucose so the pancreas doesn’t secrete insulin, therefore, the fructose turns into fat. The fructose puts about the same pressure on the liver, the only organ in the body that can metabolize it, as the alcohol in a can of beer, with out the drunk effect of course. Also be aware that HFCS is in almost everything – ketchup, bread, mustard, etc. so read the labels very carefully.
What’s really important, also, is that juice should not be a regular drink for pregnancy women and children, the fibers in the fruits are taken away so there’s not enough of it to help digestion of the sugar. And too often, we take in too much juice than we would otherwise by eating the whole fruit. So in the end, the only sugar intake ideally should be only from eating fruits.
UCSF professor Robert Lustig gave an excellent presentation on this particular issue, you can find it on YouTube with title “Sugar: the Bitter Truth“.
Nuts, Seeds, Beans & Grains
Varieties of nuts are beans (kidney, black-eyed, pinto, mung, chickpea, etc.) were introduced by our friend Welkin, she is an excellent cook and very healthy eater, I still remember her beautiful presentation of her own couscous salad, with beans, avocado, and fresh cilantro, and the delicious lentil soup (see picture)! Welkin was also the one who told me about the super grain quinoa. The white rice is actually not that great of a choice, so I replace it with brown rice, and other types of grains (millet, quinoa, barley, couscous, etc.) My OB told me about the flax seeds, and Dr. Gil made sure that I grind them and eat it within 10 minutes, so I use both flax seeds and flax seed oil now. David told me about the chia seeds, which is one of the greatest vegetarian source for OMEGA-3 as well. The beans are not as simple, Dr. Gil’s advice is to soak them overnight, same as nuts, for easier digestion, but the beans caused so much gas (poor Michael but he’s happy that I won’t be able to complain about him later 🙂 ), I tried Beano first which worked but it contains other ingredients that I am not sure of (like cod, wheat, etc.) so I asked for digestive enzyme, David and Johanna found them pretty good, and it worked great. Gas is the only downside of having a high-fiber diet, but I am glad I finally found a solution for it.
Beans are rich in iron, and Welkin likes to add some lemon juice (Vitamin C) to help with the absorption, however, Calcium binds the iron (thanks Michele, for that tip!) so I wait about an hour to take my iron pill or eating beans after taking my calcium pills or yogurt.
My Daily Drill
Psyllium Seed Husk Powder: Best taken first thing in the morning with an empty stomach, shake well and drink immediately with plenty of water to avoid choking, this works wonders to prevent constipation.Wait at least 20 minutes to take in food or vitamins.
All-in-one Smoothies: Yogurt, cottage cheese, rice milk, cranberry juice, flax seed oil, one banana, frozen fruits*(blackberries, blueberries, mango, peach, strawberries, raspberries, cherries), chia seeds, freshly ground flax seeds, almond and walnuts (soaked overnight). Adding one scoop of PaleoMeal from 27+4.
*Fresh organic berries are seasonal and super expensive, so we get the frozen organic packages, they are easy to handle and affordable.
Raw and Cooked Vegetables: Dr. Gil asked me to have at least one salad a day, because the enzyme in the raw vegetables are different from the one in cooked vegetables. No iceberg lettuce. Salad: Spinach and Romaine lettuce, grape tomato, avocado, apple or pear slices, cucumber, carrots, dressing: minced fresh garlic, olive oil, and salt.
For cooked vegetables, the darker colored greens are calcium rich, broccoli and spinach are great choices, Kale and Collard Greens are very high in Vitamin K, which prevents blood clot.
Sweet Potato: We love our sweet potato everyday, it’s great for pregnancy (thanks Michele again:), and Michael loves it too because of the sweet taste of it and he likes the skin. We usually just wash, scrub, then bake them for 1 hour at 400 degrees. Yummy!
Protein: I grew up with pork, and I wasn’t happy that has to go because it’s still considered red meat, and I have to stick to chicken or Turkey which I am not crazy about at all. But protein intake is so important during the pregnancy, couple of midwives gave me the same suggestion – about at least 100 grams a day – that’s a lot of chicken but apparently my weight went up right away after eating a lot of chicken! Vegetarian source of protein is great as well, but I eat at least 2 eggs (3~4 is even better if I can get them down) a day to make sure there’s enough for both boys!
Coffee and Tea: this is probably the hardest thing for me to stop drinking coffee, although coffee isn’t like drugs or smoking that is strictly prohibited for pregnant women, it’s still not food, and it takes energy from the body, caffeine also crosses the placenta, so it will affect the fetus, too much caffeine causes low birth weight and in some cases babies are addicted to caffeine inside the womb. Even the decaf coffee and tea still has caffeine in it, so I was advised to take just raspberry leaf tea (good for uterus), nettles (rich in minerals) and cinnamon tea, which is naturally caffeine-free. We brought back some ceylon cinnamon from an organic farm called Villa Vanilla near San Jose, Costa Rica – great stuff – the lady who gave us the tour told us that she drank a lot of the organic ceylon cinnamon tea, and her child rarely got sick when he was young. See picture to the right, farm worker peeling off the ceylon cinnamon bark off of the tree.
Milk and Soy Milk: this is a very controversial topic, I am more leaning towards yogurt since the calcium in it is soluble, unlike the calcium in the milk, which has to be pasteurized. There are observations of tiny white spots on the surface of placenta from women who drink a lot of milk, so I am counting on a lot of yogurt and rice milk for now. There’s also concern about soy milk, especially the ones made with GM soy beans, that has too much estrogen, which will affect the male growth. After talking to Dr. Gil, we decide on not taking in soy milk, but moderation on soy products like tofu.
Prenatal Vitamins: Most of the vitamins on the market are synthetic, just imagine how expensive the vitamin supplements will be if they are extracted from real food! We went with Dr. Gil’s formula, it’s pricey but we know for sure it doesn’t have yeast, soy protein, milk/dairy, corn, sodium, starch, artificial coloring, preservatives or flavoring. I disagree with Dr. Gil on the cod fish oil though, since I am not sure how the ratio will be and what the quality will be, so instead I opted for vegetarian sources of OMEGA-3 such as flax seeds and chia seeds, and Dr. Gil was fine with it! Even though fish are great sources for OMEGA-3, it’s hard to avoid heavy metals and pollutants these days, so we eat salmons once in a while and stay away from shellfish. Apart from the multi, I take 1 Vitamin D3 (and getting enough sunshine improves the immunity), 2 Calcium w/Magnesium twice daily, 1 Iron plus Vitamin C twice daily.
Salt: From what I read, low-salt diet didn’t solve any problem like toxemia, as the doctors used to think. So I follow the salt to taste rule but I have limited the amount of soy sauce used in cooking.