During pregnancy, nutrition and health play a huge role in a woman’s life. This is probably the most important time to think about what a woman feeds her body and her mind, as her choice will greatly affect the life of the unborn child.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding veganism and vegetarianism during pregnancy regarding sources of protein and vitamins, but what about a raw food diet? According to studies, women who eat 100% raw food during pregnancy get more nutrients, more energy, they are less prone to toxicosis, and they endure childbirth more easily. Apparently there is something in it.
Regular food vs. raw food diet
If you look at the standard American diet, you will question both sides of the nutritional spectrum. First, people who eat standard processed foods are more likely to get high amounts of fats, sugars, and proteins, as well as artificial ingredients, pesticides, chemical additives, and genetically modified foods.
Gabriel Cousens, a writer and raw food advocate, believes that an organic diet is significantly better than conventional nutrition, especially for pregnant women: “The main cause of death and disease among children under 15 years of age is cancer.” He believes that this is “largely due to the large amount of pesticides and herbicides – and the carcinogens they contain – in processed foods and conventionally grown food.”
Those who eat more “natural” or organic foods get more enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates with little or no chemical additives. It all depends on what kind of diet you make. Vegetarian or vegan diets are often low in protein and certain vitamins such as B12, unless the person has found good meat and dairy alternatives. Legumes and nuts, for example, are excellent sources of protein that vegetarians and vegans crave. Nutritional yeast and superfoods can provide B12 and other vitamins that people lack on a meat-free diet.
Raw food, on the other hand, can be challenging overall, although people who have switched to this eating style often talk about the incredible variety of food for someone who has given up “cooked” food. Enough food is not a problem for raw foodists, the problem is in the transition from a regular diet to a raw food diet. Raw foodists say that the most difficult thing for people to wean from thermally processed food is given, as our body begins to require cooked food, being dependent on it – an emotional attachment. When a person begins to eat mostly raw food, the body begins to cleanse as the food is so “clean” that it forces the body to eliminate accumulated toxins.
For those who eat cooked food all their lives, it would be unwise to switch to a 100% raw food diet right away. A good transition method, including for pregnant women, is to increase the amount of raw food in the diet. Pregnancy is not the best time to detoxify the body, because everything that enters the bloodstream, including toxins, ends up with the baby.
So why is a raw food diet so beneficial during pregnancy?
Raw food contains all the necessary nutrients in a prepared form. Cooking destroys the enzymes needed for digestion, as well as a large amount of vitamins and minerals. Look at the water in which you stew vegetables. See how the water has turned? If everything went into the water, what was left in the vegetables? Raw foods contain proteins, amino acids, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients that are simply not found in cooked foods. Because there are so many nutrients in raw food, it’s usually difficult for people to eat a lot at once. On raw food, the body begins to work more efficiently, sometimes reacting undesirably at first: gas, diarrhea, indigestion or pain, as toxins are eliminated and the body is cleansed.
Due to the high amount of water in raw food, as well as ready-made substances such as sulfur, silicon, potassium, magnesium, vitamins and enzymes, the tissues of pregnant women become more elastic, which prevents stretch marks and reduces pain and facilitates childbirth. My study of vegan mothers reports that those who eat red meat during pregnancy have a greater risk of bleeding than those who eat little or no meat.
A raw food diet during pregnancy is definitely something that should be prepared for in advance or gradually transitioned at the beginning of pregnancy. Be sure to include avocados, coconuts, and nuts in your diet, as adequate amounts of fat are essential for your baby’s development and your health. A varied diet will allow you to get all the necessary substances. Women who eat little or no raw food should take vitamin supplements to get the vitamins and minerals they need, but raw foodists don’t. If you can switch to a raw food diet, you probably won’t need vitamin supplements.
Don’t Forget Superfoods
Whether you’re a raw foodist or not, it’s good to eat superfoods during pregnancy. Superfoods are foods rich in all nutrients, including proteins. They are called so because you can actually live on superfoods alone. Superfoods will saturate the body with nutrients and increase energy levels.
Raw foodists love superfoods because they are usually raw and can be simply added to a smoothie or eaten as is. Superfoods include, for example, dereza, physalis, raw cocoa beans (raw chocolate), maca, blue-green algae, acai berries, mesquite, phytoplankton and chia seeds.
Dereza berries are an excellent source of protein, containing “18 amino acids, antioxidants that help fight free radicals, carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and over 20 trace minerals and vitamins: zinc, iron, phosphorus, and riboflavin (B2). Dereza berries contain more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, and more iron than soybeans and spinach.” Raw cocoa beans are the best source of magnesium on earth. Magnesium deficiency is one of the biggest problems that can result in depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, osteoporosis, and gastrointestinal problems. Magnesium helps the muscles relax, which is very beneficial for pregnant women during childbirth.
Physalis, also known as the Inca Berry, from South America is an excellent source of bioflavonoids, vitamin A, dietary fiber, protein and phosphorus. Maca is a South American root, akin to ginseng, known for its balancing effect on the endocrine glands. During pregnancy, maca is an excellent support for hormones, helps to improve mood, is involved in the formation of muscle mass and growth of the fetus. Blue green algae are an excellent source of fatty acids, healthy protein and B12. “It is rich in beta-carotene and biologically active B-complex vitamins, enzymes, chlorophyll, fatty acids, neuropeptide precursors (peptides are made up of amino acid residues), lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, trace elements, pigments and other substances useful for growth. It contains all eight essential amino acids, as well as non-essential ones. This is a concentrated source of arginine, which is involved in the structure of muscle tissue. More importantly, the amino acid profile almost completely matches the needs of the body. No vital acids are missing.”
Information about superfoods is inexhaustible. As you can see, whether you’re eating raw or not, superfoods are a great addition to your pregnancy or postpartum regimen.
Raw food and childbirth
Many women who have experienced both regular food and raw food during pregnancy have said that labor was faster and relatively painless on a raw food diet. One woman who gave birth to her second child (the first was born after a pregnancy on regular food, labor lasted 30 hours), says: “My pregnancy was very easy, I was relaxed and happy. I didn’t have any nausea. I gave birth to Jom at home … the labor lasted 45 minutes, of which only 10 were difficult. You can find many similar stories related to the raw food diet during pregnancy.
With a raw food diet, energy and mood are high, as is physical fitness. Cooked food often causes more lethargic behavior, mood swings, and drowsiness. I am not saying that a raw food diet is the only option for all women during every pregnancy. Each woman must choose for herself what is best for her and her body during this amazing period. Some women thrive on a mixture of cooked and raw food, others can’t eat exclusively raw food because of their constitution, as raw food can cause more gas and “air” in the system.
It’s important that women feel connected to the choices they make about food and that they feel supported. Comfort and resonance are very important during pregnancy, as is the feeling of being cared for during the development of the child.
During one pregnancy, a therapist tested me for allergies and said that I was allergic to almost everything I ate. I was put on a special diet, which I honestly tried to follow for several weeks. I felt a lot of stress and depression because of the food restrictions, so I felt worse than before the examination. I decided that my happiness and good mood was more important than the effect of food on my body, so I again very gradually and carefully began to add other foods to my diet. I no longer had allergies to them, the pregnancy was easy and joyful.
The food we eat greatly affects our mental and emotional state. A raw food diet can be very beneficial for those who are used to it, making pregnancy and childbirth easier. At the same time, during pregnancy, you need to consciously and moderately eat what you want, whether it is raw or cooked food. There are many things you can do to make labor easier: exercise, meditation, visualization, breathing exercises, and more. For more information on diet and exercise during pregnancy and childbirth, visit your GP, nutritionist, and local yoga instructor.