Real Food

I just finished devouring reading Nina Planck’s new book, real food for mother and baby The Fertility Diet, Eating For Two, And Baby’s First Foods.  It was definitely a great read!  I learned a lot.  Some of the points I want to share with you in hopes to educate and get you to go pick up the book.  She makes a ton of good points (backed up by research).  Thanks Amanda for turning my on to Real Food!

So, on with what I found interesting and enlightening. 

Plant sterols (when reading the Wikipedia description, pay attention to the Potential Risks research):  Found in imitation butters disrupt hormones, which can cause infertility and birth defects.  New Zealand even has a food standard of making any product that contains plant sterols to have a warning label on.  I was stunned.  I’d been eating things like imitation butter since late childhood. 

*  I specifically love her quote about Americans, “We Americans are not sufficiently skeptical about imitation food and additives.”  That may become my go to line.  Isn’t it brilliant!!!  It is exactly correct in my book.  We are not skeptical about our food or any other products.  We are so trusting of what we put in, on and what we surround our bodies with (products)…this needs to stop and we all need to educate ourselves.  People are busy, I know, but this is EXTREMELY important…make time!  (It took me two library renewals to finish this book…life happens, but carve out a few minutes here and there and it can and will happen for you.  I strongly encourage it.  As my college professor once said, “Knowledge is power.”)

*  I learned a lot about sperm counts.  If you are thinking of conceiving, you may want to pick up this book just for the Fertility section alone.  Tons of great information!  It covers every angle of sperm, plus some.  I really didn’t know anything really about sperm (okay, so I knew some, but not in the detail Nina writes about), but the one thing that stood out was that iron raises sperm counts.  I also learned that you are better off eating your iron than taking a supplement (they are not very readily absorbed).  There are many sources of iron you probably already eat day to day, such as red meat.  Also, I didn’t know (I’m sure most people don’t either) that sperm cells need vitamin E to mature.  Vitamin E also helps with sperm motility and prevents the little guys from clumping up.  Another strong point for Vitamin E is that it can help an embryo survive because it decreases the need for oxygen, which is in short supply in the beginning.  

*  Dental fillings contain mercury:  Okay, so I did know this, but only within the last year or two.  A lot of our dental work comes from foreign countries, so make sure to ask where your crowns and such are from.  Sadly, I found this information out after I just had a crown put on my tooth.  So, these fillings may contain mercury and can have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of children and even fetuses.  They are even banned in Norway and Sweden.  If only I lived there.  I also learned that gold or porcelain are better options, which I will opt for porcelain next time for sure.  This is a big part that totally freaked me out…the book advised to never have fillings removed while pregnant or nursing.  The mercury vapor is released in to your blood and breastmilk just from the drilling process.  I look back and know I had a lot of dental work done while I was nursing our daughter.  Scary what damage may have been done. 

*  The next two, I asked one of my midwives about and she didn’t really have a lot of information for me.  She did tell me what the common procedures are, but wanted to look into it herself.  Of course, I forgot to bring the book, so I was fumbling with my crazy memory.  Anyway, I learned once the baby is born it is beneficial to skip the bath and to not cut the cord until the placenta is delivered.  In relation to skipping the bath, I knew that the vernix (white coating) is a moisturizer, but what I didn’t know is that it contains immune factors too.  If left on the baby, it can protect the baby from group B Streptococcus, K. pneumoniae, Listeria monocytogenes, Candida albicans, and E. coli.  (The research she sites here is: H. Akinbi et al., “Host Defense Proteins in Vernix Caseosa and Amniotic Fluid,”  from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2004.)  About the delayed cord cutting.  My midwife told me the midwives wait until the cord stops pulsing before cutting it.  I am definitely going to do more research on this and relay it to my midwives in hopes to come up with a standard for my baby’s cord cutting, whether we stick with what they already do, or we adjust to current research, we’ll see what we each find in the research I guess.  Anyway, the book says not to cut the cord until it is white and flaccid, and ideally, not until after the placenta is born.  I seem to recall it being white and flaccid, but know the cord was cut with our daughter prior to the placenta being born.  If you leave the cord uncut until it is flaccid and white, you give your baby an extra 100 millitiers of blood, nutrients such as zinc, and choline and betaine (brain builders).  (The research she sites here is:  A. M. Molloy et al., “Choline and Homocysteine Interrelations in Umbilical Cord and Maternal Plasma Delivery,” from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005.) 

*  The last point I’d like to touch on is baby cereal.  I fed it to our daughter and she ate it.  Most of us probably did, but what I read freed me and made me really think about what to feed this next little one.  I can tell you in short, we’ll skip the cereal.  I learned that babies do not even produce starch-digesting enzymes until one or two years of age.  The Whole Foods baby food guide says, “There is no medical need to feed cereal as a first food.”  Sure, Whole Foods is not my pediatrician, but it does make sense not to feed the baby cereal as its’ first food.  I was already thinking of feeding the baby more simply, if you can ever feed a baby simply.  I guess what I mean is not buying into all the commercialism and hype surrounding baby food.  Our current plan is to just feed the baby what we eat in small chunks or tiny little bites.  As of this point, I’m not sure I’ll freeze that much.  I’m thinking I will freeze little bits of leftovers here and there for quick meals or when we are on the go, but how freeing not to be stuck to some ‘standards of feeding.’  I will definitely feed our baby nutritious foods, but they just won’t come from a jar (okay, sometimes they will, that is life). 

If you are interested in any of these points I am interested in, then I really think you should read this book!  There are so many more points and good stuff in this book.  Do your research and just enjoy life…eating whole, good foods.

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