We all know how important it is to eat a healthy diet-not only while pregnant but always. Well, researchers in Sweden and Norway have shown that women who eat a ‘Traditional” or “Prudent” diet, a diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish and primarily water to drink had lower rates of preterm labor. The study also showed that the “traditional” diet pattern emphasized boiled potatoes, fish, low-fat milk, and cooked vegetables. While it is no new news that a healthy diet promotes a healthy pregnancy and healthy birth outcomes, the specifics indicated in this study published online in the March 4, 2014 British Journal of Medicine show that this diet has the ability to reduce the risk of preterm labor and preterm birth.
Linda Englund-Ogge, MD from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Institute of Clinical Sciences at Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenberg, Sweden and her colleagues sought to determine if there was any association between a mama’s dietary intake and her birth outcome. The researchers looked at 66,000 pregnant women in Norway between 2002 and 2008 and they defined a “traditional” or “prudent” diet as having a proportionately high intake of Fresh and steamed vegetables, fruits, oils, whole-grain cereals, and fiber-rich bread, with water as the predominant beverage. (In contrast, the “Western” dietary pattern had high consumption of salty and sweet snacks, white bread, desserts, and processed meat products.) Controlling for all other cofounding factors, the researhers found that of the 66,000 women, 3505 (5.3%) had preterm births. Women who scored highest for the “traditional” or “Prudent” Diets had significantly lower risks for preterm delivery. Women who adhered to this diet also were less likely to experience spontaneous preterm birth or late phase preterm births. The women with the lowest risk were women pregnant for the first time.
The researchers were unable to say specifically why or what foods specifically influenced the pregnancy outcomes. They write,
“This study showed that women adhering to a ‘prudent’ or a ‘traditional’ dietary pattern during pregnancy were at lower risk of preterm delivery compared with other women”. “Although these findings cannot establish causality, they support dietary advice to pregnant women to eat a balanced diet including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish and to drink water. Our results indicate that increasing the intake of foods associated with a prudent dietary pattern is more important than totally excluding processed food, fast food, junk food, and snacks.”
In light of these findings, Dr Englund-Ogge and her colleagues recommend that health care providers emphasize these dietary selections and recommend that women who are at risk for preterm labor be counseled to make these dietary changes.
So mamas, I know that many of you are on bed rest for preterm labor. Many of you also have lamented that you feel like you are not doing enough to take care of your baby. Well, here is something that you can do! Insist on and eat this “traditional”/”Prudent” diet. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake, as well as whole grain and fish intake. This is very interesting as may American Obstetricians tell women to avoid fish, especially tuna, as it may contain mercury. The researchers did not identify any specific types of fish or foods, but as was stated, this “prudent” diet was quite a contrast to the Western (American) Diet. Reduce your intake of sugary and salty snacks. Drink mostly-if not exclusively-water. As some may argue, who knows if this will help? But I argue, it won’t hurt you and if this diet has any benefit whatsoever in helping you to have a healthy, full term baby, then why not??
If you adopt this diet, share your findings and your results in the comments section. It would be great to have such an easy and accessible tool for mamas to use to help prevent preterm labor. Keep us posted!
“Maternal dietay patterns and preterm delivery: results from a large prospective cohort study” BMJ 2014;348:g1446
Click to take the postpartum depression survey conducted by Case Western Reserve University http://filer.case.edu/~axp335/postpartdep.htm Thank you very much for your consideration.
My friend and colleague Rosalind Haney, RN, ACN, was recently awarded one of the Austin Birth Awards for “Best Nutritionist”. Rosalind is a wealth of information and helps many couples achieve pregnancy naturally with her programs on health and nutrition. Rosalind recently sent out an e-mail with more alarming statistics on toxins in our environment. (We have discussed these very issues in previous blog posts on Green living and Healthy home.) With her permission, I am sharing the e-mail with you here as it contains some excellent practical tips Mamas can use right now.
Now let’s go green – as in a clean, green home for you and your family!
There is mounting evidence that man-made chemicals might mimic, amplify, or block our natural hormones effecting metabolism, mental processes, physical growth, sexual development, reproduction, and many aspects of fetal development. [A study just last month in Pediatrics found in the womb exposure to bisphenol A (a compound used in making plastics) was associated with neurobehavioral problems in girls at age three. 10/24/11]
We know that 80 to 90% of our exposure to toxic chemicals comes from the food we eat and from the inside environment where we live and work – thus you do have a large measure of control to protect yourself and your family.
Top 5 changes to a safer, greener home:
1. Ventilate, Ventilate, Ventilate!
Open windows a crack for an hour or so every day. Airtight homes allow toxic fumes and pesticides to accumulate to very high levels. Ventilate the laundry room when washing and the bathroom when scrubbing and your office for clearing computer monitor and printer emissions. Keep your garage door open for an hour after you pull your car in or park outside to allow the car to cool before pulling it into the garage. Never idle the car in your garage. Garages accumulate some of the nastier heavy metal toxins.
2. Keep dust (pesticides, lead) outside of your home.
Place a commercial-grade doormat inside and outside of each door leading into your house or remove your shoes. Dust and vacuum inside your home twice a week. [Active vacuuming increases dust kickoff for several hours. Ventilate and do not vacuum in the presence of children. A HEPA filter vacuum will remove 99.9% of dust particles. Normal vacuuming removes only 5-15%.]
3. Use only natural pesticides inside, outside, and on your pets.
Use natural cleaning supplies. Avoid the most toxic offenders, which are oven & drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and any extra strength cleaners. Do not store any chemicals near heat or hot water pipes, which may volatize compounds into the air you breath. [See below for recipes on how to make your own green cleaning products.]
4. **Avoid plastics as much as possible (they are hormone disruptors!).
- Do not heat food in plastic containers or use plastic wrap to cover.
- Store only cooled food in plastic containers.
- Drink from glass containers whenever possible.
- Do not use plastic cutting boards.
- Avoid cooking with Teflon, but if you must, use lower temps and never heat an empty pan (oil, liquid or food reduces the temp & the release of toxic gases).
5. Food and drink green checklist:
- Eat “certified organic” protein foods (butter, cheese, milk, eggs and meats).
- Most small, wild fish are safe seafood choices, with wild Alaskan Salmon having the most benefits.
- Wash all produce and eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and veggies.
- Eat a diet low in rancid fats & trans fats (no fried fast foods or junk foods).
- Eat fewer processed foods and more whole foods that you cook yourself.
- Use filtered water.
Regarding “natural cleaning supplies” and making better choices, you can:
1. Continue to use your current favorite cleaning product but purchase the one that is “Free” of perfume and “Clear” of dyes.
2. Wean off your products to a green cleaning product line in your grocer. The People’s Choice for 2011 was “7th Generation”.
3. Google “healthy cleaning supplies you make yourself” for many simple and inexpensive recipe options with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen.
4. A few examples of how to make your own cleaning supplies. Many of the products you have in your home along with a few basic, inexpensive products (borax, washing soda, a natural liquid soap) can get you started.
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ½ tsp. of liquid soap (to cut the wax residue from the Windex you may have used)
- 2 cups of water
- Spray the oven with water
- Shake on baking soda and salt
- Spray again with water
- Let it sit overnight
- Wipe up in the morning and wash any remaining residue with liquid soap.
- ½ tsp. of washing soda (such as Arm & Hammer Washing Soda – a “free” & “clear” detergent that boosts cleaning power by 40%)
- 2 tsp. borax (a naturally occurring mineral compound that cleans and deodorizes – borax acts like a bleach by converting some water molecules to hydrogen peroxide)
- ½ tsp. of natural liquid soap (a completely biodegradable soap, uncolored and unscented)
- 2 cups of hot tap water
- Combine in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. [Optional: Add 3 drops of an essential oil – lemon, tea tree, lavender or eucalyptus.]
Mold and Mildew Cleaner – Mold is very harmful and difficult to rid. Prevention is the key. You have many options.
1. White distilled vinegar sprayed without rinsing is reported to kill 82 % of mold. [Straight vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet bowl.]
2. Equal amounts of 3% hydrogen peroxide and vinegar.
3. Tea Tree oil is a natural antiseptic. [Mix two cups of water and 3 drops of tea tree oil and spray your bathroom walls once a week.]
4. Use Borax for scrubbing and to inhibit future growth.
Note: The smell of vinegar and tea tree oil are very strong so ventilate to dissipate.
Conventional cleaning supplies are toxic to you and your family. To minimize your toxic burden consider one or two or more of the safer options listed above.
To your safe and greener home,
Rosalind Haney, RN, ACN, Fertility & pregnancy guidance through health and nutrition
Note: Another excellent resource for creating a greener home is The Healthy Home Book by Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz. The Healthy Home is Available in The Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond Amazon Store under “Healthy Living”.
This was my first response when I first saw a slide at the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals 2011 Meeting this past weekend in Las Vegas stating, “Many of our babies arrive pre-polluted”. Leading public health clinicians and researchers presented data and information on how our environment is affecting our health, our reproductive health in particular.
Patrice Sutton, MPH, Research Scientist at UCSF explained in her talk that 43 environmental toxins are found in virtually every pregnant woman in the United States. As a result, as many as 13 chemicals can be detected in the cord blood of a newborn. She added, the timing of exposure matters. Many mamas are exposed to toxins while they are pregnant, especially early on when they don’t know they are pregnant and as a result, their babies are likewise exposed (and potentially affected). She counsels clinicians to adopt counseling recommendations based on toxicity, patient exposure, patient values and patient vulnerability. At all times, she recommends advocating for safer alternatives, however, made mention that this is not always possible (For example, while organic produce and meats would be recommended, many times they are cost prohibitive to patients). Sutton suggests that we all voice our opposition to the fact that patient safety is not widely available to every patient!
Charlotte Brody, Director of Chemicals, Public Health and Green Chemistry for Blue Green Alliance stressed that we can make a difference in our environmental toxins. She explained that environmental toxins are creating another source of hormones for all of us in addition to the hormones that our bodies produce. These external hormones are in large part responsible for the lowering of the age of puberty in our children and many illness in the general public. While the federal government has promised to make more stringent regulations for manufacturers, the fact of the matter is that regulation for chemical production has not changed since the mid 1970’s. As such, if we are waiting for our government to do something, especially in this political partisan climate of no jobs and downward spiraling economy, we will continue to wait.
Several States have begun their own regulatory processes. Since 2003, 18 states have passed 80 chemical safety laws with bipartisan support. Many corporations have also begun to regulate themselves. Walmart has adopted a chemical policy. Using GreenWercs, Walmart has committed to stocking and selling only green products. To date, they have screened more than 150,000 consumer products. Additionally, SC Johnson has adopted their own Green and Red list of ingredients. They are including more green ingredients and limiting or omitting altogether red list products. The Environmental Work Group (EWG) has a compaign for safe cosmetics which advocates for products that don’t contain toxic chemicals an potentially harmful hormones. They are also pushing for passage of the Safe Chemicals Act by the FDA so that instead of the FDA being burdened with proving that a chemical causes harm, manufacturers would have to prove that their products (and the chemicals which they contain) are safe. Brody concluded her talk with an important note.
Moderator Sandy Worthington, MSN, WHNP-C, CNM from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Jane Houlihan, MS from the Environmental Working Group stressed the impact and prevalence of environmental toxins in our homes. Both offered practical tips on how to lower exposures. Equally important, both reiterated the need for more consumer education and widely available information.
For much of the information that they covered in their lectures, see our blog posts on The Healthy Home featuring the New York Times Best Seller, The Healthy Home by Dr. Myron Wentz and his son Dave Wentz. The Healthy Home is available in our Amazon.com Store in the Healthy Living Section.
What are your thoughts? What are your concerns? Share them below in our comments section for a free copy of The Healthy Home By Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz. “Like Us” on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, @mamasonbedrest.