We all know that our food choices while pregnant affect how the baby develops physically, but did you know that it can also make your child smarter? All the choices you make while expectant, from working out to eating green leafy vegetables, all help develop your child’s brain. According to the deputy medical director of the March of Dimes foundation, Diane Ashton, the development of your child’s brain and future intelligence can be affected by what you do during pregnancy.
What to Eat During Pregnancy for Fair and Intelligent Babies
As an expectant mother, you need to ensure that your diet has all the nutrients and energy needed for your baby to develop properly. You also must ensure that your baby’s body is healthy as this will enable him or her to deal with the different developmental changes.
1. Prenatal Supplements with Folic Acid
Prenatal supplements with folic acid are essential. Folic acid is an important nutrient in brain cell formation. The Journal of American Medical Association recently published a study found that women who took folic acid 4 weeks before pregnancy and 8 weeks after pregnancy had 40% less chances of giving birth to autistic babies. Excellent sources of folic acid include: green leafy vegetables such as spinach lentils and fortified breakfast cereals.
Note: Take prenatal vitamins everyday. This helps ensure that you have a good nutritional balance of vitamin B12 and folic acid which help develop red blood cells as well as vitamin C which produces collagen and vitamin D which helps in bone formation. You can take the vitamins with your meals and switch brands if they upset your stomach.
2. Foods Rich in Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential and this is because they contribute to neuron production. Neurons are the nerves that send electrical impulses to the brain and messages to other body organs. You can get omega-3 from food sources such as salmon and various types of fish, eggs that have been fortified, ground flaxseed, walnuts, red meat, spinach, tofu, beans and iron enhanced cereals.
3. Fruits and Vegetables
Antioxidants help fight free radicals which can damage your child’s brain tissue. There are various foods that you can eat to boost your antioxidants and these include papaya, dark green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and blueberries as well. Make sure that you clean your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before you eat them, especially fruits. It is easy to introduce germs into the flesh of the fruit when you clean it.
4. Foods Rich in Iron
You also need to double your intake of iron while pregnant and this is because it helps transport oxygen to the baby. Unfortunately, many of us are already iron deprived, which makes the womb oxygen deprived. This has a negative impact on the baby’s IQ and growth. You can ask your doctor to test your iron levels, then include foods rich in iron such as chicken, fortified cereals, legumes, and lean beef into your diet.
5. Protein-Containing Diet
When pregnant, your body needs to have more protein to help in the development of new cells and hormones that promote your baby’s growth. You should increase your protein intake by an extra daily dose of 10 grams. Here’s how you can increase your intake of protein. Have yogurt smoothie for breakfast; while for lunch, you can have some bean soup. 3 ounces of lean beef preferably sirloin and tenderloin are good for supper and you can have peanut butter applied on whole grain crackers for a snack.
More Tips During Pregnancy for Fair and Intelligent Babies
Adding fruits to your cereal, snacking on almonds and adding chickpeas to your salads all contribute towards increasing nutrients for your baby. You already know what to add for a fair and intelligent baby, but do you know what to avoid?
1. Look Out For Mercury
While fish is a good source of omega-3 and other nutrients, you need to be mindful of the type of fish you eat. The FDA advices that pregnant women avoid fish such as swordfish, tilefish, shark and king mackerel, because they have high mercury levels. With lower mercury levels, fish like tilapia, shrimp, salmon and catfish are relatively safer. Even with the safer fish choices, you must limit your intake to 12 ounces a week which is equal to 2 meals per week.
2. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle works for everyone, especially a pregnant one. And more than anything else, the ordinary decisions you make in your daily life would surely make a difference towards your and your baby’s health.
|Prevent alcohol||According to the March of Dimes, moderate amounts of alcoholic drinks can be just as harmful and could lead to poor social skills, memory and attention problems later in the child’s life.|
|Keep proper weight||As much as you’re eating for two, don’t gain too much weight. This increases your risk of having a premature delivery which is one of the highest risks when it comes to metal impairment. Poor birth weight may affect your child’s IQ score and achievements at school, because the baby misses out on the nourishment provided by the placenta.|
|Have some exercise||Exercise is encouraged not just for your health, but to promote your baby’s brain development and other major organs. This is credited to cortisol which is a stress hormone that is secreted during exercise. Experts recommend that you have moderate exercise for about 30 minutes every day.|
3. Pay Attention to Thyroid
Some women will develop thyroid problems for their first pregnancy and this must be treated. High and low levels of the thyroid hormone in your blood can harm the fetus. Low thyroid hormone levels have been linked to lower IQ later in childhood. Although researchers do not recommend that all pregnant women be screened for thyroid hormone, those at risk can be monitored with simple blood tests. You can keep your thyroid gland in good function by consuming 220mcg of iodine every day.
4. Establish a Better Bonding with Your Baby
Talking to your unborn child may seem and feel silly, but it does help you bond with your young one early in life. Scientists tell us that babies hear and they can respond to sound. You can therefore sing, read or simply talk to your baby. Some studies have found that babies seem to be calmer when they hear a voice they’ve already heard in the womb.