5 Superfoods to Eat to Prepare for Pregnancy (and While Pregnant)
Updated: Aug 31
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Preparing the body to get pregnant is something that today’s culture largely overlooks, but is so important! When I did a search for how to prepare the body for pregnancy, the results were slim and consisted of taking prenatal vitamins and stopping drinking alcohol. These are definitely not bad tips, BUT I would argue that there is so much more to do ahead of time to make sure that your body is the healthiest it can be to grow a human being! Growing a baby is the absolute largest task we can ask our body to do. It requires a MASSIVE amount of energy and nutrients to grow a life!
The problem with prenatal vitamins:
Pregnancy requires a LOT from a woman's body in terms of minerals. After birth, the need for minerals and nutrients only increases as a new mother is likely not sleeping much and may be breastfeeding. While prenatal vitamins are always recommended by doctors, I would argue that prenatal vitamins are not enough. Taking a multivitamin does not undo the harm done by eating processed food 3 meals a day, nor does taking a vitamin ensure that your body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Sadly, there are 2 large problems with only taking a prenatal and making no other changes.
1. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Therefore, there is no outside agency holding the individual companies accountable. As a result, many of the supplements on the shelf contain fillers that are not good for the body and/or may or may not contain the nutrients they advertise.
2. Supplements are oftentimes not bioavailable, meaning, the body cannot absorb them. So even if a supplement claims that a single pill/gummy contains 50 mcg of vitamin D3, your body may not absorb but 5 mcg, if any!
It is always much better to get vitamins and minerals from whole foods. I am NOT saying, don't take a prenatal! What I am saying is to source one carefully and most importantly, to focus on food first as your source of vitamins and minerals.
Today, popular diet culture views foods like kale and spinach as superfoods. While these foods are definitely good for you, I would argue that there are many more foods with a wider nutrient profile that are bioavailable (easy for the body to absorb). Nutrients in kale for example are difficult for the body to absorb as kale is difficult to digest.
Nourishing and remineralizing your body to prepare for pregnancy is vitally important!
What does that mean though?
It means incorporating LOTS of nutrient-rich foods!
Nutrient-rich foods are organic whole foods that grow locally in your area. This includes local meats (pasture-raised), grass-fed dairy products, and organic fruits and vegetables.
My FAVORITE resource on this topic is the book Real Food For Pregnancy by Lily Nichols. Her book is a comprehensive guide to foods and excise that are best for a healthy pregnancy, birth, and postnatal period! Her book is research-based and CRAMMED-packed full of good information!
To learn more about ancestral eating, visit my posts:
There are nutrient-rich foods and then there are nutrient SUPER-foods. These foods contain a LARGE number of bioavailable vitamins and minerals.
Here are some nutrient superfoods that you should focus on for preconception:
1. Organ meats
Organ meats are the superstar of the superfoods show! All organ meats are good to incorporate, but beef liver is the most common organ to supplement with. If you can find a good farmer in your area, oftentimes, they will sell (or just give away) the organs for very cheap, as most people see them as a waste product.
Source organs from farmers who have their cows/pigs/sheep/chickens on pasture and/or feed them organic feed. For ruminant animals such as cows, grass-fed is best. Chickens are omnivores and foragers, and often time benefit from organic grains. I personally prefer to finely chop or grind organs and mix them with ground beef to disguise the taste. Other people take organs in supplement form, and still, others will freeze the organs for 14 days (to kill off any potentially harmful pathogens) and then take a small amount every day raw, like they’re swallowing a pill. Choose whatever method floats your boat!
Focusing on beef liver specifically: It provides 59.3mcg of vitamin B12, 9.8mg of copper, 6582 of vitamin A RAE, and 2.8mg of riboflavin. It is an excellent source of niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, thiamin, and manganese.
Organs are an absolute powerhouse of nutrients! All of which are much needed for pregnancy!
See my post here for 10 Meals to Sneak Beef Liver Into.
2. Bone broth
In today’s culture, we mostly eat muscle meats and neglect the rest of the animal. However, the body needs and thrives from getting the full range of amino acids that the animal contains. We only get a limited amount from muscle meats. Eating organ meats and bone broth supplies the body with a wider range of amino acids and nutrients. Pregnancy is a time when the body needs more amino acids, including more of some that are considered "non-essential". In pregnancy, they become essential, so bone broth is an excellent way to get those in!
I prefer to make my bone broth homemade as I can ensure the quality. See my post here for how to make bone broth. Oftentimes, broth, advertised as bone broth, in the grocery store is really just beef or chicken stock. They don’t cook the bones long enough to extract all the gelatin and collagen that makes bone broth so beneficial.
Gelatin and collagen are the reason why bone broth is such a superfood! Gelatin and collagen support gut health, which is directly tied to full-body health. Bone broth also contains micronutrients that are difficult to get from other food sources. These nutrients are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin K2, iron, zinc, selenium, and manganese.
See my post here for 10 Meals to Sneal Bone Broth Into!
3. Raw, grass-fed milk
Different people have different opinions on milk, but I think the benefits far outweigh any arguments against it (unless of course, you don’t tolerate dairy well, in which case, avoid it). With all things, listen to your body.
I would argue that many people have problems with milk because it’s commercially produced milk. Meaning, the cows are grain-fed, given antibiotics and hormones, and then the milk is cooked (pastured), which removes many of the beneficial nutrients. THEN, vitamins like D are added back to it….which our bodies don’t absorb as well.
Milk in its raw form, from a healthy cow, is packed full of vitamins and minerals! Think about it: it's the only thing a calf consumes for its first few weeks of life. The milk contains literally everything it needs to grow, and calves grow HUGELY in those first few weeks! Milk is an excellent source of calcium, iron, Vitamins A, D & K, phosphorus, zinc, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and omega-3 fatty acids, plus many beneficial enzymes and probiotics.
If milk upsets your stomach, consider trying raw goat's milk. Goat milk tends to be gentler and easier to digest. It's also richer in probiotics and excellent for gut health! I personally don't enjoy the taste of goat's milk, so I stick with cow milk, but to each their own! And again, with all things, listen to your body.
4. Pastured eggs
I know very few people who would argue that eggs are bad for you. Most people agree that eggs are healthy! And they are! As with all foods, the quality matters. Healthy chickens produce much healthier eggs than commercially raised chickens.
We keep chickens in our yard, let them free range all day, supplement their diet with organic feed, and kitchen scraps, and they have never received a dose of antibiotics or hormones. Our chickens produce eggs with beautiful orange yolks (indicating a high nutrient profile). Commercially raised chickens produce eggs with yellow yolks, an indication of a low-quality diet and poor nutrient profile. Source your eggs well, from a local farmer, or a trusted brand at the grocery store. OR, build a coop and raise them in your backyard!
Eggs are RICH in vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, and iodine. They also contain vitamin A and a number of other B vitamins including folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, choline, and other essential minerals and trace elements, including phosphorus. I eat a minimum of 2 eggs every day in preparation for a healthy pregnancy! I eat them at breakfast, but I also love to incorporate raw egg yolks with ice cream! See my recipe here.
5. Adrenal cocktails
Adrenal cocktails are a unique beverage that many people have not heard of. As the name suggests, it’s a mixed drink (non-alcoholic) meant to support your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are what produce the hormones in your body. Because of the lifestyles we live, we often experience a higher-than-healthy amount of stress hormones in our bodies. Stress hormones are produced in response to any and all kinds of stress! Unbalanced blood sugar, job stress, and even physical stress like a long run. Stress hormones use up the body’s mineral stores. An adrenal cocktail contains potassium, sodium, and vitamin C, all of which are vital to the function of the adrenal glands. Having healthy hormones is VITAL for pregnancy! An adrenal cocktail can be a huge help in supporting the body’s hormones.
You can buy adrenal cocktail in powder form, but you can easily make it at home!
Do your hormones need more support than an adrenal cocktail can provide?
See my post here for 6 ways to balance your hormones.
Of course, the 5 foods above are definitely not the only superfoods that can be eaten to prepare for a healthy pregnancy! They are however 5 excellent foods to focus on and incorporate as much as you can! What did you do to prepare for a healthy pregnancy? Let me know in the comments below!
AND did you get pregnant? Congrats! Me too! You may have learned that the first trimester can be BRUTAL! See my post here for Tips and Tricks for Surviving the First Trimester!