Juicing allows you to obtain the nutrients you may miss if you’re not consuming enough vegetables and fruits on a regular basis. You still need to eat a variety of healthy foods, because your body needs the vital nutrients wholesome foods provide, to keep up with your developing fetus. Balance is the key here. This is why in many of my juicing posts, you will notice that I always recommend speaking with your doctor before you begin juicing if you are pregnant. When you’re pregnant the last thing you want to do is not get enough nutrients from the foods you eat. Pregnancy takes a lot out of you, physically and emotionally. Additionally, there are some foods that fall on the “do not eat” list. Let’s explore all of this below.
Before you ever conceive, prepare your body by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. The healthier you are going into pregnancy, the better off you will be throughout the pregnancy and after you give birth. The first trimester may prove challenging because many women experience morning sickness, severe exhaustion, and increased hunger. The second trimester is typically the most enjoyable because your energy comes back, the morning sickness fades and you begin to feel the baby move. By the time the third trimester rolls around, it’s beginning to get a little cramped in there as your due date approaches, which might cause you to sleep less and feel more uncomfortable—especially in the final month.
Avoid or Not to Avoid?
There are many foods that doctors recommend pregnant women avoid. Why? Pregnancy changes your body, including your immune system, in many ways. You are more vulnerable to illnesses, even food-borne illnesses. Not only can these pathogens harm you but many of these can harm your fetus. When it comes to your unborn child, it’s always better to play it safe. I’ve put together a list of things to avoid below, as these have been known to cause health issues in pregnant women, which can adversely affect the fetus.
Alcohol – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states there is no safe quantity of alcohol for pregnant women. Alcohol is a substance that crosses the blood-brain barrier, but it can also cross through the placenta. Basically, if you’re drinking, then your baby is drinking with you. If you consume alcohol while pregnant, an entire range of disorders can affect your baby known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).
The harm caused to your baby’s development is irreversible. It’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid alcohol entirely until after the baby is born. If you plan to breastfeed, wait until you have weaned your baby to have a drink because the alcohol will end up in your breast milk. If you need help with alcohol addiction, get help by reaching out to someone in your local community or by contacting these organizations:
- National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information – 800-729-6686
- National Alcohol & Drug HopeLine – (800)-NCA-CALL (800-622-2255)
- Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator – 800-662-HELP (800-662-4357) findtreatment.samhsa.gov
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – aa.org Check your local listings for a support group near you.
You can find more information by visiting National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Undercooked or Raw Meats and Fish – This includes eggs, oysters, sushi, sashimi, and yes, even steak. If you consume undercooked meats or seafood, you are more susceptible to getting E. coli, trichinella, toxoplasma or salmonella during your pregnancy. You can still eat these foods, but ensure they are fully cooked. Yes, you can eat steak cooked to medium well, but never rare.
Avoid eating fish that contains high levels of methylmercury. These include swordfish, king mackerel, shark, trout, tuna, and tilefish. Also, if you’re going to buy deli meat, be cautious because if the meat is not handled properly, then it may be contaminated with listeria. Heat the meat up until it’s hot enough (160 degrees or until it is steaming) to kill the bacteria. It’s only nine months or so, right?
Avoid Soft, Unpasteurized Cheeses – According to the American Pregnancy Association, you should avoid cheeses such as Camembert, Brie, feta, goat, and blue-veined varieties unless the label states that it was made with pasteurized milk. Also, avoid eating Mexican varieties, including queso fresco, queso blanco, and Panela, that do not state they are pasteurized on the label. Instead, eat hard or semi-soft cheese such as cheddar, Gouda, Swiss, and mozzarella.
Caffeine – Too much caffeine, especially during the first trimester, increases your risk of miscarriage. One small cup of coffee a day will not have any adverse effects on the fetus, but it can be a good idea to kick the caffeine habit if you’re a heavy coffee drinker. We’re talking more than two cups or more than 200 milligrams a day. Once you give birth, if you have a caffeine addiction, so will your baby. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms, among others, include headache, irritability, lethargy, and depression.
Processed Foods – Not only are these products typically high in sugar, salt, and fat, but they also have additives and preservatives that increase the shelf life of the food, which means they aren’t healthy for you or your baby.
Anything Greasy or Fried – If you already have morning sickness, greasy foods are almost guaranteed to make it worse. Plus, the calories and lack of nutrition will not benefit you or your baby. Opt for saltine crackers or make your own homemade candied ginger to ward off nausea.
Juicing During Pregnancy
It’s recommended that pregnant women skip the fresh juice provided at juice bars, restaurants, and other places that sell freshly squeezed juice because the juice is unpasteurized. Plus, sometimes the cleaning procedures are not properly followed. If the fruit is not properly washed, then it is possible to become sick from bacteria like salmonella or E. coli. Store bought juices are “safe,” but they do not contain the nutrients and enzymes your body needs. However, with proper handling, juicing during your pregnancy can be done safely from home.
Types of Juicing
A juice fast consists of replacing your meals with freshly extracted juice. You should never engage in a juice fast while pregnant because you will be unable to obtain all of the necessary nutrients your body and fetus need if all you consume is juice. A juice feast is when you supplement your regular diet with fresh juice. This is the perfect type of juicing for packing in extra antioxidants, vitamins, and enzymes.
- Choose organically grown produce as often as possible to reduce your exposure to pesticides. Prioritize by referring to the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen” lists when shopping at the store.
- Wash your produce thoroughly in a wash, even if you purchase organic.
- Juice frequently. When you’re pregnant, you can always use an extra boost of nutrition throughout the day.
- If juicing with a slow (masticating) juicer, then store your freshly pressed juice in a glass, container with an airtight lid. Store it for no longer than 72 hours. When using a fast (centrifugal) juicer, it is best to drink your juice right away. You can store it but for no longer than 24 hours, sometimes less depending on the produce.
- Drink your juice on an empty stomach, before eating.
What to Juice
Juice a variety of colored vegetables, but with smaller portions of fruit to make the juice more palatable, especially if you are new to juicing. Carrots and cucumbers help to mask stronger flavored greens as well. Something acidic/sour, like a lemon or green apple, will give greens a nice balanced flavor. Include the following in your list of fresh produce for juicing.
- Fresh ginger root will make it slightly spicy while helping to control nausea. Ginger contains several antioxidants that also effectively treat colds, sore throats, increases blood circulation and reduces cholesterol. It’s also a good source of vitamin C and iron.
- Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E. They make an excellent snack when eaten whole. To break down the tough cellular walls and reap the benefits of its antioxidant properties, add a couple of these to your juicing recipes.
- Cucumbers serve as a diuretic and prevent swelling.
- Peppers provide vitamin C, vitamin, E and several carotenoids. Red peppers contain the highest level of nutrients when compared to orange and yellow. Green are the unripe version of red peppers.
- Beetroot contains the powerful antioxidant betacyanin, along with loads of vitamin C, fiber, glutamine, and beta-carotene. It improves energy levels while reducing blood pressure and acts as an inflammatory.
- Kale contains folate, along with other vital nutrients like vitamins K, A and C. Kale plays an important role in preventing birth defects like spina bifida.
- Spinach has high levels of iron and folate, along with vitamins A, C, E and many others essential for a healthy diet. It promotes bone health, is low in calories, and is also anti-inflammatory.
- High in vitamins and antioxidants, tomatoes boost energy levels, digestive functioning and the formation of new red blood cells.
- Apples, although sweet and should be used sparingly, contain high levels vitamin C.
- Oranges contain high levels of folate and vitamin C, along with calcium, thiamin, and vitamin A. Juice these sparingly because the sugar content is high.
Don’t forget to include the following items in your diet (juicing, smoothies, or eat whole):
- Sweet Potato
- Oatmeal (rolled or steel cut)
- Nuts (like almonds)