Brian and Chris waited a few years to start their family. Then it took a couple of years to get pregnant, which was fine as they were not particularly in a hurry. The pregnancy was challenging for Chris, with morning sickness, borderline problems with blood pressure and blood sugar, and very swollen ankles. Their baby was a few weeks early, and low birth weight. He has been very fussy and colicky, and has had several illnesses and a few antibiotics already. He has been slow to meet all of his developmental milestones, and at 18 months is not even walking yet.
This is not an uncommon story today. The story often progresses to a child with special needs, requiring physical therapy or speech therapy. Possibly learning difficulties, and sometimes outright autism. Or behavioral problems, eczema, asthma or just miserable allergies.
Ask any grandparent, or teacher who has been teaching for 30 years, about the changes they have seen with our children. I guarantee it is not for the better. Children used to be mostly healthy, bright, happy and full of energy. Anything else was the exception. Problems have become so common that what is seen as “normal” has changed.
If you want to conceive a healthy baby in this modern era you need to be very proactive. If you even want to get pregnant at all, you need to pay attention to your health. This is true for both the man and the woman. The quality of the sperm and the egg both affect the health of the child. Then the woman’s health and nutrition during pregnancy is critically important for the developing fetus. And finally, these factors affect the growth and development of our young children.
Having a healthy child is not the most common outcome if you live the average American lifestyle. What do you need to pay attention to?
*Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition
Nutrition is very, very, very important. Nutrition provides the building blocks for everything. We need vitamins and minerals to be healthy, not just calories. Junk foods – like white bread, pasta, cookies, white sugar, sodas, crackers, chips – do not provide this nutrition. Nutrition comes from real, minimally processed foods. This includes animal products from animals eating the diet they are designed to eat, and plant foods from mineral rich soils. These are the absolutely most important foods to support fertility, a healthy pregnancy, and healthy children.
*Clean seafood, especially shellfish and fish eggs (wild, not farmed from uncontaminated waters)
*Liver and other organ meat (from grass fed animals)
*Egg yolk (from chickens eating greens and bugs)
*Raw dairy products, especially butter and cream (from grass fed animals)
*Naturally raised meats: grass fed beef, lamb, poultry, pork and wild game
*Vegetables raised on healthy, mineral rich soils
Toxins are chemicals that affect your health and that of your baby. They include many, many things. We are exposed to thousands of chemicals today that did not exist 100 years ago. They are in your home, in your work place, in the car, in personal care products, in food, in medications, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, radiation, in the air, etc. You must learn what you can and should avoid, and do it.
Exercise is what our body is designed for. Movement, walking, dancing, raking leaves, bringing in firewood, aerobics, bicycling, parking further away, taking the stairs, etc. There are many ways to get more exercise. Even 10 minutes per day can make a difference. Do whatever you can. Studies show that you get more benefit from exercise you enjoy. As with anything, do not overdo it, as extreme exercise is stressful for the body.
Manage your stress levels. When you are feeling stressed, your body releases hormones that take precedence over healing, digestion, and procreation. It is very important that you find ways to change how you interpret the situations in your life that you find stressful. It is not the situation itself that you should focus on, but your response to it. Find ways to choose love, gratitude and happiness. And get whatever help you need to manage the things that cause you to feel upset.
Sleep is very important for your health. This is when your body rests and heals the most. The most important hours to be asleep are from 10pm to 2am. This is when your endocrine system needs you to be sleeping. Plus, research shows that you need 7-10 hours of sleep every night. Do not try to skimp on sleep. It will affect your entire health, and is particularly important to keep your hormones balanced.
You will feel the benefits of these health promoting habits every day, with more energy and greater health. And you will be delighted when they help you have that healthy baby you both want so much.
To Your Vibrant Health!
Veronica Tilden, D.O.
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