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Food Choices and Lifestyle Changes to Avoid Birth Defects

If you’re even mildly considering becoming pregnant, there is a lot to think about. Not only do you need to plan for the baby’s future and deal with changes to your finances, work schedule, social life, etc., but you also need to give ample effort to ensuring the health of your unborn child. If you know how to eat right and maintain a healthy prenatal lifestyle, then you and your baby will be off to a great start. The problem is knowing what practices, foods, and nutrients are most effective in preventing birth defects.

For preventing birth defects, diet is the key. Many women take prenatal vitamins when they’re planning on becoming pregnant, but that may not always be enough. Our bodies always process nutrients the best when we can get them straight from fresh food. Although it is crucial to seek a well-balanced, healthy diet overall, there are some foods and nutrients that women of procreation age should focus specifically on.

Organic Fresh Vegetables

Eating a wide variety of fresh, unprocessed vegetables not only provides your body with important nutrients, but also reduces the levels of sugar in the body. Heightened sugar can increase your fetus’s risk of diabetes, brain defects, spina bifida, and cleft lip.

Vitamin B12

This B-vitamin is absolutely crucial to healthy neurological development. B12 is found in many animal products, such as eggs, fish, meat, cheese, and milk.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is another B complex vitamin (B9) imperative for healthy development in fetuses and embryos. Fortunately, many women of childbearing age have heard about the importance of this vitamin, but many may not realize that the body cannot get full benefits from folic acid unless it is digested in its natural state (e.g. food source). Including a variety of organic vegetables, as recommended above, is an easy way to satisfy most of your body’s folic acid needs.

Omega-3 Fats

Since fetal cells cannot yet form DHA and EPA, it is extremely important that the mother eats enough omega-3’s with DHA and EPA. DHA helps to ensure healthy retinal and cerebral cortex development, and both of these nutrients promote healthy brain development. Fish, walnuts, krill, and flaxseeds are just some of the foods that will provide you with these omega-3 fats.

Vitamin D

Although being smart in the sun is important, it is just as important to get a good dose of vitamin D naturally, and that’s by enjoying the sunshine. Of course, limit to your exposure to a reasonable amount and still use sunglasses and a hat. You can also utilize dietary sources of vitamin D or take a supplement to reduce the risk of premature birth and pregnancy complications, but sunshine is still the best source of vitamin D.

Probiotics Help Prevent Birth Defects

That’s right, those healthy bacteria in your gut not only protect your health, but your future child’s health as well. Probiotics, found in yogurt and fermented foods, can help prevent eczema, allergies, colic, and premature labor.

Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium is important not only for healthy bone formation, but also maintaining circulatory, muscular, and nervous system health.

Vitamin C

This vitamin helps to support overall healthy growth of the embryo and then fetus. Foods rich in Vitamin C include oranges, tomatoes, papaya, and more.

Final words…

Crucial development occurs in the embryo within the first few weeks of life, which means it is very important for any woman considering pregnancy in the near future to start a healthy lifestyle now (i.e. you may not even know you’re pregnant until your baby’s organs and tissues have begun to form). If you even think you may want children and want to lower the risk of any birth defects, start making the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle today.

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