Nutrition


The Five Stages of Pregnancy, Part II
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Nutrition
Written by Dr. Howard F. Loomis, D.C.   
Saturday, 03 April 2004 16:15

pregnantbellyIn this, the second of a three-part series of articles, Dr. Howard Loomis discusses the five stages of pregnancy and their special nutritional requirements.  In the January/February issue of TAC, he focused on the first stage—conception.  This issue, he focuses on stages two, three, and four—the pregnancy itself.

Stage Two: First Trimester

Proper nutritional planning should be part of essential care before, during, and after pregnancy.  Fatty acids are the precursors of prostaglandins and control the ability to impregnate, conceive, prevent spontaneous abortion, induce labor appropriately, and commence lactation. 

Objective tests are routinely performed to determine specific nutritional needs of a mother-to-be.  The nutritional status of the woman prior to conception must be known in order to determine her nutritional requirements for pregnancy.  Physicians often use general nutritional guidelines that are based on national averages to make nutritional recommendations for pregnant women.  The farther from average the expectant mother is, the more inappropriate those recommendations tend to be.

As a healthcare practitioner, you can have a tremendous impact on the health of expectant parents and their children.  Begin with the standard nutritional recommendations and modify them to meet the needs of each individual.  Remember, it is not only the components of the diet that count, it is what the patient can digest and assimilate that is important.

Calories and Weight Gain

A pregnant woman does not have to eat for two.  Ideally, the diet should be adequate enough to nourish the fetus without extensive modification.  Certainly there must be slight increases in calories, and especially in protein.  On average, caloric intake should be increased by 300 calories per day.  Ideally, an average healthy woman should gain 22 to 29 pounds during pregnancy.  It is imperative to pay special attention to protein and fat digestion, an area of weakness in most women.

In the first trimester, the pregnant woman may not gain weight; especially if she is suffering from morning sickness.  The mother-to-be commonly begins to gain weight during the third month and the most weight is gained between the fifth and seventh months.  Care should be used to ensure that weekly weight gain does not exceed 2.2 pounds.

Nutritional Requirements

Many of the hormonal and pregnancy problems encountered during the first months may be related to protein deficiency.  Protein requirements increase only slightly during this period, yet protein digestion and assimilation may be the key to many of the problems encountered.  Various nutrition textbooks recommend to increase daily protein intake to 70-100 grams.  This represents a large increase for most women, especially if they already have sluggish biliary function accompanied by low levels of stomach acid.  Adequate protein digestion depends on the presence of stomach acid needed to activate the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin in the stomach.  Unless enough stomach acid enters the duodenum, its rate of flow is reduced and bile thickens.

Iron supplementation should be increased from 30 to 38-40 mg per day.  It is usually recommended that vitamin C also be taken to aid iron absorption.  An adequate amount of acid must be present to ionize the iron in the stomach.  This is essential for absorption.  Protein is essential for iron absorption and transportation, even after iron is ionized.
Calcium intake needs to be increased to at least 1000 mg per day.  This is important for calcification of the baby’s bones and teeth and to protect the mother from calcium depletion.  It is recommended that vitamin D be used to enhance the absorption of calcium.  Inadequate stomach acid severely reduces calcium absorption.  The unemulsified fat then binds with calcium, making it insoluble.

Symptoms Associated
with Digestion and Assimilation Problems

A certain amount of nausea or morning sickness is considered “normal” during the first three months of pregnancy.  Clinical experience has taught me that morning sickness simply indicates that the kidneys are stressed and unable to adequately cleanse the blood.  Plasma proteins are responsible for detoxifying and transporting waste.  Thus, nutritional support to the kidneys and the lymphatic system will nearly eliminate morning sickness.

Edema is also a common problem associated with pregnancy.  The usual advice is to elevate the legs and mildly reduce salt intake.  However, with improved protein digestion and assimilation, the problem will be eliminated altogether. 

Stage Three:
Second Trimester

Protein requirements increase even more during the second trimester.  Additional protein and calcium are needed to meet the rapid growth of the fetus; the enlargement of the uterus, mammary glands, and placenta; and the increase in maternal blood volume.  Even though the demand increases, do not expect the ability to digest protein to improve.  Most females do not tolerate large increases in dietary protein.

I have already mentioned that calcium and vitamin D intake must be increased because they are both dependent on protein/fat assimilation.  Poor digestion accounts for the old wives’ tale that a woman loses a tooth for every baby she has. 

The second trimester becomes challenging when the excitement of becoming pregnant has waned, and everyone is now awaiting the baby’s arrival.  The only real excitement comes with the baby’s first kick.  The mother-to-be begins to lose her figure as she gains weight and has a difficult time fitting into her clothes.  Hormonal changes surface and are accompanied by the inevitable “emotional roller coaster.”

The Hormonal System

The anterior pituitary gland directs the endocrine system and enlarges at least 50 percent during pregnancy.  This allows it to increase its production of hormones that stimulate the adrenal and thyroid glands.

Improved nutritional support of the adrenal glands is crucial during pregnancy.  In addition to its many hormonal responsibilities before pregnancy, the adrenals must now produce an androgenic steroid that is carried to the placenta and converted to estrogen and progesterone.  It is imperative that this process be in place by the 12th week to replace the role of human chorionic gonadotrophin. 

These hormones prevent spontaneous abortion, loosen the ligaments of the sacroiliac pubis, and prepare breast tissue for lactation.
Adrenocortical secretion is moderately increased throughout pregnancy.  It helps mobilize amino acids from the woman’s tissues to be used for synthesis of tissues in the fetus, an obvious need for improved protein ingestion, digestion, and assimilation.  A deficiency here probably accounts for another old wives’ tale that the mother loses two years of her life for every child.

Aldosterone secretion is increased three-fold.  This causes the retention of excessive amounts of sodium and water, often leading to hypertension.  Aldosterone monitors water volume in the extracellular fluids.  Because protein also holds water, aldosterone secretion can be reduced significantly with improved protein digestion, thus preventing the occurrence of hypertension.

Secretions by the Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland enlarges about 50 percent during pregnancy and increases the secretion of thyroxine by approximately the same amount.  The placenta and the pituitary both secrete thyroid-stimulating hormones.  You may recall that the thyroid requires iodine (transported by fatty acids) and protein to produce thyroxine.  The use of caffeine and white sugar greatly increases the need for additional thyroxine—a need the mother-to-be can hardly meet.

Secretion by the Parathyroid Glands

The parathyroid glands enlarge during pregnancy, especially if the mother is calcium (protein) deficient.  This causes calcium resorption from the mother’s bones.  Parathyroid secretion is greatly increased during lactation because the newborn baby requires more calcium than it did as a fetus.

It is apparent that proper nutritional planning should be part of essential care before, during, and after pregnancy.  Unfortunately, it is also apparent that improved protein and fat ingestion and digestion are seldom part of the planning.

Stage Four: Third Trimester

Many things happen during the final twelve weeks—much of it having to do with weight of the baby and of the mother.  Most of the critical fetal formation is already finished, or at least well advanced, by the beginning of the final trimester.  The baby begins to gain weight rapidly.  The mother, on the other hand, gained most of her weight between the fifth and the seventh months.

As mentioned previously, an average healthy woman should gain only 22 to 29 pounds during pregnancy.  Care should be taken to ensure that weekly weight gain is not excessive.  Sugar cravings play a prominent role here and are related to poor fat digestion and absorption.  The women who have digestive issues prior to becoming pregnant struggle with weight during pregnancy because their already stressed system now has even greater metabolic needs to meet.  Protein and fat digestion are of paramount importance.

Edema is a common problem in the latter part of pregnancy and should be carefully monitored to rule out pregnancy-induced hypertension.  Edema is normally kept under control with adequate protein intake, digestion, and absorbtion.

Frequent urination is another problem because the enlarging uterus exerts pressure against the bladder, resulting in the urge to urinate.  It is important that fluid intake not be reduced.  However, caffeine and cola drinks should be avoided because they increase urination.

Constipation is common during pregnancy.  This may be due to hormonal changes or because the heavy uterus compresses the intestine.  However, a diet high in refined sugar and white flour is more often the cause.  Plant enzyme supplements will improve digestion of protein and fat, thereby curbing sugar cravings and making a diet of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables more tolerable.  Desserts, caffeine, cola drinks, and alcohol should be avoided.

There are several consequences of ignoring diet, digestion, and assimilation.  Severe toxicity, diagnosed medically as toxemia of pregnancy or eclampsia, is a life-threatening condition that can develop in the second half of pregnancy.  It has no known etiology, although some believe it is a result of poor nutrition.  In the early stages (preeclampsia), signs include high blood pressure, protein in the urine, and excessive edema (not always present).

While the exact etiology may not be known, it is obvious that the organs of detoxification are severely stressed.  This includes the liver, the kidneys, and the spleen—in other words, the reticuloendothelial system (macrophages).  This can result from poor dietary choices and enzyme deficiencies.  The protein-digesting enzymes are of critical importance in this area.  All nutritional planning during pregnancy should revolve around the prevention of the symptoms of preeclampsia; this requires understanding the critical role that protein, including its digestion and assimilation, plays in the creation and maintenance of life.

In the next issue of The American Chiropractor, we’ll address the postpartum nutritional requirements for both the mother and the baby, including the effect on lactation and postpartum depression.

Howard F.  Loomis, Jr., DC, president of Enzyme Formulations, Inc., has an extensive background in enzymes and enzyme formulations.  As president of 21st Century Nutrition, Inc., for fifteen years, he has forged a remarkable career as an educator, having conducted over 400 seminars to date, in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Australia, on the diagnosis and treatment of enzyme deficiency syndromes.  Call 21st Century Nutrition at 1-800-662-2630 for more information.

 
Inflammation and Diet: A growing concern
Nutrition
Written by David Seaman, D.C., M.S., D.A.B.C.N., F.A.C.C.   
Saturday, 03 April 2004 16:13

The January 1st issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) contained an editorial entitled, “From asthma to atherosclerosis–5-lipoxygenase, leukotrienes, and inflammation.”  Inflammation is something we are all aware of, and I have written about in most of my TAC articles this past year.  What about 5-lipoxygenas and leukotrienes; what are they?

Our cell membranes are made up of fat; they are made up of cholesterol and phospholipids, which are sort of like triglycerides.  There are two fatty acids in a phospholipid, and one is reserved for dietary fatty acids.  In other words, our body is programmed to place a dietary fatty acid in every cell membrane phospholipid, and we have multiple 100’s of trillions of phospholipids; so we literally “are what we eat.”

If you eat inflammatory fats, you make inflammatory cells that drive chronic pain and other chronic inflammatory diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.  The reason fatty acids can be inflammatory has to do with what the body does to them after cell injury.  The fatty acids from our diet are released from phosopholipids when cells are injured.  The most common fatty acid found in cell membranes is arachidonic acid, which we get indirectly from grains, seeds, seed oils (corn, safflower, sunflower, and soybeans), margarine, most salad dressings, and from nearly all packaged foods.  We also get arachidonic acid preformed from the animal products we eat, assuming they were fed grains.  Arachidonic acid and its precursor, linoleic acid, are both known as omega-6 fatty acids.

When arachidonic acid (AA) is released from injured cell membranes, the AA is acted upon by certain enzymes that create inflammatory eicosanoids.  If AA is acted on by cyclooxygenase, or COX2, we get prostaglandin E2, which goes on to drive inflammation and nociception.  If AA is acted on by lipoxygenase, or LOX, we get leukotrienes, which also go on to drive inflammation and nociception.  There are many leukotrienes, including leukotriene A4, B4, C4, D4, and E4, and they all have inflammatory properties.  The difference between COX and LOX is that LOX is mostly expressed in immune cells such as neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells and mast cells.
The recent editorial in NEJM focuses on lipoxygenase and leukotrienes.  Leukotrienes are involved in the promotion of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, and atherosclerosis.  These are very different diseases, yet they have a common etiology…chronic subclinical inflammation, which is driven by leukotrienes that are produced by diet-derived arachidonic acid.

As it turns out, omega-3 fatty acids, from green vegetables, flaxseeds, fish, and grass-fed beef and chickens, are anti-inflammatory.  They produce prostaglandins and leukotrienes that do not promote inflammation.  We should have a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in our diet; however, we currently tip the scales with a 20:1 or greater ratio.  This is exceedingly pro-inflammatory and likely a major cause of most chronic diseases.

What do Americans currently do to defend against the inflammatory barrage created by our 20:1 ratio?  We literally live on aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s).  The problem with these drugs is that they only act on the COX enzyme, which allows all the arachidonic acid to be potentially acted upon by LOX, which results in excessive production of leukotrienes.  A clinical example of this problem is aspirin-induced asthma.  More recently, and yet to be published, was a long term study with nurses who took aspirin or NSAID’s.  It turns out that those taking the meds had a significantly greater chance of developing pancreatic cancer.  I contacted the author who told me that this outcome was likely due because the meds blocked COX and diverted the AA to LOX, which resulted in leukotriene production.

The key to this problem is avoiding the abovementioned omega-6 foods and eating more omega-3 foods.  Taking fish and flaxseed oil supplements is also wise.  Natural inhibitors of COX and LOX include ginger, turmeric, and bioflavonoids, which can also be taken as supplements.  These are simple dietary and supplement modifications we all can make, and represent what I have longtime referred to as “a nutritional adjustment.”  Make sure to give your patients chiropractic and nutritional adjustments.

Dr. Seaman is the Clinical Chiropractic Consultant for Anabolic Laboratories, one of the first supplement manufacturers to service the chiropractic profession.  He is on the faculty of Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida and on the postgraduate faculties of several other chiropractic colleges, providing nutrition seminars that focus on the needs of the chiropractic patient.  Dr. Seaman believes that chiropractors should be thinking like chiropractors, while providing nutritional recommendations.  Doctors and patients who follow his programs report improved feelings of well-being, weight loss, dramatic increases in energy, and significant pain reduction.  Dr. Seaman can  be reached by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Syndrome X and Subluxation
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Nutrition
Written by David Seaman, D.C., M.S., D.A.B.C.N., F.A.C.C.   
Saturday, 28 February 2004 00:00

Some 40 million Americans are thought to have syndrome X,1 and there are likely to be several million who are rapidly moving in that direction.  Syndrome X is thought to be a driver of heart disease, hypertension, cancer, diabetes mellitus, obesity, depression, and other diseases.2  Syndrome X refers to an abnormal metabolic state that is characterized by insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, small dense LDL’s, decreased HDL’s, postprandial lipemia and some other changes.2 More recently, other metabolic abnormalities have been associated with syndrome X, including an increase in inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI), fibrinogen, and interleukin-6 (IL-6).3 Syndrome X

 

 

 

An increase in plasminogen activator inhibitor and fibrinogen results in an increase in fibrin deposition, which ultimately correlates to an increase in fibrous tissue deposition…certainly an enemy to joints and muscles and long thought to be associated with reduced joint motion and subluxation.  Indeed, research suggests that with certain patients, their back pain is due to excessive fibrin deposition that leads to spinal tissue fibrosis and chronic pain.4  So, it seems quite possible that syndrome X promotes joint dysfunction and back pain in certain patients.

 

 

 

Most docs and many lay people are aware of the term “glycemic index,” which generally refers to the blood sugar response to a given food.  Foods with a high glycemic index (GI), such as glucose and white bread, produce elevated levels of blood sugar, compared to foods with a low GI, such as most vegetables, meats, and most fruits.  If people eat high GI foods, the result will be an increase in blood sugar and increased levels of insulin, that is hyperinsulinemia.

 

 

 

It is thought that eating high GI foods over time will drive syndrome X.  Diets that are high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat are also thought to the drive syndrome X.  Several other nutritional factors are thought, though, to promote hyperinsulinemia, and syndrome X, including deficiencies in magnesium, chromium, biotin, potassium, and vitamin E; elevated ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids; physical inactivity; and even stress (elevated cortisol and reduced DHEA).2

 

 

 

It is reasonable to assume that any patient who has the nutritional imbalances listed above, has an increased chance of developing syndrome X.  To be sure about one’s sugar handling capability and insulin status, you can perform a glucose tolerance test.

 

 

 

Assuming a patient does not have diabetes, the treatment approach is straight-forward.  Patients must eat low GI foods.  It is best to eat five small meals per day, or three moderately sized meals and 2-3 low GI snacks.  Water is the preferred beverage.  This dietary regimen will help reduce body fat, which is a key goal in the fight against syndrome X.  It is known that fat cells release tumor necrosis factors that can block the insulin receptor, thereby promoting hyperinsulinemia and syndrome X.5

 

 

 

As several vitamins and minerals are involved in glucose handling, it also makes sense to take a multivitamin and a magnesium supplement.  Omega-3 fatty acids help to stabilize blood sugar, so a fish oil supplement is also a wise measure to consider.

 

 

 

Most people in America literally begin a dietary mission to reach the goal of syndrome X by the time they reach forty years of age.  Our dietary habits are abysmal in America, a land in which abundant health is a viable option.  In early December of 2003, ABC television aired a special show about diet in America.  Sugar foods and fast foods are the most common foods consumed in America.  In the era of “fat free” foods, Americans still managed to pack on additional pounds; the reason for this…sugar replaced the fat, in fat-free foods.

 

 

 

While many patients and doctors are not interested in preventing syndrome X, heart disease, cancer, back pain, subluxation, and the like, there are many patients who very much want to be free of their health burdens.  The approach described in this short article is very easy to follow.  If you want to motivate your kids and younger patients, let them know that acne is driven by hyperinsulinemia6, which should get their attention.

 

 

 

Dr. Seaman is the Clinical Chiropractic Consultant for Anabolic Laboratories, one of the first supplement manufacturers to service the chiropractic profession.  He is on the faculty of Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida and on the postgraduate faculties of several other chiropractic colleges, providing nutrition seminars that focus on the needs of the chiropractic patient.  Dr. Seaman believes that chiropractors should be thinking like chiropractors, while providing nutritional recommendations.  Doctors and patients who follow his programs report improved feelings of well-being, weight loss, dramatic increases in energy, and significant pain reduction.  Dr. Seaman can  be reached by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

 

  1. Isomaa B.  A major health hazard: the metabolic syndrome. Life Sci 2003;73(19):2395-411
  2. Seaman DR.  Clinical nutrition for pain, inflammation, and tissue healing.  Hendersonville (NC): NutrAnalysis; 1998: p.89-100
  3. Sakkinen PA, Wahl P, Cushman M, Lewis MR, Tracy RP.  Clustering of procoagulation, inflammation, and fibrinolysis variables with metabolic factors in insulin resistance syndrome. Am J Epidemiol 2000;152(10):897-907
  4. Jayson MI.  Chronic inflammation and fibrosis in back pain syndromes.  In Jayson M. Ed. The lumbar spine and back pain. 3rd ed. New York: Churchill Livingstone; 1987: p.411-418
  5. Grimble RF. Inflammatory status and insulin resistance. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care  2002; 5:551-559
  6. Cordain L, et al. Acne vulgaris: a disease of western civilization. Arch Dermatol 2002; 138:1584-90
 
Nutrition, For a Healthier Practice
Nutrition
Written by Robert Lupo, D.C.   
Saturday, 28 February 2004 00:00

Nutrition can be a healthy addition to your chiropractic or multidisciplinary practice and help your patients achieve greater well-being.  Nutrition is low-cost, easy to implement and can make your treatments more effective.  A happy, healthy patient will refer friends and family.

It has never been easier to test for the deficiencies or nutritional needs of your patients.  Nutrition companies have classes to teach you about using their products to help your patients.  Many have entire programs with CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Inprovement Act) waived test kits, blood work analysis, muscle testing programs or even extensive patient questionnaires designed to allow you to develop a logical approach in adding nutrition to a patient treatment program.  All of these make it very easy to use nutrition in a busy practice.  The products have been extensively researched and compiled to treat many specific disorders/diagnoses, such as formulas for degenerative joint disease, fibromyalgia, hypercholesterolemia etc.  More importantly, you can learn how to augment many patients current treatment regimens with nutrition.

We have a multidisciplinary team in my practice and see a variety of health issues on a daily basis ranging from musculoskeletal to internal medicine.  Nutrition is extremely important to the recovery of musculoskeletal patients.  Many chemical processes can be given assistance; collagen fibers need extra vitamin C; minerals such as magnesium and manganese, protein, also B-complex, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are perfect to help these patients in their recovery.  Fibromyalgia patients, as well as others with any form of Conditions - Nutritional Aidfibrous tissue, scar tissue or chronic musculoskeletal problems can benefit from systemic enzyme therapy.  And how about the many patients on some of the prescription acid blockers for digestive upsets.  A digestive enzyme could get to the root of the problem and your patient may find the problems of indigestion are over.  Homeopathic remedies are my favorite with pediatric and pregnant patients, because of the safety and effectiveness of these products.

Many times, too, we are called upon to help treat and council nutrition with diabetic patients.  Some of the many demands made on the bodies of diabetics include poor healing, sugar handling issues, early onset of artherosclerosis and cardiomyopathy complications.  These individuals need extensive nutritional help, not only with portion control and carbohydrate monitoring, but also the use of  B-complex, zinc, CoQ10 and chromium, to name just a few nutrients.  Patients who are on some form of cardiac or hypertension medication can be educated about the benefits of supplementation with Co-enzyme Q10.  This vital nutrient is depleted from the body by these life-saving medications. 

The use of nutrition in my practice developed in an eclectic manner.  Over the years we found products and brands that work well, are tolerated well by patients and are reasonable in cost.  I look for products that are sold only in physicians’ offices, so I don’t compete with the local health food stores.  We have been able to utilize many of the nutritional supplements with patients because of new testing procedures that allowed us to diagnose or detect some deficiencies.

Nutrition can be used to effectively treat or co-manage every health issue that walks in Some Great-Buys For Your Nutrition Centeryour door!  The addition of nutrients to your practice will add to the health of your patients and their families.  This will translate into greater income for your office, more regular follow up with patients and many more referrals.  It is a daily occurrence for a patient to come to my facility and ask to be evaluated and treated medically or with chiropractic, and to end up being treated nutritionally also.  The patient has a happier, healthier outcome and a real plan for wellness when they are finished with their visit.

Most patients are interested in nutrition and supplements, but need educated assistance and products they can be assured are safe.  Most health food stores don’t provide the level of help they require.  You can easily fill this need for them.  Get some education on the implementation of these nutritional products and the tests for deficiencies and nutritional indicators.  It’s simple, fun, helpful to your patients and profitable for the practice. TAC


Dr. Lupo is the president and clinic director of First Care Injury Centers for urgent care and physical medicine in Tampa, Florida.  He is a 1985 graduate from Life Chiropractic College.  He is a senior consultant for Practice Perfect, one of the nations most reputable and largest consulting firms for holistic DC/MD/PT integrated services.  He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
The Five Stages of Pregnancy Part I
Nutrition
Written by Dr. Howard F. Loomis, D.C.   
Saturday, 28 February 2004 00:00

Nutritional planning during pregnancy is pretty straightforward, isn’t it?  An extensive amount of literature has been written about the topic.  The problem is that it is broad, overwhelming, and, frankly, a bit boring.  For this reason, many of the solutions to pregnancy-related problems go untreated and often unnoticed.
This is a topic that will affect many of your adult patients.  My intent is to pull the quality information out of this quantity of knowledge and apply my personal experience to make the topic straightforward and user-friendly.

Planning Parenthood

Parents-to-be should begin the following routine three months prior to attempting to start a family:

  • Get plenty of sleep, at least seven to eight hours per night.  If more sleep is not possible, rest.
  • Drink lots of water; it is necessary to cleanse the body.
  • Exercise.  Do what you can and, at the very least, go for walks.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet.  Many people believe they are eating well and only have minor cravings from time-to-time.  The problem is that cravings signify nutritional problems.
  • Stop smoking and drinking.

Creating a healthy baby comes down to lifestyle.  How many future mothers and fathers meet the above recommendations?  Most patients believe that they eat well.  So, how do you explain to them how their vitamin and mineral deficiencies have developed? 
The average American diet is not deficient in nutrients; it may not be balanced, but it is rarely deficient.  The 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Health and Nutrition emphatically stated that the overwhelming problem in nutrition is nutrient excess rather than deficiency.  Thus, the problem must stem from nutrient assimilation, which begins with digestion and absorption.

Stage One—Conception

The comedian George Carlin has used oxymorons, such as “jumbo shrimp” and “twelve-ounce pound cake,” as a part of his stand-up act for years.  Another example of this seemingly self-contradiction is giving prenatal vitamins and minerals to a woman after she becomes pregnant.  If possible, prenatal nutrition should start several months before conception to prepare the bodies of both parents for a baby.  A nutrient deficiency in either parent will influence child development before and after birth.  If there is a pre-existing deficiency in the mother when she becomes pregnant and nutritional support (prenatal vitamins) does not arrive until roughly another month after conception, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to play catch-up.  This is because some of the most important fetal development happens within the first month.
Good prenatal nutrition is not confined to a bottle labeled “prenatal multiple vitamin and mineral supplement,” for three reasons:

  • Many prenatal vitamin and mineral products contain ingredients of the cheapest quality that can be legally sold.  Many of the supplements create a feeling of nausea in expectant mothers because they cannot properly digest or assimilate the products.
  • “Prenatal” means prior to birth, not prior to conception.  The standard prenatal recommendation is to supplement folic acid to prevent neural tube defects in the baby.  The problem is that the neural tube develops within the first three weeks of pregnancy and the mother-to-be often does not even know she is pregnant at that time.
  • More emphasis should be placed on the importance of lipid digestion and assimilation for both males and females in order to prepare for the conception and development of the fetus.  

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)

Fatty acids are the “problem” with problem pregnancies.  In this day of great technological research and advances in artificial insemination, fertility pills, and in-vitro fertilization, essential nutrients take a backseat to the latest and greatest pharmaceutical development and are even, more commonly, forgotten entirely.  So what makes the essential nutrients essential? 

The Three Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)

  1. Linoleic acid, an 18-carbon fatty acid with two double bonds, cannot be produced by the body and, therefore, must be included in the diet.  It promotes growth and heals dermatitis and can be found in vegetable and seed oils, such as safflower, sunflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed, sesame, and peanut.
  2. Arachidonic acid is a 20-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acid with four double bonds.  It is not essential because it can be converted from linoleic acid.  Arachidonic acid is found in animal fat and prevents dermatitis, but does not promote growth.  It can also be found in Omega-6 oils in red meat, dairy fat, and shellfish.
  3. Linolenic acid, the 18-carbon fatty acid with three double bonds, cannot be synthesized by humans.  It does not prevent dermatitis but does promote growth.  It can be found in oatmeal, evening primrose, borage, and black currant.

Tantamount is digestion and assimilation of the nutrients.  That’s where enzymes play a role.  If the woman cannot digest meat very well (symptoms of gas, bloating, constipation/diarrhea), she isn’t getting the benefit of the nutrients provided by it.  That’s why so many women become vegetarians (beyond religious reasons)—because they feel bad or “yucky” after eating meat.  Avoiding something doesn’t really fix the problem, though, does it?
The three essential fatty acids are precursors for prostaglandins.  This is a critical consideration because the hormone-like substances are produced and used within a tissue rather than transported to other tissues.  They affect blood pressure by stimulating the contraction of smooth muscle in blood vessels and regulating the transmission of nerve signals.  In regard to pregnancy, EFA’s promote conception, prevent spontaneous abortion, and allow the woman to initiate labor and commence lactation after delivery.
The male’s nutritional status, equally as important as the female’s during conception, is often overlooked.  Males need more EFA’s than females.  This is why nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E are often used in the treatment of prostate problems and low sperm counts.
Females have greater difficulty digesting fats and are more susceptible to biliary stasis than males.  Therefore, women with problem pregnancies should never supplement oils at mealtime. Oils coat the food and make the food very difficult to emulsify and digest.  It is better to supplement oils between meals or in a dry form whenever possible.  A low-fat diet is a  problem for a fat-deficient woman that desires pregnancy.
The solution is better digestion with plant enzymes and improved dietary habits.
Other lipid-related substances such as phospholipids and cholesterol are also essential in these cases.  Phospholipids are water-soluble.  They increase the solubility of fats and keep them in an emulsified state, an incredibly important point concerning problem pregnancies.  Lecithin, a necessary ingredient in cell walls, is the most common phospholipid.  One of the most important supplements you can recommend for women with problem pregnancies is a good source of wheat germ that is not in oil form and not defatted.
Sterols are lipid-related substances that include cholesterol and vitamin D.  Cholesterol plays an important role in the maintenance of the myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers.  It is also essential for the formation of sex hormones and bile salts—functions that must be supported during pregnancy.  Today, the tendency is to use prescription drugs such as statins that have the opposite effect.
Cholesterol is found in animal fats and is absent in vegetable fats.  Dietary restriction is useless because the body is able to synthesize cholesterol, simply producing what its homeostatic mechanisms dictate.  The problem lies in delivery of cholesterol to the target tissues.  The key to lowering high cholesterol levels is to improve protein digestion.  I predict it will not be long before this idea is mainstream.
In the next issue of The American Chiropractor, we will explore the special nutritional requirements of the mother-to-be throughout her pregnancy. TAC


Howard F.  Loomis, Jr., DC, president of Enzyme Formulations, Inc., has an extensive background in enzymes and enzyme formulations.  As president of 21st Century Nutrition, Inc., for fifteen years, he has forged a remarkable career as an educator, having conducted over 400 seminars to date, in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Australia, on the diagnosis and treatment of enzyme deficiency syndromes.  Call 21st Century Nutrition at 1-800-662-2630 for more information.

 
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