In pregnancy, usually less is more. But probiotics are a key nutrient for upping your health, as well as baby’s.
From conception to long-term health, there is an ongoing interplay between genetics and environmental factors. During pregnancy, many of baby’s immune functions are drawn from the mother’s diet. Exchange of bacteria from the mother to the baby during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding influences baby’s own intestinal flora, and a healthy start in this area may enhance baby’s overall immunity and health later on.
As a matter of fact, our highly hygienic conditions in the Western world, although they help prevent many diseases, can simultaneously be responsible for inhibiting proper maturation of the immune system and predispose a child to allergies and other immune susceptibilities.
Another pro for incorporating probiotics is that they may also interfere with the inflammatory cascade that can sometimes lead to preterm labor and delivery.
Since there’s no downside to utilizing probiotics throughout your pregnancy, I suggest either supplementing with a daily probiotic and/or regularly incorporating the following probiotic foods into your routine:
- Kefir (high in antioxidants, Bifidus bacteria, and Lactobacillus)
- Kimchi (a spicy and sour fermented cabbage with beneficial bacteria, high in beta-carotene, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, B1, and B2)
- Microalgae (ocean-based plants such as spirulina, chlorella, and blue- green algae, which are high in both Lactobacillus and Bifidus)
- Miso soup
- Yogurt (with probiotics such as Lactobacillus or Acidophilus)
Daily probiotic soup
A mainstay for easy probiotic consumption is miso soup. Miso is made from fermented rye, beans, rice, or barley. Simply adding it to hot water makes a quick, probiotic-rich soup full of Lactobacillus and bifidus bacteria.
Just scoop a heaping tablespoon of miso paste into some hot water (make sure it’s cooled a little from the boiling point to preserve all the good effects of miso). For added nutrients, you can use a homemade chicken stock as a base. As additions, you can stir in some sautéed or soaked (from dried) shitake mush- rooms (these give you an extra immune boost) and sprinkle in some dried seaweed, such as dulse flakes.
Have a side of the following pickles for an extra probiotic boost with a refreshing crunch!
Quick ginger and carrot pickles
10 carrots, cleaned but unpeeled
4 inches of ginger, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons sea salt
3 cups of room-temperature water
Cut the carrots into quarters and put them in a quart-sized mason jar. Intersperse with slices of ginger in between the carrots. Dissolve salt into room-temperature water, and pour it over carrot and ginger pieces, filling up the jar so carrots and ginger are submerged. Try to leave about an inch of room between the surface of the liquid and the top of the jar. Cover with a fine mesh cloth and secure with a rubber band. Let sit at room temperature for one to two weeks, then use as a probiotic-rich side snack to accompany any of your other meals.