The Best Food for a Postpartum Mum
I didn’t act smart during the 2 months after giving birth; I didn’t prioritise my nutrition, rest and mental sanity. This is why I’m here reinforcing the message of how important they are.
12 hours after giving birth, I went to town with black teas, chocolate cake (it was my husband ‘s birthday, so….) and lots and lots of raw salad and barely cooked eggs. And heaps of coffee. I wanted to enjoy all the things I couldn’t touch during my pregnancy.
Did it serve me? Not at all.
It took me the longest time to heal, I had problems sleeping, and I couldn’t rely on my energy level because of its unpredictability as it went from 100 to crushing in the shortest amount of time.
That’s when I put my nutritionist hat on and I started focusing on nourishment instead of momentarily pleasure.
During the postpartum period, a mother needs easy to digest, nutrient-rich, warm meals to recover and to regain vitality, and she needs to look for:
- Foods that contain calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus to strengthen her bones, as whenever these nutrients aren’t part of the normal diet, these minerals are leached to support the baby and the production of milk, and it can lead to osteopenia or even osteoporosis down the line.
- Nutrients that support the immune system and the replenishment and differentiation of the gut microbiome.
- Meals that calm the stomach and decrease fatigue.
- Foods that assist healing (be on the hunt for glycine, proline, and Zinc).
- Something, something that can alleviate the “mommy’s brain” and that can improve sleep, brain function, and mood.
Bone broth has been described as the golden drink; it has been claimed that it can “cure” everything, from leaky gut (aka intestinal permeability) to road rage.
Although I’m a vegetarian, I can say that bone broth is the quintessential meal when it comes down to speedy recovery and constant energy, as it contains 17 amino acid, collagen, and gelatin.
Although the hype of drinking bone broth on a regular basis is quite recent, bone broth and chicken broth were made by our ancestors from the beginning of time.
The fact is that that when an animal was hunted, they would eat every single part of it, but unfortunately, some parts were too hard to chew. This is when the caveman quickly discovered that heat would break down tough animal bones and draw out nutrients.
Until years ago every single household had a pot of broth constantly simmering on the stove, but this tradition has been lost in favour of modern convenience and the necessity to have everything ready and fast.
But why Is Bone broth so beneficial?
The liquid gold contains a high amount of the amino acids Glutamine, which is critical for the correct functioning of our immune system. L-glutamine is normally produced by our body but there are times when the needs are higher than its production, and we need to up its intake through an appropriate diet. Many foods such as egg and soy contain Glutamine, but I find that bone broth is the easiest way to introduce it thanks to its versatility (Hall et al. 1996).
Why do we need Glutamine?
It’s valuable to improve intestinal health, and it prevents intestinal permeability, which can lead to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s (Deamling 2009).
It strengthens the immune system as its function can be impaired by the lack of sufficient Glutamine, and it is also a fuel source for immune cells (including white blood cells and intestinal cells) (Deamling 2009).
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology found that L-glutamine normalizes the effects of the TH2 immune response that stimulates inflammatory cytokines. The effects of L-glutamine in these studies show that it reduces intestinal inflammation and can help people recover from food sensitivities (Chang, Yang and Shaio 1999).
It’s an important source of energy.
A study conducted at the New York University School of Medicine showed that Glutamine can also help stall brain aging (Soomro et al. 2018).
Bone is also full of a variety of minerals, including:
• Zinc (Sarco 2005)
Always go for organic grass fed bone broth cooked for at least 24 hours (unless there is a Histamine intolerance at play) and enjoy it on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean you have to swap your latte in the morning for a gingery cup of broth (unless you are super hardcore and want to give it a go), as you can add it whenever you cook a risotto or noodles, when you stirfry your veggies and make an omelet, or even in the pancakes batter or in your smoothie. Be creative as you can, and don’t shy off from sharing your personal recipes.
If you don’t want your house to smell like meat 24 hours a day, and if you simply can’t spend time in the kitchen, you can buy it online or from the health food shops, or in a super convenient concentrated form. Always watch out for the region where it’s coming from, how the cows were raised (organic, grass-fed) and for the cooking length(24–48 hours).
Chang, Yang and Shaio 1999, Effect of Glutamine on Th1 and Th2 Cytokine Responses of Human Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells, DOI: 10.1006/clim.1999.4788
Demling RH. Nutrition, anabolism, and the wound healing process: an overview. Eplasty. 9:e9. Epub 2009 Feb 3. PubMed PMID: 19274069; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2642618.
Hall et al. 1996, Glutamine, viewed May 2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8665180
Sarco, J 2005, Bone and mineral metabolism, viewed May 2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15982542
Soomro et al. 2018, Glutamine metabolism via glutaminase 1 in autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease, viewed June 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29420817