Paleo /Chinese Medicine Foods for Pregnancy

Women often email me, asking a range of questions on the general topic of Paleo and pregnancy.  Is it safe?  Will the baby get all nutrients he or she needs?  Will I?   Is it ok to follow while breastfeeding?

The answer to all of the above is yes.

Did you know, though, that there are certain Paleo friendly foods that also happen to be recommended by some experts in Chinese Medicine that  are thought to help with conception?  I will state up front that at the same time, Chinese Medicine also recommends some foods that are not Paleo, just for the record, but let’s focus on which the two both recommend.  Interesting to note that all the foods to avoid are also those to avoid on Paleo!   

In particular, I find it interesting to note the reference of bread and dairy being mucous forming.  

It is believed that the origins of Traditional Chinese Medicine goes back more than 5,000 years and even then it was known, according to this theory that these two ‘foods’ were to be avoided.    

Western Medicine has been around for roughly 250 years.   The latter tells us we need these mucous forming foods.  The latter helps establish guidelines for the USDA and the latter gets kick backs from big pharma.   The latter would go out of business if we were healthy, generally speaking.   Not that there isn’t a time and place for modern day medicine, but you get the gist!

Below is an overview, from an article in the Examiner

  • Phlegm-Damp foods are mucous forming foods stemming from poor eating habits or poor digestive function. These foods impede smooth flow of Qi or energy and should especially be avoided if one has a history of ovarian cysts. Avoiding these foods are important. Here are examples of foods that fall into this category: fatty foods, dairy products, sweets (especially ice cream) bread and fried foods. 
  • Jing is the Chinese word for essence also known as our genetic makeup. A person’s jing is established once the egg and the sperm meet. People who are constantly ill or who have high levels of stress have lowered jing. Examples of foods that replenish the jing are: royal jelly, seeds and nuts, eggs (birds, fish), oysters, seaweed, artichoke, nettles and avocados. Foods to avoid are alcohol, and the mucous forming foods listed above.
  • Yin foods nourish the internal and moistening aspects of the body. An example of this would be cervical mucous, which helps the sperm to reach the egg. During the menstrual cycle the follicular phase is considered to be the yin phase. Foods that help to nourish yin are:  fish, almond milk, asparagus, dark fruits, duck and pork. Foods that should be avoided are stimulating drinks and foods, coffee, spicy food, and avoid soy unless it is fermented. Additionally, chronic dieting and recreational drugs diminish yin.
  • Yang foods are nutrient and calorie rich foods that provide our body with energy. During the menstrual cycle the luteal phase, which is after ovulation, is considered to be the yang phase. If someone is yang deficient they typically lack sexual desire, have lower sperm count, impotence, etc. Two food groups that are good at increasing energy are proteins, carbohydrates and foods warmer in nature. One must be careful to not over eat warming foods to the point of sweating which actually decreases yang. Other foods that impede the yang are icy cold food and beverages, and raw cold foods.
  • Qi-Foods  nourish Qi ensures proper circulation and in return nourishes the blood. Proper flow of Qi is important as to avoid obstacles such as sinking Qi, which can lead to miscarriages. Foods that promote Qi circulation are root vegetables, arugula, watercress, onions, garlic, chives, and green tea. Foods you should avoid are the mucous forming foods as mentioned above.
  • Blood foods help to build and nourish the blood. This is especially important to women because of the loss of blood that occurs during the menstrual cycle. If your menses contains clots or is darker in color, eating blood foods will be beneficial. Examples of these foods are organic meats and poultry, stocks of soup from bones, carrots, mushrooms and yams. Foods that should be avoided are sour or astringent in nature.

In addition, some say that eating foods which mimic the shape and color of our female organs, such as eggplants and tomato and the like are also beneficial.  As long as you aren’t following auto immune Paleo, there’s no harm!