This morning, right as I sat down for breakfast, I realized that my plate was the perfect pregnancy meal: Organic Chicken liver, pasture-raised bacon and egg salad, sauteed garden-fresh kale, and roasted rosemary figs (picked last weekend).
Liver is one of nature's best superfoods. That term is thrown around lightly these days, but allow me to explain why it actually deserves that label. If we think about human physiology, the liver accomplishes the majority of the body's functions:
- Regulates metabolism
- protein metabolism (clears excess nitrogen)
- carbohydrate metabolism (such as glycolysis and gluconeogenesis)
- fat metabolism (produces and recycles lipoproteins; converts excess sugar into triglycerides for storage)
- Stores, activates, and transports all fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K), zinc, copper, magnesium, B12, and iron.
- Detoxification (removes and eliminates toxic substances)
- MUCH MUCH MORE
When we think about what role the liver plays in the body, then we can understand why it's such an essential nutrient source. Liver is arguably the most nutrient-dense food that exists in the human diet. It's the best source of bioavailable Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Folate, Choline and Iron (all important nutrients for fetal development!), which is why I always call it nature's multivitamin. In addition to that, it provides other fat soluble vitamins and zinc in smaller amounts.
Making babies is a physically demanding task. Mama needs to have consistent intake of many nutrients to ensure having a healthy fetus. Some of these most important nutrients include:
- Iron: Building blood!
- Zinc: essential for gene transcription (how many times does baby's genes need to be read for making new cells? LOTS!)
- Folate: ensuring healthy neural tube development and energy production!
- Vitamin B12: ensuring healthy energy metabolism!
- Vitamin A: healthy skin, immune function, and vision!
- Calcium, Vitamin D and K: building bones!
- Cholesterol: producing hormones!
- Choline: brain and neural tube development
So many more nutrients are needed for fetal development and even the ones I listed have more functions, but it can be tedious to name them all. What really matters to you is what foods you can get them in! Shellfish is another source of pregnancy supporting minerals, especially zinc and calcium!
If we pick apart my plate I had for breakfast we can see that it includes many of the necessary pregnancy nutrients:
Liver: Iron, B12, vitamin A, iron, choline, cholesterol, folate, essential amino acids
Eggs: Choline, vitamin D, cholesterol, vitamin A, iron, essential amino acids
Kale: folate, beta carotene (precursor to vitamin A), calcium
Sugar-free Bacon: cholesterol, essential amino acids
Figs: not a significant source of nutrients, but acts as an aphrodisiac
Olive oil and bacon fat: healthy fats (monounsaturated and saturated)
Currently, my husband and I are not actively trying to get pregnant but I want to make sure I'm nutritionally replete for when the time comes! Are you considering starting a family soon and want to be nutritionally ready too? Knowing what nutrients to have is essential, but I can help you identify foods, recipes, and individual nutrient analysis that may be unique to you.