What's the Best Prenatal Nutrition?

The best nutritional program available to you during pregnancy today was developed by Dr. Tom Brewer who was an Obstetrician (OB) wanting to know how to best feed the pregnant body. He did his research and put together a nutritional program that many care givers and mothers refer to simply as “the Brewer Diet”. Unfortunately, most OBs either don’t know about this nutritional program or don’t agree with it. Learning about this nutritional program, gives you the opportunity to avoid pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH), pre-eclampsia (PE), eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), placenta abruption, premature contractions, dysfunctional birth process, low birth weight, postpartum hemorrhage, and most milk supply issues that impact breastfeeding. These are all conditions that might be avoided by eating a well-balanced diet made up of whole food sources from as early in your pregnancy as possible.

This nutritional program was based on at least 60 years of research and scientific evidence that was available when Dr. Brewer was in medical school in the 1940’s as he learned about this perspective of prenatal nutrition in his classes and textbooks. Since the 1940s, there is more scientific evidence to back up this program. The secret combination of the Brewer Diet are: Protein (no less than 80 grams), Salt, and calories (nothing less than 2300….the more you eat the better off you and your baby will be). These three – protein, salt and calories – MUST be in the right proportion for YOUR body or you will begin to see and experience “pregnancy induced” illnesses, such as pre-eclampsia and hypertension. Protein, salt and calories are required for proper blood volume expansion which must occur over the course of your pregnancy. If this blood volume expansion does not occur, both you and your baby are at risk.

Pregnancy is not the time to be “watching” what you eat. Counting calories is never a good idea and Dr Brewer didn’t like putting a caloric number to this nutritional plan because he knew that it might lead to some women restricting their calories in order to stay “on target” thereby placing both themselves and their babies at risk. No pregnant women – even women who start their pregnancy “overweight” – should restrict their calories in any way. If you are not eating 2300 calories than you must find a way to get there. Many women will feel their best consuming more than 2300 calories and this is what you want to use as a gauge – how well do you feel? If you’re feeling tired than something is off. You’re either not eating enough protein, calories or your not taking in enough salt.

The calories for The Brewer Diet are made up of the following:

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  • Milk, Milk products, and Milk substitutes: 4 servings daily. If using a milk substitute: calcium replacement 2 servings per serving of milk substitute     
  • Eggs: two daily      
  • Meats, Seafood, Meat substitutes: 6 to 8 1-ounce servings daily (animal or vegetable – you decide) Eat between 80 and 120 grams of high-quality protein daily (IMPORTANT NOTE: We have learned that soy is not a high-quality source of protein and should be avoided unless you are blood type A….even then, it should be fermented first. Read more here and here and then do your own research.)     
  • Fresh Dark Green Vegetables: 2 servings      
  • Vitamin C Foods: 2 servings      
  • WHOLE Grains, starchy vegetables and fruits: 5 servings (think rice, oatmeal, etc – NOT bread, crackers, etc)      
  • Fats & Oils: 3 – 5 servings daily (include Omega-3)     
  • Vitamin A Source: yellow or orange fruits and vegetables: 1 serving      
  • Liver: 1 serving weekly (Not a fan of liver? Eat more protein than originally stated to make up for the lack of liver.)     
  • Drink water to thirst – do not force fluids      
  • Salt food to taste – unlimited (plays a role in the necessary blood volume expansion) (See below for more information on how to use salt properly.)     
  • Snacks and additional menu choices – unlimited     
  • Optional Supplements – only as needed
There is information for you to use if you are choosing to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Please go to www.DrBrewerPregnancyDiet.com to learn more.  

It is our opinion that you should not go longer than 2 hours between meals during pregnancy and you can feel good about grazing all day long – as long as your grazing is done on highly nutritious foods. What you eat DOES matter because it will either help or hinder the growth and development of your baby, placenta and uterus AND play a large role in the necessary expansion of your blood volume that is required in order to support two lives. Highly nutritious foods will provide your body with what it needs for a healthy blood volume expansion while adding few fat stores to your body BUT foods that contain little to no nutritional value will add a lot of fat stores to your body and little expansion of your blood volume.  

You might like to have a way to track how you’re doing everyday. I don’t normally recommend tracking what you eat but when it comes to growing a baby, placenta and uterus, doing so can be beneficial. SHARE your name and email address below and then CLICK the button to download the Brewer Pregnancy Diet tracker I use with my clients.

Salt in Pregnancy

Salt is an important part of The Brewer Diet. Proper intake of salt aids with the necessary 60% increase in blood volume that must occur in order for both you and your baby to experience a safe pregnancy and birth. This isn’t just about salting your food to taste. This is about fully understanding what salt does for the body and which salt to use.

The Brewer Diet does not indicate what type of salt to use. In recent years we’ve learned a lot about salt and which salt is good for the body and which salt isn’t. Sea salt is the best source of minerals. In fact, it contains over 80 minerals in the exact ratio needed by the human body. Because of this balanced ratio of every single mineral needed by your body, sea salt balances the body so there’s no need to be concerned about salt increasing your blood pressure. A good book to read to learn more about how the body uses sea salt is Salt Your Way to Health by Dr. Mark Brownstein. You can go here to watch a webinar to learn more about how to properly use salt. You can learn more about salt and pregnancy here.

Proper Hydration

Nutrition during pregnancy is only part of the bigger picture, which is why we can’t just focus on the Brewer Diet. Proper hydration, and restful sleep also play a role in a strong and healthy pregnancy. In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll explain what proper hydration looks like, and how balanced nutrition and proper hydration lead to restful sleep.

Proper hydration isn’t just about drinking more water. If we don’t do it right, that water will just go through the body without being properly used. You see our water purification methods all remove important minerals from the water. These minerals provide the body with vital nutrients required for optimal health. Proper hydration includes putting minerals back into your routine and this is easily done by using sea salt.

A great way for you to get the amount of salt your body needs for blood volume expansion AND the water it needs for proper hydration is to dissolve an 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt on your tongue before drinking 16 ounces or 10% of your body weight in ounces of water, whichever is greater. During pregnancy, Dr Brewer is concerned about water being used as a way of restricting calories. For this reason, he placed “drink water to thirst” as part of the Brewer Diet and prefers for you to take in other fluids instead of water. This was to help ensure that you receive the necessary calories, protein AND salt your body needs for proper blood volume expansion. The problem with his thinking is that water is also required for the necessary cell formation that makes the required blood volume expansion happen.

Proper hydration is important during pregnancy because dehydration can lead to pre-term labor just as salt lack can lead to pre-term labor. Combining the two allows you to “kill two birds with one stone” and will help to keep you properly hydrated. Because you’ve gone through most of the night without food or drink, it may be a good idea to start your day by dissolving an 1/8 teaspoon sea salt on your tongue and then drinking 16 ounces or 10% of your body weight in ounces of water, whichever is greater before enjoying a good protein rich breakfast. Each time you want a drink of water or any other type of fluid, dissolve an 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt on your tongue first.

Despite what you might have been told, it is not okay to use water as a way to control your hunger. As a matter of fact, that’s not how the body works. If you’re truly hungry, drinking water isn’t going to change that. With that said, food is the fuel your body uses to run all of its processes and to give you the energy you need to enjoy the day from start to finish. You are expanding your blood volume, which takes calories, salt, protein AND water. If you are having a hard time being okay with the amount of food that you are to eat daily, connect with me. Calorie restriction is bad for the body when you’re not pregnant and it’s even worse for the body when you are pregnant.

Restful Sleep

The glorious thing about good nutrition and proper hydration is that they lead you directly into restful sleep. When your body has the minerals it needs to function properly it easily enters a restful sleep. Night time leg cramps become a thing of the past and you experience restful sleep that leads you to feeling fully awake and ready for the day ahead. I won’t tell you that you’ll never again experience a restless night as this just might be part of the natural process as the body prepares for the schedule of a new little one but it certainly is nice to experience more restful nights than you may be experiencing now.

If you’re currently using a magnesium supplement to help you relax and get to sleep, you’re providing your body with only one mineral that it needs. Using sea salt will provide your body with the 80+ minerals it needs for optimal health. Dissolving the sea salt on your tongue before drinking any type of fluid will also help with any headaches that you may experience during your pregnancy and these headaches can be from your body struggling to increase your blood volume due to a lack in salt, protein and calories. Dissolving the sea salt on your tongue puts these vital minerals directly into your bloodstream. So don’t think you can cheat by adding sea salt to your fluids first. This will only prolong the length of time it takes for those minerals to enter your bloodstream.