Providing adequate nutrition and hydration during pregnancy can be daunting. This guide to juicing will make it easy and fun for you to stay healthy during pregnancy!
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Getting essential nutrition to yourself and your baby is vital during pregnancy. We should all strive to eat a healthy, balanced diet regularly, but when you’re an expecting mother and eating for two (or more) it can be difficult to get all the necessary nutrients that you and your baby need, particularly if you’re struggling to keep anything in your stomach.
The daily nutritional requirements for pregnant women include:
- 3 (3-ounce) servings of protein
- 3 – 4 servings of dairy
- 2 – 3 (1 fistful each) servings of leafy greens
- 6 – 11 (1-ounce) servings of whole grains
- 3 – 5 (1 piece) servings of fruit
- 5 (1 cup) servings of vegetables
The recommendation is to eat six small meals, three main courses and three snacks, as well as drink twelve to thirteen 8-ounce glasses of water per day. This is a tall order, and one that can be simplified by juicing. Juicing is a fun, natural way to supplement your daily vitamin and mineral intake, and can lessen the stress of worrying about whether you’re giving enough nutrients to yourself and your developing baby during this exciting new time in your life.
What About Prenatals?
In an ideal world every woman should take a complex, raw prenatal and a mercury-free fish oil pill for 3 months before trying to conceive a child. Vitamins like folate, calcium, and omega 3’s go a long way towards protecting your developing child from a variety of birth defects as well as spinal and developmental challenges. The embryo needs protection from the moment of conception. Folic acid makes such a difference early in your baby’s development that the FDA actually recommends that any women who are sexually active should incorporate at least 400 mcg folic acid into their daily diet to protect your baby should you conceive unexpectedly.
If you were unaware that you conceived a child, the best thing you can do for your baby is to begin taking a raw prenatal (my favorite is Vitamin Code) and a fish oil pill that is free of contaminants as soon as you are able. In fact, go the extra mile and choose a brand of fish oil that is harvested from wild Alaskan Pollock, a fish naturally high in oils and rated as one of the lowest in environmental contaminates, like mercury, which can harm your unborn child.
A good prenatal is important and will definitely supplement your nutritional needs. However, in terms of offering all the nutrition that pregnant women require even the best prenatal will be lacking. You can only fit so much into one vitamin (or three – the common daily dose of any prenatal). To receive the recommended amounts of calcium, zinc, iron, and yes even folate, you will have to look outside your prenatal. One option is to take other supplements like calcium and iron pills. These often lead to excessive constipation (already a common pregnancy symptom) and absorb extra liquid, which means you need to drink even more water.
Or you could juice and get those vitamins, minerals and extra hydration in a natural, healthy way. Juicing can help bridge the nutritional gaps in your diet and will support all levels of pregnancy health in a way that is easier on a woman’s body.
How Do I Juice?
Juicing is easy and fun to do! From prep to clean up the entire process should take less than 10 minutes. Depending on what fruits and vegetables you decide to mix, you can enjoy the benefits of having clear, firm skin, gaining control over your pregnancy symptoms, reducing the likelihood of stretch marks and muscle pains and improving your digestion. The best part is that you’ll know that you’re giving the best nutrition to both you and your baby.
1.) Start by selecting a variety of organic fruits and vegetables. Spray produce with vegetable wash and scrub under cold water. Remove damaged pieces and cut into manageable amounts for your brand of juicer. Refer to your manual if you don’t know how large the pieces should be.
If you choose organic there’s no need to peel your veggies before juicing. You can get many extra vitamins, trace minerals and phytonutrients by leaving the peels intact. Follow your fruits and vegetables with herbs and citrus (ginger, lemon, lime).
2.) Don’t forget to dilute your juice! Fresh juice can be intense for your body. A good rule of thumb is to add 2 oz water per 8 oz glass of juice. You can also incorporate water-rich fruits and veggies (watermelon, cucumber) into your mix.
3.) Drink juice blends right away for best results (with the exception of beetroot which should rest for 1-2 hours before consuming). To juice effectively, drink 8 oz of fresh juice 2-3 times a day, an hour or so before meals. Be flexible. If you work all day, throw pre-made juice into a thermos to drink while you’re at work.
Choose the Right Juicer
Buying quality organic produce to create juice blends is almost as important as choosing the appropriate machine to juice those veggies and fruits, since this will directly affect the amount of nutrition that you and your developing baby receive from the original plants.
Let’s start out with what NOT to buy. Ladies, do not buy a centrifugal juicer. Please. A centrifugal juicer works by spinning pulp and chopped up produce around its chamber using centrifugal force, which separates the pulp from the juice. What’s the problem?
- Centrifugal juicers spin your fruits and veggies at very high speeds, which create a lot of heat and DESTROY the nutritional content of the juice you’re consuming through oxidation. You might as well burn your produce, because by the time you consume that juice there will be very little, if any vitamins, nutrients and minerals left for you and your baby.
- Furthermore, the process of oxidation will fill your juice with cell-destroying oxides and free radicals which attack your cells and contribute to cell degeneration, early aging and certainly don’t create a healthy environment for your baby-to-be to develop.
- The chopping motion of centrifugal juicers does not penetrate the fruit deeply enough to extract many nutrients from your produce to begin with. Most of what you “juice” with these machines will be unfortified water.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, what juicer should you use? Get a gear juicer. Gear juicers – or masticating juicers – come in two forms: single gear or twin gear. I prefer the single gear variety because they’re:
- Less expensive.
- Extract juice and nutrients more efficiently from my produce.
- Are much easier to clean and feed produce into that their twin-gear counterparts.
Gear juicers work on low, slow speeds. The gear will grind and squeeze produce against a fine steel screen which tears the cell membranes inside the produce to extract enzymes, trace and macrominerals. Gear juicers will also release more phytochemicals into your juice blends than centrifugal systems.
My personal favorite brand of juicer on the market today is the Samson 6 in 1 single gear juicer, because it’s easy to clean (so simple), easy to use and the grinding action of the gears extract the most nutrients possible from my produce – which is why I juice in the first place. It’s truly a fantastic little machine.
Click here to juice like a pro: Samson 6 in 1 Juicer
What Foods To Juice
Beetroot & Greens:
The antioxidant power-punch found in all varieties of beetroot makes them phenomenal blood cleansers. Juicing beets once a week will go a long way to support healthy blood and oxygen flow in your body thanks to the high levels of naturally occurring nitrates, B1, B2, B6, folic acid and phytochemicals within this vegetable.
The juiced beetroot greens are packed with iron to help fight off anemia and aid in fetal development, as well as vital macrominerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Increased blood flow from juicing beets will also help your body respond better to regular, light exercise – an important part of any healthy pregnancy – and play a big part in helping pregnant women maintain low blood pressure levels. Beetroot also fights constipation and decreases the risk of cancer.
*Pro Tip – Let beetroot juice sit for 1-2 hours before consuming. Beetroot has high levels of choline which optimizes nerve, brain, and liver function, but can also cause the body to detox heavily when consumed too often. Aim for ½ a beet per juicing as more could overtax your body. Don’t forget to dilute your juice blends with water before consuming!
Carrot: One of the most popular juicing vegetables, carrots are rich in beta-carotene and a great source of vitamin A. If you’re looking for glowing skin, look no further – carrots are extremely hydrating and nourishing, and can reduce the appearance of stretch marks throughout pregnancy.
The high levels of iron and calcium in carrots also support solid hair and nail health. Like beetroot, carrots also help to control blood pressure, fight off cancer and heart disease, and aid in digestion.
*Pro Tip – Don’t consume one than one glass (that’s 8 ounces) of carrot juice per day to avoid over consuming vitamin A.
Cucumber: Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables to juice because they are a source of naturally distilled water that’s packed with minerals, including the ever important folate. Adding cucumber juice to your diet can help women regulate their blood pressure while naturally supporting teeth and gum health (which can be a real issue for many women during pregnancy). Cucumber also helps to tighten skin which prevents excess swelling.
*Pro Tip – Juice ½ a cucumber with every mix that you make to naturally dilute your juice blends, making it easier for body to absorb the nutrients and vitamins without getting overwhelmed. At the store choose firm cucumbers that are free of blemishes. These can be a huge help for your skin during the 3rd trimester!
Pumpkin: Like carrots, pumpkins are rich sources of beta carotene, vitamin A, B1, B2, and B6. They’re also a great way to boost your potassium. Pumpkin juice is a natural sleep aid! Sleep gets more difficult the further along your progress into your pregnancy and pumpkin can help stave off insomnia. The juice is creamy and slightly nutty – like almond. Pumpkin also fights nausea, reduces swelling in the body, acts as a natural laxative to reduce constipation and regulates your blood sugar. Like cucumber it is also great for hydrating your skin.
*Pro Tip – Choose sweet pumpkins (like what you would cook a pumpkin pie with) and remember to de-seed, and scrape the inside before blending them in chunks. You can always toast the pumpkin seeds separately for a delicious, healthy treat.
Broccoli: A powerful cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. The anti-viral properties in this juice make it a powerful disease buster. I like to incorporate a few pieces of broccoli in every juice that I blend (when I’m not using kale) to boost my calcium and lightly detox my organs. Regularly consuming broccoli juice can support eye health and reduce the risk of birth defects.
*Pro Tip – At the store choose firm broccoli that’s not limp or wilted. When juicing, mix a few pieces of broccoli with half a piece of fruit to give a pleasing, fresh taste to your juice blends.
Lettuce: There are many different varieties of lettuce and all of them are great to juice! Lettuce is packed with a multitude of vitamins and minerals. Every type of lettuce contains high amounts of chlorophyll which is instrumental in balancing hormones and regulating mood swings (something that has been invaluable during my own pregnancy).
Juicing the stems of lettuce leaves can also extract latex which is a wonderful, safe painkiller and natural sedative for your central nervous system. In other words, regularly incorporating a variety of lettuce into your juice blends can help fight those anxious feelings that are so common with pregnancy.
Lettuce juice is sweet and creamy. It pairs wonderfully with apples.
*Pro Tip – My favorite type of lettuce to juice is red-leaf lettuce because of its antioxidant properties. Always try to blend a wide variety of lettuce into your juice blends to gain the maximum amount of nutritional benefits. To support a healthy pregnancy I recommend adding at least a leaf of lettuce to every glass of juice you drink.
Kale: Kale is a very important green to juice during pregnancy because of the high omega 3 content (the reason for eating daily fish oil pills) which supports fetal health. Kale is also a very concentrated source of calcium and vitamin K. Taken together these vitamins help to build strong bones and prevent the risk of bone fractures.
The regular addition of kale to your juice blends will also help reduce inflammation and stress. It will work to support healthy heart function and cholesterol levels.
*Pro Tip – Like beetroot, kale can be a very detoxifying green. Allow your body to adjust to kale juice slowly by adding just a few segments to a glass of juice once per day. Increase the amount every week and don’t forget to dilute your juice blends for easy absorption of nutrients.
Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes are a delicious addition to any juice blend because they are naturally low in sugar, yet they offer juice a creamy and pleasantly sweet taste. I love to incorporate them into any of my vegetable juice blends or mixed with half a pear and some broccoli for a morning snack.
Sweet potatoes are rich in antioxidants and folate – which both support healthy fetal development. Their ability to regulate insulin levels makes them phenomenal at preventing gestational diabetes. The high potassium levels found in sweet potato can help reduce swelling, redistribute water throughout the body and prevent muscle cramps.
The benefits of sweet potato juice make this the healthiest juice to drink during pregnancy. It’s also one of the tastiest.
*Pro Tip – When choosing sweet potatoes at the supermarket go for dark colored vegetables. These have a much higher beta carotene content. To ward against stress and fatigue juice half a sweet potato with the skins on twice a day. Make sure to scrub them very well!
Tomatoes: If you enjoy the taste of V8 then you will love tomato juice! Tomatoes provide a number of health benefit. They protect against cellular degeneration and birth abnormalities, support healthy heart rate and cholesterol levels, and contain a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals (including vitamin C, B6, K, E, A, biotin, iron, and manganese).
Incorporate tomato juice into your juice blends regularly to fight off anemia, support healthy bones, teeth, hair and skin, improve your digestion, increase stamina, reduce the frequency of muscle cramps, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels in your heart. Tomatoes support the health of your entire body during pregnancy.
*Pro Tip – Tomatoes have a pleasantly sweet taste when juiced raw. They only gain acidity when they’re cooked. The juice is a wonderful way to naturally dilute your blends. Aim for 1 roma tomato per 8oz glass of juice, once or twice a day.
Orange: Orange juice is a favorite on many breakfast tables. When you prepare your own orange juice it’s important to use only organic oranges that have not been dyed or sprayed with pesticides. Oranges can be an amazing source of vitamin C (a natural booster for your immune system) and a solid source of folic acid.
The phytonutrients in orange juice can also help lessen inflammation in your joints and back. You will stretch a lot during pregnancy and back pain is a common complaint for many women during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Since oranges are high in natural sugars limit consumption to 1 orange per day to avoid the risk of gestational diabetes. Always try to pair this juice with a few vegetables.
*Pro Tip – Oranges are highly acidic and can make your heartburn worse. If you’re experiencing heartburn use half of an orange and add some melon to your juice to coat your throat and offer temporary relief. Remember to always dilute fruit juices with water!
Apple: Packed with natural antioxidants, apple juice is a natural sleep aid and can help fight off insomnia during pregnancy. The vitamin C content in apple juice bolsters your immune system against disease and contributes to glowing, healthy skin during pregnancy. The vitamin A, calcium, and iron will naturally lower cholesterol levels while supporting healthy bone development.
*Pro Tip – Though apple juice is wonderful for sweetening the flavor of bitter or strong juice blends it has a very high sugar content.To reduce the risk of gestational diabetes only juice 1 apple per day. Always dilute fresh fruit juices with water.
Pineapple: With a distinct sweet and tangy flavor pineapple juice is a fantastic source of antiviral and antibacterial benefits. The juice also helps reduce inflammation, blood clotting, and aids in digesting fats & complex proteins.
*Pro Tip – Drinking juice with pineapple an hour before a meaty dinner is a great way to stimulate digestion. It pairs really nicely with ginger. Be careful to only use a few large cubes of pineapple per blend. It is highly acidic and can aggravate heartburn as well as upset the stomach in large doses. Remember to always dilute fruit juices with water.
Ginger: Ginger is a godsend for fighting nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy. A little piece will go a long way in any juice blend. With high levels of folate, iron, and calcium this mildly spicy herb supports both the health and development of mom and baby.
Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory. The juice helps reduce excess swelling and water retention during pregnancy.
*Pro Tip – Scrub a nub of fresh ginger with a vegetable wash solution and throw it in the juicer to fight off morning sickness and help your queasy stomach accept your juice blends easily. Add a scrubbed wedge of lemon for better vitamin absorption. There’s no need to remove the peels.
Be careful of adding too much ginger to your juice blends – it can be spicy if you’re not used to the flavor and you only need a little bit to feel the full benefits of the herb.
Lemon & Lime: Lemons and limes are acidic citrus fruits that have a very alkaline effect on your body. Citrus juice helps your body absorb many different vitamins and minerals.
I incorporate a wedge of lemon or lime into every glass of juice that I make because they are naturally high in folate, vitamin C, potassium and B6. Lemons and limes also have the power to “scrub” your body of carcinogens by breaking down these cancer-causing agents that contribute to the destruction of our cells.
*Pro Tip – Do not peel lemons or limes before juicing them. Many of their beneficial enzymes are located in the skin of the fruit. Buy organic citrus and scrub the outside of the peel with vegetable wash and a stiff vegetable brush. You only need to incorporate one half of a wedge into your blends to feel the benefits.
Foods to Avoid Juicing
Juicing concentrates the vitamins and minerals of fruits and vegetables. Our bodies absorb a much larger portion of nutrients when we drink juice blends instead of eating raw food. Some foods that are perfectly healthy raw should not be juiced during pregnancy. Here is a list of foods to avoid juicing:
Some parts of the celery stalk can cause uterus contractions and bleeding during pregnancy. It’s best to avoid celery juice while pregnant.
From the same family as celery and carrot, parsley can stimulate contractions and preterm labor.
Rosemary is not the easiest herb in the world to juice so it’s not an issue for many people. I thought I would include it just to be safe. The juice of rosemary leaves can stimulate contractions and preterm labor when taken in high amounts.
I’m Italian. I use basil all the time in my cooking. In high doses, basil juice can irritate the uterus of pregnant women and lead to birth complications as well as preterm labor. Don’t add to juice blends and consume in moderate amounts while pregnant.
How Juicing Affects Your Pregnancy
Juicing is a great way to get nutrients and minerals to your developing baby. The embryo gets its nutrition through the mother’s bloodstream. Juicing allows your blood to become enriched with the live enzymes and phytonutrients each plant provides.
Juicing can help alleviate all sorts of issues that plague mom’s-to-be by supporting the levels of vitamins and minerals in our body, offering diuretic properties to help eliminate toxins from our bloodstream in safe low levels and by providing clean water to hydrate our bodies. It will support a healthy mood, a strong digestive system, healthy skin and hair.
Juicing regularly during pregnancy will promote strong bones, less aches, less pains and reductions in nausea (both by adding nausea busters like ginger juice to blends and by providing nutrients in a form that’s lighter on sensitive stomachs). Juicing also gives women lower levels of heartburn and a more restful sleep.
Just like pregnant women need to monitor their cravings we need to monitor which juices we drink and in what quantity. The key to juicing successfully is to not put too much fruit juice in your blends. You might not be accustomed to drinking an entire glass of vegetable juice so start slowly. Using a variety of vegetables in your blends is especially important for pregnant women. It helps to keep your insulin levels in a normal range and prevents gestational diabetes.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Always dilute your juice blends before drinking them. This will make it easier for your organs to process the vitamins without working too hard. Remember to use juicing as a nutritional supplement only. Do not substitute a glass of juice for a healthy balanced meal.
Considerations Before Juicing
–Avoid doing a juice cleanse while pregnant. A juice fast releases toxins from your body into your blood. This does not create a healthy environment for your baby to develop in. Remember, it takes a lot of energy to create new life and a lot of energy to fast. Doing both at the same time could seriously jeopardize both your health and your baby’s development. Continue to eat 3-6 balanced meals every day (small ones if you’re nauseous) and use juicing as a way to supplement your nutrition for two.
-Many fruits and vegetables contain significant amounts of Vitamin A. The most common are carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. While delicious to juice, keep a healthy balance of juices in your diet (don’t favor too much of one ingredient too often) as pregnant women should not consume more than 3,000 mcg of vitamin A per day (5,000 international units) for the health of the fetus.
–Try your best to purchase organic fruits and veggies that have not been sprayed, waxed or contaminated with pesticides. Organic fruits and veggies are less likely to pass on harmful environmental and chemical toxins to you and your baby.
Stay tuned for more juice recipes to follow! Do you have a favorite recipe? Share it with us in the comments below.