How many carbs to eat when you're breastfeeding and following a Paleo diet

To carb or not to carb? That is the question....it seems like I'm asked about carb levels all the time and when I received an email from a client about a suddenly low milk supply after starting a Paleo diet, I knew her story would probably resonate with lots of other gals. So, here you have it. 

My former (most wonderful client) is about 4 months postpartum. She started going to Crossfit mom's as a way of connecting with other women and it was the only program in town that made it easy for her to workout with her baby. Since the start of the new year, her Crossfit group decided to start a one month "Paleo Challenge". Of course, I support this kind of awesome nutritional reset ANYTIME, no challenge required, but I was thrilled to hear she was going to give paleo a good ol' college try.

10 days into the challenge, she had lost 6 lbs. She wasn't sleeping and neither was her baby, who previously slept through the night. She also noticed that her milk supply had significantly decreased. What was going wrong? Should she give in to the bread cravings that were taking over her life?

Typical SAD Macro Levels

Typical SAD Macro Levels

I asked her to punch her nutrition into an online app (I usually recommend My Fitness Pal) which it turns out she already did (she's so smart). When she told me her macro's I pretty much instantly knew what the problem was. Carbs were only making up about 20-25% of her diet. Not by choice, just by accident. This would explain the insane weight drop, often caused by rapid water loss when switching from standard carb levels of anywhere between 50-60% to lower levels. By far the most common mistake folks make when going Paleo is going too low carb by accident. While a Paleo diet is typically lower in carbs than the modern SAD, it isn't designed to be a "low carb diet". Going low carb can happen by accident when we replace the grain laden starches with more filling veggies, fats and meats. 

What was going on?

Her body was STRESSED. While going low carb can result in weight loss, it also can result in systemic stress on your body. Cortisol levels will ramp up disturbing your sleep patterns and your body will begin limiting how much energy it spends on "unnecessary" reproductive functions like ovulation, menstruation and, in this case, breastmilk supply. After all, what body wants to sustain another growing life when it's having a hard time sustaining itself?

If this diet was to continue a bit longer, her lower carb diet may also cause her thyroid hormones to plummet. Low thyroid in a postpartum woman can cause postpartum depression, stall natural weight loss and cause breastmilk to all but disappear. 

This would explain why both she and her baby were not sleeping through the night.  Her body was holding on to extra calories by dropping her milk supply. Some studies have suggested that when a mom is calorie depleted, her milk may also decrease in fat content. This can cause babies to get hungry faster (aka waking up needing to feed more often) and may also cause them to miss out on critical DHA fatty acids they need for brain and neurological development. 

What To Do if this is happening to you? 

 Eat Paleo Friendly Starchy Carbs!  Breastfeeding women NEED carbs. Please ladies, eat the sweet potato, eat the white potato....eat all the potatoes.

These are some good macro's for a breastfeeding mama

These are some good macro's for a breastfeeding mama

While 20-25% may be a good level for an active male or to optimize body composition, it isn't enough to support fertility, pregnancy or lactation. I generally recommend 30-40% depending on activity levels and individual needs. Does she need to eat the bread? Well, no, but at the end of the day if you eat a slice of gluten free bread, will it really be the end of the world? Probably not. Dianne has a great post about starchy carbs found here with a handy chart, which you can downloadable chart to help you on your way. 

 Eat sufficient calories. When starting a Paleo challenge it's not uncommon for women to drop their calories down too low to support healthy womanly functions. When breastfeeding, this can lead to low milk supply and an unhappy baby. Never drop below around 1800 cals/day when breastfeeding, you'll likely need more if you're active. 

 Lose weight slowly. When women lose weight rapidly they are not only at risk for low milk supply (for the reasons stated above) but, it's also been documented that weight loss of more than 1 lbs or 0.45kg/week can increase the toxic load found in your milk. Say what? True story....

Environmental contaminants such as PCBs and pesticides, are stored in body fat. According to Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (3rd Edition, Riordan, pp 440), when a breastfeeding mother loses weight rapidly (>1lbs/wk), these toxins are released into her bloodstream, and the toxin load of her milk can dramatically increase. These toxins are directly offloaded to a growing baby. Not bueno. 

What about Ketones? When a woman goes very low carb (20-50g/day) she may start producing ketones. Ketones are the waste products of fatty acid metabolism, aka when the body burns some of its own fat for fuel. Ketones will pass into the breastmilk and I wondered if these could be damaging to infants. Apparently not. When I asked famous Breastfeeding Physician Dr. Jack Newman about them, he said that they don't pose any dangers for infants. For more info on ketones during pregnancy, check out this post. Your biggest danger when dieting seems to be is low milk quality and overall supply.

Need more help?

Liz and I will be covering a whole swack more info just like this a little bit more in detail over at Baby Making and Beyond. Sign up for launch specials and updates here. Can't wait for the BMB program and need help now? Fill out this handy form and register for a nutritional assessment. Let me help you on your journey towards being a rad nourished mama! 

Take home message....eat the sweet potatoes and enjoy them! 

New Year, Baby Making and Beyond and Stress Reduction tips

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've had time to write a blog post. As many of you may know, I'm a solo practice Registered Midwife in a small mountain town in the Canadian Rockies. Being the only midwife in town can sometimes make personal time next to impossible...the babies come when the babies come and man, did they ever come during the holidays this year. I welcomed 6 babies into the world in less than 12 days. Most of these labours were on the longer side of normal, but, all babies were safely born into their mothers arms and everyone is healthy, happy and thriving. Although my personal life, sleep and holiday enjoyment suffered, I feel the satisfaction of a job well done. 

After such a busy time, I wanted to share some easy tips I used to keep myself grounded, healthy and balanced during this time. 

 

A good hike in the fresh air during a moment of calm...restorative and refreshing in the -20 temps! 

A good hike in the fresh air during a moment of calm...restorative and refreshing in the -20 temps! 

How to stay balanced (and eat paleo) when life has you on the run

Leftover liver from my pate recipe made a fast and easy dins and coconut manna never fails to satisfy my insatiable sweet tooth! Follow me on Instagram to see more of how I stay fuelled and healthy. 

Leftover liver from my pate recipe made a fast and easy dins and coconut manna never fails to satisfy my insatiable sweet tooth! Follow me on Instagram to see more of how I stay fuelled and healthy. 

  1. Have the fridge stocked with healthy paleo friendly food choices! Whether you work 100+ hrs a week, like me, or have a new little paleo baby on the way. When you're busy there is little time to shop and going to the grocery store when you're stressed can manifest itself into a cart full of bad decisions (chips and ice cream are my nemesis). I counteract this by subscribing to a weekly box of groceries from our local SPUD box program. Spud is a grocery delivery service that prides itself in local (when possible), organic and sustainably raised foods. From carrots to kale to grass fed steak, to skin care products and coconut butter. Having my fridge stocked made it easy for me to feed myself at 3am when I get home. SPUD has programs in Calgary/Canmore, Vancouver, Edmonton, Victoria, San Francisco/Bay Area and LA/Orange County. They are certified RAD. 
  2. Have some meals in the freezer ready. I made a paleo bison stew the week before in preparation for a busy time. Re-heating this was key for me to enjoy warm meals while working away. I also made some meatloaf muffins, kale salad, roast purple potatoes and hard boiled eggs for quick grab and go's. 
  3. In times of stress, load up on Vitamin A, B12 and vitamin C rich foods and stay AWAY from sugar, which may lower your immune system. I made a blueberry liver pate (which I will share on the Baby Making and beyond site aka BMB) which was rich in all three of these micronutrients. It only took 5 mins to make and provided me with an easy healthy snack as well as satisfying my craving for something a little sweet.
  4. Balance sleep with gentle movement and mindfulness. After being up all night, I would sleep and then rise to the sunlight, trying to get some exposure to the light every day. This could mean doing some gentle yoga in a sunny window or going for a quiet walk outside. 
  5. Practice meditation or yoga to slow and calm your mind. I am NOT a yogi. I used to think yoga was for granola crunching vegan hippies that just didn't want to work that hard or break a sweat. What I've come to realize is that gentle restorative yoga is a critical tool for stress management and is sometimes a much better choice than a sweaty WOD. This is something our BMB course will cover in detail! 
Set the stage...it's not just about the gentle movement of restorative yoga, it's about creating an atmosphere of calm. I find it makes a big difference when I turn on my infuser and light some candles. Ahhh... zen never felt so good. 

Set the stage...it's not just about the gentle movement of restorative yoga, it's about creating an atmosphere of calm. I find it makes a big difference when I turn on my infuser and light some candles. Ahhh... zen never felt so good. 

Baby Making and Beyond

So...you may have heard me drop a hint a few times and may be asking....what is this Baby Making and Beyond Site? Well, if you're a regular listener to the Balanced Bites Podcast you may have heard my friend and college Liz Wolfe drop a few hints, if not, here's the scoop.

Baby Making and Beyond is a new super fantastic website launching in 2015. I'm partnering with NTP extrodinare and Eat the Yolks (now available on audio book btw) author Liz Wolfe to bring you this comprehensive guide to fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding and the postpartum period.  It will be Paleo/Real food focused site but will also talk about how to be a responsible vegan or vegetarian during your fertile years. I'll never judge someone for making an informed choice! 

It will include audio, video and downloadable files so you can sit and read content or take it with you as you walk or drive. It will cover just what to eat (with meal plans and recipes galore), what supplements to take and how to move during your childbearing years. It's fun, comprehensive, interactive and I'm so excited to be brining something to women and their families that I feel good about. It will launch with a 28-day Baby Makin' Bootcamp program and if you'd like to be notified once it's available check out our site at www.babymakingandbeyond.com to get on the list! 

You can also check us out on the Balanced Bites Podcast. In the upcoming weeks and months we will be featuring "Baby Makin' Tips" and answer your questions about fertility, pregnancy and beyond. Have a question you'd like answered on the podcast? Submit it to me here or to Balanced Bites

Welcome 2015...it's gonna be a great year Yo! 

MTHFR, have you heard about it? What's the big deal anyway?

Warning! I'm going to get a bit geek squad on this weeks post. There will be big words...bear with me. I hate it too :) 

Have you ever heard of MTHFR Mutation? It seems to be getting a bit of attention lately in the Paleo/real food sphere and it inspired me to write a little bit about this very common genetic mutation. If you've been following a real food diet, reduced your stress, are getting good quality exercise and sleep lots but are still feeling blah, learning you have this mutation might just be the missing piece that you've been searching for. 

MTHFR AKA Methyl-tetrahydrofolate reductase mutation is a relatively common group of mutations that effect many major systems in the body. There are a few different types of MTHFR mutations. MTHFR C677T and A1298C are the most common and are responsible for breaking down the amino acid homocysteine.

Homocysteine is a sulfur containing amino acid that lives in your blood plasma. It must be broken down in the presence of B-vitamins (B6, B12 and B9/Folate).  High levels of homocysteine (aka that isn't broken down) causes scaring and possible damage to vessels, which can lead to a host of inflammatory diseases including cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease ect ect.  

In normal folks, active folate, known as 5-MTHF or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, works in concert with vitamin B12 as a methyl-group donor to convert homocysteine to methionine. When homocysteine is broken down into methionine, it's used by the body to help metabolize fats, make proteins, utilize antioxidants, reduce the risk of depression caused by sam-e deficiency. Methionine also helps to reduce systemic inflammation and convert estradiol into estriol (a pretty rad form of estrogen). 

About 50% of homocysteine is remethylated with the remaining 50% trans-sulfurated into cysteine which then uses Vit B6 to make glutathione.Glutathione is a key antioxidant and detoxifier in the body. In fact, some may even call it a master controller. The less glutathione you have the more you are susceptible to stress and toxic build up. Glutathione is a key element of may processes in the body including:

  • Cell mediated immunity (aka immune function)
  • Bile production
  • Liver detoxification
  • Removal of heavy metals
  • Cellular growth, proliferation and death

When you have an MTHFR mutation one or more of these pathways becomes less efficient or disrupted (depending on the particular mutation) resulting in diminished levels of glutathione or methionine. Low levels of these amino acids cause a host of generic symptoms such as fatigue, anemia, low B12, hypothyroidism...the list can go on and on. 

 MTHFR is most common amongst Mediterranean and Hispanic populations (~22%) but is also found in white European populations in about 5-15%, Japanese/Chinese 8-18% and only in about 2% of African populations. That's a lot of people when you think about it! 

How do you find out if you have MTHFR mutation?

If you suspect you may have this mutation or, like me, are just super curious you can find out a few different ways:

Exhibit A- My spit...ready for processing. I'll share my results in 4-6 weeks.

Exhibit A- My spit...ready for processing. I'll share my results in 4-6 weeks.

  1. Submit your saliva sample to a company such as 23andme. I just did this last week and am waiting for my results. I'm pretty curious to find out about my ancestry and my genetic make-up, not to mention my MTHFR status.
  2. Have your blood tested by your functional medicine physician. These tests are a bit hard to find in standard labs but ask to see what's available in your area. 

 

 

 

 RECENTLY DIAGNOSED WITH MTHFR? 

Saunas can be great detoxifiers when you are preparing to become pregnant. 

Saunas can be great detoxifiers when you are preparing to become pregnant. 

  • Consider a period of supportive detoxification 
    • Because MTHFR mutations can make it more difficult for your body to detoxify itself, consider a 3-6 month period of gentle supportive detoxification. Castor oil packs, saunas/sweating and gentle activity all support detox.
      • Eliminate all food sensitivities and allergies. You're body's detoxification system is overburdened and stressing it out by consuming foods you are sensitive too will only further contribute to poor health. Consider some allergy testing or follow an elimination diet for a period of time.

      • Avoid toxins: choose natural skin & household cleaning products. Consider removing any mercury fillings.

      • Drink clean filtered water

      • Lay off the booze and Fructose: (agave, honey, high fructose fruits): These substances get processed through the liver and can stress out an already stressed out organ. 

      • Eat a clean paleo diet rich in leafy greens (high in natural folate). Avoid any packaged foods that may be fortified with folic acid. Folic acid and unmethylated B-vitamins commonly found in fortified processed foods can be potentially very harmful to you. 

      • Eat proboitic foods which will help your body absorb nutrients from your foods by optimizing gut function. 

  • Practice Intelligent Supplementation:

    • I'm never a big fan of just throwing a heap of generic supplements at a problem. Warning...I'm about to rant! Supplement recommendations are based on averages not individuals. Having a genetic mutations does not mean that an individual will have every deficiency that may be associated with a specific each condition. It depends on the expression of each unique gene by each unique individual (think epigenetics). See your ND or Functional Medicine MD and have some testing done. This may include checking levels of homocysteine, essential fatty acids, vit D, Vit B12, folate, iron, iodine, ferritin, calcium and more. Supplement based on your individual deficiencies. Trust me, the money you save in useless and even potentially harmful supplements will more than cover the cost of additional testing. 

 pregnant or trying? 

Trying to become pregnant with an MTHFR mutation can create a few special challenges. Not to worry however, there are things you can do to support your body's special needs. Many women who are diagnosed with the MTHFR mutation and have healthy pregnancies. Here are a few things to consider.

Newly Pregnant? 

  • I don't mean to freak you out but you are at increased risk for blood clotting and preeclampsia. Your care provider may recommend taking an anticoagulant or low dose aspirin to prevent blood clotting and reduce the risk of these complications.
  • Your baby may also be at risk for for neural tube defects such has spina bifida which are caused by folate deficiency. Ensuring you have adequate folate levels in very early pregnancy (ideally beforehand) is critical to prevent this serious birth defect. If a supplement is required (quite likely) always choose folate rather than folic acid.
  • Elevated homocysteine has been associated with low birth weight babies and increase the risk of preterm birth. Continue to support your body's natural detoxification systems by not overburdening it with toxins or allergens. Follow the guidelines in the above section but stay away from saunas, which are not recommended during pregnancy.
  • Specific supplementation guidelines for pregnancy can be found on Dr. Lynch's Site and offer a few starting points. 

Struggling to become pregnant? See my recommendations above and try waiting a few months. You just may need a bit of time to detoxify and nourish yourself. A body that is toxic and undernourished (despite a clean diet) may not be ready for a baby just yet.

  • Consider genetic counselling  Learning what the odds are of passing on your mutation to your child can be important. New research is showing that babies with MTHFR mutations who are supplemented with methylated vitamins right from birth have a MUCH lower incidence of developing chronic and potentially life threatening conditions. 
  • See a health care practitioner such as a Naturopath or Functional Medicine physician to get your hormones in balance. In particular, estrogen and thyroid hormones may be all out of whack. These can play key roles in becoming fabulous and fertile. 
  • Does your partner have a MTHFR mutation? New research shows that spermatogenesis (told ya I'd be using big word ) aka sperm production is effected in Dads with this mutation. Read all about it here.
  • Supplement wisely according to your bodies own needs. Choose folate from whole food baed supplements and ensure you have adequate B12, iron, ferritin and Vitamin D levels. 
  • Got that burn? If you experience heartburn during your pregnancy it's important that you stay away from tums or other antacids which may block critical B12 absorption from your diet.  
  • Stress less: chillax....a mellow body functions at it's best and is supportive to our detoxification process. Practice daily meditation, relaxation, hug the ones that love you and for heaven sakes...laugh a little everyday. 

Laugh a little every day. As seen here, my friend Laurie thinks her hat is rather hilarious. Quite frankly, so do I. 

Laugh a little every day. As seen here, my friend Laurie thinks her hat is rather hilarious. Quite frankly, so do I. 


Take a chill pill....The importance of stress reduction for fertility

Squeaky clean paleo diet- check

Engage in daily gentle movement- check

Take all your supplements- check

Are a healthy weight- check

Why on earth are you still struggling to get pregnant? Well, the answer may be the one thing that is the hardest to truly change.....stress and how we manage it.  

Stress can be a good thing in moderation. A little burst of cortisol (stress hormone) helps to fire up our engines so we can run away from a lion or wildebeest (my personal fav). But, when this sort of stress and resulting cortisol release becomes chronic, unrelenting, day in and day out stress, our bodies don't cope quite so well. When this happens we start producing a hormone called alpha- amylase. Alpha-amylase has recently be discovered as a bio-marker for chronic sympathetic nervous system activation. AKA a signal that you're mind and/or body are chronically stressed out. AA has been formerly used as a way to diagnose pancreatitis or pancreatic inflammation. The geek in me finds this fascinating because when we are stressed and living in a chronic sympathetic dominant state our pancreas has to work overtime producing insulin in response to elevated blood glucose levels. When we are stressed and exerting a high level of cortisol our bodies naturally increase our blood sugars in order to mobilize energy in our skeletal muscles so we can make that mad dash away from the wildebeest. 

Recent studies have confirmed the link between stress and infertility. A few different studies measured these two hormones, cortisol and alpha-amylase. They demonstrated that while cortisol has no effect on infertility, women with high alpha-amylase had nearly double the risk of infertility. This makes perfect sense if you think about it from an ancestral perspective. Fertile women need to be able to run away from possible dangers every once in a while. A healthy cortisol response signals a fit and thriving individual. What we DON'T want is a woman who is chronically stressed. Chronic stress sends signals to our body that our world is a really dangerous place out there and isn't a safe space to raise a new little baby. The body is smart and wants to survive....so, it shuts down your ability to conceive. 

What can you do if you're feeling chronically stressed out? Here are a few tips:

Erin Urton...practicing what she preaches...and looking simply beautiful in the process  

Erin Urton...practicing what she preaches...and looking simply beautiful in the process

 

  1. Try to sleep or rest more. Sleep is how we tell our bodies it's safe to recover. Try to get more.
  2. Practice yoga or meditation. Even 5 mins a day will make a difference in terms of your response to stress. Need a launching pad? These short guided meditations will help you on your way and feature the beautiful Erin Urton who is an expert in fertility, pregnancy and postpartum meditation and yoga practice. 
  3. Lighten up on the caffeine. Did you know that just 200 mg of caffeine (one 12 oz mug of coffee) increases blood cortisol levels by 30% in one hour! Switch to herbal tea or decaf while your body resets and recharges.
  4. Move gently everyday. I don't mean hard stress inducing crossfit WODS. I mean walking outdoors, cross country skiing, hiking and gentle weight lifting. These things are all proven to lower your body's stress response and help you chill out. 
  5. LAUGH. Surround yourself with people who love and support you and lighten up. Have a good time
  6. Give. The process of giving back helps to elevate your mood and support the body's natural ability to heal. The holiday season is a perfect time to get started on this one! 
Gently moving in nature has remarkably restorative properties. 

Gently moving in nature has remarkably restorative properties. 



Tasty Living Amaze Bars....Meg the Midwife Approved!

These hempy happy chips are my regular nutrient dense stand- in for standard corn chips

These hempy happy chips are my regular nutrient dense stand- in for standard corn chips

My friend, former Midwifery client and fellow nutrition enthusiast Lindsey Williams has done it again! She first hit the nutrition scene with her company Tasty Living which brings raw whole food goodies straight from her kitchen to your tummy. Over the past few years, I've grown addicted to her line of paleo friendly crackers, "granolas" and cookies. It's so nice to be able to go to the grocery store and find treats that are local, well sourced, healthy and nutrient dense. 

My spelendid samples of Tasty Living's new Paleo Amaze bars

This week I had the honour and privilege to sample her NEW product the AMAZE bar. Let me tell you, these bars are just that..... AMAZEing. I sampled the Crunchy Hemp-Cacao Fudge Bar and the Green Goddess Bar. The Cacao bar is loaded with cacao nibs giving this chocolatey treat a splendid bit of texture and crunch. It was the Green Goddess bar really surprised me...I wasn't expecting to like it but the sea salt paired beautifully with the matcha and spirulina, making this healthy treat my favourite among the bunch. These bars are nutrient dense, locally sourced and PALEO friendly. They will be available across Western Canada to start but it wouldn't surprise me if we see her line of products hitting store shelves nation wide and even internationally in the future. 

Lindsey has launched a new kickstarter campaign to help launch her new products. I'm more than happy to support this new adventure of hers. She needs our help so please support REAL FOOD and join me in showing her some love with a small donation. 

Is Kombucha Safe? The great Alcohol Debate

If you're a listener to the most amazing Balanced Bites Podcast, you may have heard Liz Wolfe teasing a new fertility program/site, Baby Making and Beyond, that we are hard at work on. I'm SOOO excited to share this comprehensive information source for everything from fertility, pregnancy, trimester by trimester real food nutrition and popular postpartum topics. We want to have answers to all your questions so if you have something you'd like us to include, please send me a message! This program hopes to launch mid-2015 and will be kicked off with a fantastic 28 day Baby Makin' Bootcamp. Stay tuned for more info on that. 

One of the topics covered on the podcast last week was a question regarding the safety of Kombucha during pregnancy. I wrote about this topic a while back. Here's the link to the Kombucha Saved My Life Post.  Our Baby Makin' and Beyond program will answer questions just like this but until it's launched here's a brief rundown on the safety of Kombucha consumption in pregnancy.

Let's start by breaking down just what's in commercially made Kombucha. As I wrote about in my previous post, I ONLY recommend commercially made Kombucha during pregnancy. 

Kombucha Composition in a Nutshell

Tea (green, black, white): contains caffeine ~ 8-14mg/ 8oz

Sugar:~ 2-6g/8oz

  • This isn't much sugar at all. Kombucha's low sugar content is considered safe for women with blood sugar regulation issues and one serving of Kombucha is even considered acceptable on many Paleo 30 day challenges or while on the 21-day Sugar Detox Program.

Scoby: good bacteria to feed your gut flora

  • Optimizing gut flora is a great idea for both fertility and during your pregnancy. Kombucha was originally used as a digestive aid because the bacteria helps you optimize your gut flora and thus digest your food more efficiently. This can help to maximize the nutrient absorption from your diet. Adding a new probiotic into your regime can sometimes cause a "cleansing effect". If you are newly pregnant and aren't already a long time Kombucha drinker, I would recommend starting with very small doses (2-3oz/day) or just avoid it entirely just to be on the safe side. Once your system has gotten used to the bacteria, it is theoretically safe to continue during pregnancy and many of my pregnant friends happily enjoy 8-16oz/day with no side effects. In fact, a number of friends use GT's Gingerade as a pretty effective remedy for first trimester nausea. 

Alcohol: ~0.5%

  • This is the big concern for most women. While we don't know if there is ANY safe amount of alcohol consumption in pregnancy, we do know that 0.5% is a very small amount. In Canada and the US, non- alcoholic beer and wine are defined as anything 0.5% or less. I know many physicians who have told friends that it's okay to enjoy a non-alcoholic beer (0.5% alcohol content) a day with no evidence of harmful effects. One study even indicated that upwards of 40% of physicians tell their patients that even the occasional glass of wine (11-14%) is safe after the first trimester.  If drinking the occasional glass of 13% wine a week is considered by some to be safe and a bottle of 0.5% O'Dooles beer a day is safe can we say the same for Kombucha?

Some of GT's Classic Synergy products in the United States are labeled a must be "21 or over" with contents at or above 0.5%, while the Enlightened and Classic Kombucha versions have lower amounts of alcohol and do not require special labels. In Canada, there are no such label regulations or warnings on any GT products.

But is it really safe? Well, we don't totally know. Obviously it is unethical to run randomized clinical trials on pregnant women, but, there have been some studies that analyze long term data from pregnant women that we can use to make our assumptions. Once study of over 7600 women measured levels of behavioural problems among 2-year olds. The results were similar between women who reported zero drinking (11%) vs < 1 drink/wk (13.7%) vs light drinking 2-3 drinks/ wk (9%). Multiple studies seem to conclude that very light alcohol consumption may be safe during pregnancy. 

Studies indcate that it isn't the occasional small amounts of alcohol that put our babies at risk for Fetal Alcohol Disorder but it is the BINGE type drinking that is most dangerous. This makes perfect sense when we consider the science behind alcohol metabolism. 

Alcohol is metabolized in the body by a variety of enzymes including alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), cytochrome P450 (CYP2E1) and catalase. ADH is the powerhouse of the metabolizers and is found in our liver. It's a supply and demand system. The more you drink, the more dehydrogenase you produce. This is why midwives, who live a life on call, are classically cheap dates :) This enzyme is also present in variable amounts depending on your ethnicity. Aboriginal and people of East Asian decent tend to have less and metabolize alcohol at a much slower rate. When you overwhelm this system with LARGE amounts of alcohol in one sitting, like when you binge drink, your body can't keep up with the demand for the ADH enzyme and your blood alcohol content goes up dramatically, crossing the placenta and potentially causing great harm to your developing baby. Bottom line...NEVER binge drink during pregnancy.

So what happens when we consume small amounts of alcohol like what's found in Kombucha or even baking extracts (like vanilla)? While we have no proof that this level of consumption is 100% safe, I feel like it's pretty fair to say that it's likely fine. While I'm not advocating going out and drinking a glass of wine every night, I am suggesting that perhaps the 0.5% we find in our daily 8oz of GT's may be totally safe. What do you think? Send me you're thoughts. 

It's raining babies

This is more or less my life right now! Happily and steadily catching little cavebabies. Some at home, some in hospital and one due any-day now in the birth center.  It's a busy but lovely time.

Stay tuned for a new post and be sure to check me out on Instagram. I'm still cooking up a storm to fuel my adventures and hope to share some new paleo pregnancy and fertility friendly recipes just in time for the holidays really soon. After all, it can't rain babies forever!