Bulletproof Coffee and Pregnancy

Ever notice how things always seem to happen in three's? This week I've gotten three questions from readers about the safety of Bulletproof coffee in pregnancy. Huh, well, I guess I have my topic for the week! 

What is Bulletproof Coffee?

Bulletproof coffee is a trend that has taken the Primal/Paleo world by storm in recent years. Bulletproof coffee is a brand developed by Dave Asprey. Bulletproof coffee is made by blending high quality coffee, MCT oils and grassfed butter into a delicious and highly potent drink. Dave markets and sells "Upgraded" products including high quality coffee, Brain Octane (MCTs) and other products on his website but many folks simply use their own local grassfed butters, coconut oil and organic dark coffee beans.

 Bulletproof coffee is bascially a tweak of a classic Tibetan drink called yak butter tea. Now, if you've ever had yak butter tea, which I have, it isn't exactly the most palatable stuff but it is exactly what your body needs at higher elevations and serves as both a nourishing beverage and important social custom for many of the people of the high Himalayan. 

Benefits of Bulletproof Coffee

Dave claims that drinking this beverage regularly can help you lose weight, optimize brain function, enhance fertility and overall make your life more rad. Sound like a gimmick? Jury's still out on that one. Try it for yourself and see how you feel. I'm dairy allergic (can't even have ghee) so the only version I've had is coffee with copious coconut oil/butter. It was delicious but true story, I love breakfast and if I drink it I can't eat breakfast too (too rich) so it's a hard choice for me! 

 Is Bulletproof coffee safe for pregnancy?

Well, let's break down each ingredient and decide for ourselves:

Grassfed butter: Safe and Recommended

- High in Vitamin A, D and K2, all essential nutrients for pregnancy.

-  High in Oleic acid and Myristic acid (cancer fighting fats)

- Contains CLA (metabolism boosting fats)

- Source of dietary cholesterol (essential for brain development and nervous system function)

- High in glycospingolipids which protect the lining of the gut from pathogens

- Rich in Omega-3's which help babies brain and eye development as well as aid in optimal maternal cardiovascular function. 

MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride): Safe and Recommended 

- High in lauric acid which our bodies convert into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-protozoa properties. 

- Stimulates metabolic activity (utilized as energy rather than being stored) and aids in healthy thyroid function.

- Anti- inflammatory properties and healing on the digestive system

Coffee: Approach with caution and moderation

- Aids in cardiovascular health and is protective against dementia and Alzheimer's 

- Rich in antioxidants and some studies have shown that it may reduce the risk of skin cancer 

- May block a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide that may play a role in the development of diabetes.

- Aids in mental sharpness and athletic performance and recovery

- Coffee and pregnancy: Coffee naturally contains high levels of caffeine. For a full run down of the risks and benefits of caffeine in pregnancy, see this previous post of mine all about the use of coffee and caffeinated beverages in pregnancy. The take away message is that we don't know how much caffeine is safe during pregnancy. When pregnant,  the ability to metabolize caffeine decreases (via CYP1A2 enzyme pathways) therefore their circulating levels of caffeine in the bloodstream and thus to the growing fetus are increased. I take this delayed metabolism as a sign that it isn't something the body should have much of when growing a new little human.  You may notice that a little caffeine goes a long way when your pregnant. Maybe it's natures way of telling you to cool it. 

So....does this mean bulletproof coffee is 'out' during pregnancy?  Nope.

- Swap out regular coffee for Organic Swiss Water Decaf. Many studies show that decaf coffee still has many of the protective antioxidant benefits of regular coffee. Please be sure to source your beans well, choosing organic and fair trade when possible and make sure that the coffee isn't chemically processed. Dave even sells a clean decaf version of his Bulletproof coffee on his site but you can also just source your own beans from a local roaster. 

- MCT and grassfed butter are pregnancy superfoods! Consume in 'liberal moderation'! 

Do you drink bulletproof coffee? Have you noticed any benefits? Any downsides? 

 

 

 

Meg 'the Paleo Midwife's' guide to Coffee, Tea and other Primal Brews in Pregnancy: Part 2 Caffeinated Brews

In Part 1,  I wrote about tea consumption during pregnancy. In part 2, I'm going to tackle a question I get ALL the time. Is caffeine okay during pregnancy?? Do I have to give up my espresso, cold brew or bulletproof coffee? 

How much caffeine is too much in pregnancy? Well, the truth is, like many substances, we don't really know. In the scientific world, randomized controlled trials (RCT) are the 'gold standard' of evidenced based medicine. In order, to be able to obtain answers and know a substance is safe, researchers need to conduct studies (RCT) on pregnant women and their developing fetus. As you can imagine, studies on pregnant women aren't very ethical, and as a result, the list of proven 'safe' substances isn't very long. That being said, here's what we do know about caffeine.

Numerous animal (not people) studies have shown that high doses of caffeine may cause birth defects, premature labor, reduced fertility, and increase the risk of having low-birth weight offspring. Yikes, sounds scary.... So, is it better to play it safe when it comes to caffeine and avoid it all together?

Well, perhaps not…. In 2008, two prominent studies on the effects of caffeine related to miscarriage showed significantly different outcomes. One study released in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that women who consumed 200mg of caffeine daily, were twice as likely to have a miscarriage as those women who didn’t consume any caffeine during their pregnancy.  This study was countered by another publication in the Journal of Epidemiology,  which found there to be no increased risk for miscarriage in women who drank a minimal amount of coffee daily (between 200-350mg per day.) 

From a purely biological perspective, we know that caffeine crosses the placenta and can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate in both the mom and baby. Caffeine is a vasodilator and may cause constriction of the vessels that feed the baby nutrients (thus the theoretical risk of low birth weight babies). Caffeine is processed in adults via a complicated metabolic process in the brain and liver. We know that adults can process caffeine but aren't really sure how developing fetal structures metabolize any amount of the tasty stimulant (thus the possibility for fetal neurological issues). 

Caffeine’s half-life is extended significantly when pregnant from 2-4.5 hrs in a non-pregnant female, to almost 15 hrs during the third trimester.  Anecdotally, I’ve found that pregnant women in my practice report having a stronger response to caffeine, feeling  more jittery and ‘wired’ than they did before they were pregnant. Many women just don't crave their morning brew any more. I'd like to think that the body’s wisdom tells us that perhaps a little bit is okay, but too much isn’t safe for cavemom and paleo baby.

 Due to conflicting conclusions from numerous studies, the March of Dimes states that until more conclusive studies are done, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg/day and Health Canada recommends no more than 300mg/day. This could equal a morning Americano, an afternoon square of dark chocolate and a cup of green tea.

Looking for coffee alternatives?

Try Organic Swiss Water Process decaf or check out Red Espresso, this antioxidant powerhouse is made from Robios tea and brews up in your espresso maker. Paleo peeps are best to stay away from Dandilion blends as they often contain Rye, barley and other grains.  Teeccino makes a herbal 'coffee' substitute that is made without barley that is available in the USA but sadly, not in Canada. 

Want to stick with your coffee? 

No prob! Perhaps switching to 'half caf' . 

Bulletproof coffee  (if enjoyed in moderation) is certainly 'Meg the Midwife' Approved....with it's high MCT/Butterfat content and low toxic load, it makes a smart choice for the pregnant paleo cavemom and offers benefits to her growing baby.  

 

How much caffeine do you think is in here?!

How much caffeine is in that stuff?

1 oz dark chocolate 20mg

Kombucha GT’s (8oz) 8-14mg

Green tea 20- 50mg

Black Tea 20-90mg

Coffee:

The lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine content.

Espresso, Single Shot - 29-100 mg (often around 75 mg)

French press (8oz) ~ 120-200mg  (depends on grind & length of steep)

Decaf Coffee (8 oz) - 2-12 mg

Another little tidbit to part on:

Going for your Glucose Tolerance test? It’s best to skip the morning brew. A 2011 Study published in the Journal of American Perinatology showed that caffeine consumption impaired your glucose tolerance and increased your insulin resistance. This could mean a false positive result on your sugar test and the possibility for a false diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Nobody wants that! 

 

Meg 'the Paleo Midwife's' guide to Coffee, Tea and other Primal Brews in Pregnancy: Part 1 Herbal Tea

Wake up, do some yoga stretches, turn on the kettle and make your morning warm cup-a-goodness….wait….now that you’re pregnant, is this lovely morning ritual still okay?  What’s safe, what’s not? Here’s one Paleo Midwife’s take on the whole situation around tea and coffee in your paleo pregnancy.

Herbal Tea

Beneficial teas:

Red Raspberry Leaf:

- Acts as a natural uterine tonic. It won't put you into labour, but helps encourage the upper and lower uterine segments to learn to work together, which they need to do efficiently during labour. Think of it as a WOD for your uterus.

- When taken during pregnancy, red raspberry leaf is also believed to support your   immune system, ease morning sickness and promote better circulation, as well as assist with breast milk supply.

- One Study has shown that women who take red raspberry leaf have reduced incidence of birth interventions. Women who drink red raspberry leaf tea regularly towards the end of their pregnancies also have a shorter second stage of labour than those who don’t (after baby before the placenta) .

- The taste of raspberry leaf is a kind of ‘hay like’ or bitter, so you may want to sweeten it with some honey.  You can also buy it in premade bags. Yogi tea and Traditional Medicinal's both make good blends.  If you’re in your first trimester, one cup per day is great to drink. Aim to slowly increase amounts until you are in your third trimester, when I recommend up to 4-5 cups daily.

Ginger: May help combat nausea and can aid in digestion.

Nettle: Nettle will support kidneys, ease leg cramps and muscle spasms, reduce hemorrhoids and increase richness and amount of breast milk. Nettle also prevents kidney and bladder infections, aids in iron absorption and reduces blood sugar. Nettles are high in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium, and iron. Use in smaller amounts during pregnancy.

Dandelion: Helps with fluid retention, aids in liver detoxification and support. Again, this tea is recommended in small amounts, please drink occasionally.

Peppermint: Great for nausea and digestion. May make GERD a bit worse in some women. Consume as much as you like.

Lemon/Lemon Balm: May help ease anxiety and is great when blended into another flavor of tea. 

Rooibos aka Red Tea: Full of antioxidants and may help with GERD/reflux. Consume as much as you enjoy.  Makes a great “latte” and Red Espresso can be made in an espresso maker. I swear by this product www.redespresso.com As a former coffee snob, this tea blend creates a crema similar to a fine espresso. 

Teas Avoid

Licorice:  May raise blood pressure and contribute to fluid retention. A little bit in a blend is okay but don't drink it on it's own. 

Chamomile:  Chamomile has such powerful anti-inflammatory properties that regular consumption may result in a serious fetal heart problem, premature constriction of the fetal ductus arteriosus. This is the same reason why NSAIDS are to be avoided in pregnancy.

Senna: Is a natural laxative that can increase prostaglandin levels putting you at risk for preterm labour in addition to causing the runs and resulting dehydration and that's kind of a 'crappy' situation :) 

‘Meg the Midwife’s’ Pregnancy brew

Raspberry leaf 4 parts

Peppermint: 1 part

Nettle: 1 part

Third trimester: Dandelion 1 part

Blend these dried herbs and make a strong tea in a large glass jar by letting it sit overnight. Strain, and keep iced in the fridge.

Don’t have time to make my witches brew? Wanna buy it ?

Check out your local artisan tea makers, they often have great blends that are local and may be able to be customized. Otherwise, these are all good and tasty blends and available across North America. 

http://www.traditionalmedicinals.com/product/pregnancy-reg-tea

http://www.yogiproducts.com/products/details/womans-mother-to-be/


Stay tuned for my next post where I'll look at caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea...what's safe? What's not? Do you drink caffeine during your pregnancy?