Skip to main content

Kresser and Wolf Discuss Healthy Fat for Mothers-To-Be

A Smart Baby!
A Smart Baby!
Though I'm a bit behind on my podcasts right now (after a marathon listening routine to catch up with Angelo Coppola's Latest in Paleo podcast), I listened to Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution podcast yesterday and came away from it with a couple of little meat gobbets of info that I found interesting from a Paleo mental healthtype standpoint.

Robb had the Healthy Skeptic, Chris Kresser, on as a guest, talking about Kresser's new product called the Healthy Baby Code, which is an instructional series on the best ways to take care of yourself if you want to conceive (mostly for women, though some would most certainly be applicable to men), if you're currently pregnant, and how to take care of your baby once the happy day arrives.

The two portions of the podcast that I found most interesting from a standpoint of mental development were at 22:30 and 42:42.  The first was where Chris and Robb were discussing proper macronutrient levels for a pregnant mother and Robb pointed out the benefits of ketones for fetal brain development.  Ketones, as you may recall from previous posts, are the energy substances created by the body when carb intake is low and the protein and fat intake are high, forcing the body to generate energy from body fat instead of carbs.

One of the key things to point out here is that we don't want pregnant ladies to fast in any way to increase their ketone production, that's not healthy for them nor the baby.  Instead, the healthy thing to do is to increase the intake of fat and lower carbohydrate intake (particularly fructose intake) to force the creation of ketones that can then be transferred to the baby through the placental wall and help to fuel the baby as it is developing.

Robb Wolf:
"...something that folks don' not widely understood is that ketone formation is actually critical for normal fetal brain development.  And these ketone bodies actually end up being structural elements that go into fetal brain development.  So if the individual is so insulin-resistant or so cortisol-laden from, say, if the protein intake is too high, or if generally the individual is in kind of a metabolically-deranged state, it can be very hard to produce ketone bodies. And so it's another individual stressor on the body trying to get these basic substrates that are necessary for normal brain development."

The study listed here indicates that a low-glycemic load diet (as compared to a low-fat diet) in pregnant women resulted in longer gestation period (i.e. fewer premature births) and increased head circumference (larger brain).

Now this is not to say that removing carbs entirely is a good thing in these cases.  As this study shows, a mid-range of carbohydrate intake was best for brain development as compared to no-carb or a standard amount of carbs.

The second point of interest was the discussion of fish intake by pregnant mothers.  Kresser pointed out that the fear of mercury in fish can somewhat be ignored in most fish, as the presence of selenium in fish has a tendency to offset the effects of mercury as the two elements tend to bond together and the resulting substance is not well-absorbed by humans - passing that substance through the digestive system and out in the feces.

Not all fish have high levels of selenium: Pilot Whales (not a cultural norm in the west, naturally), tarpon, marlin, swordfish, and some species of shark do not have high levels of seleniuim, and should be avoided.  But small fish such as sardines, mackerel, and anchovies have low levels of mercury to begin with (as they don't take nearly as long to grow to adult size, and therefore don't have time to take in much mercury) as well as high levels of selenium, and are perfect for pregnancy DHA intake.

Most fish, on the other hand, is very high in long chain Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA), which is very critical in the development of the fetal brain. DHA is found almost exclusively in seafood, though small amounts can be found in ruminant animal fat such as cows and sheep.  And DHA is very important in the early part of pregnancy as brain development is taking place, as well as in the first two years of infancy.  It's crucial in both neuron development and protection of the brain against oxidative damage.  Studies have shown that nutrients in fish can boost a child's IQ by up to ten points.

Kresser recommends eating 12 oz. of fish per week by pregnant women, but most American women eat 5 oz or less, and pregnant women consume less due to the mercury scare.

Kresser's Healthy Baby Code is available now, and Kresser is offering a 90 minute MP3 of QandA about the code for free!

Thoughts on this topic?  What's your experience with fat in the diet during pregnancy? 


  1. I craved tuna during my second pregnancy, and my son was recently tested with a 150 IQ. Who knows? I worried a lot because I heard about the mercury scare after the pregnancy. I also ate from the salad bar every day. So, it all turned out okay.

  2. That tuna probably helped your son a lot! Nice work.

  3. It helps to know the right nutrients for your body. This is to maintain your health.

    dentist memphis tn


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Caffeine and Cortisol - a 30-Day Experiment

No Caffeine for Me! Today, I began upon a 30-day experiment to reduce my cortisol levels by removing coffee from my diet. The goal is to see how it might be affecting my cognitive function and my belly fat. Cortisol is a hormone that is related to stress .  At a very basic level, cortisol is created as a response to stressors in our environment.  Back when we were still chucking spears at deer and chasing down antelope, cortisol was helping to preserve our lives by giving us quick energy by signalling to our livers that it was time to engage in a process known as gluconeogenesis. This process is basically the breakdown of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, into glucose - one of the two monosaccharides (the healthy one) that our bodies use for fuel. Picture this - you're walking across the street, enjoying the day, when suddenly some inattentive driver tries to turn and doesn't see you.  Your heart rate speeds up, and you get a little burst of speed to quickly sprint o

More on Journaling: So many tools...

Journaling was long a habit that I wanted to pick up but just never did.  And it was never because I didn't believe in its worth, it was that I just never built the habit or found the proper method that worked best for me.  I'd start it for a while, be enthusiastic about it, and then lose the habit when something else came up and interrupted me.   That's all changed for me now, as I look forward each morning and night to journaling in my newest tool I've found.  But that search has clued me in to a ton of great journaling tools that might help you as you're looking for that great push to get you into the journaling habit!   The Five-Minute-Journal:    This is obviously   the one I've adopted .  It's simple, it's quick, and it does the trick.  I won't expand into stuff I've already talked about with this in the two posts I've done on this fantastic tool.  But let's talk about some of the other aspects of the Five-Minute Journal.

Capture Those Crazy Ideas with Connected Mind

Are you one of those people whose brainstorming abilities are barely under control?  When you have an idea, do the details come pouring forth in a tidal wave, and get lost as they crash to the shore and pour back into the sea? That is me in a nutshell.  I'm full of ideas, but when they come it's hard for me to get them under control and organize anything.  I've tried notepads, using my good friend Evernote , and a whole host of other stuff to get those crazy ideas under control and in some semblance of readability.  But that's tough sometimes when you have eighty things going on at once.  Enter my new favorite tool, the mind map .  I don't know if you've ever come across this concept, but basically it's something like this:   The basic idea is that the shape at the middle is the "main topic" at hand.  The branches out from the main topic are the subtopics, and then the smaller branches are the details, etc. It's a simple enough conc