Ways to strengthen your immune system during pregnancy
Your immune system has an extremely vital role, especially during your pregnancy. It protects your body from diseases, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and all other microorganism that can be harmful for you or your baby. Keeping your immune system during pregnancy strong is very important but can also be tricky as you really can’t just take any supplements or vitamins you normally would, especially with your prenatal vitamins.
What vitamins you need focus during pregnancy, especially when it’s flu or cold season or you are feeling a little weaker.
So here are our tips:
1. Iron Up!
Iron is not only one of the key minerals that helps to keep up your immune system to fight off infections and diseases during pregnancy, but also crucial for body functions, such as keeping up your energy and focus level and gastrointestinal processes.
It’s important to mention iron, as your blood volume and red blood cell production increase by at least 40% during pregnancy to supply your growing baby with oxygen and nutrients.
And for that reason alone, a lot of (almost 50%) pregnant women experience anaemia, iron deficiency during their second and third trimester.
The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) during pregnancy is 27 mg daily; for lactating women between 14 and 18 years, it is 10 mg daily; and lactating women at older than 19 years should consume 9 mg of iron daily. 1
You can get these amounts from a quality prenatal vitamin. Red meat and fish are some of the best sources of iron, but if your diet doesn't include animal protein, you can easily get iron from nuts, beans, fortified cereals, pastas, breads, grains and dark leafy greens.
- A cup of lentils (cooked) has 6.6 mg iron, whilst a cup of red kidney beans has 6 mg of iron.
- Cooked spinach has 6mg of iron per cup.
- A handful of nuts, such as almonds, cashews, peanuts or hazelnut have around 2mg of iron. The same amount as whole grains, such rice, oatmeal or barley.
- And great news, dark chocolate has lot of iron too! - 5mg per square.
2. Maximize Your D Intake
Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine” vitamin because the body creates it naturally when skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays. Vitamin D helps to regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate in your body. You need calcium and phosphate to keep your bones and teeth healthy, whilst it also supports the body’s immune system by helping to regulate cells focused on fighting infection.
Not having enough vitamin D when you are pregnant, or breastfeeding may prevent your baby from getting enough calcium and phosphate. This can cause him to develop weak teeth and bones. 2
Vitamin D is bit trickier to include through diet, and your doctor may advice you to take vitamin D supplements from the beginning of the pregnancy. As we all rely on sun as the source of vitamin D, it is also not easy to find vitamin D rich foods. 3
Pregnant women need around 30 mcg vitamin D per day. Oily fishes, such sardines, herring, mackerel contains around 20-30% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D intake. 100 grams of wild-caught salmon (wild or farmed can make a big difference) can contain up to124% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D intake. Other good source of vitamin D is mushrooms, egg yolks and just 20-30 minutes of sunbathing can also help to keep your vitamin D at a healthy level. 4
3. Start with your gut health
Did you know that over 70% of our body’s immune cells found in our gut? Our gut is home to a large number of good bacteria, known as microbiota. 5
These good gut bacteria help to fight off harmful bacteria, viruses and infections, but also help with healthy gut movement and vitamin and nutrient absorption of your body.
Prebiotic and probiotics
Taking probiotics is a great way of supporting and maintaining your gut health. You can find many supplements but natural food such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, miso, tempeh or kimchi is also a good source probiotics.
As a next step, taking prebiotics are just as important, as they feed your gut microorganism.
Many food has prebiotics naturally, such as cocoa, banana, apple, chicory root, onion, garlic, leek, asparagus or wheat. 6
And remember sleeping is as important as your gut heath and your daily vitamin intake. Sleeping also has great affect your immune system.
When you sleep, your body produces proteins called cytokines. Some of these cytokines help protect the body from inflammation, infection, and the effects of stress. If you don’t get enough sleep, however, cytokines and other protective organisms, namely infection-fighting antibodies, decrease or are no longer produced, leaving you more susceptible to getting sick. 7
To keep your immune system going strong, try to sleep 7 and 9 hours every night. However this is much easier said than done during pregnancy, as you will likely to wake up more often during the night and have disrupted sleep. More so towards the end of your pregnancy. So taking naps during the day can also be good way of boosting your immune system and body with a bit of extra energy. 8
The information included in this article and on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation.
2. Vitamin D in pregnancy. BabyCenter
3. National Institutes of Health Vitamin D and the Immune System. Aranow C, Author.
4. 7 Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D. Health Line
5. What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?. Medical News Today
7. The crosstalk between the gut and the immune system. NeuroHacker Collective
8. I'm having trouble sleeping lately. Does this increase my chances of getting sick? Insomnia. Diseases and Conditions. Mayo Clinic.