03 January

Why are essential fatty acids important in postpartum period?

The basic postpartum diet is a simple but healthy and wholesome one. One of the constituents of a healthy postpartum diet is fatty acids.

Fatty acids are the final breakdown product of fats in the diet. Fatty acids are either stored or used in the cells for energy. Fatty acids were once viewed as nothing more than a source of stored calories, but modern research has shown that the quality of fatty acids in the body has profound effects on human health.

Diseases related to inflammation, hormone imbalances, the immune system, behavioural problems, and the heart can often be partially or completely resolved if essential fatty acid levels are balanced through dietary changes or supplementation.

So, try to eat foods that supply your body with essential fatty acids, like fresh salmon, nuts, and seeds. Essential fatty acids are fatty acids that cannot be synthesized by our body, so it needs to be taken from outside via food. Essential fatty acids are found to have profound effects on the health of an individual. The two most important essential acids are omega 3 and omega 6 EFA. Omega 6 is found abundantly in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the two main beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

When a woman is pregnant, the baby needs large amounts of two specific fatty acids Arachidonic acid(AA) and Docosahexaenoic acid(DHA) to build the nerve membranes. Most of the cell membranes are made up of fatty acids. The baby gets all its nutritional need including these fatty acids in the usable form from the mother through the placenta in the first few months of pregnancy. Placenta draws DHA from the mother’s body.  Once the baby is 6 months old, he or she will be able to make

DHAs from the other fatty acids. As most of the development of the brain and the nerve connections happen in-utero and in the first year of life, it is very important that the baby gets its share of fatty acids from the mother’s breast milk. So nursing the baby the first year ensures a supply of DHA’s. Women who are pregnant or nursing are encouraged to increase their intake as it promotes proper cognitive development of the unborn baby and the first year of life. Studies show that motor skills, speech development, attention span and birth weight all showed positive increases in cases where women received adequate doses. While deficiency of DHA’s could affect the emotional and physical wellbeing of the mother.

-Eat whole, preferably organic, foods whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits. Some sources of DHA’s are marine fishes, like Salmons and Mackerel. Most plant sources contain ALA which can be converted in the body to DHA. Plant sources of ALA are nuts like walnuts, peanuts and seeds like sunflower seeds and beans, broccoli, canola oil, cauliflower, and corn. Postpartum time is the time the body is healing, recuperating. Pregnant women go through a lot of physical and emotional changes during pregnancy. Pamper yourself, Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods supply your body with antioxidants which help in keeping infections at bay. Avoid refined sugars and flour, during pregnancy and postpartum.

Last modified on Thursday, 03 January 2019 10:59
Dr Padma

Dr Padma is a Family care physician and is the Founder and CEO of MedHealthTV.


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