Brain health is one of the biggest concerns of hopeful and expectant mothers. Having a healthy immune system during and in preparation for pregnancy is important for baby’s brain health and development.
The reason the immune system is important for brain development is because too much “maternal immune activation” is associated with mental health problems in the baby such as autism, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.
The reason the immune system is important for baby’s brain health is that sometimes the mother’s immune system can adversely affect the baby’s brain. It is important to do your best not overactivate the immune system during pregnancy.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve the health of your immune system and increase the chances your baby will have a healthy, happy brain. I’ve compiled a list of things you can do to ensure your immune system is prepared for a healthy pregnancy.
Eat a brain healthy diet – Eating a diet that is rich in whole foods and vegetables decreases inflammation and immune activation. One of the most important nutrients to decrease inflammation is omega-3 fatty acids. Get at least 1000mg of omega-3 fatty acids daily. If you don’t eat wild salmon or BPA-free sardines, get omega-3 fatty acids in triglyceride form. Also, ensure that you have adequate vitamin and mineral status. Again, vegetables are great, especially dark green ones. Organic grass-fed liver is a wonderful source of anti-inflammatory nutrients such as zinc and B vitamins. If you are concerned about your vitamin status there are tests and evaluations that can be done. Avoid foods you’re sensitive to or have allergic reaction to.
Have a healthy gut flora – The bacteria in your intestines are an important part of the immune system. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of non-starchy vegetables is the best way to have a healthy gut flora. Antibiotics kill the healthy bacteria in your intestines that help calm the immune system and protect you from harmful bacteria and candida. Therefore, antibiotics should only be used when necessary and should be used with caution. If they’re necessary you should take measures to repopulate your intestines with healthy bacteria, such as taking a quality probiotic and eating homemade sauerkraut.
Minimize exposure to influenza and other infections – especially rubella and toxoplasmosis. Getting sick is normal and often unavoidable, however, it pays to take precautions when you’re pregnant because infections will activate the immune system and in rare cases may harm the baby. When you are in public, take precautions not to get exposed to illnesses by washing hands, avoiding touching public objects, and contact with others whenever possible. Airline flights are known to spread infections quite readily. Some immune system experts advise against getting immunizations during pregnancy because this activates the immune system and may pose a risk. Avoid toxoplasmosis infections, which are spread by cats, especially through feces. Have someone else clean the cat litter box when you’re pregnant.
Get vitamin D3 through sunlight or supplementation
Exercise – Quality exercise decreases inflammation and is healthy for the immune system.
Get Adequate Sleep – Get 7-9 hours of sleep at night so that your immune system will be optimized.
By taking the above steps, you can improve your immune system and improve the chances your baby will develop a healthy brain.