Are you a Mom-to-be? Or maybe the baby has arrived and you’re getting ready to celebrate your first Mother’s Day as a party of three! Either way, congratulations! Here at Green Valley, we love to celebrate Moms every day, but this year we wanted to do something special and talk about how lactose-free dairy can be part of a healthy prenatal, postpartum and breastfeeding diet.
Did you know that great nutrition is an important part of pregnancy for not only Mom, but the growing baby? We often hear what not to include in a prenatal diet (goodbye lunch meats and margaritas!) but let’s focus on all of the great things to incorporate into your diet. That includes lactose-free dairy products from Green Valley.
So, what exactly is lactose? It’s a type of sugar that is found in milk and other dairy products. Some people have difficulty digesting dairy because they do not have enough of the enzyme called lactase. Lactose-free dairy products have the lactase enzyme added in order to make it easier to digest. If you’re one of the 65% of the world’s population that is lactose intolerant, then you may be missing out on important nutrients found in dairy products (1). Lactose-free dairy solves this problem (very deliciously we might add)!
Dairy contains many important macronutrients, vitamins and minerals imperative to Mom’s health during the prenatal and postpartum period, especially if you’re breastfeeding. These nutrients also play a role in ensuring the growth of the baby. Specifically, a baby's bones neurological development bones and growth are on track.
One of the first things most people think of when it comes to dairy products is calcium. Calcium is naturally occurring in lactose free dairy products. It also provides you a lot of bang for your buck. One cup of yogurt provides about 200mg of calcium while 1 cup of spinach contains 30mg. You would need to eat almost 7 cups of spinach to get the same amount of calcium in one cup of yogurt! During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is to get 1,000mg of calcium per day. Calcium helps to build your baby’s bones and teeth (2). If you don’t take in enough, you run the risk of leaching calcium from your own bones in order to build your baby’s (a mother’s work is never done, right?!). You can only absorb about 500mg of Calcium at a time so it’s best to split it up throughout the day. Luckily, lactose-free dairy provides a hefty dose when it’s incorporated into your diet the right way.
Lactose-free dairy provides more than just calcium, though. It’s also a great source of protein, choline, iodine and vitamin B12. Some types of dairy, like yogurt and kefir, contain live & active cultures as well. Let’s look at what your needs are during pregnancy and breastfeeding:
Protein: this varies from person to person, but it’s somewhere between 60-75g/day (3,4). One cup of Green Valley Lactose Free Plain Kefir provides 11grams of protein.
Choline: 450mg/day is recommended (1). Choline is important for your baby’s brain development and may prevent some birth defects. Our bodies make some choline on their own, but your needs are greater during pregnancy and breastfeeding.It’s almost important to note that not all prenatal vitamins contain choline, making it even more imperative to get it in food form. You can get about 40mg in 1 cup of yogurt.
Probiotics: live and active cultures in yogurt and kefir are important for digestive health. There is not currently a recommended amount, but we know that fermented foods (like yogurt and kefir) help promote healthy gut bacteria.
Vitamin B12: you need 2.6mcg (1). It helps form the nervous system and create red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is typically found in animal products and dairy, making it difficult to get following a vegan diet. It’s also important to note that mothers who are breastfeeding need to continue to consume adequate vitamin B12 to ensure that infant’s are getting it through their milk
Iodine: the recommended amounts are 220ug during pregnancy and 290ug during breastfeeding (5). This is quite a jump from the 150ug needed prior to pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s found in dairy products and iodized salt. Iodine is important during both pregnancy and breastfeeding. It plays a part in the production of thyroid hormones, which are needed for brain and nervous system development.
Finally, it’s important to note the need for pasteurized products during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Pasteurization is the partial sterilization of a product. Dairy products that are unpasteurized pose a risk of foodborne illnesses. which can be especially harmful to pregnant women and their growing baby. Pasteurization provides safe and nutrient-rich dairy products.. Green Valley Lactose-Free products are all pasteurized.
Now onto the fun stuff, common pregnancy issues! These include heartburn and digestive complaints like diarrhea and constipation. Your digestive system changes during pregnancy as a result of hormones. An increase in the hormone progesterone may cause a slowing down of the digestive system, resulting in the issues mentioned above. Lactose-free dairy can be incorporated into the diet to help alleviate some of these issues.
Heartburn can be especially terrible during the third trimester of pregnancy, as the baby is pressing more against your stomach. This can make it difficult to eat almost anything! It’s a common result of acid reflux, which feels like a burning sensation behind your breast bone. Common triggers are spicy or high fat foods, citrus fruits and peppermint.
One common remedy is consuming low-fat dairy products, like milk or yogurt. The dairy acts as a buffer between the lining of the stomach and stomach acid. Yogurt is especially beneficial because the live cultures may promote digestion as well. It’s also ideal to split up your eating throughout the day. Instead of just three meals, go for 4-6 smaller meals or snacks throughout the day. Consuming smaller meals helps prevent your stomach from becoming too full as well as reduces the amount of stomach acid produced. During pregnancy, you also have less room for your stomach to expand as the baby grows.
Constipation is a big issue for many pregnant women. It’s characterized by infrequent or tough to pass bowel movements, bloating and pain. While fiber and proper hydration are key, adding in probiotics may be important as well. Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains have been shown to be effective. These are also two common strains in lactose-free yogurt and kefir.
Although not as common, and at the other end of the spectrum, diarrhea can still occur during pregnancy. Digesting lactose is especially difficult during bouts of diarrhea.. Choosing a dairy product that is lactose-free still allows you to meet your calcium and protein needs for the day.
Interested in how to include lactose-free dairy in a healthy prenatal/breastfeeding diet? Let’s start with the amount of calcium in various dairy products since you need a pretty significant amount during the day.
6oz (¾ cup) of Green Valley Lactose-Free Organic Plain yogurt contains 240mg of calcium
8oz (1 cup) of Green Valley Lactose-Free Organic Whole Milk Plain Kefir contains 320mg of calcium
8oz (1 cup) of Green Valley Lactose-Free Organic Cottage Cheese contains 50mg of calcium
An ideal day would include various forms of lactose-free dairy in addition to your prenatal vitamin (as recommended by ACOG). Here are a few ideas to incorporate lactose-free dairy into your day.
8oz of kefir in your green smoothie
2Tbsp of cream cheese on a whole wheat bagel
8oz of yogurt with berries and granola;
8oz of cottage cheese sprinkled with hemp seed hearts and raspberries
Kefir or yogurt popsicles
Tzatziki yogurt dip with cucumbers and pita
Chili with 2 Tbsp of sour cream (you could even try this with yogurt!)
Savory yogurt bowl with chickpeas, cucumbers, olive oil and seasonings;
Pasta sauce or Mac and cheese made with cream cheese
Try cottage cheese in place of ricotta in lasagna
We hope you learned a lot about prenatal, postpartum and breastfeeding nutrition and how lactose-free dairy can play a vital role. Pregnancy is often a time where we take the most care of ourselves as we’re growing our little ones. Learning how to optimize your nutrition using lactose-free dairy can help power you through to the next phase of your life.
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Nutrition during pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.acog.org/womens-he...
UCSF Health. (2020, October 06). Eating right before and during pregnancy. Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/edu...
Pregnancy nutrition. (2020, September 23). Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://americanpregnancy.org/...
Iodine. (2019, December 14). Retrieved May 05, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeed...