According to Wikipedia, Homo sapiens first arrived in Eurasia 125,000 – 60,000 years ago. Eurasia, for those who missed fourth grade science, is the name of the land mass now known as Europe and Asia. Asia currently has a population of 3.9 billion people, which is SIXTY percent of the the world’s population. (China is the highest populated country in the world, Japan is number ten). It is the world’s fastest growing economic region and has half the world’s foreign exchange reserves. East Asians–Chinese, Japanese,Korean, Taiwanese, Mongolian, Vietnamese–have the highest I.Q. ‘s in the world and most of the wealth of Asia is concentrated in this area. According to dietsinreveiw.com, Asian people are some of the healthiest in the world. They have the lowest incident of heart disease, diabetes, and cancers related to obesity. Japanese women have the longest life span in the world. Thus it can be inferred from this data that in the last 100, ooo years Asian women have been having many healthy babies who are not mentally or physically deficient. Darwinism says they are in fact building stronger humans, as their population could neither be maintained nor grow with high infant mortality rates or short lifespans or fragile women. These are countries where (pregnant or not) raw fish and meat are consumed on a daily basis, where rotten fish sauce and all manner of offal are eaten without the blink of an eye,where cooking utensils are not scrubbed and washed to surgical precision, where two-thirds of the world’s fish are consumed. Could it be that the majority of pre-natal books, websites, television celebrities and, dare I say it, DOCTORS in the United States are full of shit? Shall I be more eloquent? I know my language offends my mother, and this is a piece about being a mother in the US, so I shall attempt to bring my writing to a “higher” level. How about this–this nation and its population is driven by fear and it infuriates me.
When a woman gets pregnant in this country she is given lists of things to eat and not to eat. Raw fish, smoked fish, raw meat, raw eggs, soft cheese and unwashed vegetables are verboten because of mercury and bacteria. The www.epa.gov states
“For fetuses, infants, and children, the primary health effect of methylmercury is impaired neurological development. Methylmercury exposure in the womb, which can result from a mother’s consumption of fish and shellfish that contain methylmercury, can adversely affect a baby’s growing brain and nervous system. Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to methylmercury in the womb” So let us talk about mercury. Everyone and their brother seems to have the little fold-up chart created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services but do they know how the fish are tested or that all fish have mercury? Are they aware that almost
everyone in the United States has some level of mercury in their system? It boils down to this–all fish have mercury, big fish eat little fish, large fish have more mercury than little fish. Mercury levels are tested on dead fish and living fish, but are these fish living in areas where industrial activity, chemical manufacturing and wastewater treatment plants are poorly regulated ? Environmentalchemistry.com says that “certain species of large tuna sometimes have levels” (italics mine) of more than one part per million, yet we are told NO RAW TUNA. I am not a fan of absolutes. Pregnant or not, you should know the source of your food. How much raw tuna and what kind of tuna are you eating? Yes, there are many different types of tuna, not just our bespectacled Charlie. You would have to consume POUNDS of tuna a month to show any ill effects. Cooking fish doesn’t alter the mercury content so avoid the kings–swordfish, shark and tilefish (swordfish is pretty nasty with its tumors, mercury or not). Albacore tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna so ease up on that–not to mention the dolphin and birds that are trapped and suffocated by the nets used to gather albacore. What about freshwater fish? Well, look out for industrial pollutants in bluefish, striped bass, salmon, pike, and walleye. You can eat shrimp and catfish–although shrimp eats phytoplankton so anything floating in the sea will go right into it, which includes the disgusting BP oil spill of 2010. Catfish are bottom feeders. If you read all of this without doing any research on your own you won’t eat fish again. Which is a bad decision–a decision created out of fear and ignorance.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine states the low consumption of seafood in early pregnancy is a risk factor for pre-term delivery and low birth weight. “Seafood is the predominant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for optimum neural development…raw fish should be avoided because of parasite but freezing and cooking are the most effective way to kill parasite larvae.” The FDA requires sushi/sashimi flash frozen to destroy parasites . I feel a strong urge to repeat that: the FDA requires sushi/sashimi flash frozen to destroy parasites. Steven Shaw of the New York Times says, “In Japan, eating raw fish is considered part of good neonatal health” and that the fatty acids in fish are ideal nourishment for your growing baby.Wikipedia tells us “it is particulary important for pregnant women to get enough choline, since low choline intake may raise the rate of neural tube defects in infants and may affect memory”. Choline is a building block for the neurotransmitter acetycholine which is crucial for memory, intelligence and mood regulations. Raw tuna has 363 mg / oz of omega-3 and 18.2 choline but when it is cooked the choline is gone. Raw sockeye has 365 mg omega-3/oz and 26.5 choline–when cooked the choline is reduced to 18.3 mg/oz. Raw fish roe has 335mg choline per tablespoon. And the number one source of choline is the raw egg yolk–1388 mg. Tobiko with quail egg anyone? It seems to me that eating your favorite roll or sashimi platter is right in line with nourishing your baby and yourself. Even the American Pregnancy Organization is with me–eat no more than three 6 ounce portions a month of ahi, hamachi, katsuo, maguro and toro. Unless you are dating the sushi chef, you are not going to see portions to top those numbers as the average roll contains two ounces of fish–that is nine rolls a month my pregnant friends.
How about those terrible bacteria we are supposed to avoid in raw meat and soft cheese and unwashed vegetables? I must segue here–unwashed vegetables? All I can picture is a woman calmly putting pieces of dirt covered greens in her mouth, smiling as the grit gathers in her teeth. We learned in California, washed or not, that something as innocent as spinach and cantaloupe can carry the bacteria Listeria . How do you wash a cantaloupe? Doesn’t the skin of the melon protect us? Nope, listeria multiply at refrigerator temperatures and that silly old skin ain’t stopping none of it. How about this one–the third leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in this country is from Toxoplasma gondii. It isn’t just litter boxes and feral cats pooping in your garden. It can be consumed from undercooked lamb, pork and venison. However, 60 million people in the U.S. carry this parasite but their immune system stops illness. If you are not healthy anything can get you. Bacteria are good. The yogurt industry sold 50 billion gallons of yogurt with its probiotics hoo-ha. Those are beneficial bacteria. Babies who are exposed to animals and farming develop much stronger immune systems than those who are shuttled around in mommy’s little antiseptic grocery go-getter. The unbelievable increase in child food allergies only emphasizes my point–stop raising your child in fear. How can so many kids be suddenly allergic to lactose, to peanuts, to gluten? But I digress from my point–pregnant women have been birthing babies for a long, long time without Jenny McCarthy and the internet telling us what to eat and how to act and what to do. I cite statistics of East Asia to show that this country needs to stop listening to “experts”. Humans have been procreating for a loooong time and they aren’t doing too bad. I ate red meat for weeks straight, because that is what my body was craving. I ate sushi most of my pregnancy, and my son apparently had the thickest placental cord my doctor had ever seen. I practiced yoga until I gave birth, including “bad” moves for knocked up ladies, and my son is and was the most chill child ever. It seems to me that a continent that produces bilingual economic geniuses may be looked at as a reference point for fetal nutrition. I don’t care what the books say or what a sixty year old male doctor says. Women need to believe what their body tells them. They also need to research what and why–if the doctor said to start smoking because studies say the nicotine relaxes the fetus people would laugh in his face. So why automatically assume his dietary rules are correct and absolute? I believe people use rules to prove to themselves and others that they are following a regimine rather than doing whatever they want, which shows no discipline. They can cite a book or a website to support their behaviors, or claim “my doctor said” to do X, Y, or Z. However, blindly accepting “authority” or other opinion simply means you are lazy. Please, educate yourselves and EAT MORE SUSHI!!