By: Karen R Hurd
You can beat this
The cause and cure for morning sickness has been shrouded in mystery for a long time. But it is really not that difficult to understand, neither is it that difficult to conquer. Most medical texts say the cause is either hormonal or unknown. The standard answer of eating several small meals per day or coating the gastrointestinal tract with crackers or fruit is usually not effective. Even worse is the recommendation to take vitamin B6. This usually exacerbates the morning sickness, not abates it. Additionally, you do not have to feel nauseous only in the morning to have morning sickness. The nauseous feeling can come at anytime of the day or night.
A powerful ally with a sidekick
When a woman becomes pregnant certain hormones are produced in large amounts. One of these hormones is the hCG hormone (Human chorionic gonadotropin). This hormone is primarily responsible for maintaining the pregnancy. The measurement of this hormone is the most common diagnostic tool to confirm conception. Non-pregnant women will not have significant levels of hCG, in fact oftentimes it cannot be detected at all. The hCG hormone will keep a woman from spontaneously aborting (miscarrying) the newly conceived child. However, these high levels of hCG precipitate a response from the liver. The liver is stimulated to produce larger amounts of a digestive enzyme called bile. The hCG hormone is our powerful ally, working to maintain the pregnancy. The bile, whose release is stimulated by the hCG hormone, is the sidekick that causes the morning sickness. The encouraging news is that the more nauseous you feel, the less likely you will miscarry.
Why bile makes us feel nauseous
Bile is a digestive enzyme designed to break down the fatty acids that we eat. When we have no fatty acids in our duodenum (the first part of the small intestine and what most people commonly call “the stomach”), there is nothing to digest but YOU! This causes us to feel nauseous. We will feel a queasiness in the center of our upper abdomen, right under the sternum (the small bony extension where the front rib cage joins together) and above the belly button (umbilical cord site).
But eating fats is not the answer
Oh, ho! You must be thinking now that if you put fatty acids into your digestive tract that this will solve the problem. It seems to make sense that if the bile is meant to digest fatty acids all we need to do is give the bile the fatty acids it wants to digest. Then the bile will not bother our intestinal lining making us feel nauseous. But, when we eat foods with fats in them, it actually causes a further release of bile. Now we have the original bile making us feel queasy PLUS a new onslaught of this same nauseous-causing substance. Then there is more to the bile story.
Bile carries expended hormones
Bile is also the carrier of expended hormones. Because the liver is responsible for filtering fat soluble substances from the bloodstream, hormones (which are fat soluble) are collected by the liver. The liver has the job of expelling from the body these expended hormones. The only exit out of the body that the liver has available to it is the bile. Bile will leave the liver, travel to the gall bladder, continue its journey to the duodenum, and thread its way through the rest of the small intestine and then the large intestine. Finally it will be expelled out of the body through a bowel movement. Well, that is the design of our Creator, but when we eat the way of the Western world this plan can be thwarted. Before I explain that, I need to impress upon you this fact: the more hormones that are filtered out of the bloodstream by the liver, the more bile the liver will release for the purpose of disposing these hormones. When more bile is released, the probability of nausea increases drastically.
How the Western diet affects bile
In the West, we generally eat very high-fat diets. The more fat we eat, the more we stimulate the liver to release bile in order to break down these fats. However, bile itself is a fat; and not all of the bile fats will exit the body. In fact, a large amount of the bile will be reabsorbed and recycled to the liver. The problem with the bile recycling is that these bile fats carry much waste. This debris has been filtered out of the bloodstream and put in the bile fat carriers to be escorted out of the body. But if the bile recycles, so does the waste that is carried in the bile fat. This means that there is more debris to be discarded in the next release of bile. The repeated recycling of the same bile creates nasty debris-laden bile that will make us feel even more nauseated.
Bile’s good buddy
I mentioned above how the Western high fat diet contributes to an elevated bile production. But even more significant is the lack of soluble fiber in the Western diet. Soluble fiber is found in legumes (there are other sources but they are so minimally endowed with soluble fiber that it is not worth mentioning them for the relief of morning sickness). Legumes are pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans (also known as chick peas), black-eyed peas, lentils, black beans, red beans, navy beans, white beans, great northern beans, crowder peas (also known as field peas), yellow-eyed beans, and the list goes on. They are also termed “soup beans.” Most Westerners will admit that it is not often that we eat beans, if ever. These beans are dense with soluble fiber. Soluble fiber and bile (or any fatty acid) have a great affinity toward one another. In fact, they will bind so tightly together that they cannot be parted. As no fiber (soluble or insoluble) can cross the intestinal barrier, all the bile that has been bound together with the soluble fiber will exit the body through a bowel movement. That means the bile will not recycle. That means the bile will not grow nasty with accumulating debris. That means you will feel less nauseous.
Less nauseous? Could I feel no nausea?
Yes, it is possible for you to feel no nausea from the blessing of increased hCG levels. I say “blessing” because the increased hCG means that you will most likely have a full term pregnancy. Eliminating the nausea does not decrease the production of the hCG hormone, but it just negates the hCG side effect of nausea.
I think you already know. The answer is to eat legumes. Now you must know to what extent you must eat legumes. If you are feeling nauseous, you must immediately consume your beans. You will need to eat at least 2-4 tablespoons of cooked legumes. If you would like to eat more, you may. You should see relief in under 20 minutes. The nausea will go away or at least be abated. However, the nausea will be back in a period of time. That period of time is dependent upon the liver’s stimulation to produce more bile. If the hCG hormone is at high levels, it won’t be long (20 minutes to 4 hours) before you are feeling that queasy feeling again. Then what? You eat your beans again. And so you go. You eat beans every time you have that nauseous feeling. If that means you are spending the majority of your time at the table with a bowl of beans in front of you, so be it! It will only be for a short period of time. As the bile is carried out of your body, the successive releases of bile become less potent with debris. After the consumption of legumes, each release of bile is less nauseating. Eventually (within a few days) you will not have to hang your head over a pile of beans all day. In fact, you will be able to consume beans at your meals (generally ½ cup at each meal) to prevent the morning sickness from reoccurring.
Are there any side effects to eating legumes?
None, except the possibility of flatulence (commonly known as gas). And to be fair, it is not the beans that cause the gas; it’s the bile. As the bile binds with the beans, it ferments them creating gas. The beans get the blame, but it’s really a function of bile. If you do have gas and it is not causing you physical discomfort, continue on the legumes. The gas eventually will go away as the bile is cleared and not allowed to recycle. If you have gas to the extent that it causes you pain (not social pain, but physical pain), decrease your intake of beans at one setting. Instead of eating the 2-4 tablespoons plus, eat a few teaspoons. Then gradually increase your intake until you can eat ample amount of the legumes. I would like to point out though that the majority of women who are experiencing morning sickness will not have much trouble with gas with the addition of legumes to their diet.
Do not be fooled by simplicity
The answer to morning sickness, as you can see, is not that difficult. I urge you to try the solution. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that this is too simple of an answer. I am always amazed at how difficult we make things. Ladies, eat your beans! You will be surprised and grateful at how your pregnancy will become wonderful.
© 2014. Used by permission of Karen R. Hurd, nutritionist. For more information, www.KarenHurd.com.