Thanks for sending in your questions! Dr. Nicole Avena answered all your questions about pregnancy and nutrition. Follow us on Instagram to ask your questions!


Q&A with Dr. Nicole Avena

What is your take on lacking animal fats and proteins in your diet and fertility and healthy fetal development?

There are some vitamins (such as vitamin B12) that can only be found in animal products, so for those who are vegan or vegetarian, it is necessary to take a supplement for this nutrient (like our women’s prenatal pills). Omega 3’s like DHA and EPA are also hard to come by in vegetarian diets because they are mostly found in fish. ALA omega 3 fatty acids are abundant in plant-based foods like nuts and flax seeds, but the other types often must be supplemented. 

Kombucha while you’re pregnant. I’ve seen pros and cons. 

Kombucha contains small amounts of alcohol (but sometimes larger than advertised), so it is better to be safe than sorry and stay away from kombucha when you are pregnant.

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What is the number one thing to avoid and the best thing to eat? 

Fast food and red meat are both foods that you should cut down on when you are pregnant. There is not one magic food that will triple your fertility, but eating lots of legumes like chickpeas, fruits, vegetables, and low-mercury fish like salmon are all great places to start.

What is the amount of protein to eat while pregnant? 

You should aim to get about 10-35 percent of your daily calories from protein sources. For most women aged 19-70, this is about 46 grams. 

What’s the scoop on vaginal probiotics?

There is no evidence that really supports that vaginal probiotics are very effective, and it is possible that they can do more harm than good. They are most often unregulated by the FDA, and can sometimes even worsen the bacterial imbalance in your vagina.

Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist and an expert in diet during pregnancy and baby, toddler and childhood nutrition. Dr. Avena received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Psychology from Princeton University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology at The Rockefeller University in New York City. Check out her book, What to Eat When You're Pregnant.


Photo by Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash