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The Brewer's Pregnancy Diet – The Solution To Pre-Eclampsia?

Dr. Tom Brewer created the Brewer's Diet in the 1950s-1960s, attributing pre-eclampsia and pregnancy issues to insufficient blood volume from malnutrition. In 1983, he co-authored "The Brewer Medical Diet for Normal and High-Risk Pregnancy" with Gail Sforza Brewer.

In this article, we will briefly define the Brewer’s diet and then delve deeper into brewers diet checklist, the benefits and side effects of this diet.

What is the Brewer’s pregnancy diet?

The Brewers diet aims to prevent pre-eclampsia by adopting proper nutrition and hydration status. The basic recommendations for the Brewer’s diet include a daily protein intake of 80g to 120g during pregnancy.

Protein serves as the essential building block for both the mother and her baby. The Brewer diet encourages pregnant women to eat at regular intervals, including a bedtime snack, ensuring no more than 12 hours between meals.

This diet emphasizes breakfast, mid-morning meals, and afternoon snacks, as well as nighttime feeding to provide continuous nutrition for the baby.

Dr. Brewer allows salt intake during pregnancy, potentially alleviating issues, such as leg cramps. However, balance is key.

Pre-eclampsia and the Brewer’s diet

The primary benefit of the Brewer's diet is significantly reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia during pregnancy.

Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure and organ damage, which can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby. By following the Brewer's diet, pregnant women can take a proactive step in preventing pregnancy complications.

The diet's emphasis on a well-balanced and nutrient-rich intake appears to contribute to this positive outcome, providing pregnant women with a practical way to reduce hypertensive disorders during pregnancy.

The Brewer’s pregnancy diet (Step-by-step guide)

Increase high-quality protein intake

The Brewer's diet recommends the consumption of four servings of milk or calcium-rich foods each day. This includes drinking at least one quart (equivalent to four 8-ounce glasses) of milk daily and incorporating two servings of protein sources such as eggs, fish, chicken, lean beef, lamb, pork, or cheese into the diet.

By following these guidelines, pregnant women ensure a high protein intake, providing a consistent supply of essential nutrients to support the rapid growth of the developing fetus.

Nutritional fact – One serving of fish or meat is approximately 65g to 100g.

Add fresh leafy greens and whole grains to your diet

In addition to protein, the Brewer's diet highlights the importance of leafy green vegetables, such as:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage

These vegetables (75g per serving) provide essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy pregnancy. What’s more, the diet recommends five servings of whole-wheat bread, corn tortillas, or cereal, which not only provide additional protein but also supply a wide array of essential minerals and vitamins.

With each serving comprising 16g of whole grains, the daily intake in this diet type totals to 80g of whole grains.

Diversify your food intake

The last step to fully adopt the Brewer’s diet is to diversify your diet. The plan includes five servings of yellow- or orange-colored vegetables five times a week, offering an array of beneficial nutrients.

Animal liver is also recommended once a week as a rich source of essential micronutrients. Additionally, the diet suggests consuming a whole baked potato three times a week.

Finally, ensure that you are drinking sufficient fluids to prevent dehydration.

Side effects of Brewer’s pregnancy diet

1.      Lack of evidence-based research

Despite the popularity of the Brewer’s diet, there is a clear lack of evidence to support its benefits.

In other words, there are no rigorous clinical trials that prove its effectiveness. To eliminate any doubts about this diet, we need a clinical trial that compares two groups of pregnant women:

Group one – Pregnant women following the Brewer's diet

Group Two – Pregnant women following a regular or poor diet

Despite the lack of prospective studies, Dr. Brewer and his team conducted a retrospective study, relying on the feedback of pregnant women who visited his clinic. The results of this study revealed significant reductions in pre-eclampsia rates in specific populations where it had previously been as high as 40 percent after following the Brewer’s diet.

2.      Too much protein!

The recommended protein intake by the Brewer’s diet is around 80 to 120g. This range may increase the risk of some renal diseases.

Studies suggest a different protein guideline, starting at 0.83g/kg of body weight during the first trimester and increasing gradually to 1g, 9g, and 28g/day in the first, second, and third trimesters, respectively.

This translates to 57g of protein daily for a person weighing 68kg pre-pregnancy in the first trimester and 84g in the third trimester.

3.      An imbalance between vegetables and whole grains

The Brewer's diet recommends a daily intake of 5 servings of whole-grain foods. This doesn't significantly differ from the 'regular' food pyramid endorsed by the HSE, which suggests 3 to 5 portions of whole cereals, bread, potatoes, pasta, or rice.

However, the Brewer’s diet recommendation for fruits and vegetables only suggests 2 servings of dark leafy veggies and 2 servings of vitamin C-rich foods.

4.      Consuming too many calories

The Brewer's diet prescribes a daily calorie intake of 2,600.

Traditional sources recommend the following caloric intake during pregnancy:

  • 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester
  • 2,200 during the second trimester
  • 2,400 during the third trimester of pregnancy

The reasoning behind the Brewer’s diet caloric recommendation is that when a woman consumes 1/3 fewer calories than the recommended 2600 (1700 calories), a significant portion of the protein she consumes gets used for energy instead of for vital purposes, including building blocks (e.g., albumin).

Unfortunately, this could hinder the expansion of blood volume, which is crucial during pregnancy.

Takeaway message

The Brewer’s diet is a proactive approach to preventing pre-eclampsia and associated complications, especially in high-risk pregnancies.

We hope that this article managed to highlight and explain the details of the Brewer’s diet, as well as its limitations in practice.

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