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Independent health store advice on nutrition, supplements and lifestyle tips to support a healthy pregnancy

Looking for advice on natural wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Lorin Taylor from Licorice Healthfoods in Portumna, Co Galway

Pregnancy is an exciting, hopeful, energising, scary and sometimes overwhelming part of a woman's life, indeed sometimes all of these at the same time.

We are immediately told of all the things not to do – don't eat raw fish or eggs, don't eat soft cheese, cut down on caffeine, don't smoke, don't drink.

And while all of that is good advice, we are seldom reminded of all the positives, how motivating and empowering it can be, and how to take time for yourself, join a pregnancy yoga group, take yourself for that nap. Go for it, who is going to argue with a pregnant lady?

Looking after your diet is essential, but with the sheer amount of advice out there it can be hard to go through it all and pick what suits you. During the first three months morning sickness can be really difficult. Ginger, either in tea or a lozenge, can be of huge help with this, along with eating often and less, choosing plain biscuits and foods that don't smell too strongly.

Much of what we already know about a balanced diet still applies during pregnancy, it's nice to know the added benefits to your baby that your food is giving.

Oily fish at least once a week is good for omega-3s, used in development of your baby's brain and eyes, also for containing vitamins A and D3.

The usual five a day for fruit and vegetables applies, though I am more inclined to recommend seven a day. Make sure to get a decent amount of green leafy veg such as broccoli and kale as these are high folate foods, essential for baby's development. It's worth noting too that a folic acid supplement is recommended, especially in the first three months.

Constipation can be a problem during pregnancy, so focusing on the wholegrain version of foods can help, including wholemeal bread, cereals and pasta, as well as oats, dried fruits including prunes, pulses, nuts and seeds.

Drinking plenty of water can help keep constipation at bay, including herbal teas and diluted juices. It's worth keeping an eye on the licorice content of herbal teas as it's often used as a sweetener. It's usually absolutely fine, but worth remembering that it can contribute to high blood pressure.

Make sure to add plenty of iron-rich foods as your pregnancy progresses – lean red meats, chicken thighs and fish as well as plant sources such as dried apricots, for example. The body doesn't absorb iron from plants very easily, so include a vitamin C-rich food with your meal, like orange juice. The vitamin C helps you to absorb the iron. Stay away from black tea during meal times as the tannins in it can reduce the iron you absorb .

In the last couple of months of pregnancy heartburn can be an issue, luckily it's only temporary. There are a few natural remedies for this that your friendly health food shop can help you with, such as ranges of excellent prenatal supplements. It's worth noting that small changes, like eating smaller meals more often and staying away from fatty or spicy foods, can help a lot.

During your last three months baby is growing fast and calcium is a very important nutrient at this time. Your need for calcium effectively doubles during your last three months - you can supplement or focus on calcium-rich foods, or a bit of both, as well as dairy-based foods. Good sources of calcium include green leafy veg, canned fish such as salmon and sardines with soft edible bones, almonds, apricots, tofu and fortified soya milk.

What's What and Who's Who at Licorice Healthfoods

Lorin Taylor has been the owner-manager of Licorice Healthfoods since it opened in 2012.

I remember my mum told me that there was an empty unit in the town that had been a health store, and I looked at it in September, then we decided to go for it and opened on October 22nd. We started from the ground up, but luckily I had the contacts from having worked in this field before.

We are the only health store in Portumna and it took about three years for the store to really take off. It's hard to believe that this year we will be celebrating 10 years! We now have three staff members including me.

The store is right in the centre of the town and opposite the post office, so we get quite a lot of passing trade. Portumna has a huge catchment area, and customers come into the town to stock up. Our customer base is really diverse with retired people, business people, people looking for organic foods and mothers of young children and teens.

We have a really wide range of stock, and a good reputation for sourcing what people are looking for. When people stop in the town and come in looking for something I hope to have it in, then they will come again. I suppose supplements are our bread and butter, but we cater for specialist diets and other needs too. I get a real buzz out of helping people and having happy customers. Often someone will come in with a long list of things, and we have a chat and will narrow it down to a few things that will actually help them.

In the centre of the store is our herbal tea section with everything you can think of. Our food stock includes juices, oils, snacks, a gluten-free section with sauces, pastas and flour, chilled fridges for Udo's, other supplements and foods such as tofu, and then we have prepacks of oats, beans, seeds and so on. Once a week we have a delivery from a local farmer of fruit and vegetables and free range eggs which is very popular.

Our body and haircare section includes all the big names with shampoos and hair colours, skincare, dental products, sanitary protection, local palm-free soap, bamboo toothbrushes and a new CBD based range.

Our household section includes a refill service for laundry liquids and conditioners, washing up liquid, toilet cleaner, hand sanitiser, shampoo and conditioner and bodywash.

VISIT: 2 Patrick St, Portumna, Co Galway
SPEAK TO: Lorin Taylor owner-manager and assistants Angelina Taylor and Fiona Coates.
CONTACT: 0909 759977
OPENING HOURS: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm with lunch 1-2pm.

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