Pregnancy is the most blissful and delicate phase of a woman’s life. Being physically fit is as important as your mental or emotional health, and for a healthy pregnancy, you should follow certain precautions with respect to food. You need to consult with your doctor for pregnancy nutrition advice. However, below is a list of some foods to eat while pregnant and others to avoid.
What Are The Best Foods to Eat While Pregnant?
- Eggs: Egg is a rich source of protein and the ultimate health food for pregnant women. Eggs contain almost every nutrient needed during pregnancy, especially choline, which is vital. Choline helps in the development of the baby’s brain and prevents abnormalities. Eating 1-2 eggs per day is suggested during pregnancy.
- Legumes: Legumes are plant-based sources of iron, protein, fibre, folate and calcium, all of which are essential for the body during pregnancy. Folate is an essential vitamin, especially during the first trimester. Beans, amongst all the legumes, are extremely good during pregnancy. Mix varieties of beans in your diet, in the form of soups or salads or even in pasta, can fulfil your key nutrient requirements.
Note: 1.5 cups of lentils (a legume) will provide the additional 10% protein needed by women during pregnancy. Lentils also provide much needed iron. Source: The Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diet during Pregnancy on the Health of Mothers and Offspring
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- Water: Staying hydrated is extremely necessary during pregnancy as dehydration can lead to headaches, mood swings and even reduced memory. Water helps increase the blood volume, carries nutrients to different parts of the body, enhances digestion, builds new tissues and flushes out waste & toxins.
- Berries: Berries have a fair amount of vitamin C. Berries like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are delicious nutrient-filled fruits that you can add to your daily diet. Blackberries, especially, are high in potassium, which prevents and controls hypertension during pregnancy. Berries are also rich in antioxidants. You can add a handful of berries to your daily oatmeal, salad or smoothies.
- Dark leafy vegetables: Dark leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, broccoli, and others are packed with numerous vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, folate, fibre and vitamins like A, C, K and E.
- Ginger tea: Up to 80% of women face morning sickness and nausea during pregnancy. In this case, ginger tea is considered a safe drink. Ginger roots contain a variety of plant compounds that help combat various discomforts one might go through while pregnant. Consuming up to 4 cups (950 ml) of ginger tea/per day is considered safe in pregnancy.
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- Whole grains and Dairy products: Whole grains provide carbohydrates which is the main source of energy for the body. It also contains fibre, iron, vitamin B and a lot of enriching minerals. Anywhere between 6-11 servings of grains can be very beneficial. Milk and dairy products are most effective for promoting foetal growth. Yogurt, especially, is a great choice that aids in digestion. They also help in fulfilling the extra protein and calcium needs required by the body.
The Worst Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
- Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, both of which are harmful during pregnancy. It causes a reduction of fluids in the body, which can lead to dehydration, or it can increase the frequency of urination. Too much caffeine may also lead to indigestion, make you feel jittery, or cause sleep disruption.
- Raw eggs: Raw or undercooked eggs may carry disease-causing bacteria like salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. Thus, it is best to avoid them.
- Papaya: Unripe papaya contains a type of latex that is harmful to pregnant women. Papain present in papaya may be mistaken by the body for prostaglandins, which could trigger uterine contractions, leading to early labour.
- Alcohol: Having alcohol, especially during the first three months of pregnancy, can lead to foetal abnormalities, increase the risk of miscarriage, result in low birth weight and cause problems in the developmental growth of the baby and central nervous system. Hence, alcohol should be strictly avoided. Smoking is also bad for the health of the baby and the mother.
- Raw sprouts: As much as cooked sprouts can be healthy, eating raw sprouts is not recommended during pregnancy. A lot of food-borne diseases are associated with raw sprouts. Listeriosis is a bacteria which is commonly found in sprouts that can be particularly harmful to pregnant women. The bacteria can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and life-threatening diseases in the newborn baby.
- Processed junk foods: Junk foods, when eaten in large quantities, can cause pregnancy complications and give rise to several pregnancy-related symptoms such as fatigue, heartburn, gestational diabetes, etc. Processed junk foods are also unhealthy and provide zero nutrients value.
- Drinks with artificial sweeteners: Saccharin should be avoided during pregnancy as it can enter into the placenta via the bloodstream and stay in the baby’s tissue. Artificial sweeteners contain excess sugar, and eating too much sugar in pregnancy increases the risks of weight gain. Artificial sweeteners and sugary sweetened beverages can also lead to other pregnancy complications.
- Raw seafood: Raw or undercooked seafood can expose your baby to mercury, bacteria and other such parasites. If the seafood is contaminated with listeria – a type of bacteria – then it could lead to a miscarriage.
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Everything you eat in your pregnancy directly affects your baby. Thus, taking extra precautions of what to eat and avoid during pregnancy is important. There is no consideration too small when it comes to your baby’s health.
So, make sure you follow the do’s and don’t’s of what foods to eat while pregnant, and for more information on pregnancy nutrients, you can consult with your healthcare provider.