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25 August 2022

Pregnancy diet: what to eat and what not to eat

Pregnancy diet: what to eat and what not to eat

A pregnant woman should always pay extra attention to what she eats, because the nutrients she gets also go to her baby. If mothers don't get enough of the right nutrients, it could affect how the baby grows and develops. The excess weight gain would also increase the risk of birth complications. Hence, consuming the proper nutrients would more likely ensure a healthy mom and baby!

Food you should eat during pregnancy

1.    Fruit and vegetables

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the all-time foods that will never go wrong. They can be dried, frozen, fresh, or juiced. However, fresh and frozen fruits would have a higher level of vitamins and nutrients. For example, berries are packed with vitamin C, which is important for immune function. Dried fruits contain the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruits but without the water content. On the other hand, dark green vegetables also contain many nutrients that a pregnant woman needs. For example, spinach and kale are rich in vitamin k, vitamin c, calcium, fibre, and potassium.

2.    Fibre

Pregnant women are more likely to experience constipation. You are highly encouraged to consume fibre to prevent it. The foods that are generally rich in fibre are wholegrains. Unlike refined grains, whole grains are packed with vitamin B and plant compounds. Quinoa and oats are also rich in protein. Other foods that are rich in fibre that you can consider eating during pregnancy are whole grain pasta, wholegrain bread, wild rice, beans, fruits, and vegetables.

3.    Protein

The good sources of protein—lean meat, eggs, and fish—are particularly important for pregnant women. Lean meat like beef, pork, and chicken also provides high-quality protein. An egg contains almost every nutrient you need, including protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. Another important source that we can get from eggs is chlorine. It is essential for the brain development of the fetus.

What about if you are vegan? You can consider tofu, soy products, seeds, nuts, beans, quinoa, and legumes as great sources of protein.

4.    Fats

Healthy fats, also called monounsaturated fats, are needed during pregnancy. A high-fat diet may cause future diabetes in babies. Hence, it is better that fats do not exceed 30% of your pregnancy diet. Foods high in monounsaturated fats include peanut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, and avocado. Avocados are also high in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, and fibre. The brain, tissues, and skin of the fetus would grow better if the mother ate healthy fats.

5.    Iron

Pregnant mothers need more iron, which is the main part of haemoglobin. Extra iron is needed during pregnancy as a mother will increase almost 50% of the blood volume in her body, which requires more iron to make sure there is adequate oxygen supply for both mother and baby. Some foods that are rich in iron are salmon, cooked oysters, egg yolks, and poultry. Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to build the foetus’ brain and eyes.

Food you should avoid during pregnancy

1.    High mercury fish

You may have heard that pregnant women need to avoid eating fish that contain high levels of mercury. This is due to the fact that it can pass through the placenta barrier and probably cause damage to the fetus. Since a growing baby's nervous system is still sensitive and developing, it is important to stay away from mercury to keep the baby's nervous system from getting hurt.

Marlin, swordfish, shark, yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna, tilefish, orange roughy, and king mackerel are just some of the fish that are high in mercury.

2.    Undercooked eggs

Raw or undercooked eggs are another thing mommy should avoid. Once you feel like having an egg, make sure it is cooked until the yolk and white are solid. Undercooked eggs can be a source of salmonella, which is a common cause of food poisoning. It is unlikely to harm the baby, but mommy may have a fight with diarrhoea and vomiting. On top of that, do avoid foods that include raw eggs. For example, mousse and mayonnaise.

3.    Unpasteurized dairy product

In order to reduce the risk of food-borne illness, the next thing to avoid eating is unpasteurized dairy products, which includes goat milk and sheep milk. The same goes for soft cheese and unpasteurized milk, as they may contain bacteria called listeria. It probably shows no symptoms to the mother, but it can jeopardize the pregnancy by perhaps triggering miscarriage or premature birth.

4.    Excessive vitamin A foods

We know that vitamin A is important for eye health, but if a pregnant woman gets too much vitamin A, her baby could be born with birth defects. What an expectant mom can do is to avoid eating liver or liver products. If you are deficient in vitamin A, it is best to seek the advice of a doctor and get their advice on supplementation. The safest way to do this is to consult a professional before taking any multivitamins.

Going through the pregnancy journey is not an easy job, but it is worth it when your little one gets the best and always stays healthy. After delivering your new-born, it’s time to take note of your post-natal diet. Although there is still some food to avoid, there is also amazing food waiting for you!

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