Diet in Pregnancy: What to eat and what not to eat during pregnancy, 10 super foods to consume
Dr. Sindhu Ravishankar
Diet During Pregnancy = Healthy Eating
Diet During Pregnancy is very important Therefore, we recommend avoiding popular diets such as Atkins, South Beach, The Zone, Raw Food Diet, and so on. The type of diet we encourage during pregnancy refers to fine-tuning your eating habits to ensure you are receiving adequate nutrition for the health of you and your baby. Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical to your baby’s growth and development. In order to get the nutrients you need, you must eat from a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, bread and grains, protein sources and dairy products.
Typically, you will need to consume an extra 300 calories a day.
Overall, aim for a balanced diet, with an appropriate blend of all the 5 food groups:
- vegetables and legumes
- breads and cereals
- milk, yoghurt and cheese
- meat, poultry, fish and alternatives
Foods containing protein help the baby grow. Meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, cheeses, nuts, beans and legumes are all good sources of protein.
Aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day — most town water contains fluoride, which helps your growing baby’s teeth develop strong enamel. Some water supplies, such as tank water, do not have fluoride.
Fruit and vegetables in pregnancy
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables because these provide vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, which helps digestion and can help prevent constipation.
Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day – these can include fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. Always wash fresh fruit and vegetables carefully.
Starchy foods (carbohydrates)
Starchy foods are an important source of vitamins and fibre, and are satisfying without containing too many calories. They include bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, maize, millet, oats, sweet potatoes, yams and cornmeal. These foods should be the main part of every meal. Eat wholemeal instead of processed (white) varieties when you can.
Sources of protein include meat (but avoid liver), fish (however, avoid fish that is high in mercury such as shark/flake, marlin or broadbill/ swordfish), poultry, eggs, beans, legumes/beans and nuts. Eat some protein every day. Choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry, and cook it using only a little fat.
Make sure eggs, poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through. Check that there is no pink meat, and that juices have no pink or red in them. Try to eat 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily fish such as sardines or mackerel.
Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are important because they contain calcium and other nutrients that your baby needs. Choose reduced-fat varieties wherever possible. There are some cheeses that should be avoided
Fats should not make up more than 30 percent of a pregnant woman’s diet. Researchers from the University of Illinois reported in the Journal of Physiology that a high-fat diet may genetically program the baby for future diabetes.
Team leader, Professor Yuan-Xiang Pan, said:
“We found that exposure to a high-fat diet before birth modifies gene expression in the livers of offspring so they are more likely to overproduce glucose, which can cause early insulin resistance and diabetes.”
There are other risks to pregnancy with an overly high-fat diet, so a balance is needed and monounsaturated and omega-3’s or “healthy fats” should be the primary fat choices. In the journal Endocrinology, a team from Oregon Health & Science University explained that Food and Nutrition Bulletin because the blood flow from the mother to the placenta is reduced.
Examples of foods high in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, canola oil, avocados, many nuts, and seeds.
Wholegrain foods, such as wholemeal bread, wild rice, wholegrain pasta, pulses like beans and lentils, fruit, and vegetables are rich in fiber.
Women have a higher risk of developing constipation during pregnancy; eating plenty of fiber is effective in minimizing that risk. Studies have shown that eating plenty of fiber during pregnancy reduces the risk or severity of hemorrhoids, which also become more common as the fetus grows.
It is important to have a healthy daily intake of calcium. Dairy foods, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt are rich in calcium. If the mother is vegan, she should consider the following calcium-rich foods; calcium-fortified soymilk and other plant milks and juices, calcium-set tofu, soybeans, bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, okra, mustard greens, beans, kale, and soynuts.
Zinc is a vital trace element. It plays a major role in normal growth and development, cellular integrity, and several biological functions including nucleic acid metabolism and protein synthesis.
Since all these functions are involved in growth and cell division, zinc is important for the development of the fetus. The best sources of zinc are chicken, turkey, ham, shrimp, crab, oysters, meat, fish, dairy products, beans, peanut butter, nuts, sunflower seeds, ginger, onions, bran, wheat germ, rice, pasta, cereals, eggs, lentils, and tofu.
Iron and pregnancy
Iron makes up a major part of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying pigment and main protein in the red blood cells; it carries oxygen throughout the body.
During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the mother’s body increases by almost 50 percent – she needs more iron to make more hemoglobin for all that extra blood.
Most women start their pregnancy without adequate stores of iron to meet the increasing demands of their bodies, particularly after the 3rd or 4th month. If iron stores are inadequate, the mother may become anemic, and there is a higher risk of:
- Preterm delivery.
- Low-weight baby.
- Newborn death.
- Tiredness, irritability, depression (in the mother) during the pregnancy.
If the mother is anemic later in the pregnancy, there is a higher risk of losing a lot of blood when she gives birth. The following foods are rich sources of iron:
- Dried beans.
- Dried fruits, such as apricots.
- Egg yolk.
- Some whole grain cereals, if they are fortified with iron.
- Liver is rich in iron, but doctors and most dietitians advise pregnant women to avoid liver. Liver is very high in vitamin A, which may harm the baby during pregnancy.
- Lean meat.
- Oysters (pregnant women should eat them cooked).
- Lamb, pork, and shellfish also contain iron, but less than the items listed above.
- Legumes – lima beans, soybeans, kidney beans, dried beans, and peas.
- Seeds – Brazil nuts and almonds.
- Vegetables, especially dark green ones – broccoli, spinach, dandelion leaves, asparagus, collards, and kale.
- Wholegrains – brown rice, oats, millet, and wheat.
Non-animal sources of iron are less easily absorbed by the body. Mixing some lean meat, fish, or poultry with them can improve their absorption rates.
For Comments and Inquiries please contact;
Dr. Sindhu Ravishankar
Aster Speciality Clinic
Discovery Gardens, Dubai
for appointments with Dr. Sindhu