What to eat during pregnancy

A woman expecting a baby must be sure that her daily diet provides enough nutrients and energy for the development and growth of the fetus, as well as that her own body is healthy enough to adapt to all the changes that occur during the period. pregnancy.

For a good pregnancy, the mother’s diet must be balanced and nutritious, which means a carefully balanced ratio of protein, carbohydrate and fat; a woman should eat a variety of vegetables and fruits. If you have certain religious or ethical conditions or health problems, you should consult with a qualified professional in order to draw up the most optimal variant of the daily diet, taking into account all individual characteristics.

During pregnancy, a woman’s calorie intake should increase. However, this does not mean that the woman should eat, as they say, for two; the number of calories should increase, but not double, but simply slightly exceed her usual daily calorie intake . When carrying one child, the increase in the mother’s body weight can vary quite a lot. According to the official data of the American Institute of Medicine, women with a body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 units can gain 11.4-15.9 kg in nine months of pregnancy; overweight women at the beginning of pregnancy should gain no more than 6.7-11.4 kg.

Recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy may also vary based on age, fetal development, and maternal health during pregnancy. Excessive or insufficient weight gain during the gestational period can be a determining factor in the health status of the mother and child.

What should a pregnant woman’s diet contain?

The diet of the expectant mother, according to the recommendations of experts, should include:

Fruits and Vegetables: A pregnant woman should consume at least five servings of fruits and / or vegetables daily . They can be juiced, dried, canned, frozen, or fresh. Fresh and frozen (if frozen immediately after harvest) fruits and vegetables, as a rule, have a higher amount of vitamins and other substances beneficial to the body. According to experts, eating fresh fruit is much healthier than drinking fruit juices. 

Foods rich in starch and carbohydrates include potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread.  

Protein: Foods rich in animal protein include lean meat and chicken, as well as eggs. mothers on a vegan diet should replace these foods with quinoa, which contains all the amino acids, tofu, and soy. Beans, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, and nut-based oils are also recognized sources of plant- based proteins , and it’s worth remembering that beans, lentils, and beans are also high in iron. 

Eating seafood lowers maternal anxiety during pregnancy, according to British and Brazilian researchers who published their findings in PLoS ONE. They claim that pregnant women who regularly include seafood in their diets have lower levels of anxiety compared to women who do not add seafood to their diets. What’s more, expectant mothers who didn’t eat seafood at all during pregnancy were found to have a 53% higher risk of developing anxiety disorder.  

Fat: According to experts, fat should not exceed 30% of the daily caloric intake of pregnant women. Researchers at the University of Illinois published their findings in the Journal of Psychlogy , which report that a high-fat diet could genetically program the development of diabetes in a child. According to the head of this study, Professor Yuan- Zian Pan, scientists have found that a diet high in fat during pregnancy modifies the expression of fetal liver genes, resulting in too high glucose production, which in turn can lead to early development of insulin resistance and diabetes. Scientists also note that in recent years, the diet of Western countries includes an increasing number of products of the fast food industry , which contain a high concentration of fats and carbohydrates. 

Also, according to a statement by Spanish scientists from the Complutense University in Madrid, who published their work in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition , the balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins is important for the development of the fetus and its health in the future. The researchers note that more than half of women now eat a poorly balanced diet that includes a large amount of animal products that are rich in saturated fats, but are deficient in plant-based carbohydrates. Moreover, more than one third of women do not follow the traditional Mediterranean diet.

After publishing their findings in the journal Endocrinology , scientists at the University of Health and Science in Oregon explain that a high-fat diet during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth, which is associated with decreased blood flow between mother and fetus.

According to the University of California at San Francisco, the amount of fat consumed by women before pregnancy depends on individual habits, however, it should be borne in mind that for most women, no more than 10% of calories should come from saturated fat, less than 10% – from polyunsaturated fat. at the same time, monounsaturated fats are considered to be the most optimal for consumption. During pregnancy, the proportion of fat in the diet should not exceed 25-35% of the total calories consumed. Sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, canola oil , avocados, and nuts and seeds.

Fiber: Whole grains such as whole grain breads, wild rice, whole grain pasta, pulses, fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber. Women have a higher risk of developing constipation during gestational periods, and due to the high intake of plant fiber in sufficient quantities is an effective measure in minimizing this risk. Studies have already shown that the introduction of plant fiber into the diet of pregnant women also reduces the risk and severity of hemorrhoids; Moreover, fiber helps prevent the development of obesity. 

Calcium : This element must be present in the diet of a pregnant woman. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are recognized sources of dietary calcium. If expectant mothers follow a vegan diet, then they should be introduced into the diet products such as calcium-enhanced juices and soy milk, tofu, Boc- choy , broccoli, Chinese cabbage, soy nuts.

Zinc: This element plays an important role in normal growth and development, cellular uniformity, and several biological functions including polynucleotide metabolism and protein synthesis. Since these functions are involved in the processes of cell growth and division, zinc is also important for the growth and development of the fetus. The best sources of zinc are chicken, turkey, ham, shrimp, oysters, meat, fish, dairy products, beans, peanut butter, nuts, sunflower seeds, ginseng, onions, bran, wheat, rice, pasta, cereals, eggs, lentils, etc. tofu. 

Why is iron so necessary during pregnancy ?

Iron is an important constituent of hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying pigment, and a major protein in red blood cells. Iron, so that helps deliver oxygen to all tissues and organs, muscles, moreover, it increases reistentnost relatively stress and susceptibility to disease.

The woman’s body absorbs iron more efficiently during pregnancy, and therefore she must increase its intake in order to be sure that the fetus is getting enough oxygen . During the gestational period, the amount of blood in the mother’s body increases by almost 50%, so the extra iron is needed to create more hemoglobin for more blood volume, a growing placenta and the baby’s development. Also, a healthy level of iron in the body helps prevent depression , fatigue, weakness, and irritation during pregnancy.

Most women begin their pregnancies without adequate iron stores, which, in particular, becomes most noticeable by the third or fourth month of pregnancy. Due to this iron deficiency, a woman may develop anemia.

According to UN data, approximately 47% of non-pregnant women and 60% of pregnant women worldwide have varying degrees of anemia. When iron deficiency is included in these data, the rates increase to 60% and 90%, respectively. In industrialized countries, the rate of women with anemia and iron deficiency is higher among those on lower incomes.

Iron deficiency increases the risk of:

  • Premature birth;
  • Having a baby with insufficient body weight;
  • The birth of a stillborn child;
  • Death of a newborn infant;
  • Fatigue, weakness, depression and irritability of the mother during the gestational period.

Maternal anemia during pregnancy seriously increases the risk of severe bleeding during labor. According to some experts, there is an increased risk of postpartum depression, iron deficiency swelling and anemia.

The brain of a developing fetus can be seriously damaged if a pregnant woman is iron deficient, the researchers say, and the damage can be long-term. Moreover, according to researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, even a mild degree of anemia can lead to such dire consequences for a child.

The following foods are high in iron:

  • dried beans;
  • dried fruits such as apricots;
  • egg yolk;
  • some cereals, especially if they are fortified with iron;
  • the liver, however, since it contains a very large amount of vitamin A, it is still advised to avoid it;
  • lean meat;
  • oysters;
  • poultry meat;
  • salmon;
  • tuna;
  • lamb, pork and shells also contain moderate amounts of iron;
  • legumes and peas;
  • brazil nuts and almonds;
  • vegetables with green leaves, especially broccoli, spinach, dandelion leaves, asparagus;
  • whole grains , especially brown rice, rolled oats, millet and wheat.

Should you take supplements?

Iron and folic acid

Before pregnancy occurs, a woman should consume approximately 18 mg of iron daily, and after conception, its daily intake should be increased to 27 mg. Most women can get an adequate daily intake of iron with a balanced and healthy diet, however, some, due to individual characteristics, should additionally introduce iron and folic acid into the diet to prevent their deficiency.

Some women may experience heartburn, nausea, or constipation when supplemented with iron. In order to avoid this, they must take the tablets with food, starting with a small dosage and gradually bringing it up to what is needed. Do not take your pill before bed.

The UK’s NHS UK recommends a daily intake of 400 mcg of supplemental folate for up to twelve weeks of gestation. It is considered ideal if a woman begins to take folic acid even before conceiving a child.

Vitamin D: UK regulations require a minimum of 10 mcg of vitamin D in supplements taken by pregnant women per day. Sunlight in summer is an excellent source of vitamin D as sunlight is the main trigger for the synthesis of this vitamin in the human body. However, it is worth remembering that sun exposure should be limited due to the risk of skin cancer. 

Zinc: One study published in the Food and Nutrition Bulletin reports that observational studies have shown that zinc deficiency during pregnancy can have negative effects on maternal and fetal health. It was found that pregnant women who took extra zinc were 14% less likely to have a preterm birth. 

It was also found that women are underweight and have more zinc deficiency, but if ou take zinc supplements, then the probability of giving birth to a healthy weight also increased.

Researchers and doctors have warned to avoid vitamin A supplements in dietary supplements and therefore avoid cod liver oil supplements from the diet.

What foods should you avoid during pregnancy?

Doctors advise to reduce the consumption of certain types of cheese , such as brie and camembert , as this is associated with possible infectious diseases, potentially fatal to the fetus and mother. It is also advisable to give up pate in connection with the possibility of developing listeriosis . 

Semi-finished products: If they are still cooked, then only carefully observing all the cooking rules, since there is also a risk of infection with various pathogens. 

Raw eggs: It is worth excluding not only them from the diet, but also any dishes in which they are included. This is associated with the risk of contracting salmonella. 

Uncooked meat: It is also advisable to avoid it due to the various pathogens and parasites that can inhabit it. 

Seafood: Various shells can contain bacteria or viruses, leading to food poisoning. 

Fish: Some types of fish can accumulate mercury: shark, swordfish and marlin , it is advisable to eliminate them completely. Tuna should not be included more than once a week. 

Should you eliminate alcohol entirely?

Previously, scientists and doctors recommended by our reduce the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy to a minimum. When the mother uses alcohol, it enters her bloodstream, and then, through the placenta, to the fetus. The liver of the child , revolves in the least and is not enough which developed until the second half of pregnancy. This is why the fetal liver is unable to handle alcohol, resulting in impaired fetal development.

According to the UK’s National Health System , pregnant women who decide not to stop drinking should cut back to one or two drinks a week. However, many experts recommend eliminating alcohol from the diet entirely during the first three months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of miscarriage.

Serious alcohol consumption during pregnancy has a negative impact on both the mother and the baby. Thus, the fetus can develop fetal alcohol syndrome, which can limit the child’s growth in the future, contribute to the development of behavioral disorders, as well as learning problems. Also, with fetal alcohol syndrome, the risk of developing facial pathologies increases.

Should you eliminate caffeine from your diet?

If a pregnant woman consumes too much caffeine, there is an increased risk of having a baby that is underweight, which in turn can lead to some health problems later in life. There is also a higher risk of miscarriage. Unfortunately, many drinks and foods contain caffeine, not just coffee. These include sodas, energy drinks, chocolate and tea, and some cold medications also contain caffeine.

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