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Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

As a mama-to-be, there might be some lifestyle adjustments to make in order to ensure a healthy pregnancy and the safety of your unborn child. Oftentimes, these changes might require you to give up some of your favorite foods. 

There are definitely so many options to choose and eat from when you are pregnant. However, we have compiled a list of foods to avoid when you are pregnant for a seamless pregnancy journey. 

1. High mercury fish and undercooked or raw fish 

Mercury is a very hazardous element that may be found in contaminated waterways. Higher dosages may have an impact on your kidneys, immunological system, and brain system1. Even at smaller doses, it can have negative effects on children's development. Avoiding large marine fish, such as swordfish, tuna, and shark, when pregnant is advised since they can collect high levels of mercury.

Additionally, Salmonella, Vibrio, norovirus, and listeria are just a few of the bacteria and parasites that may be found in raw seafood, especially shellfish. When raw fish is handled, stored, and processed—including dried or smoked—it might get contaminated. When infected, you can suffer from dehydration and weakness, and some infections can even travel through the placenta to the unborn baby. Raw fish may also raise the chance of stillbirth, premature birth, pregnancy loss, and other health issues2.

2. Undercooked or raw meat and processed or deli meat 

Consuming raw or undercooked meat might also raise your chance of contracting parasitic or bacterial infections, such as Salmonella, E. Coli, Toxoplasma, and Listeria. Bacteria may pose a risk to your baby’s health and safety as well as your own. While some germs may remain within the muscle fibers, the majority of bacteria are found on the surface of whole chunks of flesh.

Moreover, during manufacturing or storage, different bacteria can also contaminate hot dogs, lunch meat, pepperoni, and deli meat. Because they are not cooked, cured meats might contain germs or parasites. Furthermore, processed meats may be heavy in harmful fats and sodium3.

3. Raw eggs 

Raw eggs are a source of Salmonella. Fever, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea can all be symptoms of salmonella infection. It can also cause cramping in the uterus, which increases the risk of a preterm or stillbirth. Watch out since some foods, such as mayonnaise, uncooked batter, and tiramisu, may contain raw eggs! Since pasteurized eggs are used in the manufacturing of most commercial products utilizing raw eggs, they are safe to consume. However, always be sure to read the label.

4. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables 

Fruits and vegetables that haven't been cleaned or peeled may have bacteria and parasites, including Toxoplasma, E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, on their surface. Any stage of the process—production, harvesting, processing, storage, transit, or retail—can experience contamination. 

A parasite called toxoplasma may survive on plant-based diets. The majority of people don't show any symptoms, but the parasite can pass through the placenta and result in learning disabilities and eyesight impairments in later life. Severe brain or eye impairment can sometimes be evident from birth. Carefully wash all fruits and vegetables in clean water, peel them, or boil them before consuming to reduce the chance of illness.

5. Unpasteurized dairy products and soft cheeses 

Raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products might contain harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria, and Campylobacter. The life of the unborn child might be seriously at risk by any of these disorders4. The bacteria may grow on their own or as a result of contamination. Bacteria are removed by pasteurization without reducing the nutritional value of the product.

In addition, listeria, which may be found in soft cheeses5, is a form of bacterium that can cause serious sickness and even pregnancy loss. You can only eat soft cheeses that have been pasteurized.

6. Processed Food

Foods that have undergone extensive processing usually have low nutritional value and high calorie, sugar, and added fat content, which can lead to weight gain. Additionally, while gaining some weight is beneficial, gaining too much weight might increase the chances of delivery complications and child obesity6. Continue eating meals and snacks that are high in protein, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and carbs high in fiber, such as those found in whole grains, beans, and starchy vegetables.

7. Alcohol

Alcohol raises the chances of stillbirths, pregnancy loss, and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)7. FAS can have detrimental impacts on the baby’s heart and brain. It's advisable to abstain from alcohol completely during pregnancy because there is no known safe amount to consume.

8. Caffeine

Caffeine may be found in tea, coffee, soft drinks, and chocolate. Coffee enters the body rapidly and is readily absorbed via the placenta. Caffeine can accumulate in high amounts because newborns and their placentas lack the primary enzyme needed to digest the stimulant. Excessive caffeine use has been associated with low birth weight, stillbirth, pregnancy loss, and a host of developmental problems. During pregnancy, it is advised to avoid caffeine consumption of more than 200 milligrams (mg) per day8.

Alo Read: Baby Food Chart by Age

In conclusion, it is crucial to abstain from foods and drinks that might endanger both you and your unborn child while you are pregnant. While the majority of foods are safe to eat, it's recommended to stay away from things like alcohol, raw seafood, unpasteurized dairy, fish with high mercury content, and processed food, among others. Remember, during pregnancy, your health and safety and that of your unborn child should be your number one priority.



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