Pregnancy Nutrition: Foods to Avoid When Pregnant
Eating healthy is important throughout your life and it becomes even more significant when you're pregnant. Your baby's major supply of nourishment comes from the meals you eat. While it's necessary to consume more of certain nutrients and foods, it's equally essential to avoid certain foods to protect your baby's health and development. This article outlines the foods to be avoided during pregnancy, providing valuable insights for expectant mothers.
Mercury is a highly toxic element often found in polluted water. Larger fish can accumulate higher levels of mercury, which, when ingested, can damage the nervous system, immune system, and kidneys. It is particularly harmful to developing infants and young children. Pregnant women should avoid eating high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.
Undercooked or Raw Fish
Raw or undercooked fish, especially shellfish, can cause several infections, including listeria, salmonella, and toxoplasma. These infections may lead to severe consequences for your baby, including prematurity, low birth weight, and life-threatening infections. Sushi, sashimi, raw oysters, and clams are some examples.
Undercooked, Raw, and Processed Meat
Consuming undercooked or raw meat increases the risk of infection from bacteria or parasites, such as Toxoplasma, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. These infections can be life-threatening for your baby and lead to neurological illnesses, including blindness and mental disability. Similarly, processed meats should also be avoided unless they are thoroughly cooked or reheated.
Salmonella contamination in raw eggs can cause gastrointestinal sickness. Fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea are among the symptoms. In rare situations, the infection can induce uterine cramping, which can lead to premature birth or stillbirth. Avoid meals containing raw eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise, salad dressings, and ice cream.
Unpasteurized Milk, Cheese, and Fruit Juice
Unpasteurized products can contain harmful bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter. To avoid the risk of these infections, consume only pasteurized milk, cheese, and juice. Steer clear of soft cheeses like brie, camembert, Roquefort, feta, gorgonzola, and Mexican-style cheeses unless they clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk.
Caffeine consumption is often advised to pregnant women. Caffeine consumption can raise the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental delay. While a modest amount is safe, it is better to keep your daily intake under 200 mg.
There is no safe amount or period to consume alcohol when pregnant. At any stage of pregnancy, alcohol can harm a developing fetus, including before a woman realizes she is pregnant. Pregnancy alcohol usage raises the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and cognitive issues known as fetal alcohol syndrome disorders (FASDs).
Organ meat contains a high concentration of iron, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and copper. However, taking too much animal-based vitamin A (preformed vitamin A) when pregnant is not advised because it can cause vitamin A toxicity as well as extremely high copper levels, which can cause birth abnormalities and liver toxicity.
Processed Junk Foods
Pregnancy is a time of rapid growth and hence, requires wholesome, nutrient-dense foods. Processed junk food is high in calories but low in nutrients, and frequent consumption may lead to excess weight gain and gestational diabetes. They are also linked to behavioral issues and cognitive problems in children.
Raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts, may be contaminated with Salmonella. As Salmonella only gets eliminated by cooking, it's best to avoid consuming raw sprouts.
Fruits and vegetables that have not been washed or peeled may be infected with a range of bacteria and parasites. The surface of unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables may be contaminated with germs and parasites that can damage your infant, like as Toxoplasma, E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. As a result, always carefully wash your fruits and veggies before eating them.
While this list may seem overwhelming, remember that the aim is to protect you and your baby. Most foods are safe, and the chances of food-related issues are low. However, it's essential to be mindful of the foods you consume, opting for healthy, cooked, and pasteurized products where possible. Pregnancy is a beautiful journey, and the right nutrition can make it even better!
At the Women & Child Hospitals in Vizag, our dedicated team of gynecologists strives to provide the highest quality care to women at every stage of life. Our team includes experienced, board-certified gynecologists who are experts in addressing a wide spectrum of women's health issues, ranging from preventive care to complex gynecological conditions. They are proficient in both non-surgical and surgical treatment methods, including minimally invasive and robotic-assisted surgical procedures. Alongside their clinical expertise, our gynecologists are deeply committed to delivering personalized, compassionate care, taking the time to listen to patients, understand their concerns, and develop tailored treatment plans. With a patient-centered approach, state-of-the-art facilities, and a steadfast commitment to women's health and well-being, Medicover Hospitals is shaping the future of women's healthcare.