Pregnancy requires extra care regarding what you consume and giving proper attention to your nutrition. While it is not easy to keep up with the diet mood swings and many factors that come along have to be done with utmost care.
While considering what to eat while pregnant, avoiding stimulants like caffeine and seafood like sushi should be avoided for various health concerns. There are many food that should be eaten in moderation, while others are best to be avoided at all costs.
This article will tell you all about the dietary aspect of being pregnant, and what foods to avoid during pregnancy.
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Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy
High Mercury Fish
Mercury is an extremely dangerous element usually found in polluted water like seas, oceans, and other water bodies.
Higher content of mercury consumed by the human body can cause health problems like damage to the nervous system, kidneys, and immune system.
Exposure to mercury can result in chronic and acute levels of intoxication, putting the child in the developmental and utero phases at a higher risk.
In addition, there is no safe level of mercury exposure and this should best be prevented as it gives no known physiological benefits.
It could pass on by the placenta to the unborn baby in the developing stage. Fish that have high mercury content include shark, swordfish, tuna, marlin, orange roughy, and tilefish.
Consumption of undercooked or raw fish can be very harmful to the mother and the baby since it can cause many infections.
These infections may be bacterial, parasitic, or viral. Some of these infections may only affect the mother while some can be inherited by the baby as well.
One of these pathogens that can be passed on to the baby is Listeria through the placenta.
According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), pregnant women are 10 times more susceptible to catching Listeria infection. Moreover, they even said Hispanic women are 24 times more at a higher risk for catching Listeria infection
This can lead to premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, or serious health problems for the kid.
Undercooked Or Raw Meat
Undercooked meat may also contain harmful bacteria or parasites. Most of the bacteria involved in such meat can be harmful to your baby.
These bacterial pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter may be present in undercooked meat and poultry. Thus, meat should be cooked at USDA-advised minimum internal meat temperature levels using a food thermometer.
For consuming hot dogs and luncheon meats, they should be steaming hot at around 165° even for the precooked meats as well.
Although not all raw meat is prone to such possible infections, it is still better to eat completely cooked meat.
Organ meat might sound healthy due to high levels of iron, zinc, vitamin A, copper, and vitamin B12.
However, the consumption of animal-based vitamin A is not good for the mother and the baby during pregnancy. This is also very specific to the first trimester of pregnancy.
According to research, excessive Vitamin A consumption could lead to teratogenic effects resulting in congenital malfunctions, mainly occurring during the first quarter of pregnancy. However, further research is required for its dosage and duration of supplementation during pregnancy.
Caffeine is a prominent part of our lives, be it in the form of coffee, tea, or soft drinks. Unfortunately, excessive consumption of caffeine in any form can be harmful to the baby.
Heavy consumption of caffeine can lead to the birth of an underweight newborn which poses the risk of many chronic diseases in adulthood.
As per a study, the theoretical effects of caffeine state that it can pass the placental barrier. Newborns up to 3 months of age, cannot appropriately metabolize caffeine, which could become a threat to the developing baby.
You can still consume roughly about 12-ounce cups of coffee a day and this is not a concern. Try to limit consumption to 300mg/day.
Raw eggs could be contaminated with salmonella bacteria which could lead to infection.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause food poisoning, which can lead to complications like dehydration, premature birth, or stillbirth. It could lead to pregnancy complications like preterm delivery and may restrict fetus growth.
Pregnant women should avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs and make sure that eggs are cooked until the yolk and white are firm.
Unpasteurized Dairy Products
Dairy products are quite vital for a mother during pregnancy since it gives many nutritional benefits to the body and her baby as well.
Still, raw forms of dairy products should be avoided as a firm recommendation.
Unpasteurized dairy products like milk from cows, goats, or sheep could cause foodborne illness, especially for pregnant women with weakened immune systems.
These include raw milk, feta, and other soft cheeses. These items are contaminated with Listeria which could cause major health problems like premature birth, miscarriage, and even neural disease in the baby.
Therefore, pregnant women should consume pasteurized milk and dairy products only.
Salads are a great diet for everybody. Similarly, pregnant women may consume the right salads and dressing to stay fit and healthy for smooth delivery.
Even so, during pregnancy, you are highly restricted from consuming some salad items as well. These come as raw sprouts that include alfalfa, radish, mung bean sprouts, and clover.
These contain salmonella in them which may come as too harmful for both the beings.
This bacteria is prominently present in raw sprouts because of the need for a humid environment for the growth of such raw sprouts.
Do note that cooked sprouts are excellent for your health and your baby’s health during pregnancy.
Alcohol consumption should be strictly avoided during pregnancy. It can cause major complications like birth defects or development problems in the baby. Even little amounts of alcohol can turn out bad for the baby.
For these reasons, it has been coined as a teratogen leading to changes in the cell cycle and in the developing brain fetal brain. Consumption of alcohol is not safe for mothers as well.
It may cause fetal alcohol syndrome that happens due to alcohol exposure before birth besides the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Fetal alcohol syndrome includes facial deformities, heart defects, and even intellectual disabilities.
During pregnancy, you are in dire need of a nutrition-rich food diet that will grow you and your little one stronger. Majorly, your body is in demand for protein, folate, iron, and choline.
Hence, it is best to stick to such a diet. Your diet must consist of whole food and not junk food that contains fats, calories, and sugar.
This can further lead to excessive weight gain. Weight gain is indeed vital for the development of you and your baby but excessive weight gain can be seriously problematic.
Therefore, it is best to stick to meals that have protein, iron, and other elements.
As beneficial and organic as it sounds, herbal tea must be kept away from a pregnant woman.
Herbal tea possibly contains many other problematic elements and pathogens to it that may cause birth complications for both the mother and the baby.
However, consuming medicinal options like chamomile, fennel, peppermint, etc may cause adverse maternal effects due to its toxic elements.
There isn’t a complete proven study to declare that herbal tea is beneficial or harmful for a pregnant woman and her baby. More thorough studies await.
Unwashed Fruits And Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are good for a pregnant woman. Healthy fruits and vegetables do a great job of providing necessary nutrients so that both mother and the baby are healthy and happy.
They may contain harmful germs like E Coli, Salmonella, and listeria that could make you sick. Consume fruits and vegetables after thoroughly washing them under running water.
In conclusion, a healthy diet is very crucial during pregnancy. This could ensure the good health of the mother and the baby.
Avoiding certain food products can keep you from the risk of any uninvited risks or tragedies that might happen during pregnancy.
Uncooked or raw sprouts, fish, egg and meat, fish with high mercury content, unwashed fruits and vegetables, junk food, unpasteurized dairy products, and organ meat must be avoided at all costs.
These are a few of the main food items you should try to avoid to ensure a smooth pregnancy and delivery. However, consult a specialist for any dietary restrictions or health modifications required during pregnancy.
Also See: Foods To Eat During Pregnancy
Rachel has been a freelance medical writer for more than 18 years. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2005 and is currently practicing as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at a Level I trauma center.