Health

What is a healthy diet for pregnant women?

Pregnancy comes with the greatest of responsibilities for women. Whatever you do affects your expected baby. Be it your diet, be it your exercise, the thing you watch, hear every single thing!

Talking about diet, in particular, an expecting mother’s diet plays a major role in maintaining the healthy and normal growth of the baby. Whatever a woman eats or drinks during pregnancy is the main source of her baby’s nourishment. Specialists suggest that a mother to pick a variety of healthy foods and beverages to make available the essential nutrients, a baby needs for development and growth.

A woman needs almost 300 extra calories daily to maintain a healthy pregnancy. She can only get these from a balanced diet comprising proteins, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, with sweets, and fats kept at minimum. A well-balanced and healthy diet during pregnancy can also give assistance to reduce general problems during pregnancy such as constipation and nausea. A diet lacking in vital nutrients may undesirably affect the baby’s development. Excess weight gain and poor eating habits may also upsurge your risk of pregnancy or birth complications like gestational diabetes. Choosing healthy, nutritive foodstuffs will help safeguard the health of you and your baby.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following significant components of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy. Maintain an appropriate weight, exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, and follow an appropriate and timely vitamin and mineral supplementation.

Here are some highly nutritive food items to eat when you’re pregnant.

Dairy Products

During pregnancy, you need to absorb extra calcium and protein to meet the necessities of the growing fetus. Dairy products comprise two types of high-quality protein i.e. whey and casein. Dairy foodstuffs are the best dietary source of calcium, magnesium, zinc and provide high amounts of phosphorus, various B vitamins as well.

Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is particularly helpful for pregnant women. It has more calcium than most of the other dairy products. Some varieties also have probiotic bacteria, which support digestive health.

People who are lactose intolerant may also be able to accept yogurt, specifically probiotic yogurt. In addition, taking probiotic supplements during pregnancy may decrease your risk of complications such as vaginal infections, preeclampsia, allergies, and gestational diabetes.

Berries

Berries are filled with healthy carbs, vitamin C, water, fiber, and antioxidants. They usually have high amounts of vitamin C, which supports your body to absorb iron. Moreover, vitamin C is really very beneficial for immune function and skin health.

Berries have a comparatively low glycemic index value, so they don’t cause utmost spikes in blood sugar. Berries are also a tasty snack, as they hold both water and fiber. They offer a lot of flavor and nutrition, with moderately few calories.

Image taken from ‘Shape Magazine’

Proteins

You should add protein foods in your diet every day. High protein foods include,

  • Beans
  • Pulses
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Meat (but avoid liver)
  • Poultry
  • Nuts

Pick lean meat and remove the skin from poultry. You should not try to add extra oil or fat when cooking meat. Read more about eating meat in a good way. Make sure poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meat such as lamb, beef are properly cooked. Meat should not be undercooked.

Try to eat two slices of fish a week. You should add a portion of oily fish such as sardines, salmon or mackerel to your diet. Salmon is full of essential omega-3 fatty acids that are required necessarily for a optimal growth. However, when you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you should avoid some types of fish such as swordfish, shark or marlin.

Note that when you’re pregnant, you should avoid eating more than two slices of oily fish a week such as a trout, herring, salmon, and mackerel because it can have pollutants (toxins). You should avoid eating raw or partially cooked eggs during pregnancy, as there is a risk of salmonella to infect you.

Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice are safe for pregnant women to eat, even when partially cooked or raw, because they are vaccinated against salmonella. These eggs have a red lion sign marked on their shell.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, a plant compound that is transformed into vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is vital for your growth and the differentiation of most cells and tissues. It’s very essential for healthy fetal growth. Pregnant women should increase their vitamin A intake by 10–40%.

However, it is recommended to avoid excessive intake of animal-based sources of vitamin A, because eating the excess amount of animal-based sources can cause toxicity. About 3.5–5.3 ounces (100–150 grams) of cooked sweet potato satisfies the complete Reference Daily Intake (RDI). Furthermore, sweet potatoes comprise of fiber, which may upsurge fullness, decrease blood sugar spikes and develop digestive health and mobility.

Whole Grains

Eating whole grains may support pregnant women, meet their surged calorie requirements, particularly during the second and third trimesters. As opposite to refined grains, whole grains are packed with vitamins, plant compounds, and fiber. Oats and quinoa also hold a fair amount of protein, which is vital during pregnancy.

Additionally, whole grains are usually rich in B vitamins and magnesium. All of these are often lacking in the diets of pregnant women.

Image from Good housekeeping

Avocados

Avocados are an uncommon fruit because they have a lot of monounsaturated fatty acids. They’re also rich in fiber, vitamin K, copper, B vitamins (especially folate), potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin C.

Because of their high content of healthy potassium, fats and folate avocados are a good choice for pregnant women. The healthy fats are really very beneficial in building the brain, skin, and tissues of your fetus and folate may help to stop neural tube defects. Potassium may give assistance to relieve leg cramps, a side effect of pregnancy for some women. Moreover, avocados have more potassium than bananas.

Water

During pregnancy, blood volume rises by up to 1.5 liters or about 50 ounces. Therefore, it’s essential to stay well hydrated. Your fetus generally gets everything it needs, but if you do not care about your water intake and do not drink properly, you may become dehydrated.

Symptoms of mild dehydration include,

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Tiredness
  • Bad Mood
  • Reduced memory

Furthermore, increasing your water consumption may help relieve constipation. Moreover, it lessens your risk of urinary tract infections, which are common during pregnancy.

General guidelines recommend that drink about 68 ounces or 2 liters of water per day, but the quantity you really need differs by individual. Just keep in mind that you can also get water from other foodstuffs and beverages, such as vegetables, fruits coffee and tea. As a rule of thumb, we should always drink water whenever we feel thirsty and drink until we have satisfied our thirst. Fluid consumption is also a vital part of healthy pregnancy nutrition. Women can take enough fluids by drinking several glasses of water each day, in addition to the fluids in soups and juices.

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