Pregnancy, a period of high expectation and joyfulness for the pregnant mother, is also the time when she has to be extra careful on what she eats – avoiding foods that could harm her or her baby.
Although a balanced diet works great for all, it is all the more necessary for an expectant mother as the baby needs essential nutrients, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates etc for her health and regular development.
Most foods are safe; however, there are some foods that you just cannot eat during pregnancy. A pregnancy diet might just be what you are looking for.
Why should you avoid certain foods?
Foods that might have a high level of mercury should be avoided as mercury can be harmful to an unborn baby's developing kidneys, brain, kidneys and the nervous sytem.
The second category of foods that should be avoided are those that are more likely to be contaminated by bacteria like raw meat and fish. Such foods, if eaten may cause birth defects or could result in miscarriage.
The third type of foods to be avoided is those that contain caffeine. Although studies about the effect of caffeine on the foetus are not unanimous as to its harmful effect, yet to be on the safer side caffeine must be avoided particularly during the first trimester to reduce the chances of a miscarriage. According to some research intake of large amounts of caffeine could also result in premature birth or low birth weight or withdrawal symptoms in infants.
Caffeine is a diuretic i.e. it helps in elimination of fluids from the body which can result in water and calcium loss.
Alcohol is an absolute no during pregnancy as alcohol can hamper healthy development of the baby and can lead to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome that causes mental retardation and a number of other abnormalities in the baby.How to avoid listeriosis?
Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria found in water and soil. It can infect vegetables and animals both who become carriers. It is a foodborne illness that is not very harmful for the mother but can prove to be extremely dangerous for the foetus. Although quite rare, infection of this bacteria can cause stillbirth, miscarriage and preterm birth.
The best way of avoiding listeriosis is to avoid uncooked meats and vegetables, unpasteurized milk and foods made from such milk and even processed foods and to eat fully cooked or pasteurised foods only. The other precautions that you can take are to store and refrigerate your food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius), don’t keep the food out in the open at room temperature for long periods, pay attention to expiry dates and wash fruits and vegetable properly.
Which foods should you avoid?
Raw meat should not be eaten as it could lead to infection of the coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. Here are some of the other things that your pregnancy diet shouldn't have.
Fish with Mercury: Fish that contain high levels of mercury should be avoided. Some of these fish are: tilefish swordfish, king mackerel and shark. Canned, chunk light tuna can be eaten but in moderation.
Sushi: Sushi must be avoided as it may have illness-inducing parasites and moreover certain types of fish used for sushi have high levels of mercury.
Unpasteurised Juices and Milk: Pasteurization kills bacteria and toxins so avoid unpasteurised juices and milk.
Eggs: Never eat eggs or egg dishes in which both the yolk and the white are not fully cooked as the raw egg may be contaminated with salmonella, a bacterium that can cause vomiting, fever and diarrhoea.
Foods containing raw eggs, including tiramisu, mousse and Caesar dressing should be avoided. You can safely consume completely cooked eggs.
Soft Cheeses: Soft, unpasteurized cheeses like Mexican quest fresco, feta, Brie, goat, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses must be avoided.
Smoked Seafood: Avoid refrigerated, smoked seafood often found in the deli section of a grocery store.
Raw Shellfish: You would be better off not eating undercooked or raw shellfish, including clams, oysters and mussels. Even cooking these foods do not keep away algae-related infections even though it helps prevent some infections.
Unwashed Vegetables: Vegetables are a necessary part of a balanced diet. But make sure that vegetables have been washed properly as unwashed vegetable could expose you to toxoplasmosis.
It's important to keep it safe when you're pregnant - you're what you eat, and there is a lot of things you shouldn't! Chalk out a pregnancy diet to help you keep yourself safe.