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A lot of emphases is placed on a woman’s diet when she is pregnant. But less is talked about foods that she should stay away from during pregnancy. Some foods, although healthy, can do you and your baby harm in more than one way. So, here is the list of foods that you should beware of during your pregnancy:
1. Raw and undercooked eggs: While having eggs during pregnancy is healthy as it ups your protein intake but raw or undercooked eggs can do harm to you and your baby. Raw and undercooked eggs can give you salmonella infection, a foodborne illness associated with fever, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and can at times cross the placenta to lead to intrauterine sepsis or infection to the fetus . The best way to have eggs during pregnancy is to ensure that your eggs are well cooked or are boiled well.
2. Unpasteurised milk and milk products: Drinking a glass of milk during pregnancy can supplement your calcium requirements but remember to fill your glass with pasteurised milk. Unpasteurised milk and milk products carry a risk of listeriosis, a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria present in these products. In fact, in a pregnant woman, the risk is 20 times more than that for a non-pregnant woman. This is also because during pregnancy your immunity hits an all time low. While the symptoms of this bacterial infection remain asymptotic in the mother if it reaches the fetus crossing the placenta it could lead to stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, pre-term labour and early neonatal infections .
3. Undercooked sea foods: Having raw or undercooked sea foods can have a detrimental effect on the fetus and make the mother susceptible to certain parasitic diseases. Also, some fishes have a high amount of mercury in them which could lead to damages in fetal brain development. When it comes to choosing fish during pregnancy, keep shellfish off your list followed by fishes with high mercury level like tuna . However, fish is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid that contributes towards fetal development and maternal health. So while eating fish during pregnancy choose the fresh water variety like rohu, katla, prom fret which are low in mercury content and make sure your fish is cooked properly before it ends up on your plate. Also, avoid having deli meals and refrigerated ready-to-cook meals for the same reason.
4. Herbal teas: It is usually speculated that herbal products like flax seed, peppermint, chamomile, green tea can increase the risk of low birth weight when had during pregnancy. While a study published in 2012 showed that having herbal products even during the last two trimesters didn’t significantly increase the risk of low birth babies , still we think why to take a chance.
5. Raw sprouts or vegetables: Okay, there is nothing wrong in eating raw vegetables for salads. But you need to be cautious while consuming them. A rule you should follow with raw vegetables into not keep them out in the open for too long, as this could lead to bacterial build up and can give you food poisoning. Be careful while consuming raw sprouts too as unwashed sprouts can be a storehouse of certain viruses and bacteria that could give rise to internal infection and harm the fetus. Always cook or boil your sprouts to avail its rich benefits and get a dose of plant protein that’s beneficial during pregnancy.
6. Chinese foods: It is better to stay away from this cuisine during the whole nine months of your pregnancy. The reason is Chinese foods is high in sodium and MSG or monosodium glutamate which can retard fetal growth and shun weight gain in babies post birth, according to a study done on rats . Moreover, the sodium content in the dishes can also set the stage to preeclampsia in mothers that can lead to complications during labour.
7. Foods you are allergic to: Pregnancy is not a good time to experiment with food and different tastes. If you are allergic to certain foods, stay away from them as these foods can trigger a reaction in the developing fetus.
8. Artificial sweeteners: Not much is known how artificial sweeteners can hamper both maternal and fetal health, but some studies suggest that artificially sweetened soft drinks can lead to preterm labour and its best to keep away from the same .
9. Honey: There aren’t many studies to suggest that regular intake of honey during pregnancy can be harmful to the fetus as there are very fewer chances for honey to breakdown and cross the placenta. However, too much honey during pregnancy, especially if it is contaminated has a high risk of the infant suffering from infant botulism, a parasitic disease .
10. Leftovers: Even if you have refrigerated your curries and biriyani, pregnancy is not the right time to indulge in leftovers. The bacteria build up in the food can lead to various kinds of gastrointestinal infections that can harm both the mother and baby.
1. 1: Tam C, Erebara A, Einarson A. Food-borne illnesses during pregnancy: prevention and treatment. Can Fam Physician. 2010 Apr;56(4):341-3. PubMed PMID:20393091; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2860824.
2. Tam, C., Erebara, A., & Einarson, A. (2010). Food-borne illnesses during pregnancy Prevention and treatment. Canadian Family Physician, 56(4), 341-343.
3. 1: Moussally K, Berard A. Exposure to specific herbal products during pregnancy and the risk of low birth weight. Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Mar-Apr;18(2):36-43. PubMed PMID: 22516883.
4. Von Diemen V, Trindade MR. Effect of the oral administration of monosodium glutamate during pregnancy and breast-feeding in the offspring of pregnant Wistar rats. Acta Cir Bras. 2010 Feb;25(1):37-42. PubMed PMID: 20126886.
5. 1: Halldorsson TI, Strøm M, Petersen SB, Olsen SF. Intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks and risk of preterm delivery: a prospective cohort study in 59,334 Danish pregnant women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Sep;92(3):626-33. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28968. Epub 2010 Jun 30. PubMed PMID: 20592133.
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