Eating a well-balanced diet is one of the best ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy and give your baby the best start in life. However, there are certain foods that could be harmful to your baby’s development. This article looks at five foods that should be avoided during pregnancy.
Nutrition can be a baffling subject at the best of times, but during pregnancy, it becomes even more complicated. One of the first things you realize once you become pregnant is that practically everybody has an opinion on what you should be eating. Friends, family, co-workers and strangers will all offer their advice even if you didn’t actually ask for it. The media also adds to the confusion by demonizing certain foods such as peanuts by claiming they can lead to allergies and then backtracking a few years later. Despite all the confusion and misguided advice, there are some things that are definitely off the menu during pregnancy. The following five foods should always be avoided by pregnant women.
Liver contains high levels of vitamin A that can be harmful to unborn babies. There has been a lot of debate over how much liver a pregnant woman can safely consume. As liver contains high vitamin A in retinoid form, it is advisable to avoid it altogether. Just one large dose of vitamin A during pregnancy is enough to cause birth defects and even miscarriage.
✔︎ Soft Cheese
Soft and blue cheeses should be avoided during pregnancy as they contain a strain of bacteria known as listeria. This type of bacteria can lead to a condition known as listeriosis which is often overlooked as it causes flu-like symptoms and diarrhea. Contracting listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth as well as serious illness in very young babies. Cheeses to avoid include camembert, brie, Roquefort, gorgonzola, Danish Blue and any other blue-veined or mold-ripened cheese. Feta should also be avoided if it is made with unpasteurized milk. Cooked soft cheese is generally considered safe for pregnant women, but always ensure it is piping hot before eating.
✔︎ Dietary Supplements
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of dietary supplements while pregnant. The majority of doctors advise women to take folic acid supplements even before they get pregnant and then throughout the entire pregnancy and nursing phase. Folic acid is actually a synthetic form of folate; the natural substance found in fruits, vegetables, seeds and legumes that are essential for developing fetuses. Folate deficiency has been found to increase the chance of a baby being born with conditions such as Spina Bifida. The US already adds folic acid to flour in order to ensure every woman has a steady supply of folic acid in her diet. However, long-term consumption of folic acid has been linked to an increased chance of developing diseases such as cancer. The body is also unable to absorb and utilize folic acid in the same way as folate. Increasing your intake of foods naturally rich in folates such as lentils, sunflower seeds, spinach and fresh fruits and juices is a far healthier way to a healthy pregnancy than relying on synthetic supplements.
✔︎ Large Fish and Raw Shellfish
Fish that live for a number of years such as tuna, shark, tilefish and swordfish often contain higher levels of mercury. While this relatively small amount of mercury is harmless to an adult, it can accumulate in the bloodstream leading to problems with a baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Raw shellfish such as oysters should also be avoided as they may contain harmful bacteria or viruses that can lead to food poisoning. Always ensure any seafood has been well cooked before eating, and beware of certain fish dishes such as sushi or ceviches that are served raw.
✔︎ Raw Eggs
Although it may be tempting to lick the spoon after mixing cake batter; you may want to hold off until after the birth. Raw eggs can contain bacteria such as salmonella or E Coli that can lead to food poisoning. Although food poisoning by itself is not harmful to fetuses, it can be extremely unpleasant for expectant mothers who are already struggling with symptoms such as nausea, heartburn, and digestive upset. Avoid any foods that may contain raw eggs such as cookie dough, homemade mayonnaise, salad dressings and certain smoothies.
Author Bio: Maggie Martin is completing her PhD in Cell Biology, works as a lab tech for Mybiosource.com and contributes content on Biotech, Life Sciences, and Viral Outbreaks. Follow her on Twitter @MaggieBiosource