Top 10 Food Types to AVOID During Pregnancy
There are numerous lists circulating the internet concerning what you should eat during pregnancy. There are foods that are high in important nutrients and vitamins which help the growth of your baby. Some vitamins help your baby’s brain to develop, like folic acid. Some vitamins help your baby’s immune system like vitamin C. However, there is an even bigger list of foods which can harm your new bundle, and make your pregnancy a tad bit more complicated, and uncomfortable.
1. Seafood and fish with high amounts of mercury. *
In moderation, some foods can be consumed without negative affect on yourself, or your fetus. Mercury is one. In large amounts, Mercury can contribute to behavioral and developmental issues later on in your baby’s life. While Mercury is found in canned light tuna fish, shrimp and other seafood like Pollock, catfish, and tilapia, the levels are so low, that tuna is something you are still able to eat (no more than 12 ounces weekly) and produce a still, very healthy baby(According to FDA). However, the following foods have such high amounts of mercury; they should be avoided altogether during a pregnancy:
– King mackerel
2. Under cooked seafood and other animal foods *
Ingesting meat or seafood that has not been cooked, or is under cooked can cause a food borne illness. To reduce your chance of falling victim to such illnesses, the following foods should not be eaten during pregnancy:
– Rare meat
– Raw oysters
3. Unpasteurized foods*
Like consuming under cooked seafood and animal foods, the consumption of unpasteurized foods can also cause food borne illnesses and should be avoided during pregnancy:
– Unwashed fruits
– Unwashed veggies
– Unpasteurized eggs
– Raw cookie or cake dough
– Homemade egg nog
– Soft cheeses
4. Products made from unpasteurized milk*
As much as dairy is thought to be a pregnancy approved food group, there are some foods in this group that should be avoided. Foods made with unpasteurized milk are prone to listeria. “According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 1,700 persons become seriously ill each year in the United States and among these, 260 will die. Although the CDC states that pregnant women are 20 times more likely to become infected than non-pregnant healthy adults, the number of cases of listeriosis in pregnant women is about 17%.” Listeria in a pregnant woman can result in a miscarriage, still birth, premature delivery, or an infection in the newborn. Therefore, the following foods should be avoided during pregnancy:
– Queso blanco
– Queso fresco
– Queso Panela
5. Caffeine, Caffeine, Caffeine*…
We all love our sodas, and coffees, however, while pregnant, caffeine is not your friend. When caffeine passes your placenta, it can affect your baby’s heart rate. *If you cannot completely avoid caffeine, limit your intake to less than one 12 oz cup per day.
6. Herbal Teas*
While it is still being researched, herbs are thought to have a negative impact on the developing baby. It is believed that herbal teas can be responsible for premature contractions. Before cutting this tasty beverage out of your diet, consult with your physician.
7. Hot Dogs, and Luncheon Meats*
There’s nothing like enjoying a yummy sandwich for lunch. However, deli meats and frankfurters may contain listeria. Let’s hold off on the sandwiches during pregnancy. Keep the baby healthy
8. Sweet ‘N Low*
While artificial sweeteners are not ideal for anyone’s diet, pregnant women who use these products are causing these byproducts to remain in their baby’s tissues.
Pregnant women who consume alcohol increase the chance of having a baby with a birth defect. Drinking alcohol can also cause a miscarriage and even a stillbirth.
It is ok to eat liver during pregnancy, but in moderation. Liver contains a large amount of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A during pregnancy can cause birth defects and liver toxicity.
Choose Organic Foods When Possible
Studies have shown that 93% of blood samples from pregnant women and 80% from umbilical cord blood test positive for a variety of toxins commonly injected into genetically engineered foods crops, as well as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. These toxins are all linked to hormonal disruption and a variety of other health issues.
Eat only organic animal products. Animal products that are not organic may contain added hormones and are fed a diet of GMO grains and non-organic feed. These mimic hormones in the body and concentrate in animal fat stores.
We have learned that exposure and consumption of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers and GMO foods can create hormonal imbalance through endocrine disruption and suppressed immune function. Conventional fruits and vegetables are regularly sprayed with these chemicals and then not only do we eat them daily, but so do animals that are raised for meat.
If you eat non-organic meats, you are being doubly exposed to these toxins. This is because xenohormones become more concentrated as they move up the food chain. Xenohormones are often stored in the fat cells of animals. The more fatty the meats you are consuming the more xenohormones you are consuming.
For example if you are eating 80% lean/20% fat beef, you may be consuming a variety of toxins that cow has stored in its fat. What was that non-organic cow eating? Well, conventional beef is raised in feedlots. They are fed corn and soy feed. On top of that, not only are these crops genetically altered they are sprayed with pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. The cows eat this everyday. These animals live in horrible living conditions and are given antibiotics to stave off the spread of disease.
In February of 2011 the FDA released a report stating that 80% of all antibiotic sold in the US are sold to animal agriculture. Regular exposure to antibiotics may alter immune system function for you and your baby.
Fluid Intake: Water!
Pregnant women should drink at least 10 cups of water a day. Dehydration can cause nausea and may cause contractions in the second and third trimester. Get in the habit of carrying a water bottle with you. Because your blood volume is going to increase greatly, your fluid intake will as well. You need to stay hydrated! Avoid fluids that contain carbonation, sugar or caffeine, those can be dehydrating. Fresh vegetable and fruit juices, some herbal teas, as well as milks are encouraged, but most of your fluid intake should come from fresh purified water.
Ditch the plastic water bottles though, as those contain toxins that may contribute to hormonal imbalances and can be passed on to your baby. Choose BPA free, glass or stainless steel water bottles when possible.
Once you are a breastfeeding mom, you will need to increase your water intake to 12.5 glasses of water a day. If water is boring you, try adding lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, or fresh mint sprigs for a burst of natural flavor!
The main goal to eating healthy in pregnancy is to eat a wide variety of whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible. Take nutritional supplements when necessary and be sure you are receiving healthy prenatal care from your midwife or doctor.
6. Kitzinger, Sheila; The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2004
7. Olson, Cathe; The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook, GOCO Publishing, 2005
8. Largeman-Roth, Frances; Feed the Belly, Sourcebooks Inc., 2009
10. Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the United States: NHANES 2003–2004. Tracey J. Woodruff, Ami R. Zota, and Jackie M. Schwartz. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114826/
Folic Acid Vital For Preconception & Pregnancy
Folic acid is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world. This is very concerning since it is critical to the proper development of a baby in the very first weeks of pregnancy. An estimated 1-2 in 1000 babies born in the United States are born with the neural tube defect known as spina bifida. Folic acid supplementation has been shown to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects by up to 80%.
The Importance of Protein During Pregnancy
Proteins are required for building and repair of the body’s tissues. This includes a growing baby in its mothers womb. The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of the body’s cells, including those of your baby. Protein is also an excellent source of energy.
At first it may be hard to get enough of your daily requirement of protein, since you will need to be consuming at least 70-90 grams of protein a day. Typically an adult woman needs to eat 45-50 grams of protein a day. This is a big difference at first. As time goes by you will find that you may not feel well if you do meet your protein intake each day. You may become fatigued, have higher than normal brain-fog, you may feel generally out-of-sorts, become irritable or feel sick. Learning ways to get enough protein without being overwhelmed will pay off.
Below are some foods and their protein content in grams. Get creative with your protein, add foods to smoothies to get a lot of protein in one delicious meal. Snack on high protein foods throughout the day. The chart below should help you to see what food have the highest amount of protein. Write down what you are eating everyday for a week, make sure you write down the amount (for example l cup of cottage cheese) of everything. At the end of each day tally how much protein you approximately ate. This will let you see if you are getting enough protein each day, as well as show you what you are eating. Are you creating enough healthy variety by including all kinds of foods?
Animal Proteins in GramsSteak, sirloin 26
Ground meat 20
FertiliWhey Protein (1 scoop) 16
Bacon (1 slice) 21
Turkey breast 26
Roast beef 21
Chicken, light 26
Oysters (2 oz.) 8
Cottage cheese (½ cup) 14
Cheddar cheese (1 oz.) 7
String cheese (1 oz.) 6
Mozzarella (1 oz.) 7
Goat cheese (1 oz.) 6
Jarlsberg cheese (1 oz.) 7
Blue cheese (1 oz.) 6
Whole milk (1 cup) 8
Skim milk (1 cup) 8
Low-fat plain yogurt (1 cup) 10
Low-fat fruit yogurt (1 cup) 10
Frozen yogurt (½cup) 3
Egg (1) 6
Vegetable Proteins in Grams
Peanuts (1 oz.) 7
All are 3 ounce servings unless otherwise noted.
Anemia in Pregnancy; Signs to Watch For
Pregnancy is such an exciting and special time, especially after a long struggle with infertility. It is as important to take good care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy, as it was to care for your fertility health prior to conception. Pregnant women can be at risk for certain nutritional deficiencies, so it is key in pregnancy to be sure to eat adequate amounts of pregnancy-supportive nutrients like protein, calcium, vitamin D, folate and iron, etc. Iron is one common nutrient pregnant women are at risk for being deficient in, a deficiency that can lead to anemia, because of the demand for the mother’s body to make more blood. Healthy iron levels in pregnancy are necessary in order for the mother’s body to make blood for her baby.
What Causes Anemia During Pregnancy?
Iron-Deficient Anemia occurs when you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen through the body. During pregnancy, blood volume increases by up to 50% to meet the needs of the baby! This increases the mother’s body’s iron needs too. It’s very common for pregnant women to become low in iron at some point during their pregnancy.
Anemia can also be caused by a folate or B12 deficiency during pregnancy. This is typically related to poor diet choices. Making dietary improvements and using a high quality, whole food prenatal vitamin containing folic acid (folate) and vitamin B12 can protect you if you’re affected.
Signs You Might Be Anemic During Pregnancy
Look for the following body signs of anemia and work with your Ob/Gyn or midwife if you’re at risk:
While not very common, severe anemia can increase your risk of pre-term delivery, low birth weight or anemia in your baby, and postpartum depression.
How To Get Iron, Folate and B12 from Food
Pregnancy-related anemia is often easily managed through dietary improvements and nutritional supplements. You may be able to manage anemia simply by increasing your intake of the right kinds of foods. Foods such as:
- If you like meat: grass fed beef, organic poultry and liver (chicken or beef) can boost your iron and B12 levels.
If you prefer vegetarian foods, good plant sources of iron are listed below and be sure to also include vitamin C rich foods that aid with iron absorption like oranges, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and green peppers…
If you have anemia related to folate deficiency, folate is available through foods like:
dark leafy greens
If you’re low in B12, B12 is only available through animal foods, and in small amounts in seaweed and blue green algae (spirulina). Pregnant vegans may need a B12 supplement to make sure their needs are met.
About Iron Supplements
Your doctor may advise you to take an iron supplement (ferrous sulfate) to reduce anemia in pregnancy. However, for some women, ferrous sulfate can cause constipation, another pregnancy problem.
If this sounds like you, an herbal iron source can be considered to support iron levels without causing constipation. A few good choices are: Nettle (Urtica dioica) tea or infusion, spirulina, or Floradix Herbal Iron (with ferrous gluconate, B2, B6, B12 and C).
Note: The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for iron for pregnant women is 27 milligrams (mg) a day. Herbal iron sources and supplements may contain lower milligram amounts, but often they are better absorbed.
Ensure Your Health
Pregnancy-related anemia has risks. Properly managing it can ensure your health and the health of your baby. Including a wide variety of whole foods in your pregnancy diet can certainly help! When looking for supplements, make sure they are first approved for use during pregnancy and always consult with your Ob/Gyn or midwife if you’re unsure.
– Anemia in Pregnancy. (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/anemia-in-pregnancy#1
– Pearson, K. (2013, Sept.). 7 Awesome Things Your Body Does During Pregnancy. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/23/pregnancy-changes_n_3790822.html
– Anemia During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment. (2016). Retrieved from: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-concerns/anemia-during-pregnancy/
– Romm, A. (2016). Herbal Medicines in Pregnancy: What’s Safe and What’s Not? Retrieved from: https://avivaromm.com/herbal-medicines-in-pregnancy-safety/
– Iron & Pregnancy: Vibrant Health Comes from Iron Rich Blood. (2016). Retrieved from: http://floradix.com.au/Iron-Pregnancy.html