Pregnancy is one of the most important but also the most sensitive part of a women’s life cycle. During the pregnancy, the body changes and woman needs to adjust her lifestyle and habits to protect her own health, and the health of her baby. Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle, and pregnant women should pay a lot of attention to what they eat, since the nutrients they absorb from the meal directly nourish their baby, allowing for healthy and undisturbed development. If a woman had already been following a healthy diet before she got pregnant, she will not have to make any major changes. However, she will need to start avoiding certain foods and include more of some specific nutrients in the daily diet plan to meet all of the particular nutritional requirements of pregnancy.
Pregnancy nutrition requirements
During pregnancy, a woman needs more folate, which synthesizes the building block of all living beings, the DNA. Enough folate in the daily diet will also prevent neural tube disorder, which is one of the most common birth defects. It is an opening of the spinal cord or brain and a malfunctioning of neural tube. Good sources of folate are leafy green vegetables, cereals and fortified breads.
Iron, another important nutrient, is required in about 50% larger amounts during the pregnancy. Iron is used to synthesize blood cells, and thus prevent anemia in a newborn. Good sources of iron are red meats, chickpeas, leafy vegetables, lentils, etc.
Pregnant women should also increase their daily intake of vitamin B6, which regulates problems with morning sickness, nausea and vomiting. Good sources of this nutrient are meats, bananas, nuts, vegetables and grains.
Zinc is important to build DNA and strengthen the immune system against diseases. Enough of zinc will also lessen women’s risk of premature delivery. Good sources of zinc are poultry, dairy products, nuts and beans.
Foods to avoid during pregnancy
Women should avoid eating unprocessed fish, raw seafood, or raw meat type products. Uncooked or leftover meats and vegetables and unpasteurized dairy products should also be avoided, since they may contain a bacterium known as listeria, which can penetrate the endothelial layer of placenta and cause severe diseases such as Meningitis. Moreover, pregnant women should not eat partially cooked pink meat and soft cheeses. Future moms should also avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol, since it may cause the fetal alcohol syndrome, which is a severe and incurable developmental disorder. There is no safe or recommended level for alcohol intake during pregnancy, and the general recommendation would be to avoid it completely.