Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy is very important. During this time, your body needs additional nutrients, vitamins and minerals. In fact, you may need 350–500 extra calories each day during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. A diet that lacks key nutrients may negatively affect the baby’s development. Poor eating habits and excess weight gain may also increase the risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy or birth complications. So it is really essential to include a variety of options from different food groups every day to attain the correct balance of nutrients to keep you and your baby well-nourished.
Milk and dairy products cover your body’s needs for vitamin B-12, calcium, phosphorous, and protein. These nutrients are essential for developing your baby’s teeth, bones, muscles, heart, and blood clotting. Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is particularly beneficial for pregnant women. It contains more calcium than any other dairy product. Some varieties also contain probiotic bacteria, which support digestive health.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, improve digestion and help prevent constipation. The major nutrients present in this food group are folic acid, potassium, beta carotene, and vitamin C. You should target eating at least five portions of different fruits and vegetables.
During pregnancy, the baby’s nervous system and brain development need a good amount of folic acid. Avocados are rich in folic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. Vitamin B6-rich foods aid in morning sickness. However, avocados do have a high fat content, so if you are overweight, keep a watch on its intake.
Carrots and Broccoli
Carrots and broccoli are a good source of fiber, vitamin A, carotenoids, and vitamin C. Carrots are rich in alkaline elements, which rejuvenate the blood and balance the acid alkalinity in the body. These nutrients are also important for the development of baby bones, eyes, and tooth buds that are developing under the gums.
Spinach and Green Leafy Vegetables
Kale, spinach and other green leafy vegetables have vitamins such as A, C, K, and that very essential folic acid. They are also good source of iron, which is required to carry oxygen around the body and to the baby.
Figs, either fresh or dried, contain immense amounts of fiber, as compared to any other tropical fruit or vegetable, that helps to alleviate constipation. A serving of three figs contain five grams of fiber. They also have a good amount of calcium, zinc, potassium, and iron and are therefore a very good option to be included in a pregnancy diet.
Berries are packed with water, healthy carbs, vitamin C, fiber and plant compounds. They generally contain high amounts of vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron. Vitamin C is also important for skin health and immune function. Berries have a relatively low glycemic index value, so they should not cause major spikes in blood sugar. Berries are also a great snack because they contain both water and fiber.
Dried fruit is generally high in calories, fiber and various vitamins and minerals. One piece of dried fruit contains the same amount of nutrients as fresh fruit, just without all the water and in a much smaller form. Therefore, one serving of dried fruit can provide a large percentage of the recommended intake of many vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron and potassium. Prunes are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin K and sorbitol.
Poultry, Fish and Lean Meats
Pregnant women require more iron than those women that are not pregnant. The recommended daily intake of iron is 27 mg per day during pregnancy. Lamb, poultry, fish, eggs are some of the best sources of iron. To absorb enough iron from the source, the body needs foods rich in vitamin C to be consumed along with iron.
Eggs are the ultimate health food, because they contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need. A large egg contains 77 calories, as well as high-quality protein and fat. It also contains many vitamins and minerals. Eggs are a great source of choline. Choline is essential for many processes in the body, including brain development and health.
Beef, pork and chicken are excellent sources of high-quality protein. Furthermore, beef and pork are also rich in iron, choline and other B-vitamins all of which are needed in higher amounts during pregnancy. Iron is an essential mineral that is used by red blood cells as a part of hemoglobin. It is important for delivering oxygen to all cells in the body. Pregnant women need more iron, since their blood volume is increasing. Low levels of iron during early and mid-pregnancy may cause iron deficiency anemia, which doubles the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. It may be hard to cover iron needs with diet alone, especially since many pregnant women develop an aversion to meat.
Salmon is an excellent source of high-quality proteins, minerals, and essential Omega-3 fatty acids. It also has very low amounts of methyl mercury, which can be harmful to the baby’s nervous system, unlike swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, which are not recommended during pregnancy. Expectant mothers should not consume more than 12 ounces per week of salmon to avoid an excessive intake of mercury. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are good sources of vitamin D.
Eating whole grains may help meet the increased calorie requirements that come with pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters. As opposed to refined grains, whole grains are packed with fiber, vitamins and plant compounds. Oats and quinoa also contain a fair amount of protein, which is important during pregnancy. Additionally, whole grains are generally rich in B-vitamins, fiber and magnesium. All of these are frequently lacking in the diets of pregnant women.
During pregnancy, blood volume increases by up to 1.5 liters. Therefore, it is important to stay properly hydrated. The fetus usually gets everything it needs, but if you don’t watch your water intake, you may become dehydrated. Symptoms of mild dehydration include headaches, anxiety, tiredness, bad mood and reduced memory. Furthermore, increasing water intake may help relieve constipation and reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, which are common during pregnancy. General guidelines recommend drinking about 2 liters of water per day, but the amount you really need varies by individual.
The electrolytic balance of a coconut is same as that of our blood. It is available naturally in its purest form and is free of cholesterol and fats. It encourages the level of good cholesterol, which is HDL and is rich in chlorides, potassium, and magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure and heart functions. The body’s salt loss during vomiting and dehydration can be refilled through the intake of coconut water. Due to the presence of high levels of lauric acid, which is used by the human body to make monolaurin, coconut water has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties and helps in the prevention of HIV, herpes, and flu during pregnancy. Coconut water acts as a natural diuretic and increases the flow and frequency of urine, which prevents urinary tract infections.