Thursday, July 7, 2011


SourceBBC (British Broadcasting Corp) Health Section

Women who are pregnant are admonished to eat foods high in nutrients for the proper development of the baby inside the womb. 

Balanced Diet:

A balanced diet for pregnant women:

Whole grain carbohydrates - Bread, rice, pasta, potato, cereals, couscous
Fruits and Vegetables - Five portions a day
Low fat dairy products - Eggs, milk, pasteurized cheese, yogurt, fromage frais 
Lean sources of protein - lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cooked beans

Drink plenty of fluids everyday (water and natural fruit juices)
Avoid sugary and fatty foods, alcohol and beverages with too much caffeine (softdrinks and coffee)

The article disputed the old adage that goes "eating for two". The digestive system among pregnant women changes as the pregnancy progresses making it more efficient to absorb nutrients, a well-balanced diet already provides pregnant women with sufficient vitamins and minerals so there's no need to devour on foods just to comply with the requirements of having two mouths to feed.

Nutrients for Pregnancy:

The energy cost of pregnancy is around 77,000 calories and extra calories are required at the trimester of pregnancy estimated to be at 200kcals per day. As women's health and condition vary during pregnancy, it is advisable to take note on the attitude of eating and the kind of foods to take to achieve the required nutrients. For women who are less active at the last three months of pregnancy, little amount of extra foods are only needed because they are not expending so much energy but for women who are more active, good snacks of milk, bread or yogurt are required to sustain the whole day activities.

Just follow healthy eating lifestyle and integrate foods rich in protein in the diet: Lean meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, whole grain foods, nuts and pulses.

Foods high in fiber are good for digestions and must be eaten to avoid constipation which often occurs among pregnant women. Foods rich in fiber are whole wheat bread, whole grain foods, brown rice, cereals and pulses.

Folic Acid
This is very crucial and highly important during pregnancy, in fact, many clinical and nutritional studies revealed that Folic acid should be taken by women who are on the childbearing stage (even the unmarried women) and  before conception, women who have insufficient amount of folic acid in the body increase its risk of birth defects, the very common is spina bifida (neural tube defect). The moment a woman is planning to conceive, she should take at least 600 micrograms of Folic acid everyday (400 mcg of supplement and 200 mcg of dietary intake, this will be continued up to week 12 of pregnancy. Foods rich in Folic acid are Broccoli, Asparagus, Spinach, Cabbage, Brussels Sprout, Okra, Kale, Peas, whole wheat bread, brown rice, breakfast cereals, lentils and Oranges. 

This should be plant-based and meat-based. Iron absorption can be enhanced by including foods rich in vitamin C. One glass of orange juice in the morning and breakfast cereal are good combinations.

Vitamin C and Vitamin D
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron and vitamin D aids Calcium and very essential in forming and maintaining healthy and strong bones and teeth. Current recommendation for Vitamin D intake among pregnant women is 10 microgram supplement.

Essential for healthy bones and teeth, the consumption of this mineral should be increased during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy. Good sources are milk, whole grain foods, yogurt, tofu, cheese, bread, salmon, sardines, dried apricot, orange juice, sesame seeds and fortified soya milk. 

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

To protect the fetus from women's womb and to ensure the unborn baby is healthy, avoid the following foods:

Other types of Cheese
Cheeses such as Camembert, brie or blue-veined chesses because they contain listeria, a type of bacteria harmful to the unborn baby.

Raw or partially cooked foods
Eggs, fish and meat that are not properly cooked should be avoided. Limit tuna, marlin, shark, swordfish to avoid the hazard of mercury which is present in seafoods.

Alcohol, Smoking
Acohol and smoking are linked to birth defects, lower birth weight and other deformities so it must be avoided early on: during the planning stage to get pregnant and at pregnancy.


It's been a long time that health experts advised expecting-mom to quit or limit caffeine intake because of its potential risks to the developing baby in the womb, but then there are still women who never pay attention to this warning. Lately, this very important reminder became an issue again when the British Medical Journal published a new study conducted by UK scientists that caffeine intake is really dangerous among pregnant women.

The study revealed an association between caffeine and fatal growth retardation and other birth defects. Taking caffeine more than 200 mg a day is potentially damaging to the baby. Women who plan to conceive should limit their caffeine intake to up to 200 mg a day only or roughly two mugs a day of coffee or two and a half mugs of Tea. 

Caffeine found in tea, coffee, softdrinks and other beverages hindered iron absorption so it must be minimized or even avoided during pregnancy. According to a research, caffeine in tea is not really harmful as it is only containing less than 80 milligrams compared to coffee but nevertheless, tea intake during pregnancy should be limited. Pregnant women should not take more than 200 mg of caffeine a day. But unlike other caffeinated beverages, Tea, particularly green tea, is very rich in antioxidant called catechin which may protect women from cancer and other chronic illnesses, antioxidants found in Green tea have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial components and excellent free-radical scavengers. Still, Tea should not be taken while pregnant or when planning to get pregnant.

Caffeine found in products

One mug of filter coffee: 140 mg
One mug of instant coffee: 100 mg
One can of cola: 100 mg
One can of energy drink: 80 mg
One mug of Tea: 70 mg
One bar of dark chocolate: 50 mg
One bar of milk chocolate: 25 mg

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