Foods to avoid during pregnancy

Most pregnant women want the best for the baby they are carrying. Therefore, they strive to eat a balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients and take lots of water. It is crucial for every pregnant woman to understand what foods to avoid during pregnancy. We give you a rundown of some of those foods in this article.

Seafood and some types of fish

Seafood is actually a great source of protein and the Omega-3 fatty acids in many types of fish can promote your baby’s brain development. However, some types of fish contain some dangerous levels of mercury, which can damage your baby’s developing nervous system. Mercury consumed during pregnancy has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. Some of the fish to avoid includes shellfish, shark, king mackerel and some types of fish used in sushi because of the high levels of mercury.

If you must eat sea fish ensure that it is handled in proper hygienic conditions to avoid any contamination. Harmful bacteria or virus in seafood can be avoided by ensuring that you do not take raw fish, shellfish, oysters or clams. You should also cook seafood properly. Most fish should be cooked at a temperature of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to ensure that the fish has cooked well, make sure that it has separated into flakes and appears opaque throughout. As for clams and oysters, cook them until their shells open. Discard any that does not open.

Undercooked meat, poultry and eggs

One has an increased risk of bacterial poisoning when pregnant. Although it may be rare, food poisoning affects the baby too.

To prevent food borne illnesses, cook all meats and poultry properly before consumption.

Hotdogs and processed meats should be cooked until they are steaming hot or else avoid them completely. If not well cooked, they can be a source of a rare but potentially serious food borne illness known as listeriosis.

Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Raw eggs can be contaminated with the harmful bacteria salmonella. Avoid foods made with raw or partially cooked eggs such as raw butter or eggnog (a drink made with milk or cream, eggs, sugar, spices and sometimes an alcoholic beverage such as brandy).

Unpasteurised foods

Many low-fat dairy products such as skimmed milk, cheese and cottage cheese can be a healthy part of your diet. But avoid by all costs unpasteurised milk as it can lead to food borne illness. Unpasteurised milk may contain a bacterium called listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which can be life threatening. Make sure any milk you drink is pasteurised.

Unwashed or improperly washed fruits and vegetables

To avoid any harmful bacteria, ensure that you thoroughly wash all raw fruits and vegetables and cut away damaged portions. If you do not wash the vegetables well, you may be exposed to toxoplasmosis, a bacteria that comes from contaminated soil where the vegetables were grown.

Excess caffeine

Most studies show that caffeine intake in moderation is okay. However, some other research reports show that caffeine may be related to miscarriages particularly in the first trimester.  As a general rule, limit your caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day during pregnancy. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it helps eliminate fluids from the body. This can result in water and calcium loss. It is important that you drink plenty of water, fruit juice and milk rather than caffeinated beverages.

Avoid alcohol consumption

There is no amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy and therefore alcohol should be avoided at all cost. Prenatal exposure to alcohol can interfere with the healthy development of the baby. Depending on the amount, timing and pattern of use, alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to foetal alcohol syndrome or other developmental disorders.

You should also avoid alcohol while breastfeeding as exposure of alcohol to an infant poses harmful risks. When you observe these guidelines, your chances of having a healthy pregnancy are greatly increased.

Published on April 2013

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