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Foods to Avoid and to Eat When Pregnant

nutrition and diet during pregnancy. Pregnant woman standing near refrigerator with fruits and vegetablesIt may be your first time pregnant or you are pregnant again. You remind yourself that you need to go over that list of foods to avoid and to eat when pregnant. The Baby Pibu team is here to help you with this list, and we want you to understand the practical points of these lists. Let us start off with the foods you need to avoid.

Food #1 to avoid when pregnant: Seafood high in mercury
Our oceans are becoming more polluted. With that, the fish in our oceans can accumulate pollutants such as mercury. Mercury is a metal and is toxic. If accumulated in large doses, it can cause damage to critical organs such as the kidneys, lung, and nervous system. Babies who are exposed to mercury while in the womb can develop brain damage as well as hearing and visual problems. Fish that are high in mercury include tuna, mackerel, swordfish, tilefish, and shark. Limit the intake of these seafood items to just 1-2 times a month.

Food #2 to avoid when pregnant: Undercooked meat, poultry and eggs
Undercooked meat and poultry are straightforward as a food to avoid. But, what about raw egg foods? What are those? Raw egg foods include lightly scrambled eggs, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise, homemade ice cream, and homemade cake icing. Bacteria such as salmonella and listeria and a parasite called toxoplasma can live and thrive in undercooked meat, poultry and eggs. Toxoplasma can lead to blindness and intellectual disabilities. Salmonella poisoning can result in food poisoning (severe vomiting and diarrhea) that may lead to significant dehydration and hospitalization. Listeria is a bacteria that has the ability to cross the placenta and affect the baby. Pregnant women are 20 more times likely of getting listeriosis than the general population. Pregnant women having listeriosis may present with food poisoning. Listeriosis can affect your baby and pregnancy by causing a miscarriage, stillbirth or preterm labor. Babies born with listeriosis can have a blood or brain infection that may result in intellectual disability, seizures, or blindness.

Food # 3 to avoid when pregnant: Unpasteurized foods
Again, bacteria such as listeria, e.coli, salmonella and campylobacter enjoy living in unpasteurized foods. These bacteria should be avoided when pregnant in order to avoid food poisoning. Pasteurization is a process via heating to kill bacteria and microbes. Foods typically pasteurized include milk, cheese, juice, and canned food.

Food #4 to avoid when pregnant: Raw foods
When you are pregnant, you should particularly avoid raw shellfish because of the possible exposure to the Vibrio bacteria, salmonella, listeria, and parasites. Vibrio can also cause food poisoning just like salmonella and listeria, and severe Vibrio cases can even be deadly.

Food #5 to avoid when pregnant: Excess caffeine
Excess caffeine is a food to avoid when pregnant because high caffeine intake during pregnancy can restrict fetal growth and increase the risk of low birth weight at delivery. You should have no more than 200 mg/day or no more than 2-3 cups of coffee a day, and you should particularly avoid excess caffeine during the first trimester.

Food #5 to avoid when pregnant: Alcohol
Regular alcohol exposure to your baby when pregnant can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and affect fetal growth.

Food #6 to avoid when pregnant: Deli meat
You probably won’t be surprised to know that listeria likes to grow in deli meat. You have learned so much about listeriosis that you know you want to avoid it altogether during pregnancy. If you decide to eat deli meat, heat it up to kill the listeria and other bacteria that may be harboring a colony on the deli meat you are going to eat.

Food # 7 to avoid when pregnant: Too many calories
Ok- Calories are not a food, but excess overall calories can lead to health issues for pregnant mom and potentially baby. Excess weight gain can lead to gestational diabetes. Remember, you just need an extra 350-500 calories a day in second and third trimester. Avoid these extra calories by avoiding processed foods that are low in nutrients but high in sugars and fat.

On a happier note, here is a list of foods to eat to encourage a healthy, well-nourished pregnancy.

Food #1 to eat when pregnant: Dairy
You particularly want your calcium when you are pregnant. Dairy is an excellent source of calcium. Make sure your dairy product is pasteurized and consider a daily yogurt which contains higher levels of calcium.

Food #2 to eat when pregnant: Legumes
Legumes include lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts. Legumes are high in fiber, protein, iron, folate, and calcium. These nutrients are all needed in high demand by your body during pregnancy. Folate is especially important in the first trimester. Low folate is linked to increased neural tube defects and low birth weight. One cup of lentils, chickpeas or black beans will do your body good.

Food #3 to eat when pregnant: Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, which is good source of vitamin A.

Food #4 to eat when pregnant: Salmon
Salmon are high in omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are important in building your baby’s brain and eyes.

Food #5 to eat when pregnant: Broccoli and dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens include kale and spinach. These vegetables are high in fiber and antioxidants. They are also high in vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and calcium. Good for both you and baby!

Food #6 to eat when pregnant: Lean meats
If you are not a vegetarian, consider eating lean meats to increase the intake of the needed iron when pregnant.

Food # 7 to eat when pregnant: Berries
Berries such as strawberries and blueberries contain good vitamin C. Not only is Vitamin C good at helping the immune system be stronger, but it also helps to increase iron absorption in the gut.

Food #8 to eat when pregnant: Avocados
Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids (good fats) needed for healthy fetal growth. Avocados also have the needed vitamins of folate and potassium.

Food #9 to eat when pregnant: Water
Stay hydrated when you are pregnant. You need 1 to 2 liters of water a day.

Whew! What a list of foods to avoid when pregnant and to eat when pregnant. The Baby Pibu team hopes the list simplifies your understanding of why you need to avoid certain foods and why you should eat healthy food options. Enjoy a healthy pregnancy and have a healthy baby!