Unhealthy foods to avoid during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a crucial period in a woman’s life. 40weeks of pregnancy is a magical time in a woman’s life. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle during pregnancy are beneficial for your health and the health of your baby. When it comes to diet, pregnant mothers need to intake a proper balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that provides enough nutrition to sustain the baby’s healthy development while staying nourished. Optimal nutrition helps the mother meet the increased physical demands of pregnancy and helps the fetus develop.

Eating ‘unhealthy’ foods may cause your unborn baby to develop a preference for these foods during childhood and later life.

Unhealthy eating includes:

  • Irregular meal time
  • High-fat food intake
  • Imbalance meal
  • Sweet snacks or drinks


Foods to avoid during pregnancy:

To prevent any complications during pregnancy avoid:

Seafood containing high mercury

Mercury found in oceans, streams, and lakes converts into methylmercury in the human body. It is a neurotoxin and impairs brain damage and developmental delays in babies. Seafood like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish containing high-level mercury must be avoided. However, seafood with low levels of mercury should also be included in the pregnancy diet. Fishes rich in fatty acid (omega-3) and low in mercury contain high protein and many essential nutrients that aid in the proper growth and development of the baby. According to FDA, pregnant women should limit consumption of canned white tuna to no more than six ounces per week due to high mercury content.

Uncooked or partially cooked meat

Uncooked and raw meat contains the Toxoplasma parasite and harmful bacteria Salmonella, both of which can infect the unborn and cause serious health problems. Consumption of undercooked meat can lead to miscarriage or fetal death during delivery. Meats cooked thoroughly at 160 degrees Fahrenheit should be consumed. Pregnant women should not consume processed meat products unless been reheated until steaming hot.

Raw shellfish or eggs

Eating raw shellfish such as oysters, and mussels increases the risk of viral contamination that causes seafood-borne illnesses and food poisoning. Undercooked, or soft-boiled eggs contain harmful salmonella bacteria which causes food poisoning. The infection may cause cramps in the uterus, leading to premature birth. Cooked eggs that contain firm yolks and cooked shellfish with shells open can be consumed. Avoid sauces made with raw eggs and mayonnaise. Instead of raw eggs, pasteurized egg products can be used to make foods like a sauce or spread. 

Unpasteurized milk

There are serious health risks in drinking raw milk during pregnancy. Raw milk has no nutritional advantage, and its products may be responsible for food-borne diseases. They contain harmful bacteria such as listeria, E.coli, and cryptosporidium that can be dangerous to you and your baby. Pregnant women can buy pasteurized milk and its products. In pasteurization, the milk boiled at a high temperature kills the disease-causing microbes. Non-dairy milk such as soya milk, almond milk, and oat milk is safer and contains similar nutrition.

Soft Cheese

Unpasteurized soft cheeses contain listeria which causes fatal infections in pregnant women and the unborn. Soft cheese such as Camembert, Brie, queso Blanco, and panela carry a risk of listeria contamination. Hard cheeses such as Cheddar or Swiss cheeses can be consumed as they do not contain water. Therefore, these cheeses are less likely to harbour any bacteria. During pregnancy, it is suggested not to have soft cheese unless they are pasteurized.

Consumption of excess caffeine

The caffeine content in tea, chocolate, and many energy drinks causes premature birth and withdrawal symptoms in infants. The caffeine that is absorbed passes easily into the placenta. The babies and their placentas don’t have the enzyme needed to metabolize caffeine, so a high level of caffeine can build up. Higher amounts of caffeine consumed could increase your chances of miscarriage and low birth weight babies. Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to 200mg a day. Energy drinks that contain less caffeine have proven to increase blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.

Junk Foods

Junk foods create a harsh effect on pregnant women and babies inside the womb. When a pregnant woman eats all those sugar and salt-rich foods it is absorbed by the placenta as well. Thus, interfering with healthy development and resulting in a baby with health disorders. Eating junk foods can result in weight gain accompanied by high blood pressure or hypertension and pregnancy-induced hypertension results in various birth defects. In some cases, miscarriage happens at the last stage of pregnancy due to obesity. Eating too much junk food that has no fibre can put unnecessary pressure on bowel movements which may lead to rupture of the water bag thus terminating the pregnancy.

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