Category: Nutrition

Pregnancy Nutrition: 9 Food Groups That Will Have You Bursting With Energy

Have you lately felt that you just don’t have the drive to indulge in things that you’ve enjoyed in the past? Of course… you are pregnant. Whilst, there’s not much physical evidence of it in the first trimester, one still has to realise that you are making that little person inside you. It is solid hard work. Probably the hardest work that your body has done so far.

Just to keep powering the baby making venture round the clock, remember that your body is producing more blood with increased heart rates. Even if you choose to rest, your body metabolism tends go on an energy burning overload. Additionally, with your body still in the process of forming the baby’s placenta, especially in the first 9 weeks of pregnancy, it uses up more nutrients and water.

No wonder you feel tired and exhausted all the time! Thinking of opening the refrigerator and munching on that chocolate you’ve been saving… or maybe that Red Bull your partner has left behind? Think again. Pregnancy is a very delicate time for your body and choosing a temporary quick fix with canned energy boosters is not ideal. Infact, the sugar and caffeine combination actually makes your blood sugar go a quick rise and then goes on a severe dip leaving you feeling more fatigued.

So, here’s a list of energy bursting food group that should definitely be a part of your pregnancy diet:

1. Proteins: It is the greatest natural “lift-me-up” especially since the amino acids present in protein rich foods assist in the growth of your baby’s reproducing cells.

· Eggs

· Beans or Lentils

· Nuts

· Chicken

· Milk, cheese and yogurt (for those who can tolerate dairy)

2. Complex Carbohydrates: Lowers you cholesterol levels as well as keeps proving nourishment for your baby.

· Oatmeal, Whole grain bread, crackers and low sugar cereal

· Fresh fruit

· Fresh veggies, Baked potato with skin

3. Calcium: Great at making the heart, nerves, muscles, teeth and bones healthy.

· Yogurt and milk

· Green beans

· Fish

· Almonds

4. Iron: If tiredness is the cause of keeping a fairly active pregnant woman indoors, then iron-deficiency anaemia may be a probable cause especially with the over demand of blood as the pregnancy progresses. Supplement your diet with iron-rich foods that will push up your energy levels.

· Spinach, Chickpeas, Broccoli, Beans

· Fortified cereal

· Pumpkin seeds

· Lean red meat

· Lentils

· Raisins and dried apricots

· Pasta

· Poultry

5. Vitamins: Ideal for protecting your immune system and helps you fight tiredness. Additionally, vitamins help to keep your baby healthy during the pregnancy period.

· Pumpkins, Carrots, Broccoli

· Oatmeal

· Mangoes

6. Potassium: Important with nerve impulses along with help in lessening leg cramps. Potassium is necessary as it controls your fluids and electrolyte balance in you and your baby’s cells.

· Bananas

· Pumpkin, Potatoes, Spinach, Leafy greens, Baked potato

7. Magnesium: Essential addition for your baby’s growth and assists in breaking down sugars into usable energy.

· Almonds, hazelnuts, cashews

· Bran cereal or whole grains

· Fish (avoid types with high levels of mercury)

· Soybean

· Bananas

8. Folate or Folic Acid: Gives strength and energy and helps in fetal development, the spine and the brain.

· Lentils

· Spinach, Broccoli

· Mangoes

· Fortified cereal

· Eggs

9. Fibre: Best for those who are glucose intolerant. Supplement with tons of water.

· Whole grain bread, Oatmeal, Cereal

· Almonds

· Beans, Broccoli, Pumpkins

· Lentils

· Oranges, Bananas, Apples

Do keep in mind that eating healthy and getting that magic number in terms of calories will not just ensure your nutritional well-being but will also make sure of your baby’s nourishment and health.


A Good Diet For Healthy Pregnancy

Just because you are eating for two should not be an excuse to eat whatever you can get your hands on or succumbing to all your cravings however strong they are. In fact, you should be more careful with what you eat because you are nurturing a life in you and you want to give it the best kick start in life. Your pregnancy diet should be good enough for you and just as good for the baby.

But with so much information readily available it can be very challenging to decide what foods are best during this important phase of life. During pregnancy, it is very easy for a woman to gain weight, especially with so much eating and less exercise going on. But when you choose the right foods, you will not have to worry about your health and that of the baby even if you add a few pounds. There are so many healthy foods good for pregnancy, you can choose from so you enjoy meals and maintain good health.

Eggs – They may seem unlikely during pregnancy, but they are top quality protein choices that happen to be very beneficial during pregnancy. Eggs have minerals and vitamins too. Considering that baby cells are growing, protein is very important in diet. The eggs also have choline that promotes overall growth and brain health of your baby. Some even have omega-3 fats that are great for vision and brain development. They may be high in cholesterol, but they are low in saturated fat, thus making them okay during pregnancy.

Sweet potatoes – The orange color of sweet potatoes is from carotenoids and they are helpful in catering to vitamin A when there is a shortfall of the same from veggies and fruits. The sweet potatoes are also high in vitamin C, fiber and folate making them very good during pregnancy.

Whole grains – They contain nutrients like selenium, phytonutrients and vitamin E and they are also high in fiber. There are so many choices and you can experiment with them as you prefer to make delicious meals that will not only prove beneficial but also enjoyable. You can go for anything from barley, oatmeal of even quinoa, which seems to have an abundance of nutrients.

Dark green leafy veggies – They include Swiss chard, kale, spinach and they are all loaded with nutrients and vitamins C, K and A. The green leafy vegetables are also rich in folate which is very important during pregnancy. They make very good food choices for promoting eye health too.

Lean meats – It is a natural protein source, but when buying red meat you should ensure that you get cuts that are fat free. Pork and beef are some of the best during pregnancy because of the choline they contain additionally to the protein. It is however important to keep off deli meats and hot dogs because of the risk of passing parasites and bacteria to the baby. It is also a good idea to cook your own food so you are sure.


Herbal Products During Pregnancy

Herbal products are the products made from natural herbs and plants and are used for treatment of certain problems faced by humans. The use of herbal products is pretty common in many problems and it is also a known factor when it comes to pregnancy. It is argued and debated that herbal products are not safe and guaranteed, since they are not approved and tested by the FDA, and they tend to have the nag of causing unwanted harm, especially during pregnancy. Pregnancy is the most critical stage and extensive care needs to be taken during this, hence one needs to be fully aware of what to take and what to avoid when pregnant. The woman cannot take medicines or herbs which may harm the person or the baby and may lead to complications during pregnancy.

Despite all of these facts, herbal products have been used for centuries and have been used for pregnancy related problems as well. There exist safe herbal products which do not cause harm to the pregnant women and do not lead to complications. These herbal products have been used by several pregnant women over the years and have reaped great benefits to them, providing comfort and alleviating pain and sicknesses without having to take medicines and synthetic products. The synthetic products can also be extremely harmful and some specialists believe that since herbs are natural products, it is much safer and better to use them, especially in case of pregnancy.There is a vast list of the safe herbal products which are not controversial and can be used during pregnancy in the correct manner and problems can be solved without medication. Of these products, the most famous and commonly used in the red raspberry leaf which is used in tea’s given to pregnant women. Red raspberry has a high content of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients which provide comfort and relief from pains, tones the uterus, increases the amount of milk produced in the woman and also helps in the reduction of hemorrhage.

Ginger is another most extensively used herbal product which helps pregnant women the most. During pregnancy, women face nausea and this result in loss of essential nutrients from the body. Ginger tends to nausea in the best possible manner, eliminating it and hence reducing the loss of the nutrients that are vital for the growing and developing baby inside. The best way to fight nausea is to chew organic ginger root, but there are alternatives as well which include use of ginger in food and in tea.

How Your Health Benefits From More Fiber

Since the 1990s, medical researchers have discovered more and more benefits when dietary fiber is significantly increased in our diet. Fiber is a substance in plants. Dietary fiber, also called bulk or roughage, is the kind we eat. It is the edible portions of plant cell walls; hence, it is found only in plant foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, as well as beans and legumes.

Fiber is a carbohydrate and is usually listed under “Total Carbohydrates” on the “Nutrition Facts” label. Humans lack the digestive enzymes to breakdown fiber. Therefore, it is undigested and not absorbed into the bloodstream and it arrives at the colon pretty much intact. Fiber has zero calories. Instead of being used for energy, it is excreted from the body.

The current recommended daily intake for adults who are 50 years or younger is 25 grams/day for women and 38 grams/day for men. For adults over 50 years of age, the recommendation is 21 grams/day for women and 30 grams/day for men. Unfortunately, for many who eat a typical American diet, it can be a huge challenge to consume that much fiber everyday. Most people top out at an average of 15 grams/day, regardless of how many calories they eat.

Maybe if we understand more about the different types of fiber and how they can immensely contribute to better health and lower disease risks, there will be more incentives to increase the daily fiber intake. Fiber is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. Apart from helping us stay regular, fiber has a long list of other health benefits. The following will distinguish the different types of fiber, their specific health advantages, and which foods contain these fiber.

Classifications Of Fiber

There are several ways to classify the different types of fiber. However, as their characteristics do overlap, experts have yet to agree on the best categorization. For decades, the most commonly used classification is soluble and insoluble fiber. These days, as researchers discover the benefits of fermented fiber, another classification – fermentable and non-fermentable fiber – is also used. However, do know that both soluble and insoluble fiber have some that are fermentable and some that are non-fermentable, though soluble fiber is more easily fermented.

Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

The major difference between soluble and insoluble fiber is that they have different properties when mixed with water, hence the designation between the two.

  • Soluble fiber is soluble in water. When mixed with water, it forms a gel and swells.
  • Insoluble fiber does not absorb or dissolve in water. It passes through the digestive system in close to its original form.

Both types of fiber serve their own purposes and have different health benefits. Most plant foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, just in different proportions. For instance, wheat is about 90% insoluble fiber. Oats are 50/50. Psyllium plant is mostly soluble fiber.

Fermentable and Non-Fermentable Fiber

Some fibers are readily fermented by bacteria that colonize the colon, others are not. Fermentable fiber is used by the colon’s friendly bacteria as a food source. Fermentation results in the formation of short-chain fatty acids (acetate, butyrate, and propionate) and gases. Epithelial cells that line the colon use butyrate as the main source of energy.

Researchers found that butyrate exerts a wide range of health benefits. It:

  • Decreases inflammation and oxidative stress,
  • Prevents colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Crohn’s disease,
  • Strengthens the bowel wall,
  • Improves the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients such as calcium,
  • Makes hormones that control appetite and anxiety.

Soluble Fiber

Foods High in Soluble Fiber

Fruits: blueberries, apple, oranges

Grains: barley, oats

Legumes: beans, lentils, peas

Seeds: flax

Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, carrots

Health Benefits

  • Digestion and weight control. When soluble fiber dissolves in water and becomes gel-like, it helps prolong stomach emptying and slows down digestion, making you feel full longer and have less room for other not-so-healthy food cravings.
  • Blood sugar regulation. Soluble fiber slows down the digestion rate of many nutrients, including carbohydrates, so it helps stabilize glucose levels and prevent after-meal blood sugar spikes.
  • Cholesterol and heart health. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol and bile acids (made by the liver and stored in the gall bladder for the digestion of fats) in the small intestine and promotes their excretion. Studies found that consuming more soluble fiber leads to a decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, hence, reducing the overall risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Healthy bowel movements. Soluble fiber soaks up water as it passes through your system, which helps bulk up the stool and guard against constipation.
  • Colon health. Prebiotic fiber is a type of fermentable and soluble fiber that is used by the colon’s friendly bacteria (probiotics) as a food source. Prebiotics and probiotics work together to maintain the balance and diversity of intestinal bacteria, especially increasing the good bacteria like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

Foods High in Soluble Prebiotic Fiber

(In parenthesis is the name of the fiber)

Apple (pectin)

Asparagus (inulin and oligofructose)

Banana (inulin and oligofructose)

Barley (beta-glucan)

Burdock root (inulin and oligofructose)

Chicory root (inulin and oligofructose)

Cocoa (flavanol compounds)

Dandelion greens (inulin and oligofructose)

Flaxseed (mucilage)

Garlic (inulin and oligofructose)

Jerusalem artichoke or sunchoke (inulin and oligofructose)

Jicama root (inulin)

Konjac root or glucomannan fiber (see Note)

Leeks (inulin and oligofructose)

Oats (beta-glucan)

Onion (inulin and FOS)

Psyllium (mucilage) – used as a fiber supplement, always buy organic due to pesticides

Seaweed (polysaccharides)

Wheat bran (arabinoxylan oligosaccharides or AXOS)

Yacon root (FOS and inulin)

5 Nutritional Foods to Eat When Pregnant

Nutrition is always important but it becomes even more important when you are pregnant. A women’s diet needs to provide enough energy and nutrients for herself as well as the baby. This means that pregnant women need a balanced and nutritious diet. Having a balanced diet means consuming the correct amounts of carbohydrates and fats, protein, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Need some ideas when it comes to a pregnancy diet? Follow our 5 nutritional foods to eat when pregnant guide:

1. Yogurt: This dairy product contains just as much calcium as milk. However, the big positive to this delicious snack is that it is also packed with folic acid. Folic acid is an important vitamin for the development of the baby’s brain. Surprisingly, yogurt is also packed with protein. Not only is this a good way to pack on the calcium and protein but yogurt goes really well with all types of nuts and fruits like mangos, which are also nutritious foods to eat when pregnant.

2. Vegetables such as spinach, carrots, and avocados: Spinach is packed with folic acid, vitamin A, calcium, and iron. It is full of vitamins and tastes good in a number of dishes like vegetable lasagna, salads, and with chicken. So, why not indulge in it? Carrots are filled with vitamin A, which will promote growth in your baby, specifically with their eyes, teeth, and bones. Avocados are a super food. They are also packed with folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Vitamin B6 is an important vitamin to consume while pregnant because it helps tissue and brain growth for the baby and because it can reduce the effects of morning sickness.

3. Oatmeal: Oats are full of iron, vitamin B, fiber, and tons of other nutrients. Again, not only are the packed with nutrients but they are great with fruits and nuts, which provide another assortment of vitamins and nutrients.

4. Nonfat Milk: Calcium is essential for the body. However, during pregnancy, the body absorbs almost twice as much of this vital vitamin. Unfortunately, statistics show that the average person is lacking calcium, which means that extra intake is necessary during the 9 months of pregnancy. Each 8-ounce glass of nonfat milk delivers about 30% of the suggested allowance of 1,000 milligrams.

5. Bananas: Bananas are a key pregnancy super food because of the amount of potassium they provide. Potassium gives energy, which makes it easier to cope with pregnancy fatigue. Plus this super food is perfect with many other foods on this list such as oatmeal and yogurt.

A List Of Healthy Food To Eat While Pregnant

If you are expecting your first child or eagerly awaiting a new addition to your growing family, your nutrition should be of utmost importance to you. Remember that whatever you take in will be taken in by your unborn baby too, so be wary of the foods you serve on your plate and study the nutritional value they have instead of how good they taste for your palate. To help you choose the right foods that will keep you and your baby healthy, here are the suggested inclusions in the diet of pregnant women.

Eggs

Eggs are rich in protein, which has the amino acids necessary for the growth of your baby. This includes the growth of your baby’s brain and muscles. You may also want to prefer DHA eggs, which are naturally loaded with omega 3 fatty acid that further supports brain development. Just a word of advice, make sure that your eggs are thoroughly cooked to avoid salmonella poisoning. If you are not fond of eggs, other sources of protein are red meat, fish, and tofu.

Nuts

Do not be afraid of the fat found in nuts. Nuts are good sources of fiber, protein, and minerals, such as calcium, manganese, and magnesium. All of these will help in the development of the foetus. Therefore, instead of grabbing a slice of cake for snack, munch on a bowl of nuts instead, and better yet mix some dried fruits to it. Just be sure to not eat too many, as nuts have a lot of calories.

Dried Fruits

Speaking of dried fruits, did you know that this is a good source of iron? Your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin, a component of the blood that is responsible for carrying oxygen. When you are pregnant, you need more iron since you have to supply your baby with oxygen too and your baby also uses up iron in building his or her own blood supply.

Carrots

Rich in vitamin A, carrots are an important part of your diet, as it will help in the development of your child’s bones, eyes, and teeth. You can eat carrots as is, or transform them to delectable dishes and juices.

Avocados

Aside from fortified cereals, avocados are also a good source of folate, which is essential for the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Most doctors prescribe a folic acid supplement to pregnant women at the early stages of pregnancy to prevent any birth defects on the child, but you can also get your daily requirement of folate from avocados and lentils, among others. In fact, you should start loading up on folic acid while you are still trying to conceive since birth defects often happen on the first month of the pregnancy.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Whether planning for pregnancy, already pregnant, or just delivered a baby, food plays a vital role in the health of the mother as well as the child. While there are many foods that nourish the mother and the baby, and we all focus on it, it is also important to focus on the foods that may cause harm to the child or the mother. Certain foods may pose serious risks and therefore pregnant women or those who are planning for pregnancy must keep these in mind. Medplus brings to you the top list of foods that you need to avoid:

1. Fish:

Mercury has the ability to affect the brain development of the baby which is why, it is suggested to completely avoid fish types with heavy mercury contents. Sushi, mackerel, sharks, swordfish, tilefish are few of the top fishes with high mercury traces and are thus to be avoided completely. Fishes may as well be carrying seaborne diseases, thus it is best to keep them away from the mother’s diet. Also, raw, undercooked or contaminated seafood may pose risks to the fetus (aka fetus) and should not be consumed.

2. Unwashed Fruits and Vegetables:

Fruits and vegetables are exposed to a lot of pesticides and herbicides, and they may also contain pathogens like Toxoplasma gondii and listeria bacteria. These may lead to food poisoning and also pose a threat to the baby’s development. Always wash the fruits and vegetables under running water and avoid eating raw vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, etc. it is suggested to cook all the vegetables and even leafy vegetables before consuming. Also, don’t store fruits and vegetables for a longer time.

Papaya is rich in latex and is a natural contraceptive; the compounds in papaya may trigger uterine contractions and can cause abortion. Black grapes increase heat in the body which is harmful to the baby. The bromelain found in pineapple will soften the cervix and may lead to pre-term labor. And also eggplant may stimulate menses so it is advised not to eat these particular fruits and vegetables.

3. Meats:

Eating raw meat can contribute to the transfer of Toxoplasma infection from the mother to the child. Prolonged exposure to this infection will lead to blindness and mental disability in the baby.

4. Raw Sprouts and Nuts:

Raw sprouts and nuts may contain certain harmful bacteria which may cause bacterial infections and lower the growth rate of the fetus (aka fetus). Some women develop allergy with certain nuts in the long-run and so it is advised to consult a doctor before taking nuts.

5. Alcohol:

Consuming alcohol when pregnant will lead to a condition called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in which the baby will be born with a range of lifelong physical and intellectual disabilities. This happens because the alcohol consumed by the mother will go into the foetus without being filtered.

6. Herbal Tea and Herbal Supplements:

Some herbal supplements may trigger pre-term labor and may also lead to miscarriage. Moreover, the benefits of herbal tea and supplements on pregnancy are not proved in scientific study so it is better not to take them during pregnancy.

7. Spicy Food:

Spicy food will cause heartburn in most of the people and this risk will be increased in pregnant women thereby also causing morning sickness, so it is better not to eat spicy food and if at all you do, drink a glass of warm milk or a tablespoon of honey immediately.

8. Vitamin Supplements:

Vitamin supplements should not be taken without the doctor’s advice. The normal growth of the foetus will be negatively affected with excessive vitamin intake. This may even lead to pre-term labor.

9. Caffeine:

Caffeine causes you to get dehydrated by excessive urination. It is very essential to be hydrated always. Especially during pregnancy, being dehydrated may harm the child. It is also associated with low-birth, still-birth, and abortions.

10. Unpasteurized Milk and Cheese:

Unpasteurized dairy products contain pathogens that are harmful to your health, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea. Unpasteurized soft cheese will most often contain listeria bacterium which may lead to neural tube defects in the baby, so choose the hard varieties of cheese like cheddar, swiss and so on. Always go for fresh and boiled food products.

11. Raw or Soft Boiled Eggs:

Raw or soft boiled eggs may contain a bacterium called salmonella which will lead to food poisoning in pregnant women. It may also lead to diarrhea (aka diarrhoea) and vomiting. It is advised to avoid desserts and other food items made with raw eggs.

12. Nitrate Rich Foods:

Nitrate reacts with hemoglobin (aka haemoglobin) in the blood and from modified proteins which will interfere with the body’s ability to supply oxygen to the placenta. Foods high in nitrate content are diet sodas, sausages, artificial sweeteners, and added flavors.

13. Artificial Sweeteners and Canned Foods:

Artificial sweeteners are not good for health even if you are not pregnant. The mother’s placenta does not filter the artificial sweeteners and this means that your child will directly consume these harmful compounds.

Canned food is full of preservatives and artificial flavors to enhance shelf-life and taste. They may also contain bacteria and viruses and the walls of the can may contain bisphenol A which may affect the endocrine system of the baby.

14. Processed Junk Food:

Junk food is very tasty and tempting but it is low in nutrition and high in calories, it also has many added preservatives and high levels of sugar which may lead to increased risk of heart diseases and type-2 diabetes in both the mother and the child. Further, many studies have reported that pregnant women who consume more junk food while pregnant will probably gain unnecessary weight and also give birth to a baby with overweight.