Everyone knows that eating well balanced meals is important at all times, but you should also know that it is even more essential when you are pregnant. Because pregnancy affects your immune system, you and your unborn baby are more susceptible to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause food-borne illness. Even if you don’t feel sick, some bugs like Listeria and Toxoplasma can infect your baby and cause serious health problems. Your baby is also sensitive to toxins from the food that you eat, such as mercury in certain kinds of fish.
There are also other foods to avoid as they may make you ill and eventually harm the baby. Make sure you know the important facts about which foods you should avoid and take precautions with when you’re pregnant.
There is no amount of alcohol that is known to be safe during pregnancy, therefore alcohol should be entirely avoided during pregnancy. 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 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other developmental disorders. If you consumed alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, stop drinking now. You should continue to avoid alcohol during breastfeeding. Exposure of alcohol to an infant poses harmful risks, and alcohol does reach the baby during breastfeeding.
FISH (high in mercury)
Fish can be a great source of protein, and the omega-3 fatty acids in many fish can promote your baby’s brain and eye development. However, some fish and shellfish contain potentially dangerous levels of mercury. Too much mercury could harm your baby’s developing nervous system. The bigger and older the fish, the more mercury it’s likely to contain. These fish include; Swordfish, Shark, King mackerel, Tilefish, to mention a few.
Rare uncooked or under-cooked beef or poultry should be avoided because of the risk of contamination with coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly until it is steaming hot and there is no trace of pink or blood – especially with poultry, pork, sausages and minced meat.
Imported soft cheeses may contain bacteria 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. You would need to avoid soft cheeses such as: Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Feta, Gorgonzola and Mexican style cheeses that include queso blanco and queso fresco, unless they clearly state that they are made from pasteurized milk. All soft non-imported cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe to eat.
Although most studies show that caffeine intake in moderation is OK, there are others that show that caffeine intake may be related to miscarriages. Avoid caffeine during the first trimester to reduce the likelihood of a miscarriage. As a general rule, caffeine should be limited to fewer 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 are drinking plenty of water, juice, and milk rather than caffeinated beverages. Some research shows that large amounts of caffeine are associated with miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in infants. The safest thing is to refrain from consuming caffeine.
On a final note; although fruits are healthy, they get unhealthy when you don’t wash them before eating them. So, be sure to wash up your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before letting them into your mouth!