Nutrition is by far the most crucial aspect of a woman’s health during pregnancy. A balanced diet is essential not only for the baby’s growth but also for the continued health of the mother. Here are ten essential foods women should eat during pregnancy:
Green, leafy vegetables
These include kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. These vitamin-rich food sources contain the nutrients necessary to relieve constipation, prevent anemia, avoid bleeding gums, and help with insomnia.
The exception is spinach, which is high in oxalic acid, a substance that blocks the absorption of iron. Critical to the prevention of anemia, iron helps aid the body’s uptake of oxygen. For this reason, women should not consume spinach during pregnancy.
When sprinkled on salads and vegetables throughout the day, these tiny seeds can help with a wide range of problems encountered during pregnancy. Flaxseeds are not only known for improving LDL cholesterol and hypertension, but they also reduce inflammation and aid in proper digestion.
The health benefits of soy are well-documented. Including tofu, soy meal, and soy milk into the diet can help relieve symptoms such as insomnia and leg cramps. High in protein and rich in phytonutrients, soy is an optimal choice during pregnancy.
Now is not the time to go on a low-carb diet, when the baby depends on a wide range of nutrients from the mother. Brown rice, oats, and wheat germ contain essential vitamins and minerals for both mother and baby, especially during the first trimester. These nutritiously dense foods can also aid in digestion and help stave off leg cramps during the third trimester.
The positioning of the baby, along with the hormonal changes during pregnancy, make pregnant women more susceptible to constipation. Prunes are high in fiber. Adding them as a snack throughout the day can stimulate the gastrointestinal system so bowel movements can become regular again.
Insomnia is another problem pregnant women can often face, especially during the last trimester. White meats such as turkey, chicken, and tuna help stimulate serotonin, a substance in the body that causes sleepiness. These foods are also high in protein and low in sugar, which is vital for preventing conditions such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
Having yogurt as a snack will help aid in the digestive process. However, it is best to eat unsweetened varieties, since added sugars can negate yogurt’s healthful benefits.
Increased estrogen production during pregnancy can cause the gums to become prone to bleeding. Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and limes are high in vitamin C, which can boost the immune system and provide an enhanced environment for iron absorption.
Pregnant women should avoid any form of regular dairy products due to their high inflammatory properties. Instead, it is best to use dairy substitutes such as almond milk, soy milk, and almond cheese. Not only are these foods healthier, but they can also be gentler on the stomach and easier to digest.
Pregnant women often experience heartburn and gas. These annoying problems are a result of a slower movement of food through the intestines, especially during the latter stages of pregnancy. Eating papaya, or drinking its juice, can help relieve these symptoms, due to its healing properties.
- Spreading small feedings throughout the day, instead of eating a few large meals, will make food easier to digest.
- Pregnant women should avoid all forms of caffeine, which can contribute to constipation, leg cramps, and dehydration.
- Water is the most vital nutrient for a pregnant woman. Consuming at least 48 ounces of clean, filtered water will help relieve and prevent many of the problems associated with pregnancy.