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Best Healthy Food & Diet For Pregnant Mums

Yourgutt

August 3, 2021

A good healthy pregnancy diet is crucial in determining the mother’s and also the baby’s health. Whatever the mother eats and drinks, is a direct source of nutrients for the baby. 

Health professionals highly encourage pregnant mothers to consume a variety of healthy food for the best development. Here are some examples of foods and nutrients that can be included in the pregnancy diet plan. 

Healthy Food Or Nutrients For Pregnant Moms

1. Dairy Product/ Calcium Rich Products

Dairy products or products that are fortified with calcium are crucial for pregnant mothers. They require more calcium for bone formation for the mother so that they could sustain their weight throughout pregnancy as well as for the baby’s growth. If the mother does not consume enough calcium, it will draw from the mother’s bone instead which would lead to osteoporosis. 

It is best recommended to consume 1000mg/day according to RNI Malaysia along with 15μg/day of Vitamin D (which helps in calcium utilization).

2. Legumes & Grains

Legumes are fruits and seeds of plants, such as beans, soybeans, and lentils. Grains are endosperm, germ, and bran of seeds or fruits such as cereals, corn, oats, barley and wheat. But their main nutrients is to provide fibres as well as proteins. Lentils are a perfect source of protein for pregnant mothers that are vegetarian or vegan as they are rich in protein while providing an adequate amount of fibres and prebiotics for the body. 

Furthermore, pregnant mothers often have trouble with bowel movement and digestion issues. Aside from consuming probiotics, they are also encouraged to consume more fibres as well to help in getting the bowel moving. Hence, legumes and grains are a good source of fibre with bonus benefits of proteins as well.  

It is recommended to consume 28g/day of fibre according to RNI Malaysia with probiotics for a synergistic effect.

3. Sweet Potatoes

Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes are rich in fibres, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A which are important in infant development. It is also a good source of carbohydrates which can fuel the mother’s to be in their daily task and being a super mom. 

It is recommended to not over consume them as in the end, they are still mainly carbohydrate base hence should be taken in appropriate amounts (1 cup or 200g per serving). To note that sweet potatoes contain traces of mannitol, a sugar alcohol that may cause diarrhoea for people who are sensitive to them.

4. Salmon, Ikan Kembong, Sardines, Bawal

From salmon to ikan bawal, fishes are high in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) which is beneficial in the brain and eye development of infants. Most fishes contain vitamin D as well which is a bonus for bone and immune development for pregnant mothers and the baby. 

It is recommended to consume 300mg/day of omega-3 fatty acids for pregnant and lactating mothers. However, try not to consume too much deep-sea fish as it contains traces of heavy metals such as mercury which would disrupt infant development, which is the opposite of what we want. If deemed necessary, consume omega-3 fatty acids through supplementation while occasionally consuming fish.

5. Eggs

Eggs can be said to be the ultimate food as it contains enough of everything, but of course, having too much of everything is bad too. They are high in fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals such as vitamin A, D, E, K, lecithin, and selenium. They are crucial in neural development for infants as well as maintaining the pregnant mother’s health. 

Due to its high cholesterol content, it is recommended to consume eggs 3-4 times a week, not more than 2 eggs a time to avoid hyperlipidemia. Pregnant mothers can consume more if they are physically active.

6. Leafy Greens Vegetables

More vegetables the better, especially leafy green ones. They are packed with fibres, vitamins and minerals which your baby and your gut would love. They are a perfect source of prebiotics and nutrients for infant development. However, it is highly encouraged to cook them thoroughly and avoid eating raw salad without thorough washing. This is to avoid salmonella infection or any other food poisoning. 

It is recommended to consume 28g/day of fibre for pregnant and lactating mothers, according to RNI Malaysia.

7. Lean Meat

Lean meat such as beef, lamb, and pork is a good source of proteins and iron for a pregnancy diet. Unlike white meat, lean meat or red meat contains higher amounts of iron which is important for blood products for the pregnant mother and their baby as well as providing iron supply for the infant during pregnancy and through breastfeeding. 

As pregnant mothers  require more iron intake than regular people, they require 100mg/day of elemental iron during pregnancy and continues until lactation. Aside from iron, lean meat also provides a good protein source without too much saturated fat which could contribute to an increase in bad cholesterol in the body. Lean white meat is encouraged such as chicken breast meat with minimal fat while providing protein and iron sources.

8. Fruits

Fruits in general are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which is important in boosting a pregnant mother’s immune system during such a vulnerable time. Generally, most fruits are encouraged to eat but in moderation – 2 servings of fruits a day in consideration of fibre intake as well (28g/day). Fruits to include in your pregnancy diet plan are bananas, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, and bananas. However, there are some fruits, according to mother’s-in-law belief and some scientific papers that may not be suitable for pregnant mothers, which will be listed and explained below.

9. Gut Health Supplements

During pregnancy, pregnant mothers often face gut problems such as indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, or irregular bowel movement which adds more frustration for pregnancy experience. Gut health supplements such as probiotics and prebiotics could help in alleviating and promoting better bowel movement. Depending on the type of probiotics strains as well, they could confer additional benefits to pregnant mothers. Read this article about probiotics for pregnant mothers here.

Even better, our instant probiotic uses B. longum R175 which has been clinically proven to improve mood, which is beneficial for pregnant mothers to feel more relax and calm throughout their pregnancy.

Best Food Combos For Pregnancy:

Here are some specified food combinations (not eaten together but you could if you want to) with specific benefits for your baby’s growth:

1. Dairy + Canned Sardines 

Both contain a high amount of calcium and fortified Vitamin D, which is used for building strong bones for your baby and the mother as well. On top of that, they contain good fat and proteins for muscle building and brain development.

2. Fish + Avocados

They contain a high amount of good fat such as omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) which is used for brain development. Omega-3 fatty acids are proven to improve cognitive development and skills for infants, so if you want a quicker or smarter baby, get those good fats in your pregnancy diet and also when you are lactating or breastfeeding.

3. Lentils + Fortified Grains

They contain a high amount of folic acids and vitamins B12 which could prevent neural tube defects (spina bifida). Not all grains have folic acid, commercially processed grains are often fortified with folic acids and vitamins as it does not contain much naturally. If you are persistent in going all organic, it is highly advised to consume folate/folic acid and Vitamin B complex supplements as supplements to your diet.

5. Eggs + Beans

They are an excellent source of protein which is useful for muscle and organs development for infants. They are also great in building the pregnant mother’s muscle so she can carry her infant and own weight better. 

Foods To Avoid

1. Coffee & Tea

Aside from caffeine, they also contain tannins, which could reduce the efficacy of nutrient absorption in the body when consumed. Furthermore, they are more sensitive to iron hence, if you are anaemic or have iron deficiency, it is best to avoid overconsuming coffee, tea, chocolates, and berries or at least avoid drinking them with meals.

2. Alcohol

As much as how stressful pregnancy is, it is best to avoid drinking alcohol to relax. Drinking too much alcohol could cause physical defects, cognitive issues, and emotional problems for the baby. It would be most ideal to give up alcohol entirely throughout pregnancy to avoid Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAD).

3. Undercooked food

Undercooked food or raw food has the potential in causing salmonella infection and food poisoning which is may cause miscarriage for pregnant mothers and are extremely harmful to the baby and the mother. Hence, always make sure your food is well-done and thoroughly cooked.

4. Certain fruits

Some fruits such as pineapple, papaya, and grapes were advised by some cultures to be avoided as it may cause chances of miscarriage. There is no scientific paper that says that consuming these fruits is the actual cause. Hence, you can consume them, but moderation is key unless told off by your mother/mother-in-law otherwise.

5. Deep-sea fish

It is encouraged for pregnant mothers to include fish in their pregnancy diet as it contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. However, some fishes, especially deep-sea fish may contain traces of heavy metals such as mercury, which could cause cognitive impairment for the baby. Hence, make sure the fish you consume are from fresh sources and contain little to no traces of heavy metals. 


Takeaway

Feeling more ready to commit to a more well-rounded pregnancy diet plan that is both beneficial to your baby and yourself? Comment below should you have any thoughts, or seek professional advice from health professionals any time should you have doubts. If you would like to understand your gut health, feel free to get a quick free assessment.


Recommended Reads:

  1. Is Probiotic / Prebiotic Good For Pregnancy?
  2. What Is Gut Health and How To Improve It?
  3. Postbiotics: Function & Early Life Nutrition


Reference:

Bookari, K., Yeatman, H., & Williamson, M. (2016). Australian Pregnant Women’s Awareness of Gestational Weight Gain and Dietary Guidelines: Opportunity for Action. Journal Of Pregnancy, 2016, 1-9. doi: 10.1155/2016/8162645

Bryant, J., Waller, A., Cameron, E., Hure, A., & Sanson‐Fisher, R. (2016). Diet during pregnancy: Women’s knowledge of and adherence to food safety guidelines. Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Obstetrics And Gynaecology, 57(3), 315-322. doi: 10.1111/ajo.12523

Gynecology, A. (2021). Fruits for Pregnant Women: What Should Expecting Mothers Eat. Retrieved 29 July 2021, from https://www.allaboutwomenmd.com/pregnancy-prenatal-care/fruits-during-pregnancy.html

National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition (NCCFN) Ministry of Health Malaysia. (2021). RNI, RECOMMENDED NUTRIENT INTAKES for MALAYSIA 2017. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tanha FD, Mohseni M, Ghajarzadeh M, Shariat M. The effects of healthy diet in pregnancy. J Family Reprod Health. 2013 Sep;7(3):121-5. PMID: 24971114; PMCID: PMC4064785.

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Melvin T

Melvin T

Graduated from UCSI University with BSc (Hons) in Nutrition with Wellness, Melvin decided to venture into research & development with past experiences in clinical setting, food service, and retail pharmacy. His goal is to formulate health products that are scientifically driven and culturally acceptable.

Furthermore, he is passionate in the science and art of preventing diseases and health education. Hence, he took the role as community nutritionist to advocate primary health care to the community.

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