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Although the importance of dietary and lifestyle habits during pregnancy is well known, did you know that the risk of inadequate intakes of vital nutrients is high even in the most industrialized countries?
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Family and Reproductive Health evaluated the eating habits of 485 pregnant women and found that only 1.9 percent of them met fruit and vegetable guidelines for pregnancy. It seems like pregnant women know that diet is important for the proper development of their baby, but they aren’t sure what exactly should be eaten on a pregnancy diet. There are also misconceptions about how many extra calories should be consumed in a day, what foods shouldn’t be eaten during pregnancy and what lifestyle habits will promote the mother’s and baby’s well-being. (1)
Researchers agree that the first 1,000 days of life, from conception up to 2 years of life, are absolutely crucial for the prevention of adulthood diseases. That’s why following a pregnancy diet that includes a balance of high-quality protein foods, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates can ensure that you’re doing everything you can for your growing baby. Plus, pregnant women require increased amounts of certain nutrients in order to avoid developmental abnormalities and pregnancy complications. (2)
You’ll find that following this recommended pregnancy diet makes you feel more energized, less uncomfortable and confident that you’re nurturing your baby before you even welcome him into this world.
Why Eat Differently When Pregnant?
Research continues to show that what you eat while pregnant affects the health of your baby. Your baby depends on the foods you eat to receive his calories, protein, vitamins, minerals and fluids.
So why eating differently when pregnant? Because your diet affects many aspects of your baby’s health, including the following:
- Organ development: It’s amazing to think that what you eat allows for the growth of your baby’s heart, brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines and nervous system. All of these organs and more depend on nutrients like vitamin D and calcium to develop properly.
- Brain development: Throughout your pregnancy, especially in the last trimester, your baby’s brain will continue to develop. This requires adequate intake of protein, omega-3 fatty acids and other vital nutrients.
- Birth weight: Calorie and nutrient restriction can lead to low birth weight, affecting your baby’s health after delivery. And, on the other hand, eating too many empty calories can cause your baby to become too big, causing issues with delivery and a higher chance of Cesarean section. Research shows that excessive weight gain in mothers during pregnancy (which is defined as gaining more than 35 pounds) results in higher infant birth weights. (3)
- Mental health: Research shows that maternal diet and postnatal nutrition can impact the child’s mental health. In a study published in the Journal of the…
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