Foods and beverages to avoid during pregnancy

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Pregnancy is one of the most vital and sensitive periods in a woman’s life. Therefore, it’s very important for pregnant women to eat a healthy diet. Expecting mothers have to pay close attention to what they eat and make sure to avoid harmful foods and beverages. Certain foods should only be consumed rarely, while others should be avoided completely. Here are 11 foods and beverages to avoid or minimize during pregnancy.

Avoid high mercury fish during pregnancy

Mercury is a seriously toxic element and there is actually no safe level of exposure to it. It can be found very commonly in polluted water. In higher amounts, it can be toxic to your nervous system, immune system and kidneys. It may also cause serious developmental problems in children. Since it’s found in polluted seas, large marine fish can accumulate high amounts of mercury. Therefore, pregnant women are advised to limit their consumption of to no more than 1–2 servings per month. High-mercury fish include:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Tuna

Undercooked, Raw and Processed Meat

Eating undercooked or raw meat increases your risk of infection from several bacteria or parasites, including Toxoplasma, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Bacteria may threaten the health of your unborn baby, and could also leading to stillbirth or severe neurological illnesses, including intellectual disability, blindness and epilepsy. Pregnant women should not consume any processed meat products unless they’ve been reheated until steaming hot.

Caffeine

Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world and mainly found in tea, coffee or soft drinks and cocoa. Pregnant women are generally advised to limit their consumption of caffeine to less than 200 mg per day, or about 2 – 3 cups of coffee. Caffeine is absorbed very quickly and passes easily into the placenta and fetus. Because unborn babies and their placentas don’t have the main enzyme needed to metabolize caffeine, high levels can build up. High caffeine intake during pregnancy has been shown to restrict fetal growth and increase the risk of low birth weight at delivery.

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