A healthy life is an important part of healthy living, but it's more vital if you are pregnant. Eating healthy during pregnancy will help your baby to develop and grow and it will keep you fit during the pregnancy phase. Healthy diet makes this phase smooth.

Pregnant mother's usually wonder what they should eat and what they should not eat during this phase. Some people say, expecting mothers should take the diet of two as she has to take care of one more life within her. But, is it true? If yes, what they should eat? If not, how baby will get proper nutrition. As per doctors pregnant woman should take a balanced diet. Balanced diet must contain some or other things from the entire food group. Balanced diet also means to keep track on the quality, quantity, and reaction or allergy of any food on mother.

Pregnancy is the most beautiful phase in a woman's life. During pregnancy woman undergoes many emotional and physiological changes. The body needs extra nutrition for developing the fetus, pregnant woman herself and the lactation period to follow. She needs vitamins, minerals specially folic acid and iron and also a few more calories. During this period you need to be extra careful about yourself and about what you eat. Watching your diet should be on top of the list.

What to Eat During Pregnancy

Cereals, dal, pulses etc: These are major source of protein. If you are a vegetarian then, cereals, dal, etc are a very good source of protein. Protein helps in the production of amino acids, repair cells.

Milk and Dairy Products: Skimmed milk, paneer, yoghurt, buttermilk are rich in protein, calcium and vitamin B-12. It helps in creating strong teeth and bones. Helps prevent blood clots, helps muscles and nerve function.

Vegetables and Fruits: Rich source of fibre, vitamin and minerals. Citrus fruits are rich in folic acid. Folic acid supports the placenta, and prevents spina bifida and other neural tube defects.

Meat, Fish and Poultry: These are rich in concentrated proteins. Red meat and poultry are very rich in zinc. Zinc helps in producing insulin and enzymes. Fish is an excellent source of protein as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which can promote your baby's brain development. But, you should avoid fish which are potentially high in mercury.

Fluids:Drink lots of fluids, especially water and fresh fruit juices. Pregnant woman tend to dehydrate fast than usual. Water helps prevent constipation, hemorrhoids, excessive swelling, and urinary tract or bladder infections.

Fats and Oils: Best source of fat is vegetable oils because these contain more unsaturated fat. Ghee, butter, coconut milk and oil are high in saturated fats, which are not very healthy. Vanaspati and Dalda both are high in trans fats, which are as bad as saturated fats.

Nutrients Needed During Pregnancy

Folic Acid: Folic acid is the most important nutrient a pregnant woman needs. It helps in developing the nervous system of baby. Folic acid is vitamin B that helps prevent neural tube defects (defects of spine, brain) and other birth defects such as cleft lip etc. Dark-Green leafy vegetables like spinach are rich in folic acid. Other sources of folic acid are liver, yeast, beans and citrus fruits.

Iron: Iron is needed for haemoglobin production for you and your baby. Iron is also helpful in building of bones and teeth. Shortage of haemoglobin may cause anemia. Rich source of haemoglobin are iron-rich foods like dates, leafy green vegetables.

Fats: Essential fatty acids should be supplied during pregnancy. As fetal organs already have stores of fats and so additional fats are not required. Fats which are essential during pregnancy can be provided by vegetable oils than from the saturated and trans fats as both of these are unhealthy.

Calcium: Vital for the healthy development of your baby's bones and teeth. Pregnant woman would need double quantity of calcium than normal. Dairy products are rich in calcium. They are high in fats, so if possible choose low fat varieties.

Protein: Try to eat variety of protein rich foods, because during pregnancy your needs increase. Fish, meat, cereals, grain, nuts, peas, meat, dairy products, etc provide proteins. Animal source of protein is also high in fat so limit the intake of these.

Fibre: A common problem during pregnancy is constipation. Therefore the diet should contain sources of fibre. Fruits, vegetables, grains and whole grains are rich in fibres.

Vitamins: These have special roles to play in the physiological state of mother and fetus. Vitamin A improves visions and maintains integrity of cells. Vitamin C builds a strong placenta, enables your body to resist infection and aid the absorption of iron. Many more vitamins are needed during pregnancy like vitamin D, E, etc.

Water: Water plays a key role in your diet during pregnancy. It carries the nutrients from the foods to your baby's body. It prevents constipation, excessive swelling, bladder infections etc.

What to Avoid During Pregnancy

Unpasteurised Milk: As it may contain listeria. Listeria is a bacterium which causes food poisoning.

Raw or Uncooked Meat, Poultry, and Eggs: These can contain harmful bacteria. Cook the food properly.

Raw Seafood or Fish That are High in Mercury: Oysters are raw seafood. Fishes those are high in mercury are sword fish, king mackerel, tile fish and shark.

Alcoholic Drinks: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may harm your baby. Drinking too much alcohol can cause physical defects, learning disabilities, and emotional problems in children. Many experts recommend that you give up alcohol while you are pregnant.

Cut Down on Caffeine: Drinking more than 300mg of caffeine a day increases the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. Don't have more than two mugs of instant coffee, or three cups of tea, or two cans of cola per day.
A woman must maintain a high quality diet during their pregnancy to get a healthy, fit and fine baby.

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