The Most Important Food to Avoid During Pregnancy

Along with the many food groups that you should include in your pregnancy diet to make sure that you and your baby get the proper nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for healthy growth and development, there are also several types of food that you should avoid during pregnancy. These are foods that have a higher risk of being contaminated with bacteria or parasites, and since pregnancy causes a woman’s immune system to become slightly compromised, foods that may have been eaten before pregnancy without worry could now be a health risk.

The top foods to avoid during pregnancy are:

* Unpasteurized Milk

* Soft Cheeses

* Raw Eggs

* Raw Meat & Undercooked Poultry

* Deli Meats & Hot Dogs

* Pate

* Raw or Seared Fish and Fish That Contain Mercury

* Smoked Seafood

* Game Fish

* Raw Shellfish

* Unwashed Vegetables

* Alcohol

* Caffeine

Unpasteurized Milk

Unpasteurized milk can carry bacteria such as listeria, a bacteria that’s found in soil and stream water. Listeria can cause listeriosis and can cross the placental barrier which can cause miscarriage, preterm delivery, infection to the baby, and possibly death to the newborn. Contracting listeriosis from listeria is rare, but pregnant women are more more susceptible.

Soft Cheeses

Soft cheeses, such as Feta, Brie, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Camembert, blue-veined cheese, and Mexican-style cheese that include queso blanco or queso fresco are not safe to eat during pregnancy because they are made from unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized milk can carry bacteria such as listeria (mentioned above). When in doubt, check the label on the cheese to make sure it states that it’s made with pasteurized milk.

Raw Eggs

Eggs are a great source of quality protein. The yolks also contain choline, an essential amino acid that’s helpful for brain development and the formation of the neural tube in the early stages of pregnancy. However, in raw form they can potentially contain salmonella, which pregnant women are more susceptible to contracting. Order your eggs scrambled rather than sunny-side up or over easy during pregnancy. And avoid foods that are made with raw egg, such as raw cookie dough or cake batter.

Raw Meat & Undercooked Poultry

Raw meats and undercooked poultry could contain coliform bacteria, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. While it’s said to be relatively rare, these can can cause stillbirth or other serious health problems. Be sure to cook your poultry all the way through and your meats between medium to medium-well so that there isn’t any pink showing. Remember to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling.

Deli Meats & Hot Dogs

Deli meats and hot dogs are said to be unsafe to eat during pregnancy because they’ve been known to be contaminated with listeria, a bacteria that’s found in soil and stream water. Listeria can cause listeriosis and can cross the placental barrier which can cause miscarriage, preterm delivery, infection to the baby, and possibly death to the newborn. Contracting listeriosis from listeria is rare, but pregnant women are much more more susceptible. Even if deli meats and hot dogs have been been properly refrigerated, unless they are heated until steaming hot, it is not safe to eat them during your pregnancy. But if you must, you should also wash your hands thoroughly after handling. You’re safer to just avoid them altogether.

Pate

Pate can carry bacteria such as listeria, a bacteria that’s found in soil and stream water. Listeria can cause listeriosis and can cross the placental barrier which can cause miscarriage, preterm delivery, infection to the baby, and possibly death to the newborn. Contracting listeriosis from listeria is rare, but pregnant women are much more more susceptible.

Raw or Seared Fish and Fish that Contain Mercury

Fish that contain high mercury levels and that should be avoided include king mackerel, shark, swordfish, tilefish, and albacore tuna. However, canned light tuna contains much lower amounts of mercury, but it should still be eaten in small portions and in moderation – no more than once a week. Mercury consumed during pregnancy can have negative effects on fetal brain development. It’s best to avoid sushi during pregnancy as well since uncooked and even seared fish is more likely to contain bacteria or parasites than cooked fish.

Smoked Seafood

Smoked seafood, such as smoked salmon, trout, whitefish, tuna, cod and mackerel could be contaminated with listeria, a bacteria that’s found in soil and stream water. Listeria can cause listeriosis and can cross the placental barrier which can cause miscarriage, preterm delivery, infection to the baby, and possibly death to the newborn. Contracting listeriosis from listeria is rare, but pregnant women are much more more susceptible. These types of seafood, often labeled as lox, nova, smoked, kippered, or jerky, are only safe to eat during pregnancy as an ingredient in a cooked dish or casserole.

Game Fish

Game fish are fish caught for sport in local lakes, rivers, or streams, such as trout, salmon, bass, pike, bluefish, and walleye. The concern is about pollution that could be in the water and contaminate the fish. Check with your local health department or the Environmental Protection Agency to find out which waters are safe to eat from.

Raw Shellfish

According to the Food and Drug Administration, raw shellfish, which includes oysters, clams, and mussels are responsible for causing the majority of seafood borne illnesses. These illnesses, including Salmonella and other types of bacterial, parasitic, and viral infections can be serious for anyone, not just pregnant women. Cooking can help to prevent some of these types of infection, but not algae-related infections associated with red tides. It’s best to avoid raw as well as cooked shellfish during pregnancy.

Unwashed Vegetables

The only reason vegetables are on this list is because they should be thoroughly washed before eating. Unwashed vegetables could be contaminated with toxoplasma, a parasite that can be found in soil and can cause an infection that, although relatively rare, can cause stillbirth or serious health problems.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth and is the leading cause of birth defects. Alcohol exposure before birth puts the baby at risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) which can include any of a slew of problems ranging from learning disabilities to physical abnormalities to disorders of the central nervous system.

Caffeine

There are studies that show that caffeine in moderation (under 300 mg a day) is OK and others that show it could be related to miscarriage, preterm labor, low-birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in newborns for the first few days after birth. With inconclusive evidence, it’s best to avoid caffeine during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. However, know that caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it increases the frequency of urination which can cause dehydration and calcium loss. It’s also a stimulant, which means that it also increases blood pressure and heart rate. It also can also contribute to heart burn. None of this is ideal, so it’s best to avoid caffeine during pregnancy.

Source by Brian Kellman

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