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Definitive guide: see the answers to the main questions about nutrition in pregnancy

Priscila Correia, from Aventuras Maternas, columnist for AnaMaria Digital Published on 04/29/2022

Have you ever noticed how pregnancy and doubt seem to be synonymous words? After all, it is enough to receive a positive Beta HCG for questions, from the simplest to the most complex, to dominate the minds of future moms.

Thinking about the most common questions related to beauty, well-being, and health, today's column brings a guide of questions and answers to discover what can or cannot be done during the nine months of pregnancy. To read, save and share with other moms.

Food: what can or cannot be consumed by pregnant women? What should be consumed in moderation, and what is strictly prohibited?

The nutritionist Gustavo Feil explains that the nutritional contribution of the woman overloads, and it becomes essential for a great pregnancy, as well as an excellent fetal formation, to have a diet rich in nutrients and well balanced. Since, at this moment, the woman naturally suffers a decrease in her immune system, and to remain safe against invading external agents, one must have a healthy diet.

Foods from the cereal group, such as rice, corn, and tubers, such as potatoes and cassava, rich in fiber and vitamins, should be included in the diet. The famous beans and rice should be kept, as together they form a highly nutritious food containing proteins, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates, which, in addition to nourishing, generate a feeling of satiety.

"Dark green vegetables are an excellent choice, as they are rich in folic acid, calcium, and iron, essential nutrients for the formation of bones and the baby's brain, in addition to preventing congenital diseases - as an example, we have broccoli, kale (rich in vitamin C), spinach and watercress which, together with fruits and vegetables, contribute to a healthy and nutritious diet," says Gustavo.

Proteins should be part of the diet, as they help a lot in the growth of the fetus, placenta, and maternal tissues. According to him, the ideal is to consume proteins from animal sources and, preferably, lean meats. It is also important to note that during this period, it is recommended not to eat raw meat and fish, as these foods may contain bacteria harmful to pregnancy, in addition to the possibility of containing toxoplasmosis. This parasite can cause numerous problems for the fetus.

The foods that should be avoided, in addition to raw meat and fish, are those that contain excess fat and sodium, such as sausages (sausages, sausages, hams, bologna, yellow cheeses, and most industrialized foods are included here, as they can potentiate the onset of high blood pressure and other complications during pregnancy).

"Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided, as their use can cause heart problems, growth retardation, and malformation in the fetus. In short: the more diversified and colorful your dish, the better! And remember: meat and fish, always, very well roasted, boiled or fried; eggs well cooked; and fruits and vegetables always well washed and without skins", he says.

Andrea Pereira, Clinical Nutrition Physician at the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein and co-founder of the NGO Obesidade Brasil, also recalls that pregnant women should eat a healthy and balanced diet: fruits and vegetables, wholegrain products, little sugar and salt, minimize processed foods, and ultra-processed, and fatty foods.

"It is also important to remember that there is a growing increase in pregnant women after bariatric surgery since Brazil is the second country in the world for this surgery. Iron, vitamin D, and vitamins of the B complex. Therefore they deserve careful monitoring", he says.

Diet: for vegan and vegetarian women, any significant changes in diet during pregnancy?

Gustavo Feil points out that vegan and vegetarian women have to take great care of their diet, as the animal protein supply is essential for the formation of the placenta and the fetus. Therefore, supplementing with vitamins and minerals becomes essential in this case. If iron is already important in anyone's daily diet, in the case of pregnant women, it is simply essential.

"Among the best sources of this mineral, we have legumes, and dark green vegetables - the foods richest in iron are from the plant kingdom. It is important to highlight that vitamin C helps in the absorption of this mineral by the body, and that is why I recommend adding citrus fruits to meals. A great example is eating beans with oranges. He teaches that almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower, flaxseed, and chia are other options that have good amounts of iron", he teaches.

You may be thinking, "And how can a mother change meat protein?". Well, several other foods are high in protein, so replace them with adequate amounts. It is present, for example, in cereals, such as rice, oats, and wheat, in legumes, such as beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and oleaginous fruits such as chestnuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts. "In general, it is possible to find all the nutrients necessary for our well-being in food, but in some specific cases, they are not present in the plant kingdom. And that is where supplements come in, which can prove essential during pregnancy, especially if the mother is vegan".

Andrea Pereira also points out that, during pregnancy, there is a tendency toward iron deficiency due to the high consumption of this nutrient in the formation of the baby. In the case of women who do not consume red meat, which has a more excellent absorption of iron, it is necessary to increase the consumption of plant foods that contain iron and, in most cases, supplement iron in the form of capsules and tablets. "This adequacy of iron consumption during pregnancy should also be performed in women of childbearing age since menstruation increases iron loss. Another important aspect is the consumption of proteins in vegan and vegetarian pregnant women since, in proteins of animal origin, there is more protein concentration than in vegetable proteins. For example, in 100g of red meat steak, we have 33g of protein, while in the same amount of beans, we have 8g", he says.

Debski also evaluates that the vegetarian and vegan diet nowadays, being well guided by a medical professional or nutritionist who has knowledge in this area, includes all the nutrients that are essential and necessary during pregnancy. Despite the various taboos and myths, it is a very healthy and complete diet. "The only care that should be taken is evaluating vitamin B12, which can sometimes be low in vegetarians who do not have adequate nutritional guidance," she says.

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