The most important thing that a pregnant woman can do for her baby is eating a healthy, well balanced diet. A well-balanced diet includes foods from all food groups in the right quantity. This step ensures that the offspring would be mentally and physically well-developed. The intake of essential nutrients, which includes carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water, needs to be ensured during pregnancy. This is required for maintaining optimal health and well being. During pregnancy, the female body’s nutritional requirements are heightened and the nutrition and food intake needs to be increased in order to meet the needs of pregnancy.
Clinical research indicates that the daily diet of a pregnant lady should include 80-100 grams of protein which is derived from a variety of whole food sources. Ideally the diet should include:
- 2 to 3 servings of meat, fish, nuts or legumes, and tofu
- 2 to 3 servings of dairy (milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese)
- 2 servings of green vegetables; 1 serving of a yellow vegetable
- 3 servings of fruit
- 3 servings of whole grain breads, cereals, or other high-complex carbohydrates
- salt to taste
- 6 to 8 glasses of clean, filtered water each day.
This diet will supply 2000 to 3000 calories per day and help make a healthy baby and also go a long way in preventing any diseases of pregnancy. Protein, salt, potassium, calcium, and water are absolutely important requisites in a pregnant woman’s body. The blood level rises up by 40-60% in a pregnant woman and in order to reach this necessary level and maintain it, the nutrients are required in the body. Whole grain breads, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and dairy products should be included in the daily meals. Most women fear pregnancy weight, i.e. the weight that they tend to gain during pregnancy. However, as long as junk food and excessive sweets are avoided, weight gain does not pose an issue.
It is necessary to check with a health care provider before supplements or medicines of any kind are taken as vitamin supplements (like vitamin A), though highly popular, pose certain risks to pregnant women. Vitamins and minerals should rather be obtained from natural sources like whole foods to ensure proper assimilation by the body. Food cravings are common during pregnancy and in reality indicate a necessity or deficiency in diet. Cravings for healthy foods should be indulged as this is healthy for the proper development and meeting certain dietary needs during pregnancy. Milk, eggs, yogurt are inexpensive sources of calcium and protein. Soy products, nuts, beans, can be substituted for meat for vegans or vegetarians. Green leafy vegetables effectively provide fiber, vitamin A, C, and B, carbohydrates, water, iron, calcium, and magnesium. These help in boosting the baby’s immunity, cell structure development, and prevent placental detachment. Zinc is very important for pregnant women as it supports the immune system, and controls certain aspects of fetal development. A diet that is complete in every respect must be taken during pregnancy.