5 HEALTH HABITS TO BE AWARE OF DURING PREGNANCY

Living a healthy lifestyle is essential during pregnancy, but is everything still fair game? Here are some foods and activities to watch for if you’re expecting.


BY: WHITNEY ENGLISH TABAIE, MS, RD, NASM

The list of things pregnant women are advised to avoid is lengthy. Depending on who you ask, everyone has a different set of foods, products, and activities that they say can harm a pregnant woman or her developing baby.

While some are accurate, others are not.

Unfortunately, there are many trendy foods and activities beloved by the health and wellness community that are normally healthy, but with potentially detrimental effects on pregnant women and their babies. Here are a few to be aware of:

1. KOMBUCHA

Everybody loves the booch these days because of its potential benefits to gut health. However, kombucha is unpasteurized and served raw to preserve live friendly bacteria. Pasteurization is a process using heat to kill off harmful bacteria, which means drinking kombucha puts you at risk of exposure to unfriendly pathogenic bacteria as well. Beverages like milk and juice must be pasteurized to be safe for pregnant women and children to drink.

2. HOT YOGA

From saunas, hot tubs, to extreme exercise, any activities that raise your core body temperature, a condition known as hyperthermia, are advised against during pregnancy. Even fevers above 102 degrees F can also cause hyperthermia. Studies show that women who experience hyperthermia from any cause during the first trimester of their pregnancy have double the risk of neural tube defects. Pregnant women who use a hot tub for any length of time more than once during their first trimester also had a 50% increased risk of birth defects.

For mommies-to-be who love hot yoga, be aware that the temperature in a hot yoga class usually ranges from 95-104 degrees, which is comparable to the heat in a Jacuzzi or sauna. During pregnancy, your blood volume increases and your metabolic rate speeds up, increasing the risk of overheating.  Not to mention, heat contributes feelings of nausea. You’ve probably had enough of that as it is!

3. RAW SPROUTS

Sprouts are an incredibly nutrient-dense food, with studies having shown that immature sprouts from vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower may contain 10-100 times the amount of cancer-fighting phytochemicals as the mature plant.

However, sprouts are also a prime source of bacterial contamination stemming from contaminated seeds. Because they are grown in warm, humid conditions, it’s an ideal environment for bacterial growth.  When consumed raw, it prevents the bacteria from being killed off. The good news here is that if you really want to consume sprouts, you can still eat them… as long as they’ve been thoroughly cooked.

4. COLD-PRESSED GREEN JUICE

Greens juices have become so popular that it’s hard to find a health food store that doesn’t cold-press their own produce. The problem here is the same as that for kombucha: cold-pressed juice is unpasteurized.

They’re also usually stored for 24 hours to three days, in which pathogens in the juice have time to multiply. The levels of bacteria found in these juices are usually too low to produce harm in healthy adults, but for pregnant women and babies with reduced immunity, you may risk serious harm to the baby and even death. If you’re set on slurping down raw greens though, you can always press your own juice at home. Just make sure to thoroughly clean your machine, wash and scrub your produce, and drink it immediately after making it.

5. SUSHI

In addition to potentially high mercury levels, sushi and other raw seafood products have a high risk of bacterial contamination and parasites. The risk of consuming a contaminated piece of sushi, while low, is the same for all people. However, because a pregnant women’s natural immune defenses are lowered in order to allow for the immune system to accept the new life growing within, their body isn’t as equipped to fight off illness.

So while the same contaminated sushi might make a healthy non-pregnant woman simply experience symptoms of food poisoning, the pregnant woman may experience severe complications and even risk harming the baby. It doesn’t matter if you consume it once or eat it all the time, you only have to be exposed one time for there to be potentially devastating effects.

Grow that beautiful bump of yours, healthfully and safely!

Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: JANICE LEE

Whitney English Tabaie, MS, RD, NASM is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Los Angeles breaking down the science on nutrition and serving up the scoop on health and lifestyle trends. As a former Hollywood reporter, Whitney uses her engaging style of communication and her Youtube show, “The Sitch,” to share the truth on how to best fuel our bodies. Learn more about Whitney at Whitney E. RD.

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