07.08.2014

Pregnancy food myths

Ms Nehal Kamdar, Senior Dietitian, Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group comments on more Singapore pregnancy food myths and clarifies misconceptions regarding what to eat during pregnancy.
Myth #13: I shouldn't drink coffee when I'm pregnant because caffeine prevents iron absorption.
Fact: Generally, it is best to eat foods cooked from fresh ingredients for optimum nutrients, flavour and taste. Although there are some concerns about the safety of bisphenol A (BPA) found in the lining of cans, occasional intake is unlikely to be harmful during pregnancy. To prevent bacteria from multiplying and causing food poisoning, thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Fact: Eating twice the usual amount of food is not advised when you’re pregnant as you may consume too many calories, leading to excessive weight gain. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of gestational diabetes. You may also check with this list to determine how much weight you should gain during pregnancy.
If you need to eat more than the amounts depicted in “My Healthy Plate”, eat more from each food group in proportionate amounts rather than going all out on high-fat or sugary foods and drinks. Fact: Eating too little during pregnancy is not ideal as it may predispose your baby to chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and certain cancers later on in life. All over the world, pregnant women are bombarded with opinions about what to eat and what to avoid. For a pregnant woman with a particular clinical problem, she might prescribe an infusion brewed from as many as 12 different plants, including things like Bay Mao Gen, a bamboo-like grass that is believed to "cool the blood", or Huang Qin, a herb that, says Zhai, can help "protect the pregnancy".In many places, as in China, folk custom is slowly yielding to science. One way of overcoming this might be to provide pregnant women with personalised, scientifically sound dietary advice. Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox.Phil Baker spoke to The Food Chain on the BBC World Service.
Ms Nehal Kamdar, Senior Dietitian, Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group, comments on more Singapore pregnancy food myths and clarifies misconceptions regarding what to eat during pregnancy.


Myth #6: Avoiding eggs, cow's milk, nuts and wheat when I'm pregnant will reduce my baby's risk of developing allergies.
Fact: The evidence to date does not support the belief that avoiding these foods during pregnancy will reduce your baby’s risk of developing allergies.
Similarly, there is no evidence that consuming oranges or citrus fruits during pregnancy will increase your baby’s risk of asthma. As all foods should be consumed in moderation, we do not advise for or against taking bird’s nest during pregnancy.
Hence, bittergourd fruit may be safe to eat during pregnancy when it is taken in moderation and with a variety of other vegetables as part of a balanced diet. Fact: There is no scientific evidence to show that consuming herbs and tonics during pregnancy will help your baby become more intelligent.
Advice on what (and what not) to eat during pregnancy is everywhere: blogs, websites, neighbours and your great aunt Margaret. Restricting your salt intake any more than before you became pregnant doesn’t seem to have any impact on your blood pressure. If you are looking to cut down the amount of sugar you eat, honey is not a good substitute, especially during pregnancy. Just because you were slim before pregnancy does not mean that you can eat whatever you want.
In parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, food taboos can prevent women from eating a balanced diet and deprive them of essential nutrients.
However, there are currently no research findings indicating that taking bird’s nest during pregnancy will put your children at higher risk of developing asthma. There is no scientific evidence to show that eating bird’s nest during pregnancy can lighten your baby’s skin pigmentation.
However, it has estrogenic activity and has been shown to cause a thinning of the uterine lining when injected into pregnant rats.
You should limit yourself to 2 cups of regular or decaffeinated tea or coffee a day during pregnancy and consume them in-between your meals rather than with meals to reduce the negative impact of coffee and tea on iron absorption.


In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, many pregnant women are told that foods like papaya and pumpkin are too "hot" for the baby.
Similarly, there is no evidence that eating soybean products such as tofu and soybean milk and avoiding dark-coloured foods like coffee when you’re pregnant will affect the colour of your baby’s skin.
However, there is no evidence that bittergourd fruit itself can cause contractions during pregnancy. To help you out, we’ve asked one of our experts to share some of the most common diet-related myths she hears from patients.
Ideally, all women of childbearing age should be taking folic acid even before they are pregnant.
Plus, honey is not always pasteurized, and pregnant women should avoid eating unpasteurized foods,” says Steinberg. In parts of Gujarat, white foods including milk, yoghurt, and bananas are routinely avoided because they're "too cold". A similar concept of "hot" and "cold" is widespread in Mexico, where many indigenous women are warned not to eat nutritious foods like tomatoes, eggs, and avocados.
Often, they've never been pregnant before, and they're desperate to do the best thing for their child.
Always be sure to check the label though, as not all sweeteners are safe for consumption during pregnancy.
In 2004, Dr Katri Raikkonen at the University of Helsinki in Finland published research that suggested a correlation between eating chocolate when pregnant and giving birth to a happy baby. Dr Xiao Ping Zhai, who runs a pregnancy clinic in Harley Street and has been called the "fairy godmother of fertility" for her work helping women to conceive, says Chinese women are fast abandoning the wilder fringes of superstition."Some of these ideas are from a thousand years ago.
These ideas persist, says Prof Carol Lummi-Keefe, Editor of the Handbook of Pregnancy and Nutrition, in part because inaccurate advice is given to pregnant women by people they trust.



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