Does the fact that we live in Australia affect this?
“Even with these ‘high risk’ foods mentioned above, the bacteria may only be present 1-2% of the time, and usually in very small amounts that are unlikely to infect anyone. As a result, the number of listeriosis cases in Australia is increasing, which may be due to the messages directed to pregnant women to avoid these higher risk foods, as well as the food industry’s rigorous efforts to minimize contamination.“
Are there foods that we think we should avoid that are okay?
Common allergens (e.g., peanuts, nuts, eggs, cow’s milk, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat) – avoiding them during pregnancy and breastfeeding can have a significant impact on the likelihood of an infant developing food allergies. Current research suggests that the frequent intake of allergens during pregnancy and breastfeeding helps strengthen the baby’s immune tolerance. “
The foods that you should avoid
1. Raw fish
Fish is one of the most important foods during pregnancy because it contains many brain-building omega-3 fatty acids and is an excellent source of iodine. However, when you are pregnant, it is important to avoid raw seafood and cooked, ready-to-eat seafood, as these are at a higher risk of contamination with listeria
2. Fish that are high in mercury
Mercury can build up in high levels in the bloodstream and cause problems for your baby’s nervous system. Limit your intake of flake, swordfish, marlin, orange bass, barramundi, catfish and southern bluefin tuna. Instead, opt for low-mercury fish such as salmon, sardines, cod, or canned tuna. Other types of fresh seafood, such as shellfish and crustaceans, contain less mercury and pose no risk.
3. Uncooked meat and poultry
Meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly at high temperatures until there is no trace of pink meat or blood. Hot take-away chicken is safe when it’s freshly cooked and still hot. Use up leftovers within 24 hours and warm up well.
4. Processed meat
Processed meat and sausage products such as ham, salami and lunch should be avoided as they are not only high in saturated fat and salt, but also pose a risk for listeria.
5. Soft cheese
Soft cheeses (like brie, camembert, and gorgonzola) are made with mold and have a high risk of contamination with listeria. Instead, opt for hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan.
Limit the liver to very small amounts (no more than 50g per week) as it contains high levels of vitamin A which can affect your baby’s development. Remember, this includes pate.
7. Food supplements with vitamin A.
Make sure you are taking a multivitamin that specializes in pregnancy. While small amounts of vitamin A are important for your baby’s development, too much vitamin A can lead to liver damage and has even been shown to cause congenital birth defects.
8. Packaged salads
Packaged salads, vegetables, and fruits are at a higher risk of contamination with Listeria. Instead, buy whole fruits and vegetables and then cut them up yourself as needed. Avoid buffets and salad bars where the salads sit for a while to give listeria time to grow.
9. Shop-bought sushi see below
As with prepackaged salads, store-bought sushi is at higher risk of contamination with listeria. If you have a desire, try making it yourself from home.
10. Stone melon
Rockmelon is at high risk of contamination with listeria. It is best to avoid this during pregnancy.
11. Bean sprouts
Like stone melons, bean sprouts have a high risk of contamination with listeria. It is best to avoid these altogether during pregnancy.
12. Raw milk
Raw milk and products made from it (such as goat cheese) should be avoided during pregnancy. You shouldn’t do without soft ice cream either, because Listeria like to multiply in the cracks of the machine. Opt for pasteurized and ultra-heat-treated (UHT) milk.
13. Raw or partially cooked eggs
Eggs should be cooked thoroughly until the egg white is set and the yolk thickens. Discard any eggs with a crack in the shell, as salmonella can get into the egg through these cracks. It is also very important to avoid foods that contain raw egg, such as mayonnaise.
14. Too much caffeine
Unfortunately, too much caffeine can increase your risk of miscarriage and low birth weight. Limit your intake to no more than 200 mg per day during pregnancy. This corresponds to about 1 to 2 cups of espresso, 2 to 3 cups of instant coffee and 3 to 5 cups of tea (depending on the strength). Another option are decaffeinated varieties. They are now so good that they taste like the real thing! (Note: decaffeinated still contains some caffeine, but in tiny amounts!). Some energy drinks (like Red Bull and V) contain caffeine or guarana (a source of caffeine) and should also be avoided during pregnancy.
15. Fermented foods
It’s a good idea to avoid fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha while you are pregnant. While these foods are fermented to encourage good bacteria to grow, they can also contain bad bacteria.
This one is a breeze. Alcohol can seriously harm your developing bladders, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. Refraining from alcohol is the safest option.
17. Treats with high sugar content
Limit your intake of high-sugar foods (like soft drinks and lollipops) during pregnancy to reduce your risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
18. Soft ice cream
Another common carrier of Listeria due to its high moisture content and the possibility of an unclean machine being housed in it.
19. Herbal teas
Consuming too much herbal tea during pregnancy can affect the baby’s growth and development. Herbal teas like peppermint and ginger are fine as long as you don’t consume more than 3 cups a day; more than this and you can increase your risk of premature births and low birth weight babies. Licorice, evening primrose oil tea, rooibos and fennel tea should be avoided completely because of the detrimental risks.
What foods are good to eat?
“When it comes to pregnancy (and fertility), I recommend a Mediterranean diet. Long considered one of the healthiest diets in the world, the Mediterranean diet is associated with a variety of positive health benefits. There has been an incredible amount of research, over a long period of time suggesting that the Mediterranean Diet is one of, if not the “best”, diets for increasing overall health and life expectancy, and pregnancy is no different.
“There are slight variations in diet, but the guidelines remain pretty consistent. The focus is mostly on high intakes of vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and extra virgin olive oil.”
- May reduce the risk of negative pregnancy outcomes such as:
- Gestational diabetes
- Premature birth
- excessive weight gain in pregnancy
- Emergency caesarean sections
- Perineal trauma
- small / or large for newborn babies of gestational age
- Improves the baby’s health:
- Reduced occurrence of low birth weight
- Small for gestational age
- Premature birth
- Premature birth
- Reduces the risk of obesity in children
- Improved blood pressure readings
What other nutrition tips do you have for pregnant women?
- # 1 – Take a prenatal supplement
- Fruit: 2 – 3 servings per day
- Whole grains: 4-8 servings per day – think of low GI carbohydrates, not “no” carbohydrates
- Vegetables: 5 servings per day
- Dairy products: 2 ½ servings per day
- Meat / alternatives: 3 ½ servings per day
- Fish / seafood: 2 – 3 servings per week (particularly fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, etc.)
- Include more plant-based protein in your diet – think of whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans
- Enjoy healthy fats – think extra virgin olive oil, oily fish (like salmon), avocado, nuts
- Liquid: at least 2L per day
- Energy demand 2nd / 3approx Trimester: an additional 600kJ per day
- Reduce your consumption of excess salt, sugar, and saturated fats
Why do you need a supplement?
“We know what happens during pregnancy, we program the developing baby and have a major impact on physical growth, brain development and health in later life. Whether you are already pregnant or planning to conceive, there are certain nutrients that are critical to successful conception and a healthy pregnancy Deficiency of nutrients during this time can lead to serious complications for both mother and baby.
“My most important tip for pregnant women or children who want to get pregnant is to take a high quality prenatal vitamin. This is the most important investment you can make for your future baby.
“There are many ways in which quality prenatal nutritional supplements can have a positive impact on your baby’s future health and development. By making sure you are getting all of the essential nutrients you and your baby need (through quality prenatal supplements and a healthy diet), you can help:
- Optimize your genetic programming
- Ensure the healthy development of the embryo
- Reduce the risk of neural tube defects (and other birth defects)
- Reduce the risk of premature birth
- Reduce the risk of low birth weight
- Reduce the risk of allergies
- Reduce the risk of eczema
- Improve brain development and cognitive skills
- Improve your lifelong mental, emotional, and physical health
- Reduce the risk of chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, obesity)
- Strengthening the immunity of the baby
- Influence taste preferences
- Influence your future weight
- Extend your baby’s lifespan
Note – A prenatal food supplement is particularly important for women on a vegetarian / vegan diet. These diets make it difficult to meet needs for many essential nutrients, so women can be at risk of nutritional deficiencies.