What is the strangest myth you have heard about nutrition in pregnancy?
Eating Spicy food will result in your baby being born with red hair – Yes really.
The problem with internet searches these days is that there is an unbelievable amount of information out there that it’s hard to sort through the fact from the fiction.
It can be pretty scary when we discover that we’re pregnant and all of a sudden we’re hit with this overwhelming barrage of advice. Stay away from alcohol, avoid soft cheese, reduce your caffeine intake and don’t frequent sushi bars! Sounds familiar right?
There was one piece of advice about peanuts, where pregnant women were advised that if they had a family history of allergies such as hay-fever, eczema or asthma that they should avoid peanuts completely and then in 2009 this advice was retracted due to insufficient evidence that eating peanuts had any influence on the outcome in increasing a baby’s risk of developing an allergy.
It just so happens that peanuts are an excellent addition to our diet when we’re expecting as they’re a fantastic source of plant based proteins, fibre, magnesium and essential folate, also known as B9.
In fact there have been many studies over the years that now show that avoiding foods that have the potential for allergic reactions don’t reduce our baby’s risk of developing allergies in later life.
To highlight just how confusing the internet can be when it comes to the foods we eat; below are just a few examples of some common foods highlighting both the positive and negative information about each that can be found in newspaper and Internet articles.
This gives you an idea of just how much misleading information is currently out there and why its no wonder that with so much varying information and advice given that we may become so confused and just ‘give up’ on following advice.
Thought to give protection against prostate cancer and offers protection against heart disease and helps to reduce cholesterol levels. Studies show it can reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as preventing bone loss in older women and promoting male fertility.
Disrupts sex hormones and disrupts thyroid gland, contains compounds that prevent nutrients being absorbed. Soy allergy can be common in children and can lead to anaphylactic shock as well as some studies showing an increased rate of breast cancer when consumption of soy products is high
Contain healthy fats and are low in saturated fat and shown not to increase cholesterol as well as being a good source of vitamin D and may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
The fats in eggs can harm the liver as well as increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. They may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, cancer and arthritis.
Oily fish contains omega 3 fats which offer protection against heart disease, keep the blood vessels healthy and lowers blood pressure, as well as lowering the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s and depression. Benefits have been seen in the brain development of babies born to mothers who eat fish.
Toxins such as mercury in oily fish can damage the nerves and lead to cancer. Studies have shown toxins in oily fish can be harmful to brain development in babies when pregnant women eat it.
Some of the most popular misconceptions debunked
Ask anyone that knows me and asks what my favourite food is to eat; they’ll tell you – CHEESE. So the one thing I needed to be 100% sure of when I was pregnant was to ensure which cheeses I could keep on my shopping list. The key when sourcing soft cheeses is to make sure they’re pasteurised. Which is basically a process of heating that kills off any pathogenic bacteria leaving it safe to eat. Soft pasteurised cheeses such as mozzarella, feta, ricotta, halloumi and goats cheese that have the rind removed are all safe to eat. As are soft cheeses such as blue cheese, brie and camembert as long as they’re completely cooked and steaming hot.
I massively craved smoked salmon during my second pregnancy. Turned out to be a ridiculously expensive craving, but the body needs what the body needs – right. Salmon is an excellent source of DHA, Vitamin B12, selenium, iodine, protein, and Vitamin D, all essential vitamins and nutrients needed during pregnancy. Smoked salmon and sushi are safe to eat IF they have been frozen and then defrosted before eating. This kills any bacteria and parasites and thankfully most sources that you buy from the supermarket will all have been previously frozen.
Despite popular belief, you can eat many different types of deli meat. Just opt for those that are pre-packed and not from the cold meats counter in your supermarket. This is to avoid any risk of cross contamination. Cured meats, such as salami, pepperoni, chorizo and prosciutto can all be eaten if they are cooked thoroughly.
I’ve lost count of the amount of internet search results that state you can’t eat pineapple during pregnancy – I love pineapple so much and the good news is that if you love it too – eat away.
Pineapple and primarily the core contains Bromelain which is a protein-digesting enzyme which, you guessed it – aids the digestion of protein and is therefore an excellent food for easing digestive problems. It’s also packed full of vitamin c and small amounts of vitamin A and B complex. To check your pineapple is ready to eat, a ripe pineapple will allow you to pull a leaf from the crown with ease. Just stick to the fruit and don’t take pineapple in any supplement form.