Maintaining a nutritious and well-balanced diet while pregnant is only one component of a healthy pregnancy diet. Knowing which drinks and foods to avoid while pregnant is also crucial.
You may be wondering why you should avoid eating certain foods while pregnant. Some foods, however, are more likely to contain pathogenic bacteria such as listeria, salmonella, or E. coli. At the same time, your immune system struggles to fight germs during pregnancy. If you eat something contaminated by accident, you are more likely to become ill or suffer complications. Foodborne illness-causing bacteria can cross the placenta, which is equally concerning. Because your baby's immune system is not yet strong enough to fight off germs and is at risk of developing a serious infection or other complications.
Your primary concern as a parent is the safety of your child. Avoiding certain foods that are known to be harmful or potentially dangerous to consume while pregnant is an important way to keep you and your baby safe. Fortunately, determining what is and is not safe is simple. Here is a rundown of the foods to avoid while pregnant, as well as what to do if you accidentally consume something on this list.
Here are the lists of foods you should avoid.
1. Unpasteurized dairy and juices
Unpasteurized means raw, so include any unpasteurized items, such as selected cheese and fruit juices, on your list of pregnancy foods to avoid. Many cheeses sold in supermarkets are pasteurized, but not all. Listeria can be found in most unpasteurized cheeses. If in doubt, skip the cheese for now, or go for a safer slice like cheddar or swiss.
Unpasteurized juice, like cheese, is on the list of what to avoid during pregnancy. Unpasteurized juice is not safe to consume while pregnant because the raw fruit used to make the juice may contain harmful bacteria. These bacteria can cause food poisoning illnesses like listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which is particularly dangerous during pregnancy. Juice can be a healthy way to get the nutrients you need while pregnant if prepared properly. Orange juice, for example, contains vitamin C and calcium, while prune juice contains potassium and iron.
2. Fish with mercury
Everyone knows that fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help the brain as well as the mood. However, when it comes to eating fish while pregnant, it is easy to become confused about which types contain high levels of mercury and which are safe to eat.
Fish with high mercury levels should be avoided. Pregnancy-related mercury consumption has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage. Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish are examples of these fish. Due to high levels of mercury, certain types of fish used in sushi should also be avoided. You can eat safe fish like salmon, pollack, and sardines. Canned, chunk light tuna contains less mercury than other tuna, but it should still be consumed in moderation.
3. Raw seafood
Do you fancy some tuna sashimi? Are you obsessed with oysters on the half shell? Craving for the viral Korean raw marinated crabs? Before you go to your favorite raw bar or sushi restaurant, keep in mind that uncooked or even seared seafood is strictly forbidden during pregnancy. The risk of ingesting bacteria and parasites while eating raw foods is too high.
Undercooked seafoods, such as oysters, crabs, clams, and mussels, are the primary cause of seafood-borne illnesses. Cooking helps in the prevention of some types of infection, but it does not protect against the algae-related infections associated with red tides. Raw shellfish are dangerous and should be avoided during pregnancy.
4. Deli meats
Deli meats have been related to listeria contamination, which can lead to miscarriage. Listeria can cross the placenta and infect the baby, resulting in infection or blood poisoning that can be fatal. When such food is freshly cooked and before packing, it is more likely to be contaminated with Listeria. This should not be a problem if they are properly reheated. If you are pregnant and plan to eat deli meats, make sure to reheat the meat until it is steaming. It is best to be cautious when eating deli meats, hot dogs, and luncheon meats unless you can be sure that they are properly reheated. Symptoms of having listeriosis include flu-like symptoms, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches. More symptoms can occur if it spreads to the nervous system. However, not all fetuses whose mothers have been infected will have problems related to listeriosis.
After reading this, did you eat something you should not have? It happens sometimes. If you notice any of the symptoms of food poisoning, contact your doctor right away. This includes stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms like fever, body aches, and headache. Food poisoning usually makes you sick within one to three days of eating it.
During pregnancy, the quality of your diet is crucial, not only in terms of the foods you eat but also those you should avoid. Please consult with your doctor before making any dietary changes while pregnant.
1. Bjarnadottir, A. (2020) 11 foods and beverages to avoid during pregnancy, Healthline. Healthline Media. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy#1.-High-mercury-fish (Accessed: February 21, 2023).
2. Bond, L. (2022) 10 foods to avoid during pregnancy, LiveScience. Purch. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy (Accessed: February 21, 2023).
3. Marple, K. (2021) Foods to avoid: What not to eat during pregnancy, BabyCenter. Available at: https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/diet-and-fitness/foods-and-beverages-to-avoid-during-pregnancy_10348544 (Accessed: February 21, 2023).