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15 Foods You Didn't Know Could Harm The Fetus

Anything that is introduced into the body has an effect on mom-to-be's baby. Unfortunately, mothers sometimes forget that what is acceptable and safe for them could be harmful to the fetus since the baby lacks the required defensive mechanisms to decrease the negative effects of some foods.

This is a common mistake, and due to a lot of misinformation that the mother receives, she may believe that what she is doing is actually beneficial to her baby, which is not always the case. Although mom-to-be may have come across certain advice from another experienced mother, she should keep in mind that every person is different, so what was fine for one person, could actually be harmful to another. Sometimes a mother’s body gives her signs that she should stop what she is eating, which also means what she is feeding her baby. And in some other cases, her body remains silent to what can be harmful to herself and the baby. When her body gives her signs, she tends to mute them or misinterpret them as regular signs of pregnancy. This is especially true if she had been given advice that states the signs are positive, even if her intuition tells her otherwise. The most important part to remember is that the pregnant woman can eat almost all foods as long as she eats them in moderate amounts. Also, some foods even if they have a positive effect, tend to become harmful if eaten in too great a quantity.

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15 Unwashed Fruits And Vegetables

Yes, we have heard this sentence repeated over and over again, and somehow many of us forget that unwashed vegetables and fruits contain tons of pesticides and other chemicals. The fetus is very sensitive, so it should not be a surprise that pesticides may harm and have serious consequences on the overall development and health of the fetus. If consumed in the first half of pregnancy, the chance of miscarriage or deformities of the baby is likely, and if it happens in the second half of pregnancy, the chance of hypersensitivity, allergies and other diseases may occur later in the child’s life.

The bottom line is to always wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them, or eat those that have a biodegradable natural barrier, such as a banana. Wash produce by rinsing them with plenty of running water. This not only gets rid of the pesticides but also any dirt or other microorganisms that may be on it.

14 Liquorice Candies

Liquorice comes from a plant and is used as flavoring for many foods, but mostly for candy. It contains a lot of chemicals that moms-to-be are advised not to consume. Even though they may have little effect on the adult body, they can have a massive effect on the fetus. The major mechanism by which it works is decreasing the efficiency of the blood due to the component glycyrrhizin. This allows stress hormones to cross into the fetus, which has catastrophic effects such as intellectual impairment and impairment of speech. The good thing is that candy usually contains a very small amount of glycyrrhizin so in order for it to be harmful, the mother need to consume a lot of the candy.

So like with eating anything else, it is better to consume it in moderation. The good thing is a lot of candy companies are not including this chemical in their products anymore, due to the ban from many countries because of its harmful effects.

13 Herbal Supplements

Many people are beginning to realize that just because an herbal supplement may be a ‘natural’ substance, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a product that is safe for everyone. Many people think that if a little bit of a good herb works well, then even more of the herb will work even better. However, it doesn’t always work that way. Many herbs can be toxic in higher amounts and concentrations. Also, many herbal supplements try to provide a mixture of herbs that will aid both mother and fetus, but this is not always successful.

Instead they try to combine several herbs in order to maximize their effect, but this can cause many different side effects. This is because some herbs contain agents that are contraindicated in pregnancy and can even cause miscarriage. Unlike prescription medicine, they are not subjected to the same regulations, thus they could be more dangerous to the health of the mother and the fetus. You really need to know what you are taking. If you think you need to use them, it's better to consult your doctor or people who are specialists in herbalism.

12 Fish And Seafood

Some fish contains amounts of mercury, which is a very toxic element to the human body. The amount of contamination of sea creatures with mercury varies from one place and one species to another. Also, some sea creatures are more susceptible than others, but it is not advised to eat seafood during pregnancy, except if it is cooked properly and from non-industrial areas. Industrial wastes are the main source of mercury contamination. It has devastating effects on the baby. Blood cancer, anemia, and the blue baby syndrome are only a few to name.

The safe dose of mercury to adults is very low and even lower during pregnancy. So, if the mother wants to eat seafood, she should avoid the following species as they traditionally have the highest levels of mercury: raw salmon (lox), striped bass, bluefish, albacore tuna, walleye and trout. Any raw type of fish is prohibited, including shellfish, so sashimi and some types of sushi are definitely out.

11 Some Raw Vegetables

Raw vegetables contain a lot of fiber and vitamins, which are a good thing, however in the case of pregnancy, fiber may sometimes be unfavorable. Fiber can be difficult to digest and may cause intestinal gas, which can cause a lot of discomfort. But it's also important to have enough fiber to maintain intestinal health and avoid constipation.

Vegetables are a very important source of essential nutrients to the development of the fetus and the overall health of both the mother and the baby. Vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots and spinach are very important sources of vitamins and they contribute to better development of the fetus. Some vegetables contain more fiber and are harder to digest than others and some are simply known to create intestinal gas. Vegetables such as beans, cauliflower, cucumber, onions, radishes, cabbage, brussel sprouts, artichokes, carrots, celery and green peppers are best avoided by mom if she tends to get gassy. But, if her doctor okays it, she can take an anti-gas tablet to avoid discomfort.

10 Undercooked Meat

Uncooked meat can be a source of various infections and diseases because some microorganisms tend to survive even after the death of its host. The proper way to kill such bacteria is by cooking the meat, and even then there is no guarantee. Diseases such as Mad Cow have high resistance towards heat, and thus they can survive improper cooking or cooking at low temperatures. Microorganisms that are usually killed by the immune system in a healthy person can thrive and even infect the fetus due to the immunosuppression in pregnancy.

Those microorganisms can kill or deform the fetus, and can chronically infect the mother, causing huge problems to her later in life. At first, signs of meat poisoning would be overshadowed by the general symptoms of pregnancy, so they can be easily overlooked. But of course, if you are eating properly cooked meat and in moderation like all other foods, there should be nothing to worry about.

9 Undercooked Eggs

The problem with eggs is slightly complicated, this is due to the fact that eggs contain protein which affects the function of the liver. And in the case of pregnancy, the liver is overloaded with creating bilirubin for both mother and baby. Most notably, raw eggs may contain salmonella, and adult bodies in their prime have problems dealing with it, so in the case of pregnancy, its effects are even graver and can be fatal. So, if mom likes her eggs sunny side up or easy over, she’s going to have to eat them scrambled for a while.

All products that have eggs in them should be inspected, especially homemade desserts and bakery items. Even if the eggs are properly cooked, they should only be consumed in moderation at best and not daily. The moderate rate is once every three days. This means mom-to-be is allowed eggs and egg products, but this allowance is less than they might want. Furthermore, eggs are rich with polypeptides, which is a good thing. However, they take more time to be digested, and thus may be a cause of weight gain.

8 Unprocessed Dairy

Pregnant women should not eat or drink dairy products that have not been pasteurized. This is because dairy products are a very suitable medium for microorganisms to grow, thus they can be a source of infection, especially with the physiological suppression of the immune system that occurs during pregnancy.

Pasteurization is the process of heating a liquid or food to the point where any harmful microorganisms will be killed. In addition, consumption of some dairy products such as cheese may cause dental problems to the fetus. Unlike the common belief that the more calcium the better, the body needs a limited amount of calcium and even if the fetus needs more calcium in some stages of its development, it is unable to use the ones that are stored by the mother because it still does not yet have the required “tools.” So it's advised to moderately consume dairy products daily and only eat or drink those that are pasteurized, and to seek out other sources of calcium other than dairy, for example, leafy greens.

7 Junk Food

It is not advisable to eat junk food in normal situations due to their negative effects on our health. This is because they contain a lot of fats, salt, sugar, additives and preservatives, and have very little, if any nutritive value. Since the body of the fetus is very sensitive, junk food could have very detrimental effects. The fetus needs good nutrition and calories to grow properly and junk food only provides calories without nutrition. The mother gets filled up with junk food, leaving no room for more nutritional foods, leaving the fetus without the tools to grow.

Aside from the lack of nutrition, all doctors agree that in pregnancy it is better to avoid junk food due to the preservatives that it contains. Even though a lot of preservatives are harmless to the adult body, if they cross the placenta they can cause many negative effects to the fetus such as speech impairment, deformations and mutations.

6 Foods High In Sugar

Foods rich with sugar affect both the mother and the fetus. The effect on the mother during pregnancy is increased due to the changes in her physiology during that time. Glucose can simply pass the placental barrier and enter into the fetus’ tissues and while the mother's metabolism is capable of minimizing the effect of excessive sugar on her, the fetus is not capable of doing so.

As a result, excitation of the fetus muscles occur, which is painful to the mother. But tissues can absorb a limited amount of sugar and the rest binds with other compounds such as lipids and fats, this conjugation is very dangerous because it can block hormone receptors, obstruct circulation, initiate immune responses or obstruct small blood vessels. If the mother is following the pyramid type diet, it means she is consuming a lot of sugar because all carbohydrates eventually are transformed into sugar.

5 Foods Rich With Fat

In any condition, eating too much fat containing food is not advised because even though we need fat in our daily diet, the requirements are very small and the excess fat is not excreted. Instead it is stored in the body. In pregnancy, eating too much fat will cause unwanted weight gain and will apply added pressure on the baby since they are occupying the same space. Also in pregnancy, GDS or gestational diabetes mellitus may be the outcome.

Women tend to give in to their craving for fatty foods during pregnancy since eating fatty foods during pregnancy has a negligible visible effects. However, it should be remembered that the effect of fat is not only cosmetic, it is biological and it is the underlying reason for a lot of fatal medical conditions. Mothers that consume a lot of fats seem to give birth to children that have a higher chance of developing heart disease and are more prone to obesity and diabetes mellitus.

4 Nitrate Rich Foods

Nitrates can have a negative effect on all bodies and especially on the pregnant woman. Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate are salt compounds that are used for meat preservation. They are most usually found in processed and deli meats, lunch meats, ham, bacon and hot dogs. These chemicals are oxidizing in the body, leading to the terrible ‘free radicals’ we hear a lot about.

Nitrates transform into nitrosamines, which are considered as carcinogenic compounds to the adult body, so imagine the effect they have on the fetus. Some studies showed that the development of brain tumors in children is highly attributed to eating foods with nitrites. The thing that makes nitrate rich foods so effective is that they are found in “routine” foods and mothers consume them due to habit. They are also found as preservers, especially in meat products, so the best way to minimize the content of nitrites is to precook them.

3 Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are dangerous because of the chemicals that compile it - in addition to their effect, which is similar to that of sugar. Their effect on the fetus is still unknown and debatable, but what is sure is that they should receive a minimum amount of sugar substitutes in order to avoid the same effects that sugar cause.

The good thing is that not all sugar substitutes are harmful, the list differs in every country and they change from nutritive to nonnutritive, but what is agreed upon is that they are safe if the mother consumes them moderately and they do not induce any allergies. Rebaudioside-A Aspartame and Sucralose have been proven to be safe if they are consumed in moderate amounts. Natural substitutes such as stevia are also safe, but all should be consumed in moderation. While Cyclamate is not advised due to its ability to cross the placenta and infiltrate the fetus' tissues, even though its effect is not fully understood doctors do not advise its consumption.

2 Caffeinated Tea Or Coffee 

Caffeine has a stimulating effect on a normal person so it is not a huge surprise that it can affect both the mother and the baby negatively. First off, if the mother consumes caffeine, the fetal muscles become excited and so the baby will kick more

The effect on the baby is based on neuronal excitation and even though the exact mechanism is still not understood, what we know is mothers who consume a moderate amount of caffeine give birth to infants that have a lower overall weight than mothers who do not consume it. This is because the portion of caffeine that the mother consumes is degraded throughout daily activities, but the portion that crosses through the placenta and into the fetus takes a longer time to be degraded so the baby is subjected to the effects of the caffeine for a longer period of time.

1 Foods That Mom Is Allergic To

This may be obvious, but you will be surprised how many women “forget” what they are allergic to when they are pregnant. This is actually due to two major reasons; the first reason is physiology - changes in the basic metabolism of the mother’s body that give her an urge for different kinds of foods, some of which she might be allergic to. The second reason is psychological - mom-to-be feels somehow stronger and that the pregnancy changes will allow her to eat things she normally can’t eat because of allergies.

In addition, many say that the mom-to-be should eat allergy causing foods, such as nuts, fish and eggs, in order to expose the baby to everything so the baby will not have allergies. While this is a good idea in theory, if the mom is allergic to these things, she still shouldn’t eat them. Many women don’t take their own allergies into consideration when trying to do what they’ve been told will be good for the baby. However, eating foods a mom is allergic to could put both mom and baby in severe danger. If the mother goes into anaphylactic shock, it is going to cause harm to the baby.

Sources: MomJunction.com, AuthorityNutrition.com, MarchOfDimes.org, NHS.uk, FitPregnancy.com

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