Dr. Namsoo Chang is presently a full professor of Nutrition in the Department of Nutritional Science and Food Management at Ewha Womans University.Advice From Dr. Chang
5 Foods To Take Regularly While Pregnant:
Milk or calcium-fortified soymilk. Fresh vegetables and fruits. Whole grain bread and cereals. Fish, poultry, lean beef and pork. Prenatal supplements.
What are the potential negative health consequences for the infant (and into adulthood) if maternal nutrition is compromised?
Birth defects, low birth weight (birth weight less than 2.5 kg). Stunted growth, neurocognitive development disturbances, chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, etc.) later in life
How does ‘early programming’ show a connection between mom’s diet in pregnancy and the health of the child?
Epigenetic mechanism: Growing evidence suggests that food substances and nutrients can alter epigenomes. Epigenetic changes refer to modifications in the genome without changes in the DNA base sequence, which can influence gene expression and also can be heritable. Numerous diseases (obesity, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, cancer, depression, alzheimer’s disease, etc.) are associated with epigenetic alterations that might have occurred during the fetal period when the baby is in the womb and is totally dependent on the mother for its need for energy and nutrients. Developmental period is a time susceptible to epigenetic modifications.
Too much caffeine from coffee and other caffeine containing food/beverages
Too much caffeine is associated with an increased incidence of LGA and low birth weight baby and of decreased gestational age.
Pregnancy is a time of rapid bone turnover. Your bone is broken down and new bones are formed at a much higher rate during pregnancy. This process of a higher bone turnover tends to release some of the heavy metals which were accumulated in the bone over the years, one of which is lead.
During pregnancy lead levels in the blood is increased. When your sodium intake is high like with people in Korea, your kidney tries to excrete sodium and at the same time your calcium goes out with sodium. It is a terrible situation especially for pregnant women.
I am not saying that pregnant women have to be on a low sodium diet. But trying to avoid foods that are extremely salty is highly recommended to save bone calcium and also to protect your baby from getting exposed to lead. It is not just the high level of lead in the blood which is harmful, growing evidence in the literature tells us that lead even at a very low level, can be harmful to babies.
Avoid foods that are contaminated with bacteria or fungi
Pregnancy is a time when women’s immunity is compromised considerably. Therefore, it is best to avoid these unsafe foods. These foods can also be harmful to the baby.