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A Pre Conception Diet Makeover
  • Arati Shah

  • 06, Jan. 2020

A Pre Conception Diet Makeover

Planning a pregnancy to expand the family is an exciting time in one’s life. The first good start one can give your baby is a good pre conception diet for good health. However, it is important that the woman maintains good health all the time as pregnancies are mostly not planned. Good nutrition becomes extremely important to not only help conceive but also prevent low birth weight and preterm babies. A pre conception diet program is as important as a pre natal nutrition program 

A well balanced diet with adequate physical activity is very important when one is trying to conceive. Whether it is the science today or our ancient food practices, both lay emphasis on eating a well balanced diet, being physically active, staying off alcohol, caffeine and smoking, getting sufficient sleep, being in a happy frame of mind and connecting with friends and family for support which is important when the woman is planning to conceive. We have laid down some guidelines to consider when it is time to plan for your pregnancy. 

  1. Maintaining a healthy body weight: 

It is important to maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy as being overweight or underweight might increase the chance of infertility and can lead to a hormonal imbalance. Healthy weight can be maintained with exercising and eating a nutritious diet. 

  1. Correcting iron & calcium deficiencies: 

Nutritional deficiencies can be corrected by consuming a balanced meal. Malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies increase the risk of poor pregnancy which might lead to pre-term or low birth weight babies. In women, iron and calcium deficiency is found to be very common. So, before pregnancy, care must be taken to correct deficiencies if any. 

Dals and pulses, garden cress seeds, bajra, dried fruits, quinoa, leafy greens, chicken, fish, nuts and seeds are good iron sources. Consume vitamin C rich foods like lemon, orange, amla, guava along with vegetarian sources of iron to increase iron absorption. Similarly, calcium containing foods like milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables, ragi flour and sesame seeds should be regularly included in your diet to get enough calcium without the need for supplements. Calcium consumption should start early on as the levels increase slowly.  

  1. Maintaining folic acid levels: 

Folic acid is essential to prevent neural tube effects in the foetus. Supplementation along with folic acid rich foods like dals, beans, leafy greens, citrus fruits and juices and fortified foods should help you meet the requirement of folic acid. 

  1. Abstaining from alcohol: 

There are many health bodies that warn women against the intake of alcohol when they are planning to conceive. Alcohol can have an adverse effect on the baby’s physical and mental growth, hence best avoided. 

  1. Refraining from packaged and processed foods: 

Refined processed and fast foods as well as packaged foods contain additives, saturated fats, added sugars and extra salt which need to be restricted as they are not a party of a healthy diet. 

  1. Restricting sugar intake: 

Weight gain can be avoided by restricting the intake of sugar in the diet. This includes sweetened beverages, carbonated drinks containing fructose and processed foods. 

  1. Eating fresh fruits daily: 

Fruits are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and dietary fiber. Studies have shown that women consuming fruits especially rich in vitamin C have a decreased rate of giving delivery to pre-term babies. So include citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, guava, grapes, kiwi and berries in your diet.  

  1. Eatingprebiotic and probiotic foods 

Prebiotics serve as food and provides an environment where in it will help micro-organisms like bacteria called as probiotics to grow. So, both prebiotics and probiotics support the growth of healthy bacteria and other types of organisms present in the gut. These organisms maintain gut health, aid in digestion and boosts immunity. Examples of prebiotics include whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables whereas examples of probiotics include yoghurt, buttermilk.  

  1. Consuming omega 3 fats: 

Omega 3 fats can help improve fertility and also help in overall health and well being. Omega 3 fats are found in fish and eggs and vegetarians can obtain them from walnuts and flax seeds. However, care should be taken to avoid the large predatory fish as they are likely to contain high mercury levels that can damage the important body systems of the foetus. 

  1. Avoiding consumption of caffeinated beverages: 

Caffeine might decrease the chances of getting pregnant and might increase the risk of miscarriage. Restrict caffeine so a cup of tea or coffee would be just fine instead of eliminating them completely.  

So, it is important to have a conception diet makeover if you intend to add a baby to your family. Right food choices will ensure that the chances of conception are not only increased but also the health of the foetus as well as the mother is taken care of.  Remember that smoking is not even an option here. And if excess weight is an issue enrolling yourself into a practical and healthy weight loss program should be the first step to kick start your pre conception diet makeover.