Consider following the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy

IIt’s no secret that eating balanced, nutrient-rich foods during pregnancy is essential. After all, what you eat helps provide your child with everything they need to grow and develop, while also fueling your body. But scientists have recently discovered that following the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy can actually reduce the risk of dangerously high blood pressure and other complications.

According to this new study, published in the journal Open JAMA networkPregnant women who followed the Mediterranean diet during conception and throughout pregnancy had a 28% reduced risk of preeclampsia.

“Pre-eclampsia during pregnancy or after giving birth can cause your blood pressure to rise and cause you to lose weight,” says Nidhi Mehta, MD, a cardiologist at the Lehigh Valley Health and Cardiology Institute in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. at risk of having a stroke. “It can impair kidney and liver function, cause fluid in the lungs, convulsions and, if left untreated, can lead to maternal and neonatal death. It can also lead to smaller or premature babies.”

Mehta adds that the rate of preeclampsia in black women is 60 percent higher than in white women, and black women are more likely to have severe preeclampsia. The study also noted that women over the age of 35 noticed better results when eating the Mediterranean diet and it also reduced the risk of gestational diabetes.

What exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

This anti-inflammatory diet mainly includes fish, olive oil, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, with a particular emphasis on consuming whole foods. It is modeled on the eating habits of people living near the Mediterranean Sea and inspired by the diets of Greece, Italy, France and Spain.

A key feature and benefit of the diet is that it limits processed and refined sugars. Dieters reduce their intake of white sugar, butter, and starch, replacing them with high-fiber foods like brown rice, farro, and lentils.

A typical day of the Mediterranean diet consists of three main meals and snacks in between. Breakfast is usually some form of Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, followed by a meat-free lunch such as a salad with appetizers and lots of vegetables, and dinner is usually salmon or grilled chicken with lots of vegetables. and cereals.

What does the study show?

To better understand how the Mediterranean diet might affect pregnancy and its potential complications, researchers looked at data from the Childless Pregnancy Outcomes Study. The study enrolled 10,038 women who were pregnant for the first time and in their first trimester. Before starting the study, they were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their eating habits and eating frequency. Their responses are then categorized and tracked.

What they found was that women who followed the Mediterranean diet more closely were 21% less likely to experience any adverse pregnancy-related outcomes, less likely to develop preeclampsia. 28% more and 37% lower chance of getting gestational diabetes.

“These findings do not surprise me. These dietary patterns focus on minimizing processed meats that are high in sodium and ultra-processed foods that are high in sugar and high in fat, which are known to increase oxidative stress and internal dysfunction. tissue in blood vessels,” said Dr. Mehta. may contribute to high blood pressure. “I suspect that the Med lifestyle improves placental vascular function, which in turn may reduce the risk of preeclampsia.”

Other studies have found similar results. One study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in April 2022 had equal findings on preeclampsia and another published in the American Heart Association. PLEASE Medicine in 2019 was found that following a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.

“The main aspects of the Med diet that contribute to a healthier pregnancy are the high amounts of fiber and antioxidants found in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”—Nidhi Mehta, MD

What are some ways to incorporate this type of diet into your lifestyle during pregnancy?

Experts recommend consulting with your own doctor or OB-GYN before making any drastic dietary changes or restrictions during pregnancy, but the variety is huge. importance. This includes consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

Dr. Mehta recommends focusing on reducing sodium and saturated fat content, and incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables whenever you can. And in keeping with the Mediterranean diet, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends eating between 8 and 12 ounces of seafood a week that’s low in mercury. Options include light canned tuna, catfish, cod, herring, oysters, trout, herring, shrimp, tilapia and salmon.

They also recommend taking a daily prenatal vitamin supplement containing folic acid, iron, calcium and Vitamin D, increasing your calorie intake each trimester, and avoiding all alcohol.

“The main aspects of the Med diet that contribute to a healthier pregnancy are the high amounts of fiber and antioxidants found in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” says Dr. Mehta.


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