Diets - menus

Keys to a healthy vegetarian pregnancy for baby and mother


He pregnancy It is a stage in which the woman experiences some physical and mental changes. Nutrition is a very important factor for the pregnancy to pass in a healthy way, without putting the health of the future mother or her baby at risk. During this stage, the pregnant woman feeding It will have a direct impact on the health of your child. For this reason, in vegetarian pregnancy it is very important that the woman knows the properties of vegan foods well, and adjusts them to her needs.

When we talk about pregnancy, we are faced with many questions about food, since there are many changes in a short time. The type and amount of nutrients we need changes in the first, second, and third trimesters. If we add to this, the doubts that may arise towards a vegetarian or vegan pregnancy, As for the proper growth of the baby, we can feel overwhelmed.

First of all, a vegetarian diet is not the same as a vegan. Remember that in the vegetarian diet there is the consumption of dairy and eggs, being lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian or ovo-lacto-vegetarian.

There are also new currents, such as the flexiterian diet, in which the general consumption of a vegan diet is promoted, but may include foods of animal origin on a discontinuous basis. The vegan diet, therefore, would not contain any food of animal origin or derivatives.

Unfortunately in Spain, like other Latin American countries, there are no specific guidelines for the case of vegetarian or vegan pregnancy, but it does not have to be something strange or alarming, since in many other parts of the world this situation is widely described and normalized.

According to the American Dietetic Association and collected in the study 'Vegetarian and vegan diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding' and published by the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, properly planned diets are healthy, nutritionally adequate, and can provide significant health benefits. These gains or advantages are related to the prevention and enhancement of the treatment of certain pathologies.

A vegetarian diet for pregnant women well balanced can be fully compatible with a healthy life throughout pregnancy. In case you opt for this type of diet, talk to your doctor about this alternative, resolve your doubts and keep these tips in mind:

- It is important to say that the amounts of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) will vary according to some factors such as age, medical history or, for example, the intestinal absorption capacity. The latter is very relevant, since even if we supplement, if our digestive and intestinal systems are altered by a disorder such as irritable bowel, celiac disease or food intolerances, the proportion of nutrients that we absorb will be decreased.

- It should also be noted that in pregnancy, in a physiological way, our whole organism will prioritize fetal nutrition, that is why it is very normal that in the first trimester we notice a certain degree of constipation, since in some way 'everything is used' that we ingest and the rate of bowel movements is delayed.

The first thing to take into account is to differentiate the nutrients that should be regularly monitored in the vegetarian and vegan diet. These are vitamin B12, Omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA, iron, calcium and vitamin D. All of them, although they can be found in more or less high amounts in foods of plant origin, are not easily absorbed by our body. There are vegetarian and vegan supplements on the market to meet these needs.

1. Special mention must be made of the vitamin B12, the only one of the above that is practically not found in any food of plant origin (only in soy, rice or cereals), and that must be supplemented in vegan and some vegetarian diets to avoid malformations in the baby.

2. On the other hand, the iron, which is commonly found in foods of plant origin, is non-heme iron, which is absorbed between 3-20%, while that of animal origin is absorbed up to 25-35%. Therefore, having in pregnancy, a much higher need for iron of up to 30-60 mg / day, it is advisable to do a supplementation.

3. Thefolic acid It is an element that protects the fetus from neurological defects and organic malformations, which is why it is totally advisable to supplement it in pregnancy, since its deficit, such as that of vitamin B9, can have serious consequences for the development of the baby.

4. The zinc it is a mineral necessary for numerous metabolic processes. The daily amount is 11 mg and we can find it in plant sources such as whole grains, tofu, tempeh, seeds and some nuts. A zinc deficiency can lead to premature labor or delayed growth.

5. The calcium It is important to bear in mind that it is absorbed thanks to vitamin D, so it is essential to have good levels of this vitamin. In the market there are many foods enriched in calcium and vitamin D, such as vegetable drinks, but calcium is not only present in milk. A good source of calcium can be found in green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, broccoli), in nuts and seeds, tofu (tofu), and in dried fruits.

It should be noted that a well-nourished vegan pregnant woman does not have to have a calcium deficiency compared to an omnivorous woman since the high boron content of the vegetarian diet, together with the exclusion of meats, contribute to the body's retention The calcium.

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