There are many different factors involved in maintaining a healthy body, such as; a balanced diet, regular exercise, staying hydrated, making sure you get the right vitamins and nutrients your body needs, getting enough sleep, taking prescribed medication properly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. This essay is going to focus on how to maintain a healthy body when you are pregnant, for both the mother and the baby, through a healthy diet and lifestyle, and also the repercussions if these are not adhered to.
A healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone to maintain a healthy body, but t is particularly important during pregnancy as it will keep you fit and healthy, as well as improving the growth and development of the baby. The ‘eatwell plate’ shows the four main food groups that are important when trying to eat well-balanced meals, as recommended by the Food Standard’s Agency. We are advised to eat five portions (a minimum of 400g) of fruit and vegetables every day in order to get a good combination of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need.
They are also a great source of fibre, needed to prevent constipation, and they contribute to reducing the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A third of the food that we eat should be made up of foods that are higher in carbohydrates and fibre. These are known as starchy foods and are essential because they digest slowly, giving us more energy and helping us to feel full for longer, making it less likely for us to over-eat.
Dairy foods, such as, milk, cheese, and yoghurt are also important, especially in pregnant women, as they provide us with protein, essential for growth and repair, and calcium which keeps our bones strong and is vital for the development of the baby’s bones and teeth. However, there are some dairy products that pregnant omen are advised to avoid as they could make you ill or harm the baby. Foods rich in protein, such as; fish, eggs, chicken and lean meat are also necessary as part of a well-balanced diet.
These provide us with essential vitamins and minerals, for example; iron and vitamin 812. Pregnant women are expected to eat two portions of fish each week, preferably oily fish such as salmon because they are rich in Omega-3, which assists in maintaining a healthy heart, and are also a good source of vitamin D. Pregnant women can get most of the vitamins and minerals they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet. However, women who suffer from morning sickness may find it difficult to eat the right amount of food necessary to obtain these. Therefore, they are recommended to take supplements.
It is crucial to take folic acid during pregnancy as it assists in the prevention of neural tube defects, for example, spina bifida. Women are advised to take 400 micrograms of folic acid every day from when they are trying to conceive up until the twelfth week of pregnancy. Vitamin D is also important during pregnancy as it helps to regulate the amount of phosphate and calcium in the body. It is recommended that women take 10 micrograms of vitamin D aily, throughout the pregnancy and when they are breastfeeding in order to reduce the risk ot rickets disease, which can attect the development ot the baby’s bones.
Many pregnant women often feel lethargic and this is mainly due to an iron deficiency. This can be avoided by taking an iron supplement which has been proven to reduce anemia, and thus could possibly reduce the risk of other pregnancy complications, such as hemorrhaging. Zinc is another important supplement, proven to decrease the risk of premature birth, low birth weight and pre-eclampsia , which could be very dangerous as it may develop into eclampsia, causing the mother o have fits, threatening the survival of the mother and the baby. 4] Iodine supplementation is crucial during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester as it is required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, needed for the development of the baby’s brain. A lack of iodine could lead to hypothyroxinemia in the mother and the foetus, which could potentially lead to the baby being born with brain damage or other neurological deficits. . Although it is important to have a varied, balanced diet, there are some foods that pregnant women are advised to avoid as they can cause serious illness to the mother nd the baby. One of these is unpasteurized milk, or foods that contain it, such as soft cheese.
These could carry listeria, which are a harmful bacteria that can survive at refrigerator temperatures and can cause listeriosis. Methylmercury is also very dangerous as it can be harmful to the developing nervous system of an unborn baby. This can be avoided by not eating large fish, such as swordfish and tile-fish, as they contain high levels of methylmercury. It is extremely important that pregnant women cook meat thoroughly, in order to prevent toxoplasmosis. This is caused by a harmful arasite called toxoplasma, found in raw or undercooked meat and also fruit and vegetables that have not been washed properly. 6]
Exercise is extremely beneficial during pregnancy for a number of reasons. Core exercises that strengthen the abdominal, back and pelvic muscles will help to relieve back pain and should give women an advantage during labor as they will be physically prepared. Fatigue and difficulty sleeping are common problems among pregnant women. Those who exercise regularly claim to sleep better and have more energy during the day. Also, when we exercise our brains release endorphins, these re “feel good” hormones that help to improve your mood and decrease anxiety. 7]
Smoking during pregnancy has serious implications for the mother and the baby. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, but it causes additional health problems during pregnancy such as premature birth and miscarriage. It may also cause low birth weight, making the baby more prone to infections and could be fatal. It can cause the placenta to separate from the womb too early, cutting off the baby’s source of food and oxygen and causing bleeding.  Drinking when pregnant seriously affects the unborn baby as it can stop the baby rom growing properly and affect brain development.
This is because when the woman drinks, the alcohol passes through the placenta and enters the baby’s bloodstream.  In conclusion, it is evident that women need to be extremely careful in all aspects of pregnancy. Their diet and lifestyle must be altered to benefit the mother and the unborn baby. It is crucial that pregnant women are made aware of the implications of not eating properly, eating the wrong foods, and not being strict about food hygiene, as all ot these could lead to serious illness in the mother and the baby, and in serious cases, could be life-threatening!
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