The heated debate around vegetarianism and its true effect on the female body, especially during pregnancy, does not subside for a moment. Scientists now and then prove and deny something, but facts add fuel to the fire – real stories from the life of stars and ordinary women who were able to bear and give birth to healthy and strong babies to the envy of the public. How are they explained and is it still possible to abandon the basic building element in the most crucial period without consequences? The answers to these and other questions need to be sought in the publications of physicians and nutritionists.
Vegetarianism and pregnancy: pros and cons
It’s hard to believe, but modern medicine simply recommends that a pregnant woman adhere to the traditional menu with the obligatory inclusion of meat in the daily diet in order to provide herself and her baby with the irreplaceable ones that are in animal protein. She cannot insist on her decision. Simply because the course of pregnancy depends not only on nutrition, but also on other factors, including the emotional state of the woman. In other words, overpowering yourself by eating another piece of meat, and at the same time living in an atmosphere of constant stress, is also harmful.
However, before you completely switch to a vegetarian diet, you still need to analyze its benefits and harms to make sure or doubt your decision.
Why vegetarianism can be dangerous during pregnancy
In Tennessee, USA, scientists conducted a study called “The Farm” with pregnant vegan women. They were found to be deficient in folic acid, iron, zinc, iodine, vitamins D and B12. Needless to say, all of them are contained in animal foods, which expectant mothers abandoned because of their beliefs.
Moreover, the results of such a refusal were visible to the naked eye – women experienced, or anemia. It was about increased fatigue and frequent dizziness, provoked, just, by iron deficiency and insufficient synthesis of red blood cells. But such a condition is fraught not only with a decrease in immunity, but also with bleeding, and even oncology. The fact is that the lack of meat and milk in the diet can also result in a lack of linoleic acid, which prevents the development of cancer cells.
At the same time, the improvement in well-being, which vegans may experience at first, scientists explained by a kind of unloading of the body, which lasts no more than 7 years. After that, a person will surely feel a lack of essential trace elements, from which his immune system will first suffer, and then he himself.
All this data is supported by the results of another study, which involved children of pregnant women who regularly had meat in their diets. They had tremendous intellectual potential, and they themselves were considered healthier than the children of vegans.
On this, the controversy would probably have been settled, if not for the studies of other scientists confirming the benefits of vegetarianism during pregnancy.
How vegetarianism can be beneficial
According to some American scientists, a balanced plant-based diet strengthens the immune system and prolongs life. In addition, it makes it easier to transfer pregnancy and minimizes the risk of complications. Also, vegetarianism:
- protects a pregnant woman from hypovitaminosis, since a huge amount of vegetables and fruits that she consumes enriches the body with all the necessary vitamins and microelements;
- protects it from cardiovascular diseases, since there is simply no harmful in plant foods, which leads to the formation of cholesterol plaques that clog the blood vessels;
- prevents the appearance of excess weight, which in fact complicates the life of not only the expectant mother, but also her baby. This is explained by the fact that a pregnant vegetarian does not consume high-calorie animal foods;
- helps a mother to endure a strong baby, as she involuntarily forces her to eat nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains in sufficient quantities. But it is they who provide the body with vitamins of group B, E, zinc, polyunsaturated fatty acids and other useful substances, which in practice women meat-eaters may receive less;
- protects from. Studies show that vegetarian women experience little or no nausea in early pregnancy. And again, everything is explained by the absence of excessively fatty foods of animal origin in their diet;
- protects the health of mom and baby. The fact is that antibiotics and toxins are more often detected in meat foods, which can cause colossal harm to both;
- ensures normal metabolism and minimizes the risk of metabolic disorders. Pregnant vegetarian women are not familiar with digestive problems and constipation and this is one of the main advantages of plant foods.
True, you can only feel all these benefits on yourself by correctly composing your diet and following the advice of doctors and nutritionists. By the way, they have developed something like rules for vegetarian women in an interesting position.
Healthy Vegetarian Guidelines
- 1 It is necessary to switch to a vegetarian diet before conception, because in any case it is stress for the body, which the future baby will surely feel on itself. As practice shows, pregnancy is most easily tolerated by vegetarian women with at least 2-3 years of experience.
- 2 Monitor your weight. Ideally, a woman should gain about 1,2 – 2 kg in the first trimester of pregnancy, and then 1,3 – 1,9 kg for each subsequent month. To do this, she needs to ensure the daily calorie content of the diet at the level of 2300 – 2500 kcal. Moreover, it is extremely important to do this not at the expense of foods with empty calories. We are talking about flour, sweet, and also semi-finished foods. There is no meat in them, but they also bring harm to the body, and provoke excess weight gain. It is much wiser to simply select healthy and wholesome foods and control the amount eaten.
- 3 Carefully plan your menu in order to provide the body with all the necessary substances. In this case, it is better to visit a nutritionist once again than to experience all the “delights” of your mistakes later.
What must be included in the diet
A balanced diet of a pregnant vegetarian provides a sufficient amount of:
- … A lot has already been said about them. True, few people know that their lack is felt not only by the mother, but also by the fetus itself. Due to the lack of animal protein, he may receive less cholesterol – a substance that causes vascular blockage. In order to prevent this from happening, it is important to ensure that the daily intake of protein, albeit vegetable, is at least 30%. You can get it from dairy foods, unless, of course, you also had to refuse them, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts.
- … In view of the fact that in the second trimester the body of a pregnant woman is in great need of it, doctors, as a rule, recommend replenishing its reserves not only from food, but also from vitamin complexes, which they themselves must select based on the general health of the woman. Traditionally sources of iron are: apples, buckwheat, legumes, green leafy vegetables, beets, dried fruits and nuts, especially hazelnuts and walnuts, seeds.
- … It plays an important role in metabolic processes, hematopoiesis, in the work of the kidneys and liver, which during this period have to work for two, in the process of forming the skeletal system and stabilizing the nerve cells of the fetus. By the way, it is he who prevents the development of extensive lesions of the central nervous system, but, unfortunately, is not contained in plant foods. You can get it by consuming seaweed and other edible algae. In extreme cases, after consulting a doctor, you can purchase special vitamin complexes with its content.
- … He takes part in the process of assimilation of trace elements, ensures the health of the teeth and bones of the mother, and also contributes to the formation of the skeletal system of the unborn baby. In addition, it improves immunity and strengthens the walls of blood vessels, thereby having a beneficial effect on the health of the mother’s cardiovascular system. And also minimizes the risk of developing tumors and diabetes mellitus. Therefore, refusing dairy foods, which traditionally contain this vitamin, you must be ready to replace it with something. Suitable: soy foods, muesli, cereals, and also … walking in the sun. Under their influence, vitamin D can be produced in the body.
- … He is also responsible for the process of forming the bone system of the crumbs. If there is too little of it in the mother’s diet, he, without hesitation, will take it from the internal reserves of her body. And who knows what it will turn out to be for her and her own teeth and bones. To prevent this from happening, you need to eat tofu cheese, dark green leafy vegetables, cabbage, legumes, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, cereals.
- … Several functions are assigned to it at once. On the one hand, it is responsible for immunity, and on the other hand, it takes part in the process of iron absorption. The one without which hemoglobin falls and anemia develops. To compensate for its lack, you can use citrus fruits, rose hips, black currants or Brussels sprouts.
- … They ensure the correct development of the fetus, and also enrich the woman’s body with polyunsaturated acids and normalize her hormonal background. Sources of vegetable fats are corn, sunflower, olive and other oils.
They say that pregnancy is the best time in any woman’s life. But in order for this statement to be true in the case of a real vegetarian, you need to take a responsible approach to the preparation of your diet, follow the advice of your doctor, regularly take tests to control the level of hemoglobin and just enjoy life!
Remember this and be healthy!