Vegetarian and vegan diets are gaining popularity and adapting to many people’s routines. In this way, whether due to lifestyle, dietary choices or even aversion to foods of animal origin, vegans and vegetarians adjust their diet and opt for varieties to create the necessary nutritional amount. The task is especially tricky when a baby is on the way, but according to experts Vitat has heard of, it’s entirely possible to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet without harming your pregnancy. Read on and understand!
Vegan and vegetarian diets during pregnancy
During pregnancy, the diet of future mothers plays a very important role when it comes to nourishing the baby and providing vitamins, proteins and minerals that help in the healthy development of it. In this way, to reach the goal, pregnant vegetarians and vegans do not need to abandon their diet. According to the American Academy of Nutrition, this type of diet is healthy and appropriate at all stages of life and under all physiological conditions, including pregnancy and lactation.
Thus, according to nutritionist Michelle Ferreira, a vegan diet is the answer. What cannot happen is that you stop eating animal protein and replace it with pasta, sweets, processed foods and empty calories.
“Pregnant women should follow up with a dietitian to balance micronutrient and macronutrient intake throughout the day. Supplementation is critical to avoid deficiencies in certain nutrients, especially iron and vitamin B12,” she says.
Benefits of a vegetarian and vegan diet
Vegetarian and vegan diets consist of a variety of vegetables, grains, and fiber, which leads to a significant improvement in the intestinal flora and therefore adequate nutrient absorption.
“In addition to providing a higher intake of fiber, bioactive compounds and polyphenols (antioxidant compounds), these diets are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which prevents excessive weight gain during pregnancy, as well as conditions such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and insulin resistance”, comments nutritionist Eleonora Galvao.
Vegetarian or vegan pregnancy versus omnivorous pregnancy
The American Academy of Nutrition recommends that vegetarian and vegan diets be healthy and appropriate for all stages of life. Anyone from early childhood to old age, including the period of pregnancy and lactation. Thus, nutritionist Eleonora Galvão says that pregnant women will be exposed to the same risks as pregnant women who do not maintain the necessary care to avoid excessive weight gain, and do not maintain a diet rich and dense in nutrients, especially iron, folic acid and calcium. and magnesium. That is, nutrients that can be easily found in plant sources such as tofu, spinach, tahini, and kiwi.
In this way, pregnant women who follow a healthy diet and routine, and maintain adequate follow-up with a professional dietitian, are not at greater risk during pregnancy than following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
What are the foods that cannot be missing from the menu of a pregnant woman?
The diet of a pregnant woman should be rich in vegetables, greens and fruits, preferably organic. Next, see the list of nutrients that cannot be missing during pregnancy:
- Folic acid: found in dark green vegetables.
- Hill: 2 eggs a day for those who choose to include this food in their diet. In this case, the ideal would be free-range eggs. On the other hand, vegans should supplement with choline;
- Iron: Dark vegetables like coriander and legumes. In addition, it is important to combine it with a good source of vitamin C to improve the absorption of this iron, such as citrus fruits;
- Omega-3: flaxseed or algae oil;
- Calcium: Found in dairy products. Thus, for vegetarians, the options are pasteurized cheese, natural yogurt, buffalo mozzarella, tofu, almonds, dark green vegetables, and sesame seeds for vegetarians;
- Fiber: whole grains, unpeeled fruits, greens and vegetables.
- Proteins: legumes and protein supplements of plant origin such as peas, rice and soy. For vegans and vegetarians, we can combine eggs and dairy.
- It is worth emphasizing that a pregnant woman, regardless of her diet, should be careful about the cleanliness of vegetables eaten raw.
In this type of diet, special attention should be paid to vitamin B12 supplementation, since it is the only one that is not found in a strict vegan diet. Thus, the vitamin contributes to the production of blood cells and is also associated with the function of the nervous system, being essential for the state of health of the mother and the growth and development of the child.
Pregnancy is a period of intense interest. Therefore, it is crucial to be careful about nutrient intake, as well as monitor risk factors through regular blood tests. In addition, mothers should pay attention to the metabolism of nutrients such as glucose and maintain an exercise routine throughout the pregnancy, regardless of nutritional profile.
The importance of nutritional control
The nutritionist Eleonora points out that nutritional monitoring must be carried out from the beginning of the pregnancy and must continue throughout the entire trimester of pregnancy. However, if the needs of the pregnant woman increase, meetings with the dietician should be more frequent, and it is very important for the growth and neurological development of the child, and to maintain the health of the mother’s body.
In addition, the mother should be aware of some symptoms that may indicate lactation problems:
- Constant fatigue
- Excessive sleepiness
- Short breath
- Racing heartbeat
- Paleness of lips, skin and nails.
Thus, these signs indicate anemia of iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 during pregnancy. Therefore, according to a nutritionist, pregnant women should have regular blood tests throughout their pregnancy. Thus, the specialist will control these values and recommend supplementation if necessary. In addition, I highlight the importance of vitamin D, magnesium and calcium. For example, a lack of calcium can cause vasoconstriction, which can exacerbate high blood pressure during pregnancy,” adds the dietitian.
Vegan and vegetarian food supplements
The supplementation of several nutrients, especially iron, folic acid, calcium and vitamin B12, is fundamental for a healthy pregnancy and the correct integral development of the baby. Thus, according to nutritionist Eleonora Galvao, supplementation will always be done individually, after all, it is necessary to know the history and biochemical tests, the use of certain medications used by the pregnant woman, as well as genetic factors are factors that They must also be evaluated.
In addition to what has already been mentioned above, it is worth noting the importance of the following supplements during pregnancy:
- Multivitamin: High contribution of essential nutrients and antioxidants in pregnancy. Additionally, these supplements have been shown to reduce the development of autism.
- Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency can increase the risk of preterm labor, cramps, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and constipation.
- Vitamin D: Extremely important for pregnant women, it has an effect on immunity, reduces the risk of infection as well as being a precursor of other metabolic reactions.
- Omega 3: an important anti-inflammatory, which is a component of cell structures, is active in postpartum depression and reduces the risk of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
Finally, the dietitian points out that all pregnant women can be vegetarian or vegan without putting their health or that of the baby at risk. For this, it is essential that they monitor and pay special attention to possible nutritional deficiencies. Duly accompanied, this should be a period of good health, disposition and full of benefits for a child in the formative stage.