A woman’s body undergoes a number of physiological changes during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. Although these changes are normal and commonly occur in all pregnant women, they can be quite disturbing. Some of these common ailments include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, back pain etc.
|But did you know about one of the simplest ways to overcome these problems? You must be having a number of thoughts running in your head right now: Diet? Exercise? Medication? Well, to answer your question, yes! It is your diet. A plant-based diet!?|
There is often a misconception that plant-based diets do not provide enough nutrients required during pregnancy. In fact, research suggests that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of pregnancy complications and provides a healthy amount of nutrients just like traditional diets which have meat, seafood, eggs and dairy products.
Here’s all you need to know about how plant-based diets can help you overcome few commonly occurring first trimester ailments:
- Reduces symptoms of morning sickness
There can be number of factors that cause morning sickness during pregnancy which lead to nausea and vomiting. The most common ones include dietary combinations, stress, weakness and hormonal fluctuations.
Meat contains compounds such as sulphur which may induce nausea and vomiting as a natural protective mechanism of the body. This prevents harmful substances from reaching the growing baby. Plant-based diets are free of contaminants, provide greater amount of carbohydrates, increase energy levels and help to eliminate toxins from the body. Thus, they can help you overcome your symptoms of morning sickness.
- Helps to fight fatigue
During pregnancy, your body requires greater amounts of energy than normal, to provide nutrients to your growing baby. As a result of hormonal changes, low blood sugar levels and stress, you may feel tired. Therefore it is important to consume foods which provide high energy levels.
Plant-based foods such as green leafy vegetables are rich in iron, B vitamins and a great source of plant-based protein. Other plant-based foods such as bananas, oats and different kinds of nuts release quick energy to raise your energy levels.
- Reduces headaches
Headaches during pregnancy can be caused by a number of factors. These include hormonal changes, tension due to increased blood volume, increased fatigue, strain, hunger and certain triggering foods like processed meat and dairy products.
It is important to eliminate food triggers, have regular healthy snacks including nutritious nut bars to prevent headaches. Plant-based diets contain higher carbohydrates, fibres and water content which keep you full for a longer time, help in maintaining your blood sugar levels and regulate hormonal changes.
- Helps to relieve constipation
Constipation is a commonly observed symptom due to increased levels of a hormone called progesterone during pregnancy. Progesterone interrupts bowel movements by slowing down muscle contractions which are necessary for the normal digestion process.
A fibre-rich diet and additional amount of fluids to improve water content is essential to prevent constipation. A plant-based diet including oats, beans, nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables help to ease the digestion process and allows for smooth contraction of muscles to elimination waste food products.
- Reduces heartburn
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the throat and chest when the acidic contents of the stomach move back and upwards into your throat. This is common during pregnancy as the hormones cause relaxation of smooth muscles of the oesophagus which allows the stomach acids to move upwards.
In order to prevent heartburn during pregnancy it is important to have smaller and frequent meals, avoid fatty, acidic and spicy foods.
A plant-based diet including green vegetables such as kale, spinach and sprouts help to neutralise the stomach acids. Low acidic fruits such as bananas and melons also help to curb acidic contents. Additionally fermented vegetables can be added to your diet to reduce heartburn.
- Sebastiani G, Herranz Barbero A, Borrás-Novell C et al. The Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diet during Pregnancy on the Health of Mothers and Offspring. Nutrients. 2019; 11(3):557
- Leitzmann C. Vegetarian diets: What are the advantages? Forum Nutr.2005;(57) 147-56
- Vatanparast H, Islam N, Shafiee M, Ramdath D. Increasing Plant-Based Meat Alternatives and Decreasing Red and Processed Meat in the Diet Differentially Affect the Diet Quality and Nutrient Intakes of Canadians. Nutrients. 2020; 12(7):2034.
- Baroni L, Goggi S, Battaglino R et al. Vegan Nutrition for Mothers and Children: Practical Tools for Healthcare Providers. Nutrients. 2019; 11(1):5
- Forbes L, Graham J, Berglund C, Bell R. Dietary Change during Pregnancy and Women’s Reasons for Change. Nutrients. 2018; 10(8):1032.
- Superfoods For A Healthy Vegan Pregnancy
- Fighting Acid Reflux Symptoms With Plant-Based Foods