An ideal situation would be for women in their reproductive stage of life to stay within normal weight ranges and follow a healthy lifestyle. This would help them stay healthy through conception, delivery and postpartum. Physicians even suggest women to start taking folic acid supplement even before conceiving for the normal growth of the fetus. While health experts ask us to stay motivated and healthy even before conceiving not many women pay heed to such words and face the consequences later in life. There are a greater number of studies showing that maternal weight and now, even paternal weight contributes to the growing fetus’ health and has a strong impact on the infant’s physical and mental well-being during later stages in life.
Inappropriate weight gain can lead to a number of health problems and we have nutrition and dietetic experts suggesting individuals to go for different diets that are medically approved. Please be aware that we are not talking about any of the fad diets that lower the intake of one macronutrient, increase the intake of another tremendously while totally cutting off consumption of some other nutrient. One highly acclaimed and proven diet is the Mediterranean diet that has been widely followed by people globally. Now, this diet form has been prescribed to pregnant women who suffer from obesity. Detailed description of the Mediterranean diet with its most cherished foods items is available at www.firsteatright.com.
Complications in the form of gestational diabetes or preeclampsia are common during the pregnancy most of which are results of our body weight and general health and this can increase the long-term risk of diabetes and cardiovascular complications in both mother and the child. A study published in the reputed journal ‘PLOS Medicine’ shows that consuming a Mediterranean-style diet helps decrease the risk of diabetes by 35% and leads to 1.25 kg less weight gain during pregnancy. But there were no changes in other pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, stillbirth, small for gestational age foetus or admission to a neonatal care unit. There was an overall improvement in the quality of life of those pregnant women who followed the Mediterranean diet in comparison to other women but it brought about no changes to nausea or vomiting. No doubt, this diet form has shown effective results in those with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk but its effect on high-risk pregnant women was unknown until now. Neither have pregnant women been recommended the key components of the Mediterranean diet that includes olive oil and mixed nuts besides the ever-nutritious fruits and vegetables. This research shows that obese women with chronic hypertension and increased lipid levels should be recommended to consume more nuts, fruits, unrefined grains and olive oil while reducing the consumption of fats and sugars.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.