Getting the news of her pregnancy is an exhilarating feeling for a woman. The entire phase of carrying a baby in the womb is highly crucial. Every pregnant woman wishes to deliver a healthy and strong baby. Nothing is more important to them than their baby. During this period, a woman needs to ensure her well being along with the good health of her unborn baby. Hence she has a lot of confusions regarding her diet as to what should be consumed and what should not. The food items that seemed normal earlier may not be safe for health after conceiving. This article revolves around one such remarkable food item, chicory.
Chicory Coffee During Pregnancy: Safe or Not?
What is Chicory?
For those who do not know what chicory is, it is a perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family. It was initially confined to Europe but was later cultivated and adapted in various other places. It generally possesses bright blue flowers. Occasionally, the flowers can be white or pink. The leaves, flowers and roots of chicory have high medicinal value. The chicory leaves can be used in salads. The roots when roasted and grounded can serve as a substitute of coffee. Chicory has a chocolate-like aroma and flavor.
Health benefits of chicory
The chicory coffee has numerous health benefits.
- Chicory herbs contain a polymer of fructose called fructan, responsible for its antioxidant and anti-tumor properties. They prevent several kinds of cancer and minimize tumor growth. It is rich in anti-oxidants and thus boosts the immunity.
- Consuming chicory coffee cleanses the liver and eases all kinds of digestive problems. The herb efficiently eliminates toxins in the kidney and promotes urination.
- It has also got anti-inflammatory properties. This can treat all forms of arthritis pain and muscle pain.
- The chicory root extract constitutes a fiber that can prevent or delay the early stages of diabetes. It is a repository of vitamins and minerals.
- The coffee of chicory has anti-bacterial properties that forbid all kinds of bacterial diseases.
- It also fosters proper bowel movement and helps in getting rid of constipation.
Though chicory has a lot of health benefits, it is advised not to consume it in heavy amounts during pregnancy. Research has proved that heavy intake of chicory coffee while expecting has strong side-effects. Consuming it in minimal amounts can be alright but must be done only after consulting the doctor. A bit of negligence while expecting can risk the life of the to-be mother and the baby.
- Chicory can activate uterine contractions and risk the life of the expecting mother as well as the fetus. Sudden uterine contractions can lead to miscarriage.
- It can act as an agent that promotes menstrual discharge, biologically termed as the emmenagogue. This leads to menstruation even during pregnancy.
- Chicory can even work as an agent that causes abortion if its consumption exceeds the required limit.
- Pregnant women may suffer from severe allergic reactions in consuming chicory. If they are allergic to flowers like daisy, marigold, ragweed and chrysanthemum, then they might be allergic to chicory too. Some of the symptoms due to allergy from chicory include swelling of face and skin, continuous itching of skin, difficulty in breathing, dizziness, etc.
- Some people develop skin inflammation and itching immediately when touching chicory. Pregnant women at times develop contact dermatitis on contact with chicory. Contact dermatitis is an itchy and red rash that occurs after direct contact with an allergic substance. It is strictly advised to such women not to consume chicory coffee while expecting.
- When consumed in large quantities, it can lead to body imbalance during pregnancy. As chicory promotes weight loss, there can be a significant loss of appetite on consuming it in prominent quantities. Pregnant women must eat healthy food and maintain sound weight. Appetite loss in pregnancy may lead to weakness and subsequently affect the unborn baby due to lack of nutrition.
- Chicory can accelerate the production of bile in the liver. This may lead to an improper flow of bile. People with gallstones can also be affected due to excessive bile production. The coffee made of the chicory root is rich in a fiber which on excessive consumption can lead to problems like gas, stomach ache and a state of nausea.
- Chicory root supplements used to make coffee might be infected with bacteria or other harmful pathogens. Consumption of the coffee made from such infected chicory can cause diseases in pregnant women.
Chicory coffee is slightly more acidic as compared to the regular coffee. It contains ascorbic acid, commonly known as vitamin C. Frequent consumption of chicory coffee can thus increase the ascorbic acid content in the body. This can lead to complications such as angioedema, which is a type of swelling that occurs underneath the skin. Excessive ascorbic acid content in the body during pregnancy can lead to symptoms like vomiting, nausea, headache, and stomach cramps.
Though chicory offers a lot of benefits to health, it also has a dozen side-effects, especially during the gestation period. It is always desirable to stay on the safer side and consult a doctor. If consumption of a minuscule amount of chicory is approved by their doctor, then only pregnant women should proceed further. They should strictly avert excessive consumption of chicory, knowing the harmful effects it can have on their baby.
Recommendation during pregnancy
The recommended intake of caffeine by ACOG during pregnancy is 200 mg or less. Depending on the type of preparation this will be equivalent to 1-2 cups (240-580 ml) of coffee.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend to entirely avoid energy drinks during pregnancy. In addition to coffee, it is recommended to avoid energy drinks as they contain high amounts of sugars and artificial sweeteners which lack nutritional value.
As caffeine poses side-effects during pregnancy when consumed in bulk amounts, so does its substitute chicory. Thus pregnant women must remember this thumb rule: No matter how bad their craving for chicory coffee, they should refrain from its consumption to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.