The Paleo diet is fast becoming famous for its many benefits. Consuming a healthy and wholesome diet is crucial for a pregnant woman to maintain good health for herself and her baby in the womb. A healthy diet plan ensures wholesome nutrition for the expecting woman and the development of the fetus. Nowadays many types of diets become popular in a jiffy as they promise considerable weight loss without compromising on nutrition. Paleo diet is one such kind and even expecting mums might consider reaping its benefits. But, is this diet beneficial to pregnant women? Let us find out!
What is the paleo diet?
The Paleo diet is a modern-day diet that consists of food components that are made to resemble the diet followed by cavemen or Palaeolithic men. Human hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age are believed to have eaten a wholesome diet that was low-carb and high in meat, fruits, and vegetables. This distinctive diet of the modern era includes lean meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Many types of research prove that Palaeolithic men had a superior diet, an active lifestyle, and apparently very few lifestyle diseases. The idea of a modern-day paleolithic diet is also based on the same concept.
Is the paleo diet safe during pregnancy?
This advocates the consumption of high protein and very little or no grains at all. The high protein diet can be sourced from meat which is a rich source of iron too. Iron is vital during pregnancy for both mother and baby. The diet also stresses consuming healthy fats and natural oils like omega-3- 3 fatty acids that are highly essential for the development of the nervous system in the fetus.
Furthermore, this diet also promotes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds all of which are essential during pregnancy. Including these food components help to prevent hypertension and gestational diabetes. Also, it gives great importance to avoiding unhealthy, fast foods, aerated sugary drinks, and other such stuff. All these aspects of a paleo diet make it highly beneficial to expecting mums.
Advantages of paleo diet during pregnancy
As mentioned earlier this diet endorses the consumption of healthy wholesome food which could be highly beneficial to a pregnant woman. Let us further find out the advantages of the diet during pregnancy.
Loaded with vital nutrients
The diet is loaded with all vital nutrients like proteins, fats, essential vitamins, and minerals that are very much needed for a healthy pregnancy.
Omega-3 fatty acids
This diet encourages including omega-3 fatty acids that are extremely important for fetal eye and brain development. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to cope up with and manage pre and post-natal depression.
Expecting mothers are prone to anemia due to its higher requirements during pregnancy. Since this diet is rich in meat it supplies more than enough iron required during pregnancy. Thus, it prevents anemia.
Does not have phytic acid
Phytic acid or phytates are natural compounds found in plants, grains, etc. This phytic acid is associated with non- absorption of minerals like iron, calcium, and zinc leading to a mineral deficiency. Since this diet excludes grains from the list, it could prove advantageous to pregnant women. This is because pregnant women need higher amounts of iron and calcium.
Low- glycemic index food
Most food groups included in this diet like meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds have a low-glycemic index. Thus this diet helps to prevent or manage gestational diabetes.
Limits junk food
This diet limits the consumption of processed food, sugary beverages, aerated drinks, etc which are harmful to both mother and child.
Prevents tummy troubles
Acidity and bloating are very common in a pregnant woman. But since this diet stresses the intake of healthy wholesome food and restricts junk food, a host of these tummy troubles are prevented.
Risks of paleo diet during pregnancy
Although the paleo diet includes a lot of healthy food groups, it restricts the intake of grains, dairy products, and legumes. But pregnant women are required to eat a wholesome diet that includes a variety of food. Let us understand what the risks of this diet are during pregnancy.
Low birth weight in babies
Some observations revealed that pregnant women who were on this diet that is rich in meat and low in carbohydrates delivered babies with low birth weight.
Babies displaying higher systolic hypertension
Certain studies have found that babies born to women on a paleo diet during pregnancy displayed higher systolic hypertension later in life.
So, how to follow paleo when expecting?
One good thing about the paleo diet is that it does not make you avoid carbohydrates completely. Hence, with certain modifications, the paleo diet can be followed in pregnancy too. So, let us see how to include paleo when expecting.
Include healthy carbs
During the first trimester, most pregnant women suffer from nausea and can tolerate only starchy food. But, it is good to include healthy carbohydrates which have lesser phytates. Some good options are tapioca, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and bananas.
Include alternative sources of protein
Many times expectant mothers develop distaste towards meat and fish and feel nauseated. Hence, alternative sources of protein like eggs, legumes, and nuts could be included.
Some more paleo diet variations for expecting mothers
Even though the paleo diet is beneficial for pregnant women, incorporating certain modifications could prove to be highly beneficial to pregnant women. Here are some more paleo diet variations for expecting mothers.
Take in more healthy carbohydrates
Eating only protein can result in very low birth weight in babies. Hence, it would be better to intake more healthy carbohydrates and decrease some amount of protein.
Since dairy is eliminated from the paleo diet, you can include plant-based milk like almond milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk in your diet.
Consult your doctor and take their advice on how you can upgrade your paleo diet and what multi-vitamin supplements you can take to improve your diet.
With little modifications here and there paleo diet seems to be a very healthy diet to be incorporated during pregnancy. However, it can take a little time to adapt as it eliminates grains and dairy products. Nonetheless, discuss with your doctor and get expert advice before you follow the diet to ensure the best benefits.