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10 Foods and Drinks to Avoid When Pregnant

What you eat and drink during your pregnancy can play an important role in the growth and development of your baby as well as your health.

Although most foods and drinks are safe to have, but there are certain foods and beverages you should avoid when you’re pregnant because they might make you ill or harm your baby.

If you’re wondering what foods you should not eat during pregnancy, we’ve got you covered. The following are 10 foods and drinks to avoid or limit while pregnant.

1. Rare or undercooked meat

Eating rare or undercooked meat and poultry can make you ill and could even harm your baby. This because undercooked meat and poultry may contain harmful germs that can cause foodborne illness like Salmonella infection and Toxoplasmosis. Cooking them thoroughly kill the germs and reduce the chance of food poisoning.

2. Raw eggs

Raw eggs or any foods that contain raw eggs should be avoided because of the potential of the foods to be contaminated with Salmonella.

Salmonella is a group of bacteria that commonly cause foodborne illness. If you get it when you’re pregnant it may cause miscarriage. Luckily, you can minimize your risk of Salmonella by following safe food preparation protocols or avoiding raw eggs entirely.

3. Unpasteurized milk or cheese

Unpasteurized milk or raw milk can carry harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter, and Salmonella, that cause foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning.

While most healthy people will recover from the illness within a short time, some people with weakened immune systems like pregnant women can develop symptoms that are chronic, severe, or even life threatening.

Like unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized soft cheese carries the risk of Listeria contamination, which may cause miscarriage and preterm labor. So, to keep you and your baby safe, always choose pasteurized milk or cheese during pregnancy.

4. High-mercury fish and raw seafood

Raw or undercooked seafood may contain bacteria and viruses, such as Listeria, which can cause miscarriage, stillbirths and preterm births. If you want to enjoy sushi, make sure the seafood is cooked.

Fish that contain high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, bigeye tuna, king mackerel and tilefish, also should be avoided. Because excessive exposure to mercury during pregnancy can cause damage to your baby’s developing brain and nervous system.

5. Deli and processed meats

Deli meat, ham, and other processed meats can also harbor bacteria or parasites, such as Listeria, Toxoplasma, and Salmonella, which can lead to food poisoning.

If you plan to eat deli meats, we highly suggest cooking them until they are steaming. If the meat is heated to steaming, any present bacteria should no longer be alive.

6. Liver and pâté

Do not eat liver or products containing liver, such as pâté, haggis, and liver sausage, as they contain high levels of vitamin A which can cause birth defects if large amounts are consumed.

Pregnant woman should also avoid all forms of pâté, including the vegetarian kind, as it might carry a risk of listeriosis and salmonellosis.

7. Raw sprouts

Any of the raw sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, and radish, are susceptible to carrying bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Bacteria can get into the seeds before the sprouts begin to grow, and these germs are nearly impossible to wash away. For this reason, it’s best to avoid raw sprouts altogether, although sprouts are safe to consume when cooked.

8. Unwashed fruits and vegetables

The environments in which fruit and vegetables grow can carry harmful bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, which can cause serious illness. These bacteria can come from a variety of sources, including soil, water, and food handlers. Pesticides, and other chemicals used in farming can also leave residues on the surface of produce, which can be harmful if ingested.

To eliminate any harmful bacteria, make sure to rinse produce thoroughly under running water before preparing or eating it. Also, avoid eating bruised fruit or vegetables, as bruising can lead a moldy space where bacteria can thrive.

9. Alcohol

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), a syndrome that can cause lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities in babies from the time they are in the womb. In addition, pregnant women who consume alcoholic beverages are at risk of miscarriage or premature birth.

10. Caffeine

Taking too much caffeine can increase your risk of pregnancy complications, such as premature birth, low birth weight, and even miscarriage.

You can have caffeine, but experts suggest limiting yourself to no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, or roughly 12 ounces of coffee, during pregnancy.

Caffeine is commonly found in coffee, tea and dark chocolate. It is also added to some soft drinks and energy drinks, so be aware of how much you’re having throughout the day when you’re pregnant.

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