Here’s how high intake of salt and low-fiber diet can affect women during pregnancy

A lot is said about a "pregnancy diet". But the basics are to avoid eating a low-fiber diet and consuming too much salt.
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Diet matters when you're pregnant. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 13 Jan 2023, 20:30 pm IST
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Eating right is always recommended, but during pregnancy, diet becomes even more important. You can’t eat junk foods one after the other if you want to have a healthy baby. Going for leafy greens is great. But while picking vegetables and fruits, ensure to make your meals rich in fibre. Another important thing to remember is salt intake. Yes, it might seem like a minor thing, but the fact is that too much salt during pregnancy can do more harm than good. So, adding extra salt to your dish or having foods with a lot of salt in them, is a big no.

Be it eggs or beans, there are many nutritious foods that you can eat during your pregnancy. Health Shots contacted Deepti Lokeshappa, senior consultant, nutritionist and dietitian, Motherhood Hospital, Indiranagar, Bengaluru, to find out how eating too much salt and less fiber affects a woman’s health during pregnancy.

pregnancy diet
Watch your salt intake during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How too much salt can affect pregnant women?

It is a known fact that without salt, our bodies become unresponsive after a certain period, especially during pregnancy. Swelling across face, hands, legs, ankles and feet is one of the most common problems faced by pregnant women. However, eating extra salt during pregnancy could worsen edema (swelling) as excess fluid is trapped in your body’s tissues, says Lokeshappa.

What high-salt diets during pregnancy can do –

• It can lead to maternal hypertension
• It can cause cardiovascular illnesses.
• It can raise your blood pressure and make it more likely for your child to become hypertensive.

Food items that contain a high quantity of salt

1. Bread

Bread is a common breakfast option as you can have it with eggs or fries or just peanut butter and jam. It turns out that just one white slice of bread has nearly 150 mg of salt. At first glance, that might not seem like much, but eating bread at every meal makes it too much.

pregnancy diet
Avoid food items that are high in salt. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Sauce

What you put in your food can also have a big impact on how much salt you consume. Each tablespoon of barbecue sauce and ketchup contains a good amount of salt.

3. Cereals

The bowl of cereal you eat in the morning may taste sweeter than salty, yet some cereals are salty (healthy breakfast cereal). For instance, oatmeal with flavour and brown sugar. These high sodium sources also include a sizable amount of salt.

How much salt is safe for consumption in a pregnancy diet?

To lower blood pressure, health experts have long advised people to consume less salt. More than 7 grams of sodium per day is too much for people with high blood pressure, so they should limit their intake. Minerals like sodium are essential, says Lokeshappa. But to avoid a few health issues, health organisations normally advise healthy persons to keep their daily sodium intake to under 2,300 mg (about one teaspoon of salt).

Effect of too much salt on unborn child

Salt plays a crucial part in helping to manage and maintain your body fluid when you’re pregnant since your body fluid levels alter to support the development of your unborn child. Blood pressure can be negatively impacted by a high salt intake. Your kidneys will get affected by salt, which causes the body to retain water. Greater blood volume because of the excess fluid can raise blood pressure. So, a diet with less salt during pregnancy can help in maintaining blood pressure in a healthy range. It can lower the risks of stroke and heart issues.

Fiber and pregnant women

Eating fiber-rich foods is good as they have several health benefits. During pregnancy, such foods lower a pregnant woman’s risk of developing diabetes, preeclampsia and constipation. For expectant mothers, dietary fiber offers several advantages. It promotes healthy digestion during pregnancy, supplies vital nutrients like vitamin B groups, aids in managing pregnancy weight gain, promotes optimal blood glucose control, prevents constipation, guards against cardiovascular disease while pregnant, and delays the onset of allergies in later childhood. So, improper fiber intake may not provide the same benefits.

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Fiber-rich foods to eat during pregnancy

1. Beans

In salads, soups and stews, beans are a simple way to sneak fiber into your diet. Even some beans like edamame make a fantastic fiber-rich snack.

2. Broccoli

This vegetable is rich in many nutrients in addition to fiber. Cauliflower, cabbage, and kale are also some of the good options you can go for.

3. Berries

Berries are popularised for their antioxidant properties, but they also contain a lot of fiber.

4. Dried fruits

Dried fruits like prunes and dates can significantly increase your fiber intake.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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