National Nutrition Week: Nutritional Requirements Of Pregnant Women In India
A mother is a child’s first friend, teacher, and companion. She starts nourishing her unborn baby as soon as she conceives. Since the unborn baby gets nutrition from his mother, it becomes imperative for pregnant women to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
From the time of conception to birth, all nutrients fed to the mother are supplied to the child; that becomes the only source of nourishment for the foetus.
An intake of 600 kcal, along with 23 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat and a dose and host of micronutrients are essential for mother and child, to undergo a healthy delivery and achieve a healthier post-delivery health.
Mother and child also need macronutrients. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein and fats; fats should come from sources which are staple, with no preservative, and organic to the region.
Avocado is an excellent food option for pregnant women staying in urban areas, ghee (clarified butter) is an equally good option for pregnant women staying in rural or even urban areas. Pregnant women can get complete protein requirement from dairy and meat products. Eggs, pulses, nuts are few of the easily available food options for pregnant women.
Intake of carbohydrates is important for pregnant women. Best recommended food items, rich in carbohydrates are whole grains that have undergone minimum processing. Plain milled grains are preferred over packaged wheat flakes and muesli, which are heavily packed with preservatives to increase shelf-life.
Using a good mix of all grains is also crucial. Studies show that immunoglobulins are transferred from a mother to a foetus, from the time of conception. Thus consumption of a variety of grains, only helps in strengthening of the unborn child’s immunity.
Ragi, jowar, quinoa and their counterpart- amaranth, bajri, kondri/kodo, apart from wheat also make a great option for carbohydrate intake. Additionally, legumes, pulses, and sprouts add to the list, as a source of complex carbohydrate.
For maximum benefits, fats must be chosen smartly. Ghee has been used by our ancestors for decades; it acts as lubricant to joints, burns stubborn fat, adds glow to the mother’s skin during pregnancy and makes a baby’s skin soft. According to ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) around 30-35 grams of ghee consumption is ideal for Indian women.
Image source: https://4.imimg.com/data4/
Add ghee, or butter, to daily meals for healthy fat consumption and for EPA and DHA required for child’s bones, brain, and cell formation.
Intake of micronutrients are even more important; they are usually present in easily available foods items. One just needs to choose smartly. A salad bowl of boiled amaranth grains with paneer, lettuce, mushroom; with olive oil dressing, and garnished with parsley and peppercorn is a great source of calcium, potassium, antioxidants, polyphenols, and beta carotene compounds! These nutrients provide excellent health benefits to pregnant women.
Micronutrients like Iron, folic acid, B12 and B6 are essential for RBC formation, bone development, muscular structure, and brain development. Deficiency of micronutrients has been believed to cause deformities of the lip, palate, spine; stunted growth and even low immunity from birth to the infancy.
Water intake too is of great importance, since no muscle or tissue build up is complete without it. At least 3 litres of water intake is a must for pregnant women.
Kejal Sheth is a Nutritionist, and Founder and Managing Director of Nutrivity. She is also a health council member at healthhunt.