Friday, December 31, 2010

Daily Diet: Healthy Beverage Choices During Pregnancy

By now every woman should know that alcohol is verboten while pregnant and caffeinated beverages should be minimized or avoided. But recent data also shows that diet soft drinks can increase the risk of premature births. So what’s a mother-to-be to do?

Keeping hydrated while pregnant is important. HealthNews “Bringing in Baby” columnists Constance Rock & Aleksandra Evanguelidi encourage clients to get plenty of good quality hydration. The ideal quantity of fluid ounces for each pregnant woman to consume is at least 50-75 percent of their body weight in ounces of good quality water and herbal teas. So, if a woman is 150 pounds before pregnancy, she should be drinking a minimum of 75-100 ounces of fluid a day. That’s a lot of liquid.

Here are a few of the Do’s and Don’ts:

DO drink plenty of water. It can be still or carbonated, flavored or plain. In fact, given the amount of water you should be drinking, it might be nice to switch it up now and then. Hot water with lemon in the morning, flavored seltzer in the afternoon. (Check out my recent post "Summer Soda Substitute," which provides easy recipes for flavored syrups to add to your sparkling water. ) Throw in the occasional coconut water, full of electrolytes, fat free, cholesterol free and full of potassium, it can also be beneficial to digestion.

DON’T drink coffee, black or green teas, caffeinated sodas. Caffeine not only blocks iron absorption, but it leaches calcium from your blood. Both iron and calcium are vital for growing a healthy baby and they’re vital to your health and longevity.

DO drink decaffeinated and herbal coffees and teas. You can enjoy the flavor of coffee by drinking decaf coffee, but in moderation. Processing removes most of the caffeine from coffee beans, but not all, same with decaf teas. Herbal teas are a great alternative, particularly ginger or mint tea—which can be helpful with nausea— and chamomile tea—which can be calming.

DON’T drink sugar-filled beverages: sodas, juices. Decreasing refined sugars during pregnancy is good for you and your baby.

DO drink 100% juices. Organic or fresh-pressed is best, but if you don’t have a juicer—or the time and energy—focus on fresh refrigerated juices at your grocery store, or those that say 100% juice.

DON’T drink alcohol. This includes wine, beer and hard alcohol. Alcohol is dangerous in pregnancy, but its danger is due to the fact that alcohol can produce fetal abnormalities in the developing child, as well as miscarriage. Also be wary of kombucha—a fermented tea— which has actually has an alcohol content due to the fermentation. While it is low, usually .5%, it can be as high as 3%, similar to some beer.

DO drink milk products—cold or warmed (with a drop of vanilla extract). Due to the saturated fat in whole milk, you should stick to skim or nonfat milk, but try to get in three 8-ounce glasses of milk or other calcium and protein-rich dairy products each day. Yogurt is a good substitute, either on its own or in smoothies. Fresh fruit, yogurt and ice smoothies are a good source of calcium, vitamins and essential nutrients. Milkshakes are another milk-based beverage that you can enjoy, but beware the high sugar content. (NOTE: Milkshakes and smoothies are often recommended prior to bedtime to keep the hunger at bay and reduce morning sickness.)

DON’T forget to look at nutritional labels on all beverages, particularly those labeled “energy” or “functional.” Oftentimes there are large amounts of caffeine and sugar which should be avoided.

And for a nice soothing treat, try a Bowl of Soul:

1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 chammomile tea bag
1 tablespoon honey

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