When it comes to good health, managing your blood pressure is paramount to wellness. This couldn’t be truer for women during pregnancy. At pregnancy, your health equals your baby’s health. Blood pressure is also very delicate during pregnancy due to all the physiological changes taking place.
In some cases, pregnant women suffer from preeclampsia, a form of pregnancy associated hypertension in which you experience elevations of protein in the blood. Any fluctuations in your general state of well-being could have profound effects on the development of the fetus. It goes without saying that maintaining a healthy blood pressure should be one of your top considerations.
This is because your blood pressure both indicates your current state of health and also contributes to your current state of health. That is to say, an unhealthy blood pressure can be the result of poor health or a specific illness, while it can also cause poor health and illness. When it comes to pregnancy, fluctuations in blood pressure are important to keep an eye on, but how?
While your blood pressure reading has many contributing factors both over the long and short term, the most important one to look out for is quality of diet. In order to optimize your diet during pregnancy, there are certainly some great foods to look out for. Natural, whole foods rich in antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals should definitely be on the menu. Such foods typically contribute to a healthier state of being, and by extension, a healthy blood pressure. Aside from this, it’s even more important to know which foods to avoid as these can have negative consequences of your baby’s development. Here are a few foods to try to keep off your plate while you eat for two.
Top 5 Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Alcohol During Pregnancy
It’s pretty standard knowledge that alcohol during pregnancy is a no no. The consequences it can have on a developing baby can be dire. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a well-known risk in this regard. It can result in many physiological and developmental impediments in your newborn. Alcohol during pregnancy can also increase the risk of preterm birth, decreasing your newborn’s chances of survival and good quality of life.
Aside from these well-known risks, alcohol’s impact on healthy blood pressure can have a negative impact on fetal development. Alcohol has been shown to exhibit acute elevations blood pressure shortly after consumption. It also has long term effects on blood pressure due to its propensity to affect the liver and cause weight gain. With all this in mind, it’s not much of a choice, avoid any and all alcohol during pregnancy.
Excess Sugar and High Blood Pressure
Sugar is one of the leading causes of hypertensive conditions. Obesity and onset of type 2 diabetes are directly linked to excessive sugar consumption. Hypertension as a result of obesity or type two diabetes can lead to a significant decrease in quality of life and a lowered life expectancy.
Foods which may seem safe and even healthy, but contain a vast amount of sugar include 100% fruit juice, pure honey and dried fruit. In some cases, these foods contain more sugar than your typical added sugar processed food items.
Pregnant women should cut down on sugar and substitute with artificial sweeteners such as stevia.
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Salt and Sodium
High levels of sodium in the blood have been linked to increases in blood pressure as well as related kidney complications. This is because sodium, most commonly obtained through the consumption of salt and salty foods, affects the osmotic balance in the body. That means the way water is filtered through the kidneys is affected depending on salt/sodium levels. The more sodium in your blood, the more water is pulled into your blood vessels. This increases the pressure in your circulatory system, leading to hypertension.
Foods high in sodium include tomato preserves or concentrates such as canned tomatoes or tomato paste, salted butter, cheese and fast food to name a few.
A great way to decrease the strain high sodium values have on your blood pressure during pregnancy is to substitute with potassium-based table salts. Potassium is an essential mineral during pregnancy, so you’re curbing hypertension while also adding value to you and your baby’s health.
Trans Fat Foods
Trans fats are naturally occurring in small quantities, but when it comes to commercially produced processed foods, they are in morbid abundance. Trans fats are created through a process called hydrogenation which causes liquid fat (typically unsaturated fats) to solidify at room temperature. This has many useful applications in commercial food. It stabilizes packaged food for longer storage. It also enhances flavor and texture when used for frying.
Trans fats are a leading contributor to an increase in LDL cholesterol, often referred to as “bad cholesterol”. This form of cholesterol is known to cause cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis and hypertension.
Foods that contain high levels of trans fats also typically come packed with loads of salt and sugar. They are a highway to obesity and other metabolic stress conditions such as diabetes. Pregnant women should avoid these for the sake of their health and that of their baby.
Caffeine and Caffeinated Beverages
Caffeine is known to spike your heart rate, and a spike in heart rate usually results in an increase in blood pressure. While this effect is acute and not really chronic, constant fluctuations in blood pressure might not be a great idea for you and your baby.
Another way caffeine affects your health is its diuretic properties. Caffeibe decreases the amount of water in your body and can lead to dehydration. This is bad for you, but worse for your unborn child.
Decaf is the way to go. Also be weary of foods and drinks that may contain caffeine without you knowing.
High blood pressure during pregnancy can pose many risks to you and the baby you’re expecting. Being mindful of the foods you should and shouldn’t eat is one major responsibility, but also remember to check with your health care provider for any other indicators of hypertension including genetic ones.
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Alcohol and pregnancy.