Preeclampsia in pregnancy is a serious condition which affects 5 – 7% of pregnant women, and most often they are first time mothers. Although there is no cure for this condition, proper monitoring once it is detected is a must. No one knows what causes preeclampsia; however significant research carried out for this condition indicates that poor nutrition plays a role in the genesis and onset of this alarmingly common condition of pregnancy. Although preeclampsia has no symptoms and can strike rapidly, there are generally a number of warning signs one should be on the lookout for. They include the following :
- Protein in urine
- Sudden weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Excessive swelling or oedema
- Headaches, dizziness or fainting
- Ringing in the ears
Protein in the urine is one of the first signs of preeclampsia. Although this makes one think that there is excess protein in the pregnant woman’s body, the reverse is actually true. A pregnant women who does not have enough protein in her diet, will have her body tissues being broken down to provide protein for the growth of her baby. The daily requirement of protein for a pregnant woman is 80 to 100 gms. per day, and this should come from whey protein, beans, peas, nuts, eggs, whole milk dairy products and cheese, fish like salmon, wheat grass, aloe vera juice and of course animal meat for those who are non – vegetarian. It needs be mentioned here that it is always better, and wiser, to choose meat which are organic, free range and grass fed for the sake of the animal, as well as to avoid feeding unnecessary antibiotics and other chemicals to the growing baby.
Eating these foods on a regular basis will not only cut out protein deficiency problems, but will also ensure intake of other vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that are crucial for the healthy development of the foetus.
Apart from these, calcium and magnesium supplements need to be taken regularly. Epsom salt baths enables extra magnesium absorption. Calcium rich foods include most types of greens, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, figs, vegetables like turnips, broccoli etc.
A lot of filtered water should be taken by the pregnant woman to flush out toxins and keep the kidnies functioning well. Research indicates that a healthy diet, which includes key essential nutrients and minerals, can prevent the onset of preeclampsia in pregnancy. A study by the University of Pittsburgh concluded that women with vitamin D deficiency are more likely to develop preeclampsia. Healthy levels of vitamin D can be included in diets consisting of fortified milk or soya milk, fatty fish like salmon and herring, cheese, yoghurt and of course vitamin D supplements.
One study, published by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggests that selenium (a trace mineral) deficiency is a common culprit in the nutritional causes of preeclampsia in pregnancy, Hence women who are at risk for preeclampsia should maintain adequate intake of selenium, found in brazil nuts, eggs, cereals, tuna etc.
However, even if everything is done right nutritionally, it is still very important to monitor blood pressure and urine protein and it is important to remain vigilant as preeclampsia in pregnancycan suddenly and very quickly turn into a very dangerous, life threatening condition.
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