Influence of the Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a sensitive period when the woman is required to take all necessary precautions. It is, therefore, necessary to adopt a correct diet and forget about diets.

However, it seems that the Mediterranean diet is adapted to this period. Indeed, it is a diet more than advantageous for the health of the future mother.

During pregnancy, it is recommended to take special care of your diet. In addition to foods that are prohibited or strongly discouraged because of the risk they pose to the future child, it is usually recommended to favor a varied and balanced diet that will provide the necessary elements to the body of the future mother and the growth of the baby.

Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but also whole grains, dairy products, proteins, and fats in reasonable quantities must therefore be an integral part of the diet of future mothers.

Why Is Mediterranean Diet Imposed During Pregnancy

Numerous studies confirm that the Mediterranean diet is the ideal dietary regimen for the protection of body and brain health.

The foods that make up the backbone of the Mediterranean diet are olive oil, fish, fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. It also provides for reduced intake of fat of animal origin and sugar.

This diet protects the heart, reduces the risk of cancer, and contributes to the smooth functioning of the intestine. According to the findings of a recent scientific study, it is also a “shield” against gestational diabetes, so women should follow it during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes affects almost 10% of women and poses risks for expectant mothers. The pregnant woman’s body does not produce enough insulin, resulting in a large increase in the baby’s weight, high blood pressure of the mother, the risk of preterm birth, and type 2 diabetes after childbirth.

The Mediterranean Diet In Pregnancy Reduces The Risk Of Gestational Diabetes

An interesting multicenter study conducted by a group of experts from different British research institutes has set itself the goal of evaluating the effects of a Mediterranean diet in pregnancy and evaluating its impacts.

In particular, the effects on 1,252 pregnant women from 5 hospitals in the city center of the United Kingdom, of a Mediterranean diet, supplemented with mixed nuts and extra virgin olive oil, randomly assigned, and routine prenatal care was observed.

Attention was focused on assessing the onset of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and complications to the offspring.

In general, women who followed the Mediterranean eating pattern significantly increased their consumption of nuts, olive oil, fish, white meat, and legumes and reduced their intake of red meat, butter or margarine compared to the usual care group.

A simple, individualized, Mediterranean-style diet in pregnancy did not reduce the overall risk of maternal complications and adverse offspring, but it did affect the reduction of gestational weight gain and the risk of gestational diabetes.

A Mediterranean Diet To Prevent Weight Gain during pregnancy

Conducted by researchers at Queens Mary University of London, the research involved pregnant women from diverse ethnicities and followed in maternity hospitals in England. Most of the women selected were obese (69%) or had hypertension.

The results show that a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of diabetes during pregnancy by 35% and gained an average of 1.25 kg less.

In contrast, the study has not shown evidence that a diet based on unsaturated fatty acids can reduce the risk of pregnancy-related complications, apart from gestational diabetes (a form of diabetes that usually occurs during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy).

The Mediterranean Diet Is Not Miraculous

Be careful, however, not to see the Mediterranean diet as a miracle solution. For women who already follow nutritional advice but still develop pregnancy diabetes, there is no evidence that following a Mediterranean diet brings more benefits, warns the nutritionist.

Indeed, some women have diabetes during their pregnancies because of hormonal changes specific to this particular period of life. Their diet may be perfectly balanced, but the only treatment for their hyperglycemia will remain insulin.

Moreover, the authors of the study do not exclude that the close nutritional monitoring enjoyed by women in the Mediterranean diet group played an important role. Being followed by a nutrition professional can already help decrease the risk of developing pregnancy diabetes.

Smaller Babies And Reduced Cardiometabolic Risk

To study the impact of the mother’s Mediterranean diet on the health of future children, the researchers followed more than 2,700 Spanish women residing in Asturias, Guipúzcoa, Sabadell, and Valencia.

All completed a questionnaire about their diet during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. In addition, the weight and height of their child were followed from birth to the age of 4 years. Other tests such as blood tests and blood pressure were also performed when the children were 4 years old.

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that the Mediterranean diet had positive consequences on the development of newborns. Pregnant women who followed this diet were 32% less likely to have overweight children at birth compared to those who did not.

Mothers who adhered less to the Mediterranean diet were younger, consumed more calories, and had a higher probability of smoking and a lower level of education and social, compared to women who followed the Mediterranean diet.

However, the study did not find a correlation between the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy and a reduction in cardiometabolic risk (blood pressure or cholesterol) during infancy. The effects on cardiometabolic risk could appear later in childhood.

The Benefits Of The Mediterranean Diet For Fertility

That adopting a healthy lifestyle is an excellent choice in relation to fertility is well known. Doing a healthy physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs, as well as avoiding exposure to pollution and toxic substances are very useful choices in view of a possible conception.

The adoption of a correct diet such as the Mediterranean diet is rightly among these good practices, as it allows you to maintain the right weight and avoid diseases that can reduce fertility.

However, according to recent scientific studies, the link between fertility and the Mediterranean diet would be even closer, particularly with regard to male fertility.

According to a study carried out by the University of Navarra in Spain, regular consumption of foods specific to the Mediterranean diet such as olive oil or vegetables would increase the chances of getting pregnant.

In this study, the researchers conclude that women who follow a Mediterranean diet would have less difficulty getting pregnant.

Two modes of feeding were taken into account: one rather Western and the other Mediterranean. The first diet consisted of red meat (high consumption), whole dairy products, potatoes, eggs, refined cereals, sauces, sodas, and the use of fast food. The Mediterranean diet contained: a large consumption of olive oil, vegetables, fish, fruits, lean dairy, and poultry instead of red meat.

Based on these two models, and after following these female volunteers for about six and a half years, the researchers found that women who followed the Mediterranean diet consulted less for fertility problems (in a report of 44% less) than women in the other group.

Complications of Childbirth

Two studies associated MD consumption with reduced complications during childbirth.

First, in the cohort study conducted by Saunders et al, it was hypothesized that adherence to MD decreases the risk of preterm birth but they only found relevant results in overweight or obese women.

In addition, in the second study, it was found that women who had followed an MD pattern were less likely to give birth by emergency Cesarean section as well as a lower probability of perineal trauma during childbirth. This reduction could be due to improvements in the evolution of childbirth or also to the reduction in the number of newborns with macrosomia.

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