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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Know what’s healthy

Dr Anjali Mukerjee, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, June 25, 2013
First Published: 16:49 IST(25/6/2013) | Last Updated: 17:10 IST(25/6/2013)

I am three-months pregnant. What type of diet should I have in the coming months and should it change with every semester. Also, can I continue eating non-vegetarian foods like seafood and red meat? Will it affect the baby or give me any kind of infection or allergy?
When pregnant, a woman must take care of her diet as it is crucial that the body has the necessary nutrients, energy and strength to make it through pregnancy with good health. Approximately, 2,000-3,000 calories a day is recommended for a mother weighing about 50 kg, and if your weight is more, then on an average, 2,500 calories per day is required. The quality and source of calories is of more importance than the number of calories taken. A typical diet would include two cups of milk, curd or paneer, and cereals if required, two cups of pulses, two servings of eggs or fish (vegetarians may include soy and soy products), three servings of leafy vegetables and two servings of fruits. Limit the intake of sugar, refined foods (like maida and maida products), saturated fats and salt. Avoid alcohol, nicotine, drugs and caffeine. The body’s nutrient requirement varies with every trimester, so emphasise on iron and calcium-rich foods like leafy vegetables, dairy products, dates, jaggery and pumpkin seeds, among others, during the second and third trimester.You may include non-vegetarian foods in your diet, but in moderate quantities. If you have a past history of allergies to seafood, then avoid it. If not, then eat it in moderation.

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I’ve been told that organic foods help retain enzymes, vitamins and minerals in the body. Is this true?
Yes, since the extent of processing involved is minimal (fewer artificial methods, no chemical ripening, no food irradiation and no genetically modified ingredients), nutrients are not destroyed and their subsequent absorption in the body may be better (among organic foods) than those produced with conventional methods. Research shows that organic foods are richer in micro-nutrients and mineral content. For example, chromium was found to be higher in organic foods by an average of 78 per cent and selenium, an antioxidant, was found to be an average of 390 per cent higher in organic foods.

As children have milk teeth, which eventually fall off, most parents allow their kids to eat chocolates and sugary products. Do they affect a child’s teeth and gums?
Milk teeth have an important spacing function for the alignment and positioning of the permanent teeth (dental development). If they are lost prematurely through decay or dental infections, it can lead to alignment problems. Each time a child consumes food and drinks that contain sugars or starches such as chocolates, the food particles tend to
remain on the grooves and in between the teeth, thus producing plaque. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack their teeth for 20 minutes or more. Hence a proper dental care should start as soon as the first milk tooth appears. Parents should, therefore, discourage excessive chocolate-eating. Also, children can only learn correct pronunciation with a complete set of milk teeth.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.


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