January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and a well-balanced diet is more important than ever to help ensure expectant mothers deliver healthy babies.
That’s because what you eat during your pregnancy affects the development of your baby, including the teeth, according to MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s consumer website.
A baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of the pregnancy. This means a sufficient quantity of nutrients — especially vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorus — are needed.
According to the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a balanced diet should include:
· Fruits and vegetables: Combined, these should be half of what you eat every day.
· Grains: Half of the grains consumed should be whole grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
· Dairy: Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods.
· Lean proteins: Choices include lean beef, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans, peas and legumes.
In addition, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center has compiled a list of tips to follow during pregnancy.
· Eat fewer foods high in sugar, including candy, cookies, cake and dried fruit.
· Drink water or milk, and consume fewer beverages high in sugar, including juice, fruit-flavored drinks or soft drinks.
· For snacks, choose foods low in sugar such as fruits, vegetables, cheese and unsweetened yogurt.
· If you have trouble with nausea, try eating small amounts of health foods throughout the day.
· Drink water, especially fluoridated water, throughout the day and between meals and snacks.
· To reduce the risk of birth defects, get 600 micrograms of folic acid each day throughout your pregnancy. Take dietary supplement of folic acid and eat foods high in folate and foods fortified with folic acids. These include asparagus, broccoli, leafy green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach, legumes, papaya, tomato juice, oranges, strawberries, bananas, and grain products.
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