By Karishma Chawla
During pregnancy, the body goes through many physical changes and so does the skin at times. As much as these skin issues and their severities may be subjective, it would still be a good idea to consider the right nutrition demands during pregnancy.
Most common skin problems experienced during pregnancy are:
- Stretch marks
- Varicose veins
- Linea nigra
Most of these are due to hormone changes but can be arrested, prevented or managed with right nutrients and self-care techniques. It is important to eat foods that enhance immunity, have anti-inflammatory properties and reduce unwanted cravings.
Focus on consuming the following during pregnancy:
- Lots of high quality protein like lean meat, eggs, low fat dairy and plant protein like legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Large amounts of vegetables, especially green ones.
- Healthy fats like omega 3 (flaxseed, walnut, chia seeds, mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna and high quality fish oil supplements and coconut oil, have anti- inflammatory properties.
- Other high nutrient foods like homemade bone broth, soups, fermented veggies like homemade sauerkraut, fruits and green smoothies.
Avoid foods that cause inflammation and that are equally harmful for the baby:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Trans fat- packaged foods
- BPA and plastic containers
- High fructose corn syrup
- Artificial colours in foods
A high intake of sugar can worsen pigmentation issues and increase cravings. Sugar stimulates appetite. Here’s some “sugar” for thought:
- 1 cup tomato sauce – 11 gm of sugar
- 1 cup vanilla ice-cream – 28 gm of sugar
- 1 medium blueberry muffin- 37 gm sugar
Avoiding sugar helps to prevent blood sugar spikes and hence pigmentation. Therefore, consuming whole grains, fiber rich fruits and veggies, and a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats would be the right thing to do!
Managing cravings is imperative. Remember that a few cravings are justified due to estrogen and testosterone fluctuations during pregnancy. But the bigger cause of cravings is faulty eating habits. Instead of giving away the power to these cravings, deal with them with mindfulness, knowing when to eat, how much to eat and have the ability to stop when satiated, rather than full.
It is important to be aware of any food allergies that can further trigger skin infections. The best would be to avoid the allergens known. And if not, try avoiding the common allergens such as soy, wheat, dairy, nuts, sea food and eggs to investigate if any.
Acne can be an outcome for a low water, fiber intake and compromised gut health. Ensure that you have three litres of fluid a day, consume adequate fiber (2 fruits + 2 servings salad + 2 servings veggies preferably green). You can add prunes if you’re suffering from constipation.
Remember to see a health care provider, if required. This article covers the nutrition aspect of the skin problems and is not an alternative therapy to any treatment provided by a doctor.
(The writer is a nutritionist.)