Categories: Conditions

11 foods forbidden in pregnancy


Discover the 11 foods forbidden in pregnancy.

Pregnancy is one of the most important stages in a woman’s life and plays a crucial role in the proper development and growth of the child, both inside and outside the womb.

If you are going to be a mother, you should pay special attention to your diet and therefore make a special focus in the following article, where we will talk about which foods can be dangerous for your health and that of your baby and why.

What foods should not be eaten during pregnancy?

There is an extensive list, where a wide variety of factors influence the determination of which foods to avoid during the gestation period. Here is a list where the reasons are also included.


1. Unwashed food

It is always important to wash fruits and vegetables well before consuming them, but this habit becomes even more important during pregnancy.

Note: Some bacteria, such as Salmonella, E. Coli, or Listeria, and parasites such as Toxoplasma, can lodge on the skin of these fresh foods that are usually eaten raw.

The presence of these pathogens can infect the mother and she transmits the infection through the placenta to the baby, who can present symptoms both at birth and later in life.


Perhaps the most serious infection is caused by Toxoplasma, a parasite that frequently causes premature birth and damages various aspects of the child’s health: the eyes, ears, nervous system, etc.  (2)

Note: To avoid the risk of contamination, food should be washed, skin removed, and, if necessary, cooked before consumption. In this way, any traces of harmful microorganisms will be greatly reduced.

2. Caffeinated drinks

Caffeine consumption can be dangerous during pregnancy since this psychoactive substance is absorbed very quickly and is very likely to cross the placenta and reach the fetus.


To highlight: According to several studies, drinking large amounts of caffeine during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature labor, and stillbirth. (3)

Likewise, excessive caffeine consumption has been associated with a restriction of fetal growth and a higher incidence of low birth weight, which increases the risk of infant mortality and the appearance of chronic diseases in adulthood (4).

For this reason, it is recommended that pregnant women limit their caffeine consumption to 100-200 mg per day, that is, approximately 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day.

3. Unpasteurized dairy and fruit juices


Fresh dairy products, such as milk and cheese, as well as untreated fruit juices, can contain harmful microorganisms that cause infections in the pregnant mother and the fetus. (5)

Some of these organisms include bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, or E. coli, as well as various parasites and viruses.

There are several methods to destroy these populations of microbes, but the most effective is pasteurization since it does not modify the composition and qualities of the food. (6)

To highlight: If you are pregnant and are a lover of milk or juices, make sure to consume these products only pasteurized.


4. Processed meat, raw or undercooked

The same bacteria and parasites in fresh fruits and vegetables, also typically found in meat raw or undercooked meat and processed. (7)

The best known is the Toxoplasma parasite, which, as I have previously indicated, causes eye problems and damages the baby’s nervous system.

A pregnant woman should not consume chopped and shredded meat, hamburgers, minced meat, whether pork, beef, or poultry, if it is not fully cooked. (8)


To highlight: The meats, cooked meats, and processed meats, in general, are only safe when heated until steam.

5. Raw sprouts

Like any other fresh vegetable, raw sprouts can harbor certain types of bacteria such as Salmonella (9).

The difference is that washing and rinsing these vegetables does not eliminate pathogenic microorganisms, as these tend to lodge in the seeds.


Note: If you are pregnant and want to consume these foods, you can do it after they are cooked.

6. Organ types of meat

Generally, organ meats, that is, meat from organs, is one of the most nutritious and healthy meats that exist. Liver meat, for example, is extremely rich in vitamin B12, copper, vitamin A, vitamin B2, and protein. (10)

However, a pregnant woman is extremely sensitive to the lack or excess of some nutrients and, in this case, the high content of vitamin A and copper from foods of animal origin can cause malformations in the fetus. (11)


Note: During pregnancy, try to limit the consumption of organ meat to once a week to avoid an excessive increase in blood levels of vitamin A and copper.

7. Raw or undercooked fish

The fish raw or undercooked e s another great source of pathogenic bacteria and parasites that can transmit infections only to the pregnant mother or her baby also. (12)

Although many microorganisms are housed in fish, perhaps one of the most prominent is the Listeria bacteria, since pregnant women have a 17 times greater risk of contracting an infection by this microorganism. (13)


To highlight: Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, intrauterine growth restriction, premature delivery, inflammation of the placental membranes, and fetal death in utero. (14)

Experts recommend avoiding raw fish and shellfish during pregnancy, so if you love sushi you should make an effort to protect your health and that of your child.

8. Alcohol

Some confirm that mild alcohol intake during pregnancy does not have negative effects on the development of the child, although the scientific evidence proving otherwise is indisputable.


Important: When a pregnant mother drinks alcohol, it can cross the placenta and reach the fetus, which carries a series of fatal consequences in the baby’s life.

Many studies have associated alcohol consumption during pregnancy with an increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and sudden infant death syndrome. (15)


Similarly, the fact that a pregnant woman drinks alcohol can cause what is known as fetal alcohol syndrome, a disorder acquired by the fetus and whose most common symptoms include (16) :

• Low weight and height at birth.


• Mental retardation.

• Deformations on the face.

• Emotional and behavioral problems.

• Heart defects


9. Foods with raw eggs

The preparation and preparation of food with raw eggs presents a high risk of Salmonella infection in the pregnant mother.

If it becomes infected and acquires some type of salmonellosis, the risk of stillbirth and premature delivery increases considerably. (17)

Note: Foods considered high risk for having raw eggs include, to name a few: poached eggs, homemade mayonnaise, glazes, salad dressings, and many others.


You must get used to reading the labels of the products you buy to make sure 100% of not consuming a portion of food with raw eggs. However, most of the products marketed contain pasteurized eggs and do not present risks.

10. Fish exposed to mercury

Some types of fish can contain significant amounts of mercury from living in waters contaminated with this metal.

To highlight: In general, large species of fish, such as tuna, shark, mackerel, or swordfish, that feed on other fish are prone to accumulating certain contaminants such as mercury. (18)


According to the World Health Organization, maternal consumption of mercury-contaminated fish can damage the baby’s brain and nervous system during growth, negatively affecting (19) :

• Memory.

• Cognitive thinking.

• Language.


• Capacity of concentration.

• Motor and spatial-visual skills.

However, it must be borne in mind that other types of fish, such as fatty fish, do not have mercury contamination and their high content of omega 3 is very important for the health of the baby.

11. Processed foods


The processed food is made with refined ingredients and contains artificial substances like additives, flavorings, stabilizers, and preservatives, among others.

They are packed with calories, sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and barely contain essential nutrients like vitamins, protein, and fiber.

Its consumption in excess contributes to a myriad of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, or cancer.

To highlight: Excessive weight gain during pregnancy increases the risk of developing gestational diabetes and can lead to complications in childbirth and throughout the pregnancy. (20)


Key takeaways

• The gestation period is an extremely important stage for both the woman and the developing child, so it is important to take great care of the process and reduce risks.

• There are foods that, based on different factors, such as their nature or their constant exposure to microorganisms, could contribute external agents and pathogens to the mother and her child, so they should be avoided during the gestation period.

• Washing and cooking food well is the key to reducing risks during this stage.

• The consequences of poor food handling and contamination or disease could bring irreversible physical and cognitive damage to the child.


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