The Foods That Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy

Foods that can cause harm to the growing fetus and mother

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This Topic Covers the Answers to the Following Questions
  1. What is food poisoning?
  2. What are teratogens and which food substances are teratogenic?
  3. What is pasteurization?
  4. List all the foods that should be avoided during the pregnancy?

The Foods That Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy

Today we will have a discussion on all the foods that should be avoided during the pregnancy, especially during the first trimester (i.e., earlier 3 months) of pregnancy. Eating a wide variety of foods including fruits and vegetables is good for health, however, in some cases the foods we eat cause interactions inside our body leading to food poisoning.

Food Poisoning is a series of interactions that occurs inside our body after eating contaminated, spoiled, or a portion of toxic food. Food Poisoning is quite harmful to the growing baby too along with the mother. Specific care should be taken by the baby-carrying mother while choosing the food to eat.

The most common adverse effects of food poisoning are –

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Harm to the fetus if left untreated

We will discuss ‘Food Poisoning and Its Effects on the Body’ later in our next articles.

Not only food poisoning but there are also substances named ‘Teratogens’ which are rarely found in food substances that can cause harm to the growing fetus. A teratogen is a substance or an agent that causes birth defects in a developing child. Teratogens either directly cause birth defects or increase the incidence of birth defects in the growing child.

Mothers should stay away from teratogenic substances during the phase of organ development of the child. If they get exposed to teratogens during organ development, then that results in devastating effects on organs leading to organ abnormalities.

The most commonly available teratogenic substances or agents are –

  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • Tobacco
  • Ibuprofen

We will be discussing ‘Teratogenecity and Its Effects on the Growing Child’ in our forthcoming articles.

Teratogenic substances are everywhere, in the foods we eat, and in the air we breathe. These substances are extremely found in prescription medicines, recreational drugs (marijuana), in chemicals that we use in our daily life. Sometimes, the infections of the mother also lead to teratogenicity (the process of body organs deforming).


Hope you come to know about food poisoning and teratogenicity, now we will discuss the foods that should be kept aside during the pregnancy –


Unripe Papaya

Unripe and Ripe Papaya

There is a lot of difference between the word ‘Ripe‘ and ‘Un-Ripe‘. Eating ripe papaya fruit is absolutely safe not only for normal people but also for pregnant ladies.

Ripe papaya contains the following constituents that are extremely required for a pregnant woman

  • Beta-carotene – This is inactivated pro-vitamin A carotenoid that gets converted to Vitamin A (retinol) inside the body. It has powerful antioxidant properties.
  • Choline – It is essential for normal body functions and vital activities. It is considered necessary for proper liver function, muscle movement, and normal brain development.
  • Fiber – Everyone knows that fiber helps in proper digestion by creating pressure and eliminating the excretory waste from the body. Also helpful to patients with a health issue of constipation.
  • Folate – Essential for certain vital body functions. Helps in raising Hemoglobin levels of blood inside the body.
  • Potassium – required for proper muscle contractions and relaxations. Also essential for heart functions and bone development.
  • Vitamins A, B, &  C – Necessary for normal functioning of different body organs.

All these constituents are generally required during pregnancy.

Whereas, Unripe papaya fruit contains the following constituents that are not considered good for a pregnant lady.

  • Latex – A harmful substance to pregnant ladies.
  • Papain – It is a proteolytic enzyme that breaks down the proteins into peptides and amino acids. It helps in digestion and also has the property of analgesic (reduce pain) and anti-inflammatory (reduce inflammation).


Why unripe papaya fruit is not good for pregnant women?

The latex which is in high quantity in unripe papaya fruits has the tendency of triggering marked uterine contractions in women. If uterine contractions occur in pregnant women who are in the first trimester (3 months), then it leads to miscarriage. Latex is usually a common allergen that can lead to dangerous reactions.

Another substance called ‘Papain’ which is a proteolytic enzyme is also considered embryotoxic in nature, as it weakens the vital membranes of the fetus thereby leading to miscarriage. The papain is mistreated as prostaglandin and oxytocin which is naturally produced inside the body to induce labor during delivery. Thus, the presence of papain inside the body will be misrecognized as the presence of prostaglandin and oxytocin thereby resulting in miscarriage.

Thus, unripe papaya fruits are not good for pregnant women.


Caffeinated Drinks

Caffeinated Drinks

Caffeinated drinks are the drinks that contain Caffeine in it as the main constituent. Caffeine up to some extent is good for both normal people and pregnant women. However, if the limit is crossed then it may lead to harmful effects on the body.

Everyone loves to have cups of tea and coffee daily. It is recommended for a pregnant woman that the limit of 200mg caffeine per day should not be crossed. The other products that are rich in caffeine are soft drinks, chocolates, and cocoa butter.

Caffeine is rapidly absorbed through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and reaches the placenta crossing the barriers. The enzyme which metabolizes the caffeine will be not found in the growing child. Thus, the caffeine gets deposited and builds up inside the baby.

This accumulation of caffeine restricts the growth of the baby and thus the baby will be born with less birth weight. Sometimes high caffeine poisoning may even lead to the death of the fetus. In the majority of cases, the baby born with low birth weight will not survive or else will have chronic diseases in adulthood.

So make sure to have caffeinated drinks in limited quantities so that the baby doesn’t get exposed to high quantities of caffeine and please avoid energy drinks with high quantities of caffeine such as red bull as they increase the risk of Arrhythmias and Heart failure. Patients with a history of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and Heart attacks should avoid caffeine-containing products.




Alcohol consumption is bad for everyone. Drinking alcohol is injurious to health and the primary organ which gets affected is the Liver. Alcohol should be avoided by the ladies who are pregnant or willing to become pregnant.

Alcohol diffuses through the membranes and reaches the placenta, and it halts the process of brain development in the growing child.

Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy leads to ‘Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)‘ which is characterized by

  • Facial deformities during the development process
  • Defects in the heart during the development process
  • Improper brain development and intellectual disability

Even a small amount of alcohol halts the process of body organs development of the baby. Thus, alcohol consumption should be completely stopped by the pregnant lady for the sake of the baby growing inside. The chances of miscarriage and stillbirth are more with the consumption of alcohol.



PineapplePineapple is one of the most widely eaten fruits all around the world. Pine Apple has wide variety of constituents that help a lot in vital functions of the body. The fruit pineapple is originated from South America.

Pineapple is a rich source of the following –

  • Vitamins (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, and Vitamin C)
  • Minerals (Copper, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium, and Iron)
  • Carbohydrates
  • Antioxidants (Flavonoids and Phenolic acids)
  • Fiber

Consuming a pineapple will provide the following benefits –

  • Boost your immunity is it is a rich source of Vitamin C.
  • Helps in fighting oxidative stress as it contains a large amount of anti-oxidants.
  • The enzymes found in the pineapple ease digestion process.
  • The antioxidants help in relieving oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby useful in cancer therapy.
  • Vitamins, minerals, and enzymes like Bromelain collectively boost the immunity and suppress the inflammation.
  • Due to anti-inflammatory properties of pineapple, it eases symptoms of arthritis.

Despite of all the benefits of Pineapple, it should be consumed in very less quantities during the pregnancy. The 2 reasons why pineapple should consumed in limit during pregnancy are as follows –

  • Pineapple contains the enzymes named Bromelain which is known to cause softening of the cervix leading to unsuccessful labor or miscarriage.
  • Pineapple when consumed heats up your body very quickly thereby causing abortion or premature birth.

Thus, pineapple should be consumed in considerable amount during the pregnancy.


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