Fiber and Pregnancy
What is fiber?
Fiber can be described as soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can come from fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, peas, barley, oats, and oats bran. Insoluble fiber can come from edible peel and seeds from fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, bulgur wheat, stone ground corn meal, cereals, bran, rolled oats, buckwheat, and brown rice.
Learn more at:
The University of California San Francisco Health (https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/increasing_fiber_intake/).
How does fiber benefit me?
Americans consume an average of 15 grams of fiber a day, which is 10 to 15 grams less than they should intake. Increasing fiber intake from food can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, constipation, and colon cancer. Soluble fiber can decrease blood cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar levels in diabetics, while insoluble fiber promotes normal bowel movements.
How does fiber benefit pregnant women?
Pregnant woman may at some point become constipated. In general, this issue can arrive from worry, anxiety, not exercising enough, and a low-fiber diet. Pregnant woman can become constipated from their hormones which may relax their intestines causing food and waste to slowly move through the bowels. Some iron tablets may also cause constipation and should be taken with plenty of water. Eating a high fiber diet can help prevent or treat constipation in pregnant women. The suggested amount is 25 to 30 grams per day of dietary fiber, in addition to drinking plenty of fluids.
Connection between mother’s fiber intake and the baby’s allergies.
A study conducted in Australia with 639 mother-infant pairs found that increased resistant starch in the mother’s diet was associated with reduced risk of infant wheeze and increased risk of eczema. (https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/8/1767/htm)
Previous research has found that children have a reduced risk of developing allergies when their mothers eat a diet rich in fish, fruit, vegetables, including specific nutrients (fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc, and antioxidants). These foods can act as immunomodulators. Immunomodulators are chemicals that modify the immune response. They can stimulate antibody formation or prevent white blood cell function. These foods may also provide immunoprotective benefits through their interaction with the gut microbiome. Immunoprotective benefits are defined as protection from the affects of an antigen. Inflammation can be an affect of exposure to an antigen (an unknown substance), indicating these foods can reduce or prevent inflammation.
Researchers in this study focused in on dietary fiber due to its health benefits in reducing inflammatory diseases: cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and other malignancies. Dietary fiber can include soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, prebiotics, and resistant starch. Dietary fibers play a role in immune development. Their role is not entirely understood, but some research does show that dietary fiber promotes a diverse microbiome which in turn interacts with the immune system.
This study found that mothers who had infants with wheezing consumed less soluble fiber, less fruit fiber sources, and less resistant starch. The study also found that mothers who had higher intake of resistant starch, carbohydrate, total dietary fiber, soluble fiber, dietary fiber in grains, fiber from gluten rich foods, and fiber from green vegetables reported increased infant doctor diagnosed eczema. The researchers note that this finding was unexpected and that the study was limited because they did not take detailed feeding information for the infants. This limitation is being studied with two other trials that are trying to determine the effects maternal dietary fiber and prebiotics may have on breast milk composition and if they may influence infant allergies.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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