You may have heard that fiber helps in reducing one problem that plagues most pregnant women which is constipation. This causes most pregnant women to ask, why is it essential to take fiber? The body cannot even use it, so what is its function, especially for a pregnant woman?
Choosing to eat fiber rich diets during pregnancy is one of the best choices you can make. Fiber helps to prevent pregnancy side effects like constipation, heartburn, indigestion, hemorrhoids as well as pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Pregnant women who need to consume about 2000 calories should add about 0.06 Pounds (28 grams) of fiber to their diet.
Fiber serves as the coordinator of the digestive system. It handles the affair of the stomach so diligently thereby making everything run smoothly. When you have enough supply of fiber, constipation during pregnancy will sound strange to your ears. Care to find out more interesting facts about adding fiber to your diet during pregnancy?
Here is what fiber does.
During pregnancy, a lot of changes occur in the body. For example, the immune system becomes weaker making it easy for pregnant women to get infections, while the kidney becomes stronger, stabilizing salt intake in the body.
Also, during pregnancy, the uterus begins to create more room for accommodation and this puts pressure on the digestive tract, leading to an increase of progesterone which is known as a muscle relaxant. This, in turn, weakens (relaxes) the bowel muscles and makes the whole digestive process very slow and as a result, wastes that should normally leave the body as soon as they are turned into waste now stays longer.
The longer they stay, the harder it is for them to leave because they become harder due to the fact that they cannot absorb water at this time. This is where fiber comes in to save the day.
It is a known fact that fiber cannot be absorbed by the body, but that does not make it useless; it is actually what helps the other nutrients play their own roles. What does it do? It moves through the body making way for wastes to pass smoothly without stopping or sticking to one organ or the other.
Food sources of Fiber.
Fiber can be gotten out of most food we love to consume, although some have high fiber content than others. Some of the sources of fiber are beans, cereals, oat, brown rice, barley, legumes, carrots, potatoes, dried figs and apricot. Cereals and wheat contain a high content of fiber and are recommended for pregnant women to consume more in order to get enough supply. You can also get fiber content in some complex carbohydrates.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber.
These are the two types of fiber we have. The soluble fiber is dissolvable and absorbable. It dissolves in the body along with other wastes and then helps in making your stool softer by absorbing water in the body. This makes the stool easier to glide through smoothly rather than being strong and stuck in a place thereby causing constipation.
The insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is not dissolvable but is still able to absorb water. So, it also plays a role in preparing the passage for other waste products of the body to simply pass through.
The benefit of Fiber during pregnancy.
Fiber aids digestion and enables waste to pass through to the anus smoothly.
It makes stools soft but weighty. This means they are not too hard which makes them cause hemorrhoids but they are not too soft to make them look like you are suffering from diarrhea.
Pregnant women have a higher glycemic index (GI) than other women and this means their blood sugar can easily increase at any point in time. This is why they are advised to stop taking white bread or sugary products. Eating food with high fiber content helps to slow down the digestion of carbohydrate and sugar in the body. Thereby preventing issues like increased sugar level or high cholesterol level.
Fiber also helps to make the growth of the fetus stable, so that it is neither big nor small, it is just normal. A heavy baby who is often as a result of high glycemic levels will make the baby become obese in later years.
A meal packed with fiber can help reduce bloating or heartburn which most women have to deal with during their third trimester. A bowl of soup which contains lentils and carrots can help that heartburn.
Steps to getting more fiber into your diet while expecting.
Always go for whole grains and wheat product. For example, wheat bread or biscuit is more beneficial than white bread or just kind of biscuits. You can make your cereal extra- appetizing by adding nuts to them, or fruits such as blueberries.
Eat the skin of your fruits rather than scraping them off. Also, eat everything in a fruit apart from the seeds and the back of those that cannot be eaten. For instance, when licking orange, it is advisable to eat everything inside except for the peel and seed. Most women would just suck the juice and throw the rest away, but little do they know they’ve thrown a whole lot of fiber away! Ensure to eat everything apart from the seed and back.
Rather than snack on junks like hamburgers, you can take in more of fruits and vegetables which contains fiber. Not only will they ease your digestion and prevent constipation, but they would also keep your taste buds alive!
Consume more vegetables by adding it to other foods. Since vegetables are high in fiber content and they also help in producing and regulating the blood, it would be wise to eat more of them.
Add vegetables such as kale, chard, spinach, collards, arugula etc. to give your soup a unique taste by adding some veggies to it. Stir- fry and enjoy a mixture of vegetables. You could even make a veggie sandwich with tomatoes, avocados bulgur wheat and other condiments, or you can make a fruit and vegetable salad. Just get into the kitchen and think of something.
Risks of fiber during pregnancy.
Fiber can only be beneficial if you add it to your diet in an appropriate manner. You will need to eat a moderate amount of fiber as too much can cause you to pass excessive gas, make you feel bloated, campy and cause pains.
If you’ve not been taking fiber before getting pregnant, start by including it into your diet slowly to allow your system to get adapted to it and prevent any side effect. You can start by adding about 0.01 Pounds (5 grams) daily and gradually build from there until you are comfortable.
While taking fiber, it is also essential to remember to hydrate because fiber absorbs more water than any other nutrient and can leave you dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water. Also, if you may need to visit your doctor if you feel the constipation is becoming worse. It may have probably developed into hemorrhoid.