Dietary fibre essential for women during pregnancy

DUBAI — Dietary fibre constitutes an important part of a healthful diet. The presence of fibre in diet is all the more important for women who are pregnant, says a Dubai-based clinical nutritionist.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Fri 27 Jul 2007, 9:55 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:20 AM

Dr Wafa Ayash of Rashid Hospital says, “If you’re pregnant, your diet needs change to accommodate the extra energy your body will require as the foetus grows. Your body needs good nutrients while you are pregnant to sustain both your health and the health of your developing child. Fibre is also important for digestive health during pregnancy.”

“Pregnant women need 25 to 35 grams of fibre per day for optimum health and to prevent constipation. Fibre can help stabilise your blood sugar levels and relieve constipation, which is common during pregnancy,” she adds.

“During pregnancy, many changes occur in the digestive system. Pregnancy hormones can affect the digestive system. The hormone progesterone, which causes smooth muscle relaxation, often causes relaxation and slowing of digestion in the stomach and the small and large intestines,” Dr Ayash says.

“The growing uterus itself can affect the digestive system. As the uterus grows, it can compress or even obstruct some of the parts of the digestive tract. This can lead to slow movement of food and constipation. Increasing fluids, regular exercise, and increasing the fibre in your diet are some of the ways to prevent constipation,” she adds.

Dr Ayash also says that many factors could lead to constipation. “Pregnancy hormones relax your intestinal walls, causing food to stay longer in your digestive tract. Your growing womb will also place pressure on your rectum, aggravating your intestinal situation,” she explains.

Explaining how a pregnant woman could overcome constipation, Dr Ayash advises: “Eat foods rich in fibre. Cereals (especially with a few tablespoons of unprocessed bran), whole-grain breads, prunes and fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fibre. Adding a fibre supplement can ensure that you are getting the right daily amount especially if you find it difficult to get adequate amounts of fibre from eating high-fibre foods alone; drink at least eight glasses of water a day; fruit juices such as prune juice will also improve your bowel movements; exercise regularly — low impact exercises such as walking and swimming are best for pregnant women; never fail to attend the call of nature — as soon as you feel the need, relieve yourself.

“Many pregnant women get constipated during their pregnancies and the best way to relieve themselves is by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, high fibre breads and cereals and to drink more liquids,” she adds.

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