(“Kangaroo” magazine – interview, issue 104, 2015)

Kenguru magazine (K):

Is there a link between nutrition of the pregnant woman and the constitution of the future baby? For example, if the mother has gained more kilograms, has eaten fat and unhealthy foods predominantly, is there a thread the child one day to suffer from obesity and to have also problems with overweight?

Rayna Stoyanova, M.D.:

There are many publications and it is already known that the risk of obesity in children depends on the types of food the mother consumes during her pregnancy. Definitely, it could be claimed that not only the genes and the lifestyle are risk factors for obesity, but also mother’s nutrition in pregnancy. Accordingly, the lifestyle of the surrogate mother also influences the future child’s health and physics. The epigenetic changes act upon the way DNA instructions are interpreted in the creation of cells, proteins and other main components of the organism. It has been found, for example, that DNA methylation is changed. The study detects the characteristics of methylation of 68 locations, CpGs 5’ of 5 genes.

It is found that epigenetic markers give explanation to at least 25% of the cases with overweight as two concrete genes are described whose methylation leads to unwanted accumulation of fat. The methylation of one of them, the gene RXRA, is linked with lower intake of carbohydrates by the future mother.

K:

Most of the pregnant women say their taste has changed dramatically, so is there a link with the child’s taste – will the baby like the same food as the pregnant liked in these 9 months?

Rayna Stoyanova, M.D.:

There is no such link. During pregnancy all otherwise blunted instincts awake. Therefore, her taste preferences sharply change depending on the needs and the health of the fetus. The most confusing moment for the future mother is when she starts to feel sick just at the sight of her favorite meals so far. Meanwhile, she starts to irresistibly want to eat foods she never liked before. Listen carefully to this inner voice and don’t force yourself to overfeed with food “good for your condition”. The truth is that modern dietology doesn’t possess the full information about the most proper way of eating of the pregnant, but if you trust your food intuition, you will provide the fetus all that is needed.

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K:

How should the nutrition of a pregnant woman in the first trimester look like – what to limit, which foods to stress on, so she doesn’t gain more kilograms than the necessary?

Rayna Stoyanova, M.D.:

The fourfold nutritional regimen in the first trimester of pregnancy and the fivefold one in the second and the third are best accepted. I think, the daily nutritional norms during pregnancy should not be substantially different from these in a well-balanced diet (except for the iron amounts which are increased significantly). Eating for two persons, doesn’t mean to eat twice as much but twice as carefully in respect of wholeness of food. Nutrition is like the usual in the first three months plus 200 extra calories. They can be found in a glass of milk or a cookie.

K:

What types of food are totally prohibited during pregnancy or there aren’t such, just the balance is important?

Rayna Stoyanova, M.D.:

  • Alcohol is on first place. Forget about any alcohol, even in small amounts, although it is claimed that a glass of beer won’t harm either the pregnant or the suckling mother, or the baby. Alcohol may hinder the proper fetal development and may lead to different congenital diseases.
  • It is quite natural – and the caffeinated drinks belong to the harmful ones during pregnancy.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners as there is a chance of their accumulation in large amounts in the baby’s organism and they are difficult to purify and process.
  • Seafood with high content of mercury may have a negative influence upon the nervous system of the fetus. However, this doesn’t mean to give up entirely seafood, just to consume it in moderate amounts and to avoid mussels especially.
  • Soft and exotic cheeses, some types of meat, milk and juices which are not pasteurized may be contaminated with bacteria and thus cause poisoning, called listeriosis which can harm the fetus and cause miscarriage.
  • Avoid GMO fruits and vegetables, ready-to-cook food and in general food that contain many E’s and difficult to read ingredients.
  • Always check the expiry date of the food you buy.
  • When you cook eggs or meat, you must process them enough in order to avoid diseases such as salmonella and toxoplasmosis. For the same reason, always wash thoroughly all foods you consume. Eggs should be hard boiled and the meat well roasted.
  • Avoid fried and heavy foods.

K:

It seems a general understanding here in Bulgaria that pregnant women take these nine months as the heaven of the big eating – what’s your opinion?

Rayna Stoyanova, M.D.:

I think there is no logic in this old-fashioned concept. Having an excuse with the pregnancy and the baby, we gain only excess weight which except for endangering the course of pregnancy also carries risks for the baby.

K:

We know on the other hand that the excessive restriction and strict diets are also dangerous. How should be the nutrition now in summer so that to be balanced and healthy, without unnecessary calories?

Rayna Stoyanova, M.D.:

A pregnant woman should never follow a strict diet and limit herself. A woman of average height is normal to gain 10kg. If the lady was obese before pregnancy, she shouldn’t allow herself to gain more than 8kg during the nine months. The excessively slim women may gain 12-13kg. Summer is abundant in fresh fruits and vegetables, so you should benefit from them the most, of course not at the expense of meat, fish, cheese and eggs. They are essential for the proper course of the pregnancy and delivery of healthy baby.

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K:

Do you approve eating fruits as much as you can?

Rayna Stoyanova, M.D.:

“As much as you can” is a relative term. It is good to eat fresh fruits and vegetables but not to go too far. However, they are a source of sugars and cellulose, so consuming too much of them is always risky.

K:

What is your advice to the women who don’t eat meat – which foods to stress on instead?

Rayna Stoyanova, M.D.:

For many reasons vegetarian women cannot obtain all elements necessary for their optimal physical health and adequate existence only from food products of plant origin. So, you should consult a specialist who will make an optimal nutritional regimen and will eventually recommend intake of suitable supplements, especially in time of pregnancy.

Nutrition-During-Pregnancy