Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Vegetarians and Vegans can have a healthy pregnancy and raise healthy children

Many argue that a vegetarian or vegan diet may not be the best way for a mother to carry a growing child inside of her. Contrary to beliefs, how you choose to nourish your body has more significance than the type of diet you follow. We can all agree that providing the body with what it properly needs is the key factor.

So, can a woman carrying a child follow a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet? According to a couple of studies, the answer proves to give positive support.

A plant-based vegan diet isn't dangerous

There may be much misinformation regarding veganism in general, let alone a woman's pregnancy. Vegan or not, the most appropriate evaluation is how well a person provides their bodies the nourishment it needs.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Academy of Pediatrics both agree that a well-planned vegetarian and vegan eating habits are healthy for infants and toddlers. They believe that time and attention during pregnancy in ensuring the proper nutrients to support normal growth and development is of utmost importance. (1)

While being pregnant or raising a new child, it is important to pay extra attention to certain nutrient such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, protein, and fiber. (1)

Studies show that vegans can have a healthy pregnancy and healthy children

According to Reed Mangels, a registered dietician, "It is reasonably simple to follow a vegan diet throughout pregnancy while eating foods that meet your needs and the needs of your baby." (2)

In fact a couple of studies have shown that a community in Lewis County, Tennessee in the 1980s that incorporates veganism as a socially responsible lifestyle and they have shown that vegans can have healthy pregnancies and children. (2,3,4)

In one study, researchers looked at preeclampsia and reproductive performances in a community of vegans. They evaluated 775 vegan mothers and only one met the clinical criteria. Researchers say that, "Since preeclampsia in our culture is frequently associated with unrestrained consumption of "fast foods" (foods having high levels of saturated fat) and rapid weight gain, it is possible that a vegan diet could alleviate most, if not all, of the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia. (3)

Another study in the same community evaluated the growth of vegetarian children. A total of 404 vegetarian children between 4 months and 10 years of age were evaluated and compared in height, age, and weight with the rest of the United States growth reference. Researchers say that, "These children have adequate attained growth, even though it was modestly less than that of the reference population." (4)

So, vegetarians and vegans have been shown to have healthy pregnancies and healthy children. Like anyone, there are always factors to consider ensuring a healthy pregnancy such as weight, proper nourishment, and physical changes throughout pregnancy. (2) The good news is that it is absolutely possible to be healthy!

Sources for this article include:

(1) www.eatright.org
(2) www.vrg.org
(3) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
(4) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov