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4 days ago
Preeclampsia: Eat more fibre to avoid this gestational condition

Pregnancy is the time when you must take care of your diet. What you eat can affect your child’s health too. A balanced and nutritious diet along with light exercises are usually recommended for pregnant women. What you eat, how much and when have an impact on your growing baby. Now, a new study says that if you do not add enough fibre to your diet, you might be at risk of a condition called preeclampsia.

According to a study published in the journal Nature Communications, a mother’s gut bacteria and diet are very important for a healthy pregnancy. Researchers from the University of Sydney showed that pregnancy outcomes and infant immunity are linked to gut bacteria. According to them, gut bacteria breaks down plant-based fibre into nutrients that influence the immune system. It was found that reduced levels of acetate, which is mainly produced when fibre is fermented in the gut, can cause a common and serious pregnancy-related condition called preeclampsia. This condition affects around 10 per cent of pregnancies, says the study.

Symptoms of preeclampsia include high blood pressure, protein in urine and severe swelling of a woman’s mother’s body. This condition can interfere with the child’s immune development in the womb itself. According to researchers of the above-mentioned study, it also increases your baby’s risk of allergies and autoimmune diseases later in life. They said that preeclampsia affected the “development of an important foetal immune organ – the thymus – which sits just behind the breastbone”.

WHAT IS PREECLAMPSIA?

As mentioned already, it is a condition where a pregnant female experiences high blood pressure, increased levels of protein in the urine and irregular growth of placenta, an organ attached to the walls of your uterus to provide oxygen and nutrients to your baby in the womb. This condition generally develops around the last trimester or post 20 weeks of your conception. Preeclampsia is pregnancy-induced hypertension that results in the clamping down of small blood vessels and constriction of the bigger ones. It can damage organs like kidney, brain and liver. If you don’t address it on time, you may end up facing a more severe form of preeclampsia. It is known as eclampsia, which manifests itself with an additional symptom: Seizure. If these conditions are not properly managed, they may result in low birth weight of your new born and even premature delivery.

Sudden weight gain, discomfort in the abdominal region, severe headaches, frequent feeling of dizziness, vision problems are some of the signs indicative of preeclampsia. Spot them early on to start treatment on time.  The diagnostic tests include measurement of blood pressure, urine testing, frequent weight measurements, eye check-up, liver and kidney function test and blood clotting test. The line of treatment depends on various factors. It includes severity of the condition, medical history, current health condition, tolerance for specific medications and so on. Generally, complete bed rest is suggested along with anti-hypertensive medications.

SMALL TWEAKS FOR BIG RESULTS


We all agree that prevention is better than cure. While doctors say that you can’t really prevent preeclampsia, you can decrease your chance of developing this condition for sure. In a study published in the journal Drugs, the researchers noted that out of all the 26,941 participants (pregnant women) 10 per cent fell in the high-risk group for preeclampsia. Participants were asked to take aspirin from the 11th or 14th week to the 36th week of their gestational period. They exhibited a significant decline in the occurrence of this condition. While aspirin could be a way to lower your risk of preeclampsia, several studies suggest that small lifestyle modifications can be effective too. On this World Preeclampsia Day, we tell you all about these changes and how they help.

Maintain a healthy BMI

Being overweight makes you vulnerable to a number of health complications and preeclampsia is one among them.  Maintaining an ideal body mass index (BMI) is the prerequisite to good health and a healthy pregnancy too. Ideally, your BMI should be between 18.5 to 25 or under 30 to lower your risk of preeclampsia. This matrix determines whether you have a healthy body weight or not. In a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension, the researchers revealed that high BMI significantly increases your risk of preeclampsia. The study authors further mentioned that women with short body stature and high BMI are more likely to develop severe preeclampsia.

Exercise regularly

Doctors across the world recommend regular exercises to keep a number of diseases at bay. But do you know that you can cut your risk of preeclampsia by increasing the frequency of your exercise during pregnancy? However, the exercises need to be low in intensity. According to a study conducted at the University of North Carolina, light stretching exercises during pregnancy can help you reduce your risk of developing this hypertensive disorder, even if you are not a regular exerciser. However, get a go-ahead from your obstetrician before starting the exercises and perform them under a trained fitness expert.

 Eat mindfully

Do you have a history of hypertension or other heart-related problems? If yes, you need to be extra cautious about what you are eating before and during pregnancy. This will help you to avoid complications and ensure safe delivery. Usually, when you are planning to get pregnant, your doctor will advise you to gorge on foods rich in antioxidants and minerals to prepare your body for gestation. Foods rich in potassium–bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes, leafy greens–will help you maintain stable blood pressure levels. Avoid processed foods that are high in salt, sugar, and harmful additives.

Avoid dehydration

During pregnancy, stay away from alcoholic drinks and caffeinated beverages. They act as diuretics which can cause excess urination leading to dehydration. Dehydration could be one the leading factors that can increase your chance of preeclampsia. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. Including hydrating fruits in your snacks will also help. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, another risk factor for preeclampsia. So make sure that along with keeping yourself hydrated, you need to rest your body well. Take small nap breaks as and when you can and make sure that you snooze for 8 hours a day.

Visit your doctor frequently 

Don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you experience the symptoms of preeclampsia. Keep monitoring your blood pressure levels at regular intervals if you are diagnosed with this condition. Regular check-up will prevent the blood pressure levels from reaching an uncontrollable level.

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