Spicy foods while pregnant – are they safe?

by | May 21, 2019 | Blog

So, you love a good curry… and you’ve always eaten spicy foods for their antioxidant and metabolism benefits… But then, someone told you that you should not eat spicy foods while pregnant, and you want to find out whether or not they are safe or dangerous…

Can they really cause miscarriage?  Heartburn?  Worsen morning sickness?  Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, I’m going to answer these question for you, and more!

Are spicy foods safe during pregnancy?

Firstly, you’re right, spicy foods are indeed good for us.  They are rich in antioxidants and can give our metabolism a short-term boost.  But, can we eat spicy foods while pregnant?  

Can they cause miscarriage?

One of the main reasons that women avoid spicy foods during pregnancy is that there is a rumour that they can cause miscarriages. Although you may read this in blogs, there is no evidence to suggest that eating spicy foods during pregnancy can cause miscarriages. The reason that this rumour probably started, is that there is there are a few small studies which have found a link between spicy foods and preterm labour. Preterm labour is when you go into labour before 37 weeks, and obviously having your baby before he or she is fully developed is undesirable. 

But, personally, unless you have a high risk of preterm labour, I don’t believe that you need to avoid spicy foods for this reason. There’s a lot of other risk factors that are much more likely to cause preterm labour than eating spicy foods. For example, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of preterm labour by approximately 30%. Having high levels of psychological stress is another cause. And, remember there are millions of women around the world, in countries like Thailand and India, who consume spicy foods daily throughout their pregnancies with little issue. 

What about heartburn?

One reason why you might choose to avoid spicy foods while pregnant, is if you are experiencing heartburn or reflux.

Heartburn is common during pregnancy, particularly in the second and third trimesters as your baby starts to take up more and more room. It is caused by an increase in progesterone hormones which loosens the flap in your windpipe that usually stops stomach juices from rising back up the windpipe. Unfortunately spicy foods can aggravate heartburn, as they increase the production of stomach acid, so if you are experiencing heartburn, it may be wise to avoid spicy foods while pregnant.

And morning sickness?

What about the claim that spicy foods make morning sickness worse? Well, this is also true. Spices take longer to digest than a lot of other dietary compounds, which means that your stomach produces more acid, and this can increase your nausea.

In summary… 

Given the fact that there is no evidence of miscarriage risk, and that there are millions of pregnant women around the world (in countries like India and Thailand) who consume spicy foods on a daily basis throughout their pregnancies without issue, I don’t believe that we need to be concerned about eating spicy foods while pregnant, unless you are experiencing heartburn or morning sickness.

Now, let me know in the chat box what your favourite spicy food is!

And, if you’re pregnant, you might like to take the time to check out my YouTube Channel, ‘Nourish with Melanie‘. for other pregnancy and diet related videos. Hit subscribe so you receive my weekly videos to help keep you on track with eating well during pregnancy!

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