Can you prevent allergies during pregnancy?

by Oct 16, 2020Blog

 

Can you prevent allergies during pregnancy with the right diet?

Yep, the latest research suggests that what a woman eats during pregnancy is one of the most important factors determining whether or not your baby will have allergies. When your baby is in your womb his or her immune system is being programmed, so it’s an essential time for focusing on your baby’s immune system.  Here are my 5 top dietary tips for preventing allergies during pregnancy!

Emerging research suggests that your dietary intake during pregnancy is one of the most powerful factors determining whether or not your baby will have allergies.  To reduce your baby’s risk of allergies, try these 5 dietary tips:

Number 1: Include common allergens in your diet regularly during pregnancy

The latest research suggests that by exposing your baby to common allergens in the womb, they are more likely to build up a strong defence against those allergens. Aim to include common allergens at least twice each week. The 8 most common allergens are peanuts, other tree nuts (which contain a different protein to peanuts), cow’s milk, wheat, fish, seafood, soy and eggs. If you or your partner have a family history of a different food allergy (and you are personally not allergic), I’d recommend including that allergen too.

Number 2: Ensure you are getting adequate vitamin D

Researchers noted that women who live in areas with less sun exposure were more likely to have baby’s with food allergies. Then a few years ago a landmark Australian study found that women who had low vitamin D levels during pregnancy were more likely to have baby’s who had a food allergy. More recent research has found that women who received vitamin D supplements had higher levels of protective cells called immune-mediators.  However, it’s important to note that women who have HIGH levels of vitamin D during pregnancy have also been found to have babies with a higher risk of food allergies, so it’s not just about loading up on vitamin D supplements, but about getting the right amount for your needs.

Number 3: Review your omega 3 intake

Pregnancy diets rich in good omega 3 fatty acids have also been associated with better immunity and reduced rates of allergies. Obviously fish is one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids and is also a common allergen, so is a great choice to include in your pregnancy diet. 

Number 4: Boost your gut microbiota

One of the best strategies for reducing your baby’s risk of food allergies is to optimise your gut microbiota. Your gut microbiota consists of trillions of microorganisms, such as bacteria, that reside in our gut. Our gut microbiota is passed on to our baby’s to impact their gut microbiota and it plays an important role in immunity. Prebiotic foods are foods which help our good gut bacteria to thrive, so it’s important to include plenty of these foods in your pregnancy diet. Some of my favourite prebiotic foods include garlic, bananas and almonds.

Number 5: Consider probiotic supplements

Although there’s currently more questions than answers, emerging research suggests that probiotic supplements taken during the last trimester of pregnancy may help to reduce the risk of infant allergies. Consequently, I personally believe that if your baby is at high risk of allergies, it’s worth discussing probiotic supplements with your prenatal dietitian.

Although what you eat during pregnancy plays an important role in preventing allergies, it’s not the end of the story… the latest research suggests that your dietary intake whilst breastfeeding, the formula you use if you are using formula and when and how you introduce solids all have an important role to play too… but we’ll discuss them when you get up to that stage!

For now, I’d recommend downloading my free pregnancy meal plan from www.melaniemcgrice.com/pregnancy and if your baby has a high risk of allergies, make an appointment to see a prenatal dietitian. And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. 

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