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Preeclampsia in Pregnancy: How Mom’s Diet Affects Baby’s Development

Preeclampsia is a common pregnancy complication, and mother’s diet may hold the key to better understanding it. It is characterized by high blood pressure, protein in your urine, and excess swelling. Some research says it can start with abnormal placental development, and can lead to organ failure if not treated.

Here’s what you need to know about preeclampsia if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive.

How does preeclampsia develop?

Researchers are not totally sure what causes preeclampsia, which complicates the conversation. For some women, preeclampsia is preventable with dietary and lifestyle changes. But others are more susceptible to developing preeclampsia based on genetic factors, comorbidities, increased oxidative stress, and more. 

The female body already deals with more stress than the male body, and during pregnancy, the stress load increases tremendously. Blood volume doubles and the uterus grows to 10x its original size, just to name a few of the big changes.

How can nutritional support affect pregnancy?

In some cases, preeclampsia seems to be preventable with diet and lifestyle changes. For some women, however, risk factors outside of their control make it challenging to prevent preeclampsia with just diet alone.

That being said, proper nutrition before and during pregnancy can help a pregnant body function better overall. Proper nutrition also helps develop a healthy baby. Here are some ways you can support a healthy pregnancy and potentially prevent preeclampsia via diet and lifestyle.

5 diet rules to possibly prevent the onset of preeclampsia

Eat enough protein. Low protein intake has been associated with an increased risk for preeclampsia. Dr Lily Nichols, RD, recommends a diet with adequate protein, mainly glycine, to help support healthy blood vessels during pregnancy. 

Minerals matter. Getting an adequate amount of minerals in your diet during pregnancy can help support hydration and more. The important minerals to focus on are sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Consume sodium and potassium together, like in high-quality sea salt, rather than in highly processed foods where sodium is isolated. Our bodies more readily absorb these crucial minerals via whole food sources.

Vary your produce. Oxidative stress is a big contributing factor to preeclampsia. Getting a variety of whole and unprocessed foods can help increase your antioxidant intake and can reduce oxidative stress. 

Load up on choline. Choline is essential for healthy placental development; and a lack of choline is a potential cause of preeclampsia. A healthy placenta delivers more nutrients to your baby, which is the ideal outcome for a healthy pregnancy.

Balance your blood sugar. Blood sugar imbalances can lead to many issues, including increased stress, poor sleep, and increased blood pressure. Make sure your carbohydrates are never lonely: pair them with a protein whenever possible. 

Preeclampsia may not be completely preventable, but there are always things within your control you can do to support a healthy body during pregnancy.

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