Food to Avoid During Pregnancy in Nigeria


Food to Avoid During Pregnancy in Nigeria

In addition to foods that increase your risk of infection, such as raw or undercooked meat or fish, you should also minimize your intake of processed foods and caffeine during pregnancy.

In order to nourish your unborn child and yourself during pregnancy, eating a healthy diet is essential. Certain things you love to eat, like sushi, coffee, or rare steak, might have to be given up.

Fortunately, you can eat a wide variety of healthy foods while pregnant.

Here are Food to Avoid During Pregnancy in Nigeria


Food to Avoid During Pregnancy in Nigeria

• Food that have High Mercury

Mercury is a very hazardous element that can be found in contaminated waterways.

Higher doses may have an impact on your kidneys, immune system, and nervous system. Even in smaller doses, it can have negative effects on children's development and lead to major issues.

When pregnant or nursing, it is best to stay away from large marine fish because they can accumulate high levels of mercury.

There are certain fish that should be avoided because they contain high mercury.

• Shark

• Swordfish

• King Mackerel

• Tuna (especially bigeye tuna)

• Marlin

• Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico

• Orange Rough

• Undercooked or raw fish

There is a significant chance that raw fish, particularly shellfish, contains bacteria or parasites like Salmonella, Listeria, Vibrio, and norovirus.

During handling, storing, and processing—including smoking or drying—raw fish can get contaminated.

Even if you don't have any symptoms, some of these infections can flow through the placenta to your baby and cause dehydration and weakness in the parents. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they can raise the risk of stillbirth, pregnancy loss, preterm delivery, and other serious health issues.

According to the CDC, pregnant women are up to ten times more likely than non-pregnant women to contract listeria.


A raw or undercooked piece of meat

Consuming raw or undercooked meat can also raise your risk of contracting parasitic or bacterial infections, such as E. Coli and Toxoplasma.

listeria, salmonella, and E. coli.

Bacteria can endanger not just your child's safety and health but also your own.

Bacteria can reside inside muscle fibers, but they are most commonly found on the surface of whole pieces of meat.

When not fully cooked, certain whole cuts of meat, such as tenderloins, sirloins, or ribeye from beef, lamb, and veal, may be safe to eat. This only holds true, though, if the meat is whole or uncut and fully cooked outside. Avoiding undercooked meat is advised during pregnancy.

Meats that have been cut, such as burgers, minced meat, pork, and poultry, should never be consumed raw or undercooked.


• Processed and deli meat

A variety of bacteria can also infect hot dogs, lunch meat, pepperoni, and deli meat while they are being processed or stored. Since they are not cooked, cured meats could contain bacteria or parasites.

Aside from that, processed meats may be heavy in fat and sodium.

Steer clear of deli meats and make sure any processed meats you cook—like sausages—are thoroughly cooked.

• Raw eggs

Salmonella bacteria can be present in raw eggs.

Flu-like symptoms, nausea, vomiting, cramping in the stomach, and diarrhea are signs of diarrhea caused by salmonella. Not only can it result in uterine cramps, but it can also cause preterm birth or stillbirth.

Some common foods that include raw eggs are:

• Lightly Scrambled Eggs

• Tiramisu

• Raw Batter

• Hollandaise Sauce

• Homemade Mayonnaise

• Some Homemade Salad Dressings

• Homemade Egg Nog

• Homemade Ice Cream

• Some Homemade Cake Icings

• Eggs Benedict

The majority of commercial products that use raw eggs are safe to eat because they are made with pasteurized eggs. But to be sure, always check the label.

Always make sure to use pasteurized eggs or cook them thoroughly.


• Organ meat

In addition to being healthy for you and your unborn child, organ meats are a great source of iron, copper, zinc, selenium, vitamin A, and vitamin B12. Pregnancy loss and congenital abnormalities can result from ingesting excessive amounts of preformed vitamin A, particularly during the first trimester.

It is best to consume only a few ounces of meats per week, such as liver or kidney, even though this is mostly linked to vitamin A supplements.


• Raw sprouts

Raw sprouts are a common addition to salads; examples include radish, alfalfa, clover, and mung bean sprouts. It is nearly impossible to wash away the damp environment that the seeds require to begin sprouting, which is perfect for Salmonella growth.

Since sprouts are safe to eat when cooked, it's best to stay away from them completely when they're raw, claims the FDA.


• Unwashed fruits and vegetables

Toxoplasma and other parasites, as well as bacteria, can contaminate the surface of unwashed or unpeeled fruits and vegetables. listeria, salmonella, and coli. Both handling and the soil may provide these. Contamination can occur at any time during production, harvest, processing, storage, transportation, or retail.

One parasite that endures on plant-based diets is Toxoplasma. If the parasite crosses the placenta, it can cause vision loss and learning difficulties in later life, but most people have no symptoms. Serious brain or eye damage can sometimes be present from birth.

Peel or cook all fruits and vegetables before eating them to reduce the chance of infection. Wash them well in clean water.


Unpasteurized dairy products

Raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products can contain harmful bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli as well as Campylobacter. Numerous illnesses collectively referred to as food poisoning can be brought on by these bacteria.

All of these infections have the potential to be fatal for an unborn child.

Either naturally occurring or as a result of contamination during collection or storage, the bacteria may arise. Any dangerous bacteria can be eliminated by pasteurization without affecting the products' nutritional content.  To reduce the risk of infections, eat only pasteurized dairy products.


• Soft Cheeses

Listeria is a type of bacteria that can cause serious illness and even result in miscarriage. It is present in some soft cheeses. Cheeses like ranchero, blando, fresco, white, and panela are a few examples. Eat soft cheeses only that bear the pasteurization label.


• Processed Foods

Increased risk of weight gain is associated with highly processed foods, which are typically low in nutrients and high in calories, sugar, and added fats. You require a healthy diet rich in nutrients, including iron, choline, protein, and folate, during pregnancy.

Furthermore, while gaining some weight is necessary, gaining too much weight increases the risk of childhood obesity and delivery complications. Eat only protein-rich foods (whole grains, beans, and starchy vegetables), fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and carbohydrates high in fiber.

Seek out novel approaches to incorporate vegetables into your dishes without compromising flavor.


Several Fruit Smoothies and Juices

Fruit juices can be helpful during pregnancy, but choose pasteurized juices without additional sugar.

Raw juices, such as those squeezed at market stalls, may contain dangerous bacteria. If you're at a restaurant, enquire in advance about the ingredients since smoothies may also contain unpasteurized juice.



A woman's risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) increases when she drinks alcohol during her pregnancy. FAS can have an impact on the heart and brain development, among other areas.

It's best to stay away from alcohol altogether because there is no proven safe amount to consume while pregnant.


•  Caffeine

Caffeine is present in cocoa, coffee, tea, soft drinks, and other foods.

According to research, consuming large amounts of caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and several developmental problems.

The placenta can easily absorb caffeine and it is quickly absorbed by the body. Because the primary enzyme required to metabolize caffeine is absent in babies and their placentas, high levels can accumulate. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises pregnant women to consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day.


Contaminated Water used for Drinking

To prevent dehydration during pregnancy, you must consume plenty of water.

Although the majority of American tap water is safe to consume, contaminants in dirty or polluted drinking water can be harmful to you or your unborn child. Since the Environmental Protection Agency does not test water from private wells, this may have an impact on you if you use it.

If you are worried about the quality of your water, get in touch with your regional environmental or health authority.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

What are the Dangers of Consuming these Foods?

There are various pregnancy risks associated with each of these foods. Some foods might contain germs that are harmful to you or your baby and can lead to infections. Other foods contain ingredients that could be harmful to your child.


The rare infection known as listeriosis, which is brought on by the listeria bacteria, typically poses no threat to healthy individuals.

However, if you're expecting, it might make you feel sick. Premature labor, stillbirth, or miscarriage are all possible outcomes if your unborn child contracts an infection.

Foods that might contain listeria include:

• Premade meals and leftovers.

• Pre-cut or unwashed fruits and vegetables.

• Soft-serve ice cream, unpasteurized milk products, and soft cheeses.

• Raw or smoked seafood.

• Pâté, smoked meats, and chilled chicken.

• Raw sprouts and rock melon.

• Juice that has not been pasteurized.


If you contract the infection toxoplasmosis, which is brought on by the parasite toxoplasma, for the first time while you are expecting, your unborn child may be affected. Although this is uncommon in Australia, you should still exercise caution because it could result in blindness or brain damage for your unborn child.

Foods that might contain toxoplasma contamination include:

• Meat that isn't fully cooked.

• Fruits and vegetables that haven't been washed.


You could develop food poisoning from the bacteria salmonella. Miscarriage can occur if you contract it while pregnant, but this is uncommon.

The following foods may contain salmonella contamination:

• Eggs that were cracked while being stored, as well as raw or undercooked eggs.

• Hummus, tahini, and sesame seeds.

• Uncooked chicken and meat.

• Sprouts.


Although it contains mercury, fish is a healthy and nutritious component of your diet when you're expecting.

Mercury toxicity can have an impact on the nervous system development of your baby.

More mercury is present in some fish species than others. For larger predatory fish, this is typically higher. Shark, marlin, broadbill, swordfish, orange rough, and catfish contain the highest concentrations.

A vitamin

Retinol, also known as vitamin A, can be harmful to your unborn child if consumed in excess.

Vitamin A levels in liver should be restricted.


Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder may develop in your unborn child if you consume large amounts of alcohol while you are pregnant. The risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth can all be raised by alcohol.


High levels of caffeine can make you more likely to experience a miscarriage, give birth too soon, or have a baby who is underweight at birth. Numerous foods, including coffee, tea, and chocolate, naturally contain caffeine. A few soft drinks and energy drinks also contain it.

How can I be certain that the food I eat is safe?

Generally speaking, freshly prepared or thoroughly cooked food is the healthiest to consume. Make sure to always prepare and store food safely. Nothing that has reached its expiration date should be consumed.

Dairy products

Only consume pasteurized or ultra-heat treated (UHT or long-life) milk. Ensure that all dairy products you consume are made from pasteurized milk.

Eat no brie, camembert, chevre (a type of goat cheese), or other soft cheeses with a similar rind that have ripened with mold. Additionally, stay away from cheeses with blue veins, such as bocconcini, feta, mozzarella, and ricotta. During the manufacturing process, listeria can enter products and cause contamination. As long as they are immediately consumed after being cooked to at least 75°C, they are safe to eat.

Cheddar, Parmesan, and Edam are acceptable examples of hard cheeses to eat. Compared to soft cheeses, hard cheeses are more acidic, making bacteria growth less likely.

There are many additional soft cheese varieties that are safe to consume; just make sure the packaging is from the manufacturer. They consist of processed cheeses like cheese spreads, cottage cheese, and cream cheese.

Avoid soft-serve ice cream. Listeria can flourish because of the temperature at which it is kept. It's okay to consume frozen ice cream in containers.


As soon as the whites and yolks are solid, make sure the eggs are cooked completely. This lowers the chance of getting salmonella food poisoning. Avoid consuming foods like homemade mayonnaise, aioli, mousses, and cake batters that contain raw or undercooked eggs. Commercially produced egg-containing products that aren't refrigerated are safe to consume, but you should store them properly.

Use clean eggs only. Avoid using cracked or previously stored eggs.


Never consume rare meat. Salmonella or toxoplasma could be present in undercooked meat. All meat and poultry should be thoroughly cooked until it is steaming hot and completely pink throughout. With pork, sausages, and ground beef, including burgers, use caution.

After preparing raw meat, thoroughly wash all surfaces and utensils. Utilize a distinct cutting board and knife. Keeping your hands clean after handling or touching raw meat is also very important.

Do not consume cold-cured meats like pepperoni, chorizo, ham, salami, or Hamburg. If you cook them to at least 75 °C and eat them right away, they are safe to eat.

Avoid consuming packaged sliced cold meats, cold cooked chicken, and cold meats from delicatessen counters and sandwich shops. Abstain from all pâté varieties.

Listeria might be present in these.

If you eat hot takeout chicken right away, it won't hurt you.

Do not consume more than 50 grams of liver or liver products per week as they are high in vitamin A. This includes liver pâté and liver sausage.

Seafood, Particularly Fish

Fish is suggested during pregnancy as it contains protein and important omega-3 fatty acids. However, it's crucial to keep your consumption of fish with higher mercury levels in check.

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The steps are as follows (keep in mind that a serving is 150 grams):

• Shark, also known as flake, broadbill, marlin, and swordfish should only be consumed once every two weeks. Throughout those two weeks, refrain from consuming any other fish.

• Catfish should only be consumed once a week, along with orange roughly (also known as deep sea perch). Throughout that week, refrain from consuming any other fish.

• You should only consume other fish or seafood two to three times per week at the most.

Within these restrictions, it's safe to eat freshly cooked fish and seafood. Eat them right away after cooking them to at least 63°C.

Avoid consuming fish or seafood that is chilled or raw. This includes raw oysters, sashimi, sushi, smoked ready-to-eat seafood, and cooked ready-to-eat chilled prawns. There is a greater chance of listeria contamination with these. Making your own sushi is the safest way to eat it. Select fully prepared or vegetarian options. Avoid purchasing sushi.

Produce and vegetables

Pre-made or pre-packaged fruit or vegetable salads, including those from buffets and salad bars, should be avoided. They could be contaminated with listeria.

In order to avoid contracting listeria or salmonella, avoid eating rock melon or any kind of sprouts.

To get rid of all dirt and soil, wash fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Sometimes, soil will contain toxoplasma.

All sesame products, including hummus, tahini, and halva, should be avoided because sesame seeds may contain salmonella.

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Is Alcohol Safe to Consume While Pregnant?

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy is not known to be safe at any level.

The best course of action is to refrain from drinking if you are pregnant, nursing a child, or planning a pregnancy. Alcohol can harm your unborn child.


Can I Drink Coffee While Pregnant?

Caffeine is not something you must completely avoid, but you shouldn't consume more than 200mg per day. Caffeine levels in various foods and beverages are approximately as follows:

• 80mg per teaspoon of instant coffee.

• 145mg for 1 shot of espresso coffee.

• 50 mg for 1 cup of tea.

• 36-point 4 mg of caffeine in a 375 ml can of coke.

• A 250 ml can of energy drink contains 80 mg.

• Milk chocolate bar, 100g: 20mg.

Instead of regular tea, coffee, and cola, try decaffeinated tea, coffee, fruit juice, or mineral water to reduce your caffeine intake.

Energy drinks shouldn't be consumed while expecting because they may be high in caffeine or guarana, which also contains caffeine.


Can I Eat Leftovers while Pregnant?

Food leftovers should be handled with caution because listeria can spread through them. Put leftovers in the refrigerator immediately in a covered container if you want to eat them. Only keep them for a day, and then reheat them to at least 60°C.


Am I Permitted to Consume Foods to which my Child may be Allergic?

Unless you are allergic to them, it's safe to consume peanuts or foods containing them (like peanut butter) while pregnant. You may also consume other foods that are thought to be very allergenic. It is not advised to eliminate these foods from your diet during pregnancy because there is no evidence that doing so will protect your unborn child from allergies.


What Foods am I not Allowed to Eat While Pregnant?

Foods that could infect you, contain ingredients that could harm your unborn child, or generally aren't good for your health are things to stay away from. They consist of fish that might be contaminated with mercury, raw eggs, undercooked or raw meat, and ultra-processed foods.


What if I Consumed a Hotdog or Pepperoni while Carrying a Child?

Because they could pick up different bacteria during processing or storage, processed meats are best avoided during pregnancy. Additionally, they might be loaded with sodium and other additives that are bad for your health.


When Pregnant, is it Safe to Eat Grapes and Bananas?

All fruits are healthy for pregnant women and offer essential nutrients. However, it's best to stay away from unwashed fruits and melons in particular, as well as any other fruits that might have come into contact with contaminated water or other pollutants. Make sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet rather than concentrating on just one kind.


Final Thought

Avoiding foods and drinks that could harm you or your unborn child is crucial when you're pregnant. While the majority of foods are safe to eat, it is best to stay away from things like raw fish, unpasteurized dairy, alcohol, and fish that contains high levels of mercury. It's also advisable to consume fewer processed foods because they may contain excessive amounts of added sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.  Check out this article on healthy eating during pregnancy to find out more about the foods you should eat while pregnant.

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