Many pregnant women experience digestive discomfort such as constipation, during pregnancy. However, consuming a high fiber diet can help prevent these complications. Several studies have highlighted the long term benefits of maternal fiber consumption in preventing asthma in offspring and stimulating infant’s immune development. A well-planned diet including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, peas, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds will help you reach the recommended daily fiber intake of 28 grams.

What is fiber?

Fiber is the portion of plant material that humans are not able to absorb or digest. There are two kinds of dietary fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both are important.

  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel in the intestines. Food sources include oatmeal, barley, kidney beans, and some fruits and vegetables.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Instead it passes through the digestive system almost intact. Food sources include wheat bran, whole grains, many vegetables and skins of fruit.

What are the health benefits of a fiber rich diet?

  • During the second trimester, the hormone progesterone kicks in, relaxing the smooth muscles lining the digestive tract. Slower digestion can result in constipation. Soluble fiber supports the growth of friendly bacteria needed to help maintain a healthy gut, and helps slow down the time it takes for food to pass through the stomach into the intestine. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, keeping stool soft and the bowels moving regularly.
  • Research has shown that maternal fiber consumption promotes infant immune development and decreased allergic reactions in offspring.
  • Another research has shown fiber during pregnancy helps prevent asthma development in offspring.
  • Fiber helps control of diabetes and blood sugars: helps to regulate or slow glucose absorption. 

Tips to increase your fiber intake

Try these:

  • Change to a whole grain breakfast cereal that is high in fiber; add some extra bran, dried fruit or nuts. Porridge oats are also a good choice as they contain soluble fiber.
  • Choose more whole grain foods such as whole meal bread, pasta and rice.
  • Eat fresh fruit with the skin on as a snack.
  • Add fresh vegetables, barley, lentils and chickpeas to casseroles, curries and stews.
  • Keep the skin on vegetables, rather than peeling them.
  • Seeds and nuts can also be a good source of added fiber.

Fiber-rich snacks

One serving

Amount of fiber per serving

70 g / 2 slices whole wheat bread

6.2 g

125 ml / ½ cup / 30 g flaked bran cereal

5.0 g

166 g / 1 medium pear

5.0 g

173 g / 1 medium baked potato with skin

4.0 g

140 g / 1 medium apple

2.6 g

60 ml / ¼ cup raspberries

2.0 g

 

Good to know:

Fiber fills you up without adding unnecessary calories. When you are finding it difficult to prevent sugary and refined food cravings during pregnancy, this is a bonus!

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