Sunday, February 20, 2011
THREE FOOD RISKS WOMEN SHOULD WATCH EVEN BEFORE THEY BECOME PREGNANT
Few women are aware that there are food risks they may need to watch, even before they conceive - maybe even several years before.
Two of these are PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins - groups of very persistent chemicals. In spite of cleanup efforts in North America and other industrialized nations, they continue to exist in our environment, in the soil, air, and waterways. From there they get into the foods we eat. Some dioxins and PCBs are extremely toxic and can affect the unborn child's physical and mental development. The problem is that they can remain stored in a woman's body in a type of half-life for six to ten years. About 80% of our exposure to these chemicals is believed to come from foods that are high in animal fat, such as milk, meat, fish, eggs and related products.
• If you want to have children in your twenties, start thinking of PCBs and dioxins in your teens, if in your thirties, start watching these chemicals in your twenties.
• Keep low on fatty food, especially the fatty part of meat and fish and stick to low-fat or non-fat dairy, except for the occasional ice-cream or whipped creaam splurge.
A third risk you may want to avoid, although it is not as common is toxoplasmosis. This disease is caused by a small protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. In healthy people it may not even cause any symptoms, or, you may just think you have a touch of the flu. Food and cats are main sources. If pregnant women are infected, this parasite can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or structural or neurological damage in the newborn. This infection is much more common than is commonly believed. Some estimates say that an infected pregnant woman has about a 40% chance of passing toxoplasmosis on to her unborn child. While not common, there is a small risks of your baby even becoming infected if you contract toxoplasmosis a few months before you become pregnant.
• Avoid undercooked meat and fish.
• Wash fruits and vegetables well.
• Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat (better still, wear disposable gloves).
• Don't drink contaminated water.
• Don't let your cat eat undercooked meat either, or eat a rat, and get someone else to change the cat's litter box (a good excuse to get out of that nasty chore).
• Get tested for toxoplasmosis before you conceive, or immediately afterwards.