In the U.S., most doctors recommend against raw foods for pregnant women, whether they be plants, meats, or fish.
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This is firstly because of bacteria and microbes that are killed by the cooking process—particularly in the cases of raw meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. The presence of these microbes in raw food can make the mother ill and, therefore, have consequences on the baby, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy.
Gundry notes that there’s another reason why pregnant women should avoid raw foods, particularly raw plants, and especially during the first six to eight weeks of pregnancy.
“(They) contain lectins and other anti-nutrients that can interfere with the early development of the fetus,” he explains.
While many foods contain these common proteins, overconsumption of lectins has been linked to both leaky gut, which makes the digestive tract less able to extract nutrients from foods, as well as to some autoimmune diseases. Lectins are found in many raw veggies, but also in legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds, so it’s a good idea to go easy on these foods, too, especially early in your pregnancy.
Naturopathic Doctor Serena Goldstein also notes that raw cruciferous vegetables, like kale, can disrupt thyroid function (particularly for pregnant women, who may be at an increased risk for hyperthyroidism, and the body’s ability to utilize iron).
However convincing it may seem, this interdiction against raw foods is not the case in all countries.
In France, for example, pregnant women are not discouraged from eating raw milk cheeses such as Brie or Camembert—a major no-no in the U.S. But consider this: raw milk cheeses aged past 60 days have been proven not to support the growth of listeria, the dangerous bacterium that could (but usually isn’t) present in these products.
What’s more, in Japan, women can and do eat raw fish in the form of traditional sushi and sashimi (which even figure in a new mom’s traditional first meal post-partum). Which brings us to…