Heartburn, constipation and indigestion are all too common during pregnancy, thanks to progesterone, a hormone produced by the ovaries that relaxes your stomach muscles and slows digestion. Luckily, there’s an easy way to ease these unpleasant side effects of expecting: up your fiber intake.
Although not technically a nutrient, fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. Found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, fiber (aka roughage) is the part of the plant that we don’t digest. Instead, it acts as a broom and “sweeps” as it passes through your digestive system.
In addition to curbing irregularity, fiber offers other pregnancy benefits as well. “A higher intake of cereal fiber (from grains) can help prevent the glucose intolerance that can lead to gestational diabetes,” says Elisa Zied, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., a registered dietitian and author of Feed Your Family Right (Wiley). Studies have also shown that getting more than 21 grams of fiber a day during the first trimester can reduce your preeclampsia risk by up to two-thirds. Plus, research has supported a link between a high-fiber diet and lowered risk of ovarian and cervical cancers.
Your goal is to get 25 grams to 35 grams of fiber per day, Zied says. The following five delicious recipes, which also provide plenty of essential pregnancy nutrients, make it easy.