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Forbidden Foods for Healthy Pregnancy

  • Government General Degree College Kharagpur II, P.O - Madpur Dist - Paschim Medinipur, Pin : 721149 West Bengal, India
Ghosh Debosree et al., IJSRR 2018, 7(4), 171-178
IJSRR, 7(4) Oct. Dec., 2018 Page 171
Research article Available online ISSN: 22790543
International Journal of Scientific Research and Reviews
Forbidden Foods for Healthy Pregnancy
Ghosh Debosree 1* and Ghosh Suvendu 2
1Department of Physiology, Government General Degree College, Kharagpur II,
P.O- Madpur, Dist - Paschim Medinipur, Pin : 721149, West Bengal, India
2Department of Physiology, Hooghly Mohsin College, P.O. - Chinsurah,
Dist. - Hooghly, Pin-712 101, West Bengal, India
Food is important for continuing life. During pregnancy, dietary requirements of a woman
increase as the growing embryo draws nutrition from the mother‟s body. Hence during the days of
pregnancy, would be mother needs to consume foods rich in vitamins, minerals and also should be
sufficient enough to meet her calorie requirements and support the growing embryo. Not only the
quantity but also the quality of the food should be considered.
KEY WORDS: Embryo, food, fetus, health benefits, pregnancy
* Corresponding author
Dr. Debosree Ghosh
Department of Physiology,
Government General Degree College
Kharagpur II, P.O - Madpur,
Dist - Paschim Medinipur, Pin : 721149, West Bengal, India
Email id:, Mobile no.: +91 9830320757
Ghosh Debosree et al., IJSRR 2018, 7(4), 171-178
IJSRR, 7(4) Oct. Dec., 2018 Page 172
There are various folk opinions which vary from place to place, community to community
regarding abstinence from consumption of certain food stuffs during the days of pregnancy. Some of
those food components are otherwise consumed in daily life by normal people and some are even
considered to possess certain health benefits. The same food components have been found to possess
threat for maintenance of normal pregnancy and impose threat of miscarriage, fetal death and
abnormal development of fetus. Some other food components are considered forbidden during
pregnancy only due to myths. Clear knowledge about the truly harmful foods which are to be
avoided from consumption during pregnancy may assure additional mental peace, confidence and a
healthy pregnancy.
It is known from years that consuming raw papaya induces miscarriage. Papaya (Carica
papaya) is a common fruit in India and is native to Mexico and northern part of South America. The
fruit has lots of medicinal properties, is cheap and easily available. The raw fruit is consumed as a
vegetable. Studies reveal that aqueous extract of papaya may induce uterine contraction and can even
lead to embryonic resorbtion1. Studies have been conducted on isolated rat uterus and mice embryo.
The uterine stimulant effect of papaya has been deduced to be probably because of papaya induced
increased level of oestrogen and decreased level of progesterone1. Papaya seed extract also has been
found to have toxic effect on isolated rat uterus2. In some Asian countries, unripe papaya is used as
contraceptive3. Papaya has been found to contain an enzyme called „papain‟ which dereases level of
progesterone4. Progesterone is an essential hormone for maintaining pregnancy. Papain is a
proteolytic enzyme and is also known to dissolve the cervical clog and induce miscarriage. Ripe
papaya is though considered to be safe to consume during days of pregnancy5.
Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is a very tasty fruit. Studies reveal that fresh pineapple contains
Bromelain. Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme. This enzyme can make uterine tissue soft and leads to
miscarriage 6. Bromelain is found to be present in entire pineapple plant but is primarily extracted
from the stem of pineapple. The extract of pineapple fruit and stem has use in folk medicine as well.
Also the extract of pineapple is used in cooking for tenderizing meat7. Bromelain has several
medicinal uses like blood thinner, anti inflammatory, anticoagulant, pain reliever etc8. Bromelain is
being explored for its use against pain related issues of osteoporosis and against cancer9. The core of
pineapple contains highest amount of Bromelain 10. This proteolytic enzyme may favor implantation
Ghosh Debosree et al., IJSRR 2018, 7(4), 171-178
IJSRR, 7(4) Oct. Dec., 2018 Page 173
if used in right dose and at right time of the menstrual cycle. Thus consumption of pineapple is
considered beneficial for women who wants to conceive or trying to conceive. But once conceived,
pineapple consumption should be avoided. It actually facilitates implantation of embryo by virtue of
its blood thinning, anti-inflammatory and proteolytic properties 8. Bromelain is actually a
combination of more than one proteolytic enzyme found in pineapple and it refers to either any one
of those enzymes or the combination9. Besides its uterine softening property, Bromelain in high dose
in known to induce uterine contraction which may cause miscarriage 8.
Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) is a common vegetable, abundantly available and
popular in the Indian subcontinent. It is known as karela in India and is consumed by people for its
extensive health benefits and medicinal properties. Bitter gourd has pronounced beneficial effect in
diabetes mellitus12. Some are of the opinion that if pregnant women consume excess bitter gourd, it‟s
bitter taste may cause contraction of uterus leading to miscarriage 11. Bitter gourd juice induces
uterine contraction and is considered harmful for pregnant women. Bitter gourd juice is known to
cause bleeding and induce abortion in pregnant women. Bitter gourd juice may also induce pre-term
labor13. Seeds of bitter gourd contain vicine which is known to cause favism in some individuals.
Thus consumption of bitter gourds with seeds may cause favism in pregnant women14. A protein
substance called „momorcharin‟ has been purified from the seeds of bitter melon15. This
momorcharin has been found to have inhibitory effect on spermatogenesis in experimental dogs and
also has been found to have antifertility effect in female mice 16. It has been reported that mice that
have been fed bitter melon juice has remarkable decrease in their fertility 14, 16. Also, it has been
reported that midterm miscarriage has occurred in mice who were treated with momorcharins18.
Fenugreek seeds (Trigonella foenum-graecum) are used as spice in various dishes. It imparts
a special aroma if used in cooking. These seeds have several medicinal uses and extensive
therapeutic uses19.Fenugreek seed contains a phytochemical called saponin. Saponin present in the
fenugreek seeds has similar effect as the human hormone called oxytocin 20- 22. By virtue of this
saponin, the seed has uterine contraction stimulating effect. Fenugreek seed may thus induce
abortion in pregnant women by inducing uterine contraction and should be avoided by pregnant
women20. Though fenugreek seeds are used to prepare a sweet dish in western part of India which is
consumed by lactating women to help milk production 21, 22. Studies also reveal that fenugreek seeds
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reduce the level of progesterone and causes contraction of uterine smooth muscle leading to abortion
in experimental pregnant ewes 23.
Egg plant (Solanum melongena) is a common vegetable and is popular all around the world.
Egg plant is considered unsafe for pregnant women 24. Egg plant has been found to possess several
medicinal properties 25. Egg plant contains lots of phytohormones which may cause miscarriage 24.
Yet consuming eggplant in diet at times in small amount during the days of pregnancy might not
impose serious problem for the expecting mother and the developing embryo.
Sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) are known to be the oldest oilseed crops. Sesame seeds have
different names in different geographical regions. They are called benne, bene, gingelly or til seeds.
Sesame seeds occur in four different colours wich are white, black, yellow and red. The colours vary
depending on the strain of the plant 26. Sesame seeds are used as home remedy for inducing abortion
27. Consuming sesame seeds in excess during pregnancy are dangerous as it may induce uterine
contraction leading to abortion. Sesame seeds are considered harmful especially during the first
trimester when the pregnancy remains delicate 26.
Some other foods which are part of our regular diet and are often consumed are actually
dangerous and harmful for pregnancy. Among those are caffeine containing food, aloe vera (Aloe sp.
), cheese 28. Aloevea is considered harmful for pregnancy if consumed orally 29. Women are known
to use aloevea juice to induce abortion at home. Alovera is known to cause uterine contraction and
uterine hemorrhage causing miscarriage 29. Cheese may cause infection of bacteria listeria in
pregnant women and thus may impose threat of abortion and hence is better to avoid during months
of pregnancy 28. Sprouted potatoes contain certain chemicals like alpha soanine and alpha chaconine
etc., and those chemicals are known to cause potential developmental deformities in developing
embryo. The deformities in early stage embryo may lead to abortion. Hence, sprouted potatoes
should be strictly avoided during pregnancy 28.
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Table 1. List Of Some Forbidden Plant Foods, Harmful Components And Their Effects On Pregnancy
Food is an important component for a healthy life. Food is very important for maintaining a
healthy pregnancy. The pregnant mother not only needs to consume foods rich in vitamins and
minerals but also she should consume a balanced diet 29-31. Junk foods and spicy foods should be
strictly avoided in order to avoid health ailments during pregnancy. Foods which are easily digestible
should be in d daily diet of a pregnant woman. Her diet should be composed of foods rich in dietary
fibers, vitamins and minerals. There are many foods which we eat regularly and hardly bother to
exclude those from a pregnant woman‟s diet. There are several such common foods , some of which
have been discussed in this review which can impose serious threat to the developing embryo and the
damage may be severe enough to cause miscarriage. Pregnancy is a blessing in a woman‟s life which
completes her womanhood. During this period a tiny little human develops in the mother‟s womb.
The woman‟s physiology undergoes several changes 32,, 33 . Thus the period of pregnancy is very
delicate and needs special care. Proper rest, a balanced diet devoid of harmful foods and rich in
vitamins 29, regular medical check up, guidace and medication, self awareness and self care are
extremely important during this phase. Care from others at home and work place are also necessary
for maintaining sound health of both mother and fetus during the entire period of pregnancy. A
pregnant mother should be made aware about the foods she consumes and their probable effects on
Plant foods
Papa in
Reduces progesterone level and endometrial thickening.
Milky Latex
Stimulates prostaglandin and oxytocin assisted uterine
Pine apple
Brome lain
Softens endometrial tissues and cervix, induces early
labour leading to miscarriage.
Bitter gourd
Momordica proteins and momorcharins
Abortifacient effects.
Fenugreek seed
Oxytocin mimicking action and preterm labour inducer
Triggers early menstruation and risk factor during early
Sesame seeds
Estrogen like substance
Competes with estrogens at trophoblastic binding sites
reduces trophoblastic growth and HCG production.
Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera latex or anthraquinones
The latex is also thought to cause congenital disabilities
in the foetus. It can cause abortion or stimulate
Ghosh Debosree et al., IJSRR 2018, 7(4), 171-178
IJSRR, 7(4) Oct. Dec., 2018 Page 176
her pregnancy. Foods that a pregnant mother eats decide the health of the growing fetus and also the
mother‟s health. Sound health‟s of the mother with normal levels of pregnancy hormones are
necessary for inhibiting unnecessary uterine contractions and for maintaining a normal and healthy
Dr. DG is in West Bengal Educational Service (WBES) and acknowledges the Department of
Physiology, Govt. General Degree College, Kharagpur II, West Bengal, India. Dr. SG is in West
Bengal Educational Service (WBES) and acknowledges the Department of Physiology Hooghly
Mohsin College, Chinsurah, Hooghly, West Bengal, India.
Authors declare no conflict of interest
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Full-text available
Pregnancy is a condition which is considered a blessing in a woman’s life. Being a mother is said to be an ultimate phase of a woman’s life that completes her life. Pregnancy comes with lots of successive changes in the physiology of a woman. Most of these changes are detrimental for the woman and many of these changes are not very pleasant experience. However, the good news is that pregnancy comes with some beautiful experiences as well as some real health benefits for the would be mother. Pregnancy induces some beneficial health changes in the woman.
Full-text available
Pregnancy is a condition which is considered a blessing in a woman’s life. Being a mother is said to be an ultimate phase of a woman’s life that completes her life. Pregnancy comes with lots of successive changes in the physiology of a woman. Most of these changes are detrimental for the woman and many of these changes are not very pleasant experience. However, the good news is that pregnancy comes with some beautiful experiences as well as some real health benefits for the would be mother. Pregnancy induces some beneficial health changes in the woman.
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One of the important legumes as a source of protein is Fenugreek seed (Trigonella Foeum-graecium). It is used as food and as a medicine to cure certain ailiments. Fenugreek is considered as a highly nutritive seeds since it contain essential and non essential amino acids. The active substances are Trigonelline, galactamman, choline, sterod, saponins and Flavonainds other pharmacological properties of Fenugreek (Rao et al., 1996) is to stimulate appetite and increase milk production and progesterone, oxytocin and thyroid hormone levels. So it considered to be as autcrine stimulant and to induce labour (Bing et al., 1991) and it was used as spermicidal and contraceptive agent. The present study was designed to investigate the effects of Trigonella Foenum of oral admi nistration on biochemical, haematologial on pregnant and non pregnant
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Bromelain is a concoction of sulfhydryl proteolytic enzymes. Depending upon the site of extraction it can be regarded as either stem bromelain (SBM) (EC or fruit bromelain (FBM) (EC Bromelain remain enzymatic active over a broad spectrumand endure a range of pH (5.5 to 8.0) and temperature (35.5 to 71 ºC). It is one of the extensively investigated proteolytic enzyme owing to its astonishing applications in various industries. This necessitated employing a strategy that result in highest purified bromelain in less steps and lowest cost. Use of modernistic approach such as membrane filtration, reverse micellar systems, aqueous two phase extraction and chromatographic techniques have shown promise in this regard. Besides its industrial applications, bromelain has been widely utilized as a potential phytomedical compound. Some of its reported actions include inhibition of platelet aggregation, anti-edematous, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, modulation of cytokines and immunity, skin debridement and fibrinolytic activity. It also assist digestion, enhance absorption of other drugs and is a potential postoperatively agent that promote wound healing and reduce postsurgical discomfort and swelling.
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The present study was under taken to establish the uterine stimulant activity of aqueous extract of unripe Carica papaya. The effect of the aqueous extract of unripe Carica papaya was studied on isolated rat uterus and embryo. Uterine stimulant activity was compared with clinically available drug oxytocin and the effect on embryo was compared with misoprostol. In the in vitro model, Carica papaya showed contractile effect on the isolated uterus in diestrus stage and when administered orally in dose of 200 and 400 mg/kg to pregnant rats, resulted in gradual decrease in body weight indicating embryonic resorption. The present study confirms the uterine stimulant activity of aqueous extract of unripe Carica papaya fruit.
Solanum melongena Linn. is a herbaceous plant, with coarsely lobed leaves, white to purple flowers, fruit is berry and are grown mainly for food and medicinal purposes. The plant contains flavonoids, tropane, glycoalkaloids, arginine, lanosterol, gramisterol, aspartic acid as important constituents. The plant is reported to have analgesic, antipyretic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiasthmatic, hypolipidemic, hypotensive, antiplatelet, intraocular pressure reducing, CNS depressant and anaphylactic reaction inhibitory activities. Traditional herbal medicine existed before the application of modern scientific method to health care and even today majority of the world population depends on herbal health care practices. This review gives an overview mainly on the medicinal uses, phytochemistry and pharmacological actions of Solanum melongena.
Context: The health benefits and medicinal properties of herbal food products are known since antiquity. Fenugreek [Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn. (Fabaceae)], a seed spice used to enhance flavor, color and texture of food, is employed for medicinal purposes in many traditional systems. A number of epidemiological studies and laboratory research have unraveled the biological actions of fenugreek. Objective: Research on fenugreek in recent years has identified a number of health benefits and physiological attributes in both experimental animals as well as clinical trials in humans. In this study we have reviewed the available scientific literature on fenugreek. Methods: This review article summarizes and reviews published experimental studies and scientific literature from the databases including PubMed, Google and local library searches. Results: The information available in the literature on the health benefits and pharmaceutical effects of Trigonella accounts for its known medicinal properties and adds new therapeutic effects in newer indications. Besides its known medicinal properties such as carminative, gastric stimulant, antidiabetic and galactogogue (lactation-inducer) effects, newer research has identified hypocholesterolemic, antilipidemia, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiulcer, antilithigenic, anticarcinogenic and other miscellaneous medicinal effects of fenugreek. Although most of these studies have used whole seed powder or different forms of extracts, some have identified active constituents from seeds and attributed them medicinal values for different indications. Conclusion: The resarch on Trigonella exhibits its health benefits and potential medicinal properties in various indications and has little or no side effects, suggesting its pharmaceutical, therapeutic and nutritional potential.