The importance of diet in the pre-conceptional and pregnancy stage

Nutrition relevance in preconceptional stage and in the pregnancy period

A healthy woman during conceptional phase is more likely to have a successful pregnancy and a healthy child. Relevant scientific papers showed that a conscientious pregnancy planning in behavioral terms, especially regarding the nutrition, that is fundamental during both the gestational and the child development period. Nowadays, it is well known that the key period for prevention of adulthood disease are the first 1000 days of life (from conception until two years). It’s important that in this phase having an appropriate intake of energy, macro and micronutrients.

Unbalanced diet and obesity are widespread in women at gestational age and the differences between high- and low-income countries are becoming less prominent with a poor adherence to good nutritional rules in both contexts, especially among adolescents. Moreover, the large spread of the fake news in nutritional field, bring many non-expert subjects to run across in diet even before conception, so that undermine health of future mother. Nutritional imbalances induced by inadequate diets can have a strongly negative impact on the health of the future unborn child. Also, in pregnancy or before that, there aren’t good or bad foods to choose: all food must be intake in the right doses following a healthy and heterogenous diet. In a balanced diet, 58-60% of daily calories come from carbohydrates whose at least 3/4 should be intake as complex sugars (whole meal bread and pasta, rice and corn); 25% should be taken as fat and 15 % as protein. Mediterranean diet food pyramid teaches us that fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts should be intake every day along with an unsaturated fat source as Olio d’Oliva. Fruits should be consumed at least three times a day and vegetable intake should be large. Also, milk and its derivates should be intake every day, such as white meats and eggs should be consumed three times a week. A few times a month red meat and simple sugars in the form of sweets and snacks, but right at the tip of the food pyramid!

It’s fundamental to stress that healthy professionals must promote a healthy and right diet in whole population, especially addressing to all women that are planning a pregnancy. Well-informed woman will grow her child up in healthy and balanced nutritional way, preventing childhood obesity, a problem not easily understood in these modern times, where junk food culture is invasive.

Did you know that?

  • For healthy, normal-weight woman with a moderately active lifestyle, the pregnancy involves a modest increase of caloric needs, which changes based on a quarter in question. The nutritional guidelines for the Italian population indicate an additional need of about 70 kcal / day for the first trimester, 270 kcal / day for the second and 500 kcal / day for the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • During the pregnancy is good to avoid: smoked food, meat and fish raw, fermented cheese (gorgonzola), unpasteurized milk, raw eggs, highly methyl-mercury contained fish (tuna, swordfish), raw sausages, pickled foods, animal fat , foods that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, alcohol, sweeteners and sugary drinks.


  1. Stephenson J, Heslehurst N, Hall J, Schoenaker DAJM, Hutchinson J, Cade JE, Poston L, Barrett G, Crozier SR, Barker M, Kumaran K, Yajnik CS, Baird J, Mishra GD. Before the beginning: nutrition and lifestyle in the preconception period and its importance for future health. Lancet. 2018 May 5;391(10132):1830-1841
  2. Hughes SO, Papaioannou MA. Maternal Predictors of Child Dietary Behaviors and Weight Status. Curr Nutr Rep. 2018 Oct 22. doi: 10.1007/s13668-018-0250-1.

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