New Study Shows Benefits of Mediterranean Diet In Pregnancy

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Reduced Stress And Improved Sleep Report By Following Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet In Pregnancy
Mediterranean Diet In Pregnancy

If you’re a pregnant and looking for ways to reduce your stress levels and improve the quality of your sleep, recent research has revealed that following the Mediterranean Diet could be an effective way of achieving both.

Here at Morocco Gold, we explore this new study in detail so you can make informed decisions about how best to take care of yourself as a soon-to-be parent – read on for all the necessary details!


New Study Links Mediterranean Diet with Reduced Stress In Pregnancy

A recent study published in Nutrients explores the effect of following a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) in pregnancy on maternal well-being, sleep quality, and stress.

The Health Benefits Of The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to have endless positive health benefits.  A series of randomized control trials have demonstrated the contribution of the Mediterranean Diet to reduce cardiovascular disease and improve cardiovascular profiles in persons at risk of cognitive decline, diabetes, cancer, and inflammatory disorders. There is also growing interest in the effects of the Mediterranean Diet on quality of life, mental health, and stress.

And this latest report, summarised in News Medical Life Sciences, demonstrates how the Mediterranean Diet can have a significant positive effect on anxiety and stress during pregnancy. It states:

Anxiety and stress are common among pregnant individuals, with numerous mental disorders occurring before pregnancy and even changing during and after pregnancy.

News Medical Life Sciences

The Mediterranean Diet and Stress Reduction in Pregnancy: A Study

Here is a summary of study outcomes as reported in News Medical Life Sciences (full details of the study can be found here).

Individuals were screened during their regular ultrasonography appointment in the second trimester for the risk of having an SGA neonate. Participants were randomized to three intervention arms, which included a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, MedDiet intervention, and usual care, with the current study assessing participants from the MedDiet intervention and usual care groups.

MedDiet subjects were instructed to consume more fresh fruits, legumes, whole-grain cereals, dairy products, vegetables, white meat, fish, and nuts and use olive oil for dressings and cooking. Controls received the usual care in pregnancy without any intervention. Subjects in either group did not receive advice or intervention on mental health, sleep quality, well-being, stress, or anxiety.

The primary outcome was the effect of the MedDiet intervention on maternal well-being, sleep quality, mindfulness, stress, and anxiety.

MedDiet improves mental health and sleep quality in pregnant women

The study included 331 participants in the MedDiet intervention and 349 in the usual care group, with similar baseline characteristics observed between these groups. Perinatal and pregnancy outcomes were not significantly different between groups. Perceived stress, poor sleep quality, and anxiety increased in all participants throughout gestation.

MedDiet participants exhibited significantly lower perceived stress at the end of the intervention period as compared to controls. Likewise, MedDiet subjects had lower final anxiety scores than controls and improved sleep quality.

Approximately 20% of MedDiet subjects had poor well-being as compared to over 27% of controls. There were no significant differences in mindfulness scores between groups.

The 24-hour cortisone/cortisol ratio increased during gestation and was similar between groups; however, this increase was more pronounced among MedDiet subjects. Furthermore, MedDiet subjects had higher total cortisone concentration and percentage but lower 5β-tetrahydrocortisone/cortisone ratio at the final assessment than controls.

Conclusions From Study On Mediterranean Diet In Pregnancy

The MedDiet intervention led to a significant reduction in maternal stress and anxiety, with improvements in sleep quality and well-being among pregnant individuals at risk for an SGA newborn. However, the researchers could not estimate long-term dietary intake, including pre-pregnancy dietary patterns and changes during pregnancy.

Most subjects were ethnically White with middle or high socioeconomic status. As a result, these findings may not apply to other populations and should be considered preliminary. 

Given the growing significance of mental health contributions to pregnancy outcomes, the study findings may imply that pregnancy-adapted MedDiet could be a vital public health strategy.

Benefits Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil For Fertility

As well as contributing to a healthy Mediterranean Diet during pregnancy, a quality extra virgin olive oil can also benefit your fertility.

What Is The Best Olive Oil To Buy For Fertility?

It is important to ensure you buy the right Extra Virgin Olive Oil to ensure the highest possible quantity of these fabulous fertility boosting antioxidants in every drizzle.

But beware! – not all olive oil is the same. There are different grades of olive oil and associated standards are defined by the International Olive Council.

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality, best extra virgin olive oil you can get. To qualify as extra virgin olive oil, it is an olive oil of less than 0.8% acidity and has no taste defects. In practice, the very best extra virgin olive oils have acidity levels much lower. Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil is consistently below 0.5%, normally around 0.25% to 0.3% depending on the weather conditions throughout the growing season.

Why Is Nutrition Important For Fertility?

According to the Olive Wellness Institute, nutrition can impact the health of the egg, the health of the sperm, the production of fertility hormones which impact the timing of ovulation, the health of the uterus (and consequently the likelihood of implantation), and the growth and development of the foetus.

There are 4 key stages of support that nutrition intervention is required.

  1. Try To Conceive
  2. Dietary Conditions
  3. Assisted Reproductive Treatments
  4. IVF

Trying To Conceive

The first stage is couples who have just started trying to conceive.  The key message for couples who are trying to conceive is the impact of nutrition to shape their baby’s future.  Research suggests that preconception nutrition can influence genetic programming to impact a child’s future weight, risk of chronic diseases and cognitive abilities.  

For example, a study by Dr Petry and colleagues suggests that pre-conception maternal and paternal lipid intake may impact genetic printing to influence the child’s future development and metabolism.  Furthermore, a Mediterranean-style diet and monounsaturated fat intake during pregnancy has been linked to decreased cardiovascular disease risk for the baby later on in life.

Dietary conditions During Pregnancy

Stage two is for couples with pre-existing or newly diagnosed dietary conditions which increase the risk of infertility.  Conditions include Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis, Insulin Resistance, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Thyroid conditions and more.  Couples with dietary conditions need to be counselled that optimal dietary management may assist in improving fertility outcomes.  For example, studies suggest that endometriosis may be improved with an anti-inflammatory type diet.  Extra Virgin olive oil has been found to be beneficial for immune-inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease and may also play a protective role in endometriosis.   

Current studies suggest that a Mediterranean-diet style may be beneficial for clients with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.