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Is Consuming Spicy Foods Harmful During Pregnancy? Experts Answer

Is Consuming Spicy Foods Harmful During Pregnancy? Experts Answer

Leading medical and nutrition experts have said there is no scientific evidence to suggest that eating spicy foods during pregnancy is dangerous.

They, however, said eating spicy foods might predispose pregnant women to the risk of heartburn, especially in those who had ulcers before conception.

Speaking exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise, a Professor of Public Health Nutrition, Ignatius Onimawo, said he was not aware of any spicy food that was contraindicated in pregnancy.

Onimawo, a former Vice-Chancellor of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, said,

“I am not aware of any spices pregnant women should avoid. But I can say that eating spices is a bit more cultural.

“There are some people that eat a lot of spices but others don’t. They don’t like it because of the way a person is brought up.”

Onimawo, a former President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria listed drugs and alcohol as the ones that were contraindicated in pregnancy and had harmful effects on the foetus and not spicy foods.

The nutritionist urged pregnant women to eat healthily and consume more fruits and vegetables.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, food safety is vital for everyone – but especially for pregnant women, their unborn babies, and children younger than five.

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An online portal, BabyCentre says spicy foods are safe during pregnancy. The centre said:

“Yes, spicy foods are safe for you and your baby when you’re pregnant. They certainly don’t make the long list of foods you should avoid when you’re expecting.

“Plenty of people (wrongly) believe that eating spicy food is dangerous, whether or not you’re pregnant. It’s not true! Spicy foods are safe, although your taste buds and digestive system may not always do well with the heat.”

Also, the National President of the Healthcare Providers Association of Nigeria, Dr Austin Aipoh, told PUNCH that the claim that eating spicy foods during pregnancy would harm babies was just a myth and had no scientific basis.

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Aipoh, a public health physician said,

“For me, there is no scientific evidence to show that any of the spices that we know of causes illness in babies. But despite that, if there are some spices that one is not sure of, a pregnant woman should avoid them.”

The physician urged pregnant women to avoid unknown spices, adding that consuming certain spices could aggravate stomach ulcers.

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The HCPAN president noted, “For heartburn, it is a possibility, pregnant women are exposed to heartburn. For people that have ulcers or gastritis, when they are pregnant, it gets worse.

In such patients, if they go and take a very spicy food with plenty of pepper or ginger or alligator pepper, yes, it could make them have heartburn- dyspepsia.”

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