Soy Milk During Pregnancy: Benefits and Risks
The health benefits alone of soy milk will have you reaching for a glass whether you are pregnant or not. However, Soy milk is not without its side effects, and must be consumed fresh and in moderation.
Pregnancy is a time rife with doubts for the soon-to-be parents, and their primary concern most often revolves around if the unborn baby is receiving all the required nutrition needed for complete growth. As a foetus is completely dependent upon its mother for sustenance, it is very important that the mother follows a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle.
Milk is, of course, a staple in every pregnant woman’s diet. However, there are many women who are lactose intolerant and therefore, cannot tolerate milk or milk products. Soy milk during pregnancy as an alternative to lactose-based foods is an option most pregnant women consider.
Rich in a variety of nutrients, it has a truckload of health benefits, particularly for pregnant women.
Benefits of Drinking Soy Milk during Pregnancy:
- Rich in Nutrients
Soy milk is rich in proteins and fibre, both of which must feature heavily in every pregnant woman’s diet plan. Folic acid, and vitamins B1, A and E are also found in soy milk, in rich quantities. All of these help the overall growth of the unborn child, and particularly improves the growth of nerve cells.
- Energy Booster
Drinking soy milk during pregnancy can act as an energy booster. Growing a baby is hard work and many pregnant women complain of exhaustion and feeling drained of energy. The riboflavin, carbohydrates, and vegetable fats contained in soy milk will help replenish depleted energy levels during pregnancy, and aid in boosting the growth of the foetus.
- Stronger Bones
Medical experts insist that pregnant women observe a high intake of calcium in their daily diet. The unborn baby also requires a lot of calcium for its developing bones and muscle mass. It contains high levels of calcium, making it the perfect drink during pregnancy.
- Balance Mood Swings
Mood swings are unavoidable during pregnancy, with fluctuating hormone levels often wreaking havoc on your system. Drinking soy milk during pregnancy will help neutralise mood swings thanks to the rich amount of vitamin B complex and magnesium present in its components. The magnesium present will further help to release the hormone serotonin in your body which works as an anti-depressant for the mind.
- Clearer Skin
Although people extol the virtues of a ‘pregnancy glow’ the reality is sometimes quite different, especially in late pregnancy. Many pregnant women are known to suffer from hyper-pigmentation, darkening of the skin, as well as acne. Drinking this is a good natural remedy to combat these irritating issues as you hurtle towards the end of your pregnancy.
- Healthy Hair Growth
Some women are known to suffer acute hair fall during pregnancy or during the postnatal period. This drink is beneficial in promoting healthy hair growth, ensuring smooth and shiny locks that are easily manageable. It will be one less thing for you to worry about with a new baby on the way, or in your arms.
Side Effects of Drinking Soy Milk during Pregnancy:
Despite the health benefits, there are a few probable side effects that can be caused by regular consumption of soy milk.
- The isoflavones contained in soy milk can sometimes mimic the female hormone estrogen. This might cause complications in your pregnancy if the amount exceeds a certain limit.
- Expectant mothers have been known to display allergic symptoms like breathing difficulties, rashes, swelling, and vomiting after drinking soy milk. Therefore, even if you are not allergic to it, it is always safer to stick to small quantities of soy milk during pregnancy.
- Rare cases have also been reported of soy milk causing anaphylaxis in people.
How To Make Soy Milk
It is always better to have soy milk in moderation during pregnancy. This will ensure that you and your unborn child are able to enjoy the benefits without experiencing any unwelcome health issues. Here is a simple recipe to make fresh soy milk at home, flavoured to your taste.
- Half a cup (80 g) of dried soybeans
- 4 cups of water
- Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
- Soak the soybeans in water overnight (or 12 hours or longer).
- Drain the soybeans and remove the outer skin (removing the outer skin is optional. Your milk will tend to be thicker if the outer skin is removed).
- Blend the soybeans in 3 cups of water until almost smooth. You can adjust the thickness by adjusting the quantity of water.
- Drain the blended mixture using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
- Pour the strained mixture into a pot or saucepan and add another cup of water. Bring this to a boil and skim the foam off. Turn the heat to medium and cook thoroughly for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once the milk is cool, you can add other ingredients like vanilla extract, cocoa powder or ground cinnamon to suit your taste. You can also add any sweeteners, like sugar, palm sugar, maple syrup and honey.
- Leftovers can be stored in sealed containers in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
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