Is it safe to drink garri during pregnancy and while breastfeeding? Is drinking garri good for a pregnant woman? Is drinking garri good for breastfeeding mothers?
Let us discuss.
Garri made from cassava is a staple and a cheap food eaten by both the rich and the poor in West Africa. Garri can be soaked in water before drinking or can be made into a popular swallow called eba and eaten with soup. Drinking garri is also a whole new form of snacking since it is readily available and affordable.
Now, how safe is it to drink garri?
Before I answer this question, be aware of this….Most of Garri we consume are hurriedly and poorly prepared, the producers are not patient enough for the ground cassava to fully ferment. Scientifically, unfermented garri or poorly fermented garri contains high traces of a chemical substance called cyanide.
Studies have linked cyanide to several cause of health challenges such as respiratory failure, hypothyroidism, goitre, blindness, cancers, cataracts, eye defects, pregnancy loss and even congenital birth defects. However, the concentration of cyanide derived from garri is very minimal if you are not a frequent or chronic drinker of ijebu garri.
You may ask…. Can I drink garri in early pregnancy? Is good drinking garri good for a pregnant woman..? What is the Effect of drinking garri during pregnancy?
I will not say yes. It is important for pregnant women to drastically reduce the quantity and frequency of drinking garri or stop it all together..
This is because cyanide, a poisonous chemical substance found in garri have been shown by research to cause pregnancy loss or miscarriage, hypothyroidism in pregnancy (which can lead to anemia, muscle weakness, low birth weight, preterm labour, heart failure, hypothyroid baby, stillbirth and miscarriage), goitre, and congenital birth abnormalities.
Cyanide can pass through the placenta membrane to your unborn baby and cause untoward damage and even death in-utero. You may say you have not seen a pregnant woman who drinks garri alot develop any of these complications but let me tell you today, it happens and there are clinical studies to back this up.
I therefore advise you to stop taking garri while pregnant to safeguard the health of your unborn baby. Moreover, a pregnant woman needs foods rich in nutrients like proteins, carbs, minerals and vitamins and drinking too much of garri (very low in essential nutrients) will lead to malnourishment, low birth weight, still and anemia in pregnancy. It is worthy of note that most cases women who developed Lassa fever in pregnancy got it from drinking garri.
For women who crave drinking carry while pregnant, ensure that they take only a little anxious it must be the yellow garri (the one that has red oil added to it during preparation or fermentation).
Yellow garri contains less cyanide. If you can avoid taking garri while pregnant please do. Heat destroys cyanide so you can eat eba while pregnant.
Now to breast feeding and drinking garri.
Is it safe to drink garri while breastfeeding? Is drinking garri good for breastfeeding or nursing mothers?
As a breastfeeding mother or a nursing mother, you have to be watchful of what you eat because you are actually eating for two. It is essential that mothers maintain regular meals when breastfeeding to acquire important nutrients and also to increase their breast milk production (quantity and quality wise). Drinking too much garri while breastfeeding will not supply the woman the essential nutrients needed in the breast milk to keep both the woman and the baby healthy.
More so, drinking garri may secrete traces of cyanide into the breastmilk which your newborn may suck up. The cyanide may injure the brain of your baby especially if you are a lover of soaking garri to drink. This may later cause seizure disorder or convulsion in your baby. To avoid this, if you want to eat soaked garri at all, please let it be yellow garri and add plenty of milk with fish.
In summary, garri is not all that bad, it has been saving lives since the existence of humans with numerous health benefits. However, I personally advise you avoid drinking garri during pregnancy and breastfeeding to be on a safe side and for the sake of your baby. You can eat eba anyway.