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NOV. 17, 2018
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HEALTH & FAMILY

The Truth About ‘Paglilihi’— An Expert Explains

By Gerald DIZON

MANILA, Philippines—Nangingidam in Bicol, magli’i in Kapampangan; in Pangansinan, man-nginginew, in Masbateño, nagalihi; in Ilocano, it’s ag-in-inaw – almost every ethno-linguistic group in the country has this concept in their lexicon.

All in all, paglilihi is a cultural concept about pregnancy that has endured for a very long time. In Vocabulario Tagalog-Castellano published in 1887, paglilihi translated to la concepción or conception.

Common understanding of paglilihi manifests in many ways: nausea or morning sickness, taking an inexplicable liking to someone or something, and developing extreme cravings for certain types of food—especially those that are hard to find or in unusual combinations with other food. In the most common cases, it is “food that is usually sour or atypical, food that is not in its original taste and flavor, say green mango dipped in peanut butter,” says nutritionist Jo Ann Salamat, in an exclusive interview with Philstar.com.

Paglilihi, moreover, supposedly influenced physical attributes of the unborn baby, as well as influence its personality growing up.

The truth, however, is more complicated. “Here in the Philippines, it is more of cultural,” Salamat says. “To be more specific, science describes it either biological or psychological although lihi is more attributed to hormonal changes (biological).”

The lihi process usually occurs during the first trimester of the pregnancy, the most crucial stage for the developing baby. Asked whether it’s nutrient deficiency that is the culprit for the unusual food cravings, Salamat says it isn’t necessarily the case. She adds that there is no one-to-one correspondence when it comes to food cravings.

“For example, green mango dipped in peanut butter may be craved by one pregnant woman, and be completely rejected by another. There’s no exact science for this yet,” Salamat says.

As far as believing that babies can obtain certain traits through paglilihi, genetics provides a far more reasonable basis—that it is genes and not food cravings that dictate what traits are inherited from either biological parents.

Paglilihi remains a controversial issue. Whether they choose to satisfy their cravings or not, pregnant mommies should primarily concern themselves with getting healthy and eating right since these are what immediately impact the baby in the womb.

“As soon as the woman discovers that she is pregnant, she should see a doctor right away and attend to her health and nutrition needs. Health-wise, she should avoid the following: going to crowded places, eating raw fish, taking medicines (unless with the go signal of a doctor), smoking, drinking alcohol, etc. And when it comes to nutrition, almost every nutrient counts in pregnancy. However, the most important ones are: protein, calcium, folic acid or folate, iron, iodine, vitamin C and zinc,” Salamat explains.

These nutrients can come from different food sources, but Salamat recommends an extra boost by taking supplements since pregnant mothers require nutrients at a higher level. She suggests taking maternal milk as a form of nutrient supplementation since nutrients in this form are better metabolized and absorbed by the body, compared to tablet forms.

This is where Anmum Materna comes in. Anmum is the No. # 1 maternal milk in the Philippines because it provides essential pregnancy nutrients. It’s the only maternal milk brand that has Mind Q plus (a combination of DHA, Neulipid-Ga and SA that help in the baby’s brain development).

It is safest supplement for the mother’s and baby’s health and it would be best taken throughout pregnancy and not just in the first trimester, in terms of paglilihi. What’s better is that Anmum has flavors that is fit for different cravings: Plain, Chocolate and Mocha Latte (without the added caffeine). (www.philstar.com)

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