Gestational diabetes is on the rise: Here are nutritional tips to prevent and treat it

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Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who do not have diabetes.

It’s growing – and experts are worried.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 30% increase in gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) — the official term for gestational diabetes — among women who gave birth by 2016 in a new study. and 2020.

The institution noted that the rate of gestational diabetes increased with maternal age, pre-pregnancy body mass index, and multiple live births (twins, triplets, etc.).

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According to a CDC study, rates of gestational diabetes increased from 4.7% in Mississippi to 12.6% in Alaska in 2020.

“About 50% of women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes,” notes the CDC.

A pregnant woman goes to the doctor. Rates of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) vary by mother’s race, according to a new CDC study.
(iStock)

Also, the rate of GDM varies by maternal race, with the highest rate in non-Hispanic Asians at 14.9% and the lowest in non-Hispanic black women at 6.5% in the six largest race and Hispanic groups studied. to the final report.

Insulin activity is impaired

“During pregnancy, the mother’s hormones ‘compete’ with the hormones produced by the placenta and cause insulin to become less active or less sensitive,” says Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haines, a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Headquartered in Chicago.

“When this happens, the mother can’t maintain normal blood sugar levels and often needs medical intervention to keep it stable during pregnancy.”

“This is called insulin resistance,” he added.

“When this happens, the mother can’t maintain normal blood sugar levels and often needs medical intervention to keep it stable during pregnancy.”

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There are basic steps you can take to try to prevent it.

Research shows that some ways to reduce your risk of developing GDM include seeking the guidance of a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to help you make diet and lifestyle changes to safely lower your blood sugar, Anderson-Haines said.

Maintaining a healthy weight is key

She encourages women to maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy by “eating a nutritious diet and getting regular physical activity most days of the week,” which “reduces the risk of developing GDM.”

Also, “pay attention to what you eat,” she said.

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“Try to limit fried foods, ultra-processed foods like potato chips and French fries, refined carbohydrates like white rice, fatty foods — especially saturated fats — processed meats, and sugary drinks,” says Anderson-Haines. has joined.

It is always wise to eat

It’s always wise to eat a “balanced diet with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, milk or milk alternatives, and protein foods.”
(iStock)

“Instead, consider eating a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, milk/milk alternatives, and protein foods.”

He says the nutritional management of GDM is similar to that of type 1 diabetes (caused by an autoimmune reaction where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin) and type 2 diabetes (caused by insulin resistance due to weight gain). and lifestyle factors).

The types of foods she recommends are high in fiber, healthy dietary fats, low-fat dairy products (or dairy alternatives), and lean protein with an emphasis on low glycemic index.

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He also recommended eating more carbohydrates that slowly raise blood sugar – some starchy vegetables, fruits, whole-wheat breads, rice pasta, etc. – and non-starchy vegetables, such as green leafy vegetables, carrots, peppers and others.

“It’s important to personalize nutrition,” he said. “There’s no set amount of carbs, fat, protein, etc. that everyone should eat. That’s the same for people with diabetes or prediabetes.”

A full health team may be needed

However, if mothers develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, Anderson-Haines says their OB-GYN can refer them to a multidisciplinary team that includes an endocrinologist, a maternal-fetal health specialist and an RDN who is also certified in diabetes care and education. specialist.

A nurse collects a blood sample from a pregnant woman.  Sometimes insulin is needed if diet and lifestyle medications do not control blood sugar.

A nurse collects a blood sample from a pregnant woman. Sometimes insulin is needed if diet and lifestyle medications do not control blood sugar.
(iStock)

“For many women, GDM can be managed with diet and lifestyle interventions.”

Sometimes, however, insulin is needed if these changes don’t control the blood, according to the American Diabetes Association’s standards of care for diabetes.

After pregnancy, women with GDM should follow up with a diabetes health care team after delivery, usually 6 to 8 weeks into pregnancy.

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The team ideally includes an endocrinologist and an RDN specializing in women’s health and diabetes.

Healthcare providers and patients must act quickly when GDM is diagnosed to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Treatment therapy is individualized.

She noted that some women may need medication to manage high blood sugar, while others may need only diet and lifestyle management.

The good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable — research shows it can go into remission with intensive medical care, Anderson-Haines said.

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He recommends eating some “pearls” of wisdom to stay healthy.

Are you following these “pearls”?

“Simple tips include: focus on plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains), limit fried and ultra-processed foods, sugary foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.”

The mother and child are in good health, and the pregnant mother learns when she visits the doctor.  About 50% of women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, according to a new CDC study.

The mother and child are in good health, and the pregnant mother learns when she visits the doctor. About 50% of women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes, according to a new CDC study.
(iStock)

Remember to exercise most days of the week, maintain good sleep hygiene, and manage stress.

Adults should eat 1.5 to 2 cups or more of fruit daily, according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for America.

And women should limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons (25 grams of sugar) and men should limit it to 9 teaspoons (36 grams of sugar) daily, according to the American Heart Association.

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“Dried fruit has a higher sugar content than whole fruit because the sugar is more concentrated after the water is removed,” Anderson-Haines said.

“Fruit has natural sugars and is good for you because it provides lots of nutrients like fiber and antioxidants.”

“Eat easy on smoothie bowls and fruit drinks.”

Too much fruit — especially in one serving — can cause blood sugar spikes if not balanced with other foods.

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“So eat smoothie bowls and fruit drinks,” she said.

Finally, he said, health care providers and patients should act quickly when GDM is diagnosed to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

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For more information, she recommends the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, the American Diabetes Association website, or the How RDN Can Help Diabetes website when seeking RDN guidance.

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