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Gestational Diabetes and how to avoid it

What is gestational diabetes?

We're not doctors, so all we can do is compile information for you to independently research. However, GD is, as explained by Mayo Clinic, an affliction that causes high blood pressure and may affect the health of mother and baby (but many women go on to deliver healthy babies after managing their diagnosis with a midwife or OB).

As you eat, glucose from the sugar in food enters your bloodstream and causes your pancreas to produce insulin. This hormone helps transport glucose from your blood to your cells where it can be used as energy.

In pregnant women, the hormones created by your placenta can disrupt how insulin is used by your body which can raise blood sugar levels higher than normal. This becomes a bigger issue later in pregnancy and does not typically appear in the first trimester(s).


Like most things, prevention can be easier than treatment. Women who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, or are older than 25 are more likely to experience GD, according to Mayo Clinic.

A lot of these prevention tips are also suggested as complements to traditional treatment. However, any changes in diet or supplemental treatment plans should be approved by a medical professional.

  • Exercise - Because excessive weight gain is a risk factor for all forms of diabetes, regular exercise is always a good idea. For women who do not currently have a fitness plan, start slow, especially when pregnant. Check out Youtube for low impact cardio videos, take regular walks, and opt for the stairs instead of an elevator.

  • Increase fiber intake - Several studies have shown that low fiber both before, and during, pregnancy can increase the likelihood of a woman being diagnosed with GD. Natural sources of fiber include beans, oatmeal, nuts, popcorn, peas, raspberries and chia seeds.

  • Get more vitamin C - Increased vitamin C consumption has been shown to help decrease the risk of gestational diabetes. Natural sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, guava, red and green peppers, papaya, kiwi and black currant.

  • Reduced sugar diet - Because diabetes impacts how sugar is absorbed by the body, limiting your sugar intake may be a good idea in pregnancy. Eliminating foods with added sugar is a good place to start. Read every ingredient list when buying processed items and check what's in each product. *Remember* Never remove healthy foods like fruits from your diet without talking to a doctor. These may be high in sugar, but they are also full of good vitamins and are processed slower than refined sugar is.

  • Astragalus - This traditional Chinese herb has been said to have many positive effects during pregnancy, which you can find on the Mom Junction blog. We do not recommend taking any herb while pregnant without consulting a medical professional and an herbalist. However, if you'd like to do more research, there are studies that have linked consumption of this substance with a decrease in GD and lower blood sugar levels after diagnosis.


In recent years controversy has been brewing over the use of Glucola, which is the common name for that sickeningly sweet orange drink your doctor will have you drink around week 24-28 of pregnancy during a "glucose challenge".

Health food advocates like the writer of Food Babe point out that Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) has been banned in Europe and Japan, although it's still found in Glucola. This flame retardant has been associated with a litany of health concerns when consumed in large quantities.

That being said, doctors like Dr. Jen Gunter reference a variety of studies that show Glucola is safe for pregnancy and causes no harm to mom or baby (except maybe a stomach ache).

If you're concerned about this orange beverage, the best thing to do is to talk to your doctor about side effects and alternatives before making any decisions one way or the other.

#foodanddrink #recommendation #pregnancy

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