Gestational diabetes. You’ve probably heard of it. Maybe your sister got it. Maybe your neighbour.
I’ve seen dear friends, as well as relatives, suffer from it.
This is the most common complication during pregnancy, and it’s time we understood it.
Gestational diabetes refers to women developing high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, and it can impact fetal growth, increase infant mortality, cause serious birth defects, and more.
No one should have to go through this, and there is promising research to suggest it could be preventable.
Results from the Harvard Nurses Health Study suggest that meat consumption before pregnancy increases women’s risk of diabetes later on. Specifically, it seems that carcinogenic nitrosamines in processed meats, and especially bacon, could be harming cells that produce insulin. Or, the glycotoxins, products formed in meat that cause inflammation, might be responsible for gestational diabetes.
Lately, however, scientific research has been following another line of inquiry, centered on the heme iron contained in animal products. Research has associated pre-pregnancy consumption of dietary heme iron with increased risk of gestational diabetes.
We already knew that heme iron from animal products might be linked to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, but this connection to gestational diabetes is new. What’s going on when we consume heme iron? Well, it’s thought that our bodies aren’t so great at regulating absorption of iron from blood-based sources (like red meat), and so regular meat consumption can lead to excessive concentrations in the body. This, in turn, seems to lead to a three times higher risk of gestational diabetes.
This would all make a lot of sense when we consider that a study showed vegetarian women to be at much lower risk of developing the disease.
But there’s more, of course!
That study was conducted in India, where vegetarians generally don’t eat many eggs. More recently, a Harvard study looked at pre-pregnancy consumption of animal fats and cholesterol…and found it to be associated with higher risk of gestational diabetes. Substituting just 5% of carbohydrates consumed with animal fats seems linked to a 13% higher risk!
And what if it’s not just fat? What if cholesterol is leading to increased risk, too?
For that, we would need to look at egg consumption and gestational diabetes risk in expecting mothers.
Good thing researchers have done just that! And the results are in:
The more eggs a woman eats before becoming pregnant and during the early stages of pregnancy, the higher her risk is of developing gestational diabetes.
The women who do develop gestational diabetes are then at seven times higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes afterward, so pregnancy is an excellent time to start making better choices about our health and diet—before it’s too late.
Ready to cut the animal products, fats, and cholesterol that are putting you and your pregnancy at risk? I’m ready to help you! Check out www.donnawild.com to get all the recipes, all the resources and all the support you need to start thriving today.
C. Qiu, C. Zhang, B. Gelaye, D. A. Enquobahrie, I. O. Frederick, M. A. Williams. Gestational diabetes mellitus in relation to maternal dietary heme iron and nonheme iron intake. Diabetes Care. 2011 34(7):1564 – 1569.
E. M. Wendland, M. R. Torloni, M. Falavigna, J. Trujillo, M. A. Dode, M. A. Campos, B. B. Duncan, M. I. Schmidt. Gestational diabetes and pregnancy outcomes–a systematic review of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Association of Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Groups (IADPSG) diagnostic criteria. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2012 12:23.
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M. Balsells, A. García-Patterson, I. Gich, R. Corcoy. Major congenital malformations in women with gestational diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Metab. Res. Rev. 2012 28(3):252 – 257.
L. Bellamy, J.-P. Casas, A. D. Hingorani, D. Williams. Type 2 diabetes mellitus after gestational diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 2009 373(9677):1773 – 1779.
Originally published at donnawild.com