Holiday season diet advice for reducing risk of gestational diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on December 24, 2013

Pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant can make use of the festive holiday season to adjust their diets and reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes, it is claimed.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute in Australia suggest sticking to the white meat found in the traditional turkey Christmas lunch and eat less red meat.


There is increasing evidence to suggest that red meat is linked with a higher rate of gestational diabetes in pregnant wome

The recommendation comes at a time when there is increasing evidence to suggest that red meat is linked with a higher rate of gestational diabetes in pregnant women, which poses risks to the health of both the mother and the baby.

According to Philippa Middleton, of the Institute’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the latest international research shows that women who eat a lot of red and processed meats even before they become pregnant have a significant risk of developing gestational diabetes.

‘There have been several reports linking red meat with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and now the work of a number of research teams worldwide is showing this link for diabetes during pregnancy,’ she explained.

‘While this news is alarming, there are also some positives. The latest research from the United States has shown that eating fish and poultry does not increase the risk of gestational diabetes, and consuming more vegetable and non-meat protein is associated with a reduction in risk,’ she pointed out.

‘For example, just over half a serving of nuts per day can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes by 40%,’ she added.

She also pointed out that although the link between red meat and diabetes is strengthening, scientists still don’t understand the underlying mechanisms that cause it.

‘More research is needed to better understand why this is happening and how to adapt women’s diets and other lifestyle behaviours to prevent both gestational and type 2 diabetes,’ she said.

‘Based on current evidence, pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant should consider eating more vegetable protein, and nuts, and replacing some red meat with fish and poultry,’ she explained.

‘Midwives, dieticians and others involved in pregnancy care can help women to make these dietary changes in the hope of reducing poor outcomes for the mother and the baby,’ she added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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