Double the lettuce and hold the meat? According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, women who eat less animal fat and cholesterol before becoming pregnant tend to see their risk for gestational diabetes drop. On the other hand, women with preconception diets in high animal fat could see their risk for GDM almost double.
Conducted by researchers from the NIH and Harvard University, the study is the largest of its kind to look at pre-pregnancy diet and gestational diabetes. Researchers used diet information from over 13,000 women participating in the Nurses' Healthy Study II—participants were divided into groups according to what percentage of their daily calories came from animal fat and cholesterol. As HealthDay reports, women who consumed the most animal fat were nearly twice as likely to develop gestational diabetes as those who consumed the lowest amounts. Also, women who consumed the highest amounts of dietary cholesterol were 45 percent more likely to develop gestational diabetes than those who consumed the lowest amounts.
"Our findings indicate that women who reduce the proportion of animal fat and cholesterol in their diets before pregnancy may lower their risk for gestational diabetes during pregnancy," says senior author Dr. Cuilin Zhang of the epidemiology branch at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in a NIH news release.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that affects approximately one out of every 20 moms-to-be. GDM develops towards the end of the second trimester when surging pregnancy hormones may interfere with insulin's effectiveness in the body and cause high blood sugar levels. Gestational diabetes is typically managed through diet, exercise, and the use of insulin for some moms. Because overweight moms are more likely to develop gestational diabetes, reaching a healthy weight before you conceive is another way to keep blood sugar levels on an even keel throughout pregnancy.