Healthy Eating May Prevent Pregnancy-Related Diabetes
Those with the highest Healthy Eating Index scores reduced their risk by 46%
How much can a healthy diet protect a woman's health during pregnancy? A new study says it might help a lot, finding that women who stick to any of three healthy dietary patterns--a Mediterranean diet, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), or the Healthy Eating Index--can dramatically reduce women's risk of one of the most common complications of pregnancy: gestational diabetes.The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed more than 15,000 healthy women, all participating in the large and ongoing Nurses' Health Study, through approximately 21,000 births. The women filled out food questionnaires before pregnancy and these were analyzed to determine how closely their usual diets resembled established healthy eating guidelines.
Measuring the effect of a healthy diet
The women were given three scores to reflect the similarity of their eating habits to three different dietary patterns. All three diets encouraged high intakes of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. In addition:
Healthy eating habits predict a healthy pregnancy
The study found that:
"All three dietary patterns were significantly associated with a reduced risk of gestational diabetes mellitus, suggesting a potentially robust role of a variety of dietary factors in the development of gestational diabetes mellitus," the study's authors said.
Eat well before pregnancyIn this study, having regular healthy eating habits before pregnancy was associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy. Here are some steps you can take now to support you later if you become pregnant:
(Am J Clin Nutr 2012;96:289-95)
Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire