Mediterranean diet prevents type 2 diabetes in women who had gestational diabetes

Pregnancy comes with its challenges.

But developing diabetes during pregnancy--known as gestational diabetes--can make those nine months even more difficult.

While researchers aren't entirely sure why some women develop gestational diabetes and others don't, it has to do with the action of the placenta on blood sugar levels. About 5 percent of pregnant women with no history of diabetes develop high blood sugar, which can lead to type 2 diabetes later in life.

Eating Mediterranean food after pregnancy

A recent study, which appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine online, suggests that women who ate a Mediterranean diet after pregnancy--a diet rich in whole grains, nuts, seafood, legumes and other lean proteins with very little red meat--had a 40 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later years.

The study included research on about 4,000 women who, between 1991 and 2001, had gestational diabetes.

Reducing the risk

"Our findings indicate that women with gestational diabetes aren't necessarily preordained to develop type 2 diabetes," said Cuilin Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of the Epidemiology Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

"It appears they may have some degree of control. Sticking to a healthy diet may greatly reduce their chances for developing diabetes later in life."

Before the study, medical professionals were unclear as to how much diet could play a role in helping to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in these women.

To reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes in the first place, Zhang found (through previous research) that a diet low in animal fat and sugar and high in fiber can help.

Sources: National Institute of Health, Bend Bulletin

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