If a woman has elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy, it is called gestational diabetes mellitus. Just like type 2 diabetes, this type of diabetes causes a resistance to the signaling of insulin as it reaches the cells, leading to dysfunction of energy storage in the cells and rising glucose levels in the blood stream as a result.
It is estimated that gestational diabetes may be affecting up to approximately 18% of pregnancies.1 Not only are these women at risk for complications during pregnancy and delivery of their baby (such as low blood sugar of the baby at birth, excessive birth weight, and risk of the baby developing obesity and diabetes), they are also at risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy and all the problems that come with it. Gestational diabetes usually produces no symptoms, and it is typically discovered during routine screening during pregnancy, however, during pregnancy, some women with gestational diabetes may notice signs typical of type 2 diabetes including:
For those women with gestational diabetes who go on to develop type 2 diabetes later in their lives (up to 60%), it can lead to many health complications such as:
The causes of gestational diabetes are the same causes as Type 2 diabetes. It is primarily a dietary-caused disease related to eating processed foods, highly prevalent in the Standard American Diet (SAD) and across the modern world today. Excess fat on the body increases insulin resistance and diabetes, but other factors that place a biochemical stress on the beta cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin, such as repeated glycemic stress and chemicals, can play a causative role. Implementing lifestyle changes, which include regular vigorous exercise and a Nutritarian diet-style during pregnancy, is a powerful attack against the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth and if continued after pregnancy, will protect against diabetes risk in the future.
During pregnancy, you may get all sorts of advice on what to eat or not eat (let alone your strange cravings and nausea to deal with). But the same Nutritarian eating strategy prescribed for diabetes should be strived for in order to see quick results on blood sugars and weight in gestational diabetes. Follow a Nutritarian eating style rich in vegetables, seeds and nuts, low glycemic fruits, and legumes and make small adjustments in glycemic loading at meals.
Tips for treating gestational diabetes:
Exercise daily, even multiple times a day, as a strategy to lower blood glucose, such as after meals (and remember, unless your doctor says otherwise, it is generally safe to exercise during the entire pregnancy).
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The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)
Do the diabetes menu plans apply to gestational diabetes?
She read ETL a few years ago - and her diet is mostly vegetarian with some dairy and fish. I don’t know if she will be open to deviate from the recommended menu from the dieticians who were referred by her doctor, but I will share with her.
She is taking direction from the OBGyn - their next step is to get a closer look at the size of the baby. They have not been concerned about her weight gain as they said she started underweight before pregnancy. My hunch is the weight gain accelerated under the dietician plan.
Yes, but 2 ounces of seeds and nuts a day are recommended. I have a program specifically designed for gestational diabetes in my book, The End of Diabetes.
You can’t have it both ways. If she has gestational diabetes it means she gained too much weight with the pregnancy. The activity of insulin is blocked by fat cells, not by baby cells, and this is being made worse by the dietician’s advice and all the frequent feedings.
My wife is 32 weeks pregnant. No family history of diabetes. Age: 41. Height: 5’4". Weight before pregnancy: 105 lbs. She has gained 35-40 pounds total since getting pregnant. She failed the gestational diabetes test with borderline numbers, and her doctor put her on a program with a dietician to treat with diet.
The nutritionist program has her eating 6 meals a day: 3 meals and 3 snacks. They want her to have 70 grams of protein daily.
Breakfast - small 30-40 grams carbs, a serving of protein, a fat
Snack - 30-40 grams carbs, protein, no fat
Lunch - 45-60 grams carbs, protein, vegetable
Snack - 30-40 grams carbs, protein, no fat
Supper - 45-60 grams carbs, protein, vegetable
Snack before bed - 30-40 grams carbs, protein, no fat
She feels like she is eating too much and eating when not hungry on this diet. The bedtime snack is her least favorite but the dietician strongly recommends it. Her blood glucose levels have been nearly perfect since she started testing last week. Ketones have been normal.
We are a little concerned about her weight gain and size of the baby since starting this nutritionist recommended diet. Before getting on this diet, her weigh-ins and measurements were exactly on target. Last Friday the dietician showed she gained 4 pounds after 1 week of being on their diet. Her doctor also showed the baby measuring big and scheduled a sonogram for next week to get a closer look.
What are your thoughts on this recommended diet plan for her condition, and would you recommend a different approach to keep her blood glucose stable and mitigate the risk of the baby getting too big?
I think advice from conventional nutritionists/dieticians is dangerous and in the dark ages. I can’t understand why anyone reading my books and newsletters would attempt to follow such advice.
I have detailed dietary advice and menu plans for diabetes, which she should follow.
Your wife has obviously gained too much weight with pregnancy and has not been following my dietary advice. The starting place is for her to read The End of Diabetes and follow the plan for gestational diabetes in the book precisely.
I am 16 weeks pregnant now and my OBGYN wants to do a routine glucose testing. Is this test really necessary? I am looking for a good argument if not. A major argument of mine is that I wouldn’t normally ingest such refined sugar and thus would not want to just for a "routine test."
It really isn’t necessary for someone without diabetes in their family or a history of borderline or high blood sugars in the past or any symptoms of diabetes. Also, if you are not overweight, then the risk is even lower.
If the test were positive, meaning that you had gestational diabetes, then your doctor would just recommend that you eat better and not gain as much weight or even lose weight. We want you to do this regardless of these test results, which makes the test not that useful in your situation, if you successfully are eating properly as we recommend for pregnant women.
I have been mostly following your diet (about 90% I think). I haven’t lost weight, which from your other responses means that I must be overeating, though I don’t eat a lot.
Anyway, I am 2 months pregnant. I’m 30 years old, 5’5’, and 195 lbs. I took the glucose tolerance test (50g of glucose, not fasting) and got tested an hour later, and the result was 142. They recommended that since my value was over 135 I should take the three hour test where I have to consume twice as much glucose. I’m hesitant to do this partly because consuming 100g of glucose sounds bad for me and my baby and partly because I follow a very healthy diet without added sugar or almost any bread anyway. I did take the three hour test three years ago and had a normal result, though I wasn’t pregnant. I am interested in hearing what you recommend. Thanks.
If you weigh that much and are not losing, and your glucose tolerance test is high, then you are not following the proper diet for you. Ninety percent or whatever you really are doing is not sufficient. Since this is serious, I think you should post everything you eat here and follow your routine fasting glucose and a 2-hour post prandial. I think the 100 gram test is irrelevant because your body weight and the 50 gram glucose test already determines that you are at high risk and need intervention with your diet and exercise.
Here is a sample Phase One Diabetic Reversal Diet for newly diagnosed Gestational Diabetes, however, I suggest you purchase and read my book, The End of Diabetes, immediately.
This menu includes options, do not attempt to consume all the food or dishes suggested, choose only one or two options at each meal. You can eat the same dish for more than one meal and even use as leftovers for a few days. Breakfast is only listed for those who are doing lots of exercise and hungry in the morning. If not hungry eat two meals a day. You do NOT have to eat all the food listed.
Please note that carbohydrates (even beans) are not fed with breakfast because insulin resistance is highest in mornings.
The most important advice here is to stop, do not make choices and decisions about what to eat and what not to eat. Let me make all these decisions for you.
Remember, you developed this condition based on the choices you made. In order to give this method a chance to see what it can do, you must do it exactly as prescribed, without modifications.
Just follow this plan until your blood sugars are relatively favorable. Then, once your condition is in the safe, non-diabetic range, we can advance the diet to the next phase and we can discuss.
Breakfast – (use one or both of below suggestions):
Lunch – (use two of the following):
Dinner – (include all three options below):
Do you consider gestational diabetes reversible on a Nutritarian diet?
Yes, a Nutritarian diet designed for this issue is described in my book, The End of Diabetes. Not only can you reverse the diabetes, but you improve other nutritional and health parameters that protect you and your baby. Medications can also have risky side effects.