Gestational diabetes is a condition that some women suffer from when they are pregnant. When these women develop this condition it means the level of sugar in their blood is very high.
How Does Gestational Diabetes Occur?
There is a chemical, or hormone, in the body called insulin. This hormone controls the amount of sugar in the blood by making blood sugar diffuse into the cells of the body.
When your body does not produce enough insulin, or your body cells do not use insulin effectively, the level of glucose in your blood increases, leading to gestational diabetes.
Moreover, when you put on weight during pregnancy, your body is not able to use insulin effectively. Therefore, your body needs to produce more insulin to control the level of sugar in your blood. If your body cannot perform this function properly, you will develop gestational diabetes.
Furthermore, when you are pregnant, your placenta produces hormones that block your body from releasing insulin. This makes sugar remain in your blood for a long time after you have taken your meal. If your insulin cannot get this sugar to leave your blood, the result will be gestational diabetes.
We now know how it can occur. So, what can a pregnant woman do to avoid developing this condition?
There are two ways you can prevent getting this disease:
- By eating a healthy diet.
- By exercising.
Eating Healthy Meals
If you want to be able to prevent gestational diabetes, then you must make sure you eat a healthy diet everyday.
Certain foods release sugar quickly into the blood when you eat them, whilst other foods release sugar slowly. This is measured as the Glycemic Index(GI).
Foods with a low GI release sugar slowly, whilst foods with a high GI release sugar quickly.
Foods Low in GI
Examples of foods with a low GI are:
- Bran bread, wheat, brown rice, corn, sorghum, millet, and Guinea corn.
- Dried peas, beans, French beans, and egushi.
- Pineapples, pawpaw, sour sup, oranges, tangerines, bananas, mangoes, apples, and berries.
- Porridge made from corn dough, porridge made from roasted corn flour, ground corn porridge, and Hausa kooko.
These foods are rich in fiber and should be eaten everyday if you are serious about preventing gestational diabetes.
A study looked at the diet of women before they got pregnant and found that each daily increase in fiber reduced their risk of getting gestational diabetes by 26%.
In addition, make sure you take fiber supplements. It will help you to meet the amount of fiber your body needs to be healthy.
Not only do you need foods low in GI, but your body also needs foods high in GI to be very healthy.
Foods High in GI
Foods which have a high GI contain just a little fiber. Some examples of foods in this category are:
- Baked potato.
- Polished white rice.
- White bread.
The Healthiest Diet for a Pregnant Woman
If you want to prevent gestational diabetes, you must combine eating foods low in GI with eating foods high in GI. This kind of diet is the healthiest for a pregnant woman because it lowers the rate at which sugar is absorbed into your blood.
Examples of low GI foods and high GI foods combinations are:
- Eating baked potato with baked beans or beans stew.
- Toasting bread and eating it with peanut butter.
- Having a lunch of polished white rice and cabbage, lettuce, spinach or kontomire stew.
- Having a supper of porridge wheat and white bread, with two slices of orange.
- Having a breakfast of porridge, bran bread, and bananas.
If you are in a state that will allow you to exercise, you must make it a part of your daily routine because it can help to keep the level of glucose in your blood at levels that will keep you healthy.
In fact this is supported by science. One study revealed that women who are active physically before they get pregnant (i.e. women who exercise for about 4 hours every week), and when they are pregnant, lowered their risk of getting gestational diabetes by as much as 70%.
Therefore, you have to ensure that you keep active all through your pregnancy. Avoid inactivity for long periods of time as this can make your blood sugar level rise. Exercising will help you to reduce your blood sugar level.
Here are a few exercise suggestions you may try:
- Walk briskly for fifteen minutes around your room or your yard early in the morning.
- Walk up and down your stairs for ten minutes in the evening.
- Swim for fifteen minutes.
- Ride a bicycle for about ten minutes.
- Do gardening.
- Continue to cook. As you walk up and down for ingredients and cooking utensils, you would be exercising.
If you pay attention to what you eat, and make sure you move about regularly, you should be able to prevent getting gestational diabetes.
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