Can low carb help with gestational diabetes in pregnancy?
When Natalie Thompson Cooper was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her first pregnancy, at age 28, she was very concerned. The condition, which affects at least one in seven pregnancies to as many as one in five, causes blood sugars to rise abnormally high, called hyperglycemia.
Natalie knew hyperglycemia bathed her unborn daughter in glucose, putting the fetus at risk for a wide range of potential complications, including miscarriage, birth defects, macrosomia (very large size), high blood pressure, birth trauma, and higher rates of C-section and even stillbirth.
Moreover, gestational diabetes (GD) — also called ‘carbohydrate intolerance of pregnancy’ — greatly increases the risk that the mother and her offspring will both face future health problems, such as much higher rates of eventual type 2 diabetes, metabolic conditions, and cardiovascular disease.
GD is one of the most common and significant complications of pregnancy. Prenatal guidelines the world over recommend the routine screening of all pregnant women and then, if positive, strict management, starting with dietary therapy, then if that does not work, insulin injections.
However, to this day, what constitutes the best “dietary therapy” is hotly debated, with some researchers proposing a diet high in complex carbohydrates (60% carbs) and others lower carbohydrates (40% carbs).
However, the recommended “lower carb” GD diet is still far higher than the under 20 g per day of the strict low-carb high-fat or ketogenic diet. In fact, many guidelines for GD recommend women, on an ostensibl Continue reading