Diabetes affects millions of people worldwide, including more than 5 million Americans. It is also one of those diseases that we tend to take as “part of life.” We go through periods where our glucose levels get out of whack, but we shrug them off and think they’ll come back into balance later on when the time is right. Keep reading to find out ways to assist you in the management of diabetes in pregnancy.
Higher Sugar Levels =
More Likely to Worsen Diabetes
The periods of time when our blood sugar levels fluctuate — which are especially more volatile during times like pregnancy, requires us to pay closer attention to our health.
Pregnancy’s Impacts on the Body
Pregnancy puts additional demands on your body, especially your pancreas. The hormone progesterone stimulates your insulin-producing cells (beta cells) to produce larger amounts of insulin in order to deal with all the extra nutrients being absorbed by your growing baby. In addition, since your kidneys aren’t working at full capacity while you’re carrying around another human, the amount of urine produced each day decreases.
This means less water in your bloodstream, which leads to dehydration. All these things together make controlling your blood glucose level much harder. You may find yourself experiencing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), or a combination of both [sources: Mayo Clinic; WebMD].
This article will focus on how to manage pre-existing type 1 or 2 diabetes in pregnancy and focuses on the management of diabetes in pregnancy. Type 1 diabetes usually develops after puberty and accounts for about 10 percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes.
Most people who develop type 1 diabetes experience symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, frequent urination, increased thirst, hunger pains, blurred vision, dry eyes, slow healing cuts/bruises, recurrent infections, skin rashes, numbness in hands and feet, nerve damage, seizures, coma, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, blindness, deafness, amputations, death, etc. If left untreated, it can cause severe problems ranging from birth defects to miscarriage.
Pregnancy and Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is far more common — accounting for 90–95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Often referred to as adult onset diabetes, most people who develop it didn’t suffer any obvious childhood illnesses or trauma that might trigger it.
People with type 2 diabetes lose their ability to control the amount of sugar (glucose) entering their bodies due to various reasons — mostly genetics and lifestyle habits. Let’s go over some factors that contribute to diabetes, then take a look at ways to provide management of diabetes in pregnancy.
As mentioned earlier, many factors contribute to its development, such as:
- lack of exercise
- family history
- personal medical issues
Left unchecked, it can result in serious health consequences over time, such as:
- cardiovascular disease
- eye disorders
- foot injuries
- gum disease
- chronic pain
- and many more….
The good news is that there are lots of options available to help reduce the risk of developing either form of diabetes in the first place, and also some tips for the management of pre existing diabetes in pregnancy. Let’s begin with what you should do before conceiving a child…
Increase your consumption of veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, unprocessed meats, seafood, eggs, dairy products, beans, lentils, seaweeds, garlic, onions, peppers, cinnamon, curry powder, turmeric, ginger, rosemary leaves, oregano, sage, thyme, basil, peppermint, cloves, juniper berries, nutmeg, bay leaf, marjoram, mint, curry leaves, lovage, savory, sesame seed oil, sea salt, soy sauce, mustard, lemon balm, rose petals, lavender flowers, tarragon, cardamon, allspice, cloves, vanilla bean paste, saffron, coriander, paprika, parsley flakes, etc.
- Be aware of your risk factors
There are several different types of risk factors associated with diabetes. For example, if you already have prediabetic conditions such as impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance test, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, etc., then you’ve got an elevated risk for getting diabetes.
Other risks include heredity, stress, smoking, alcohol use, low physical activity, poor dietary intake, excess abdominal fat accumulation, prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke, certain medications used to treat other conditions, etc. Talk to your physician about your specific situation. He or she can provide recommendations based upon your particular circumstances.
- Eat healthy foods
Your diet makes up 80 percent of what goes inside your body. So eating properly is essential! When choosing food products, choose fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible, along with lean proteins (e.g., turkey, fish). Choose whole grains instead of refined ones. Also avoid sugary drinks such as soda and fruit juices. These contain empty calories without providing vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, carotenoids, flavonoids, omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics, etc.
They promote inflammation, increase oxidative stress, disrupt hormonal functions, accelerate aging process, hinder digestion, promote constipation, interfere with absorption of iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin B12, and many other chemicals in the brain
- Exercise regularly
Even though exercising alone won’t totally eliminate your chances of developing diabetes, it does play a big role in preventing it. Exercising increases muscle mass, improves circulation, reduces belly fat deposits, lowers cholesterol, raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol, strengthens bones, promotes relaxation and relieves anxiety.
It also helps relieve PMS symptoms, prevents bone loss, reduces hot flashes, regulates menstrual cycles, enhances energy, improves sleep quality, controls gestational diabetes mellitus, aids in delivery, improves recovery after childbirth, reduces postpartum bleeding, etc. Plus, exercise has been proven to decrease the rate of mortality among diabetic patients. This should be one of the top things on your list for the management of pre existing diabetes in pregnancy.
- Manage your weight
Obesity is linked strongly to diabetes formation. Being overweight significantly increases your risk of developing diabetes. Losing just five pounds per year could save your life. Having excessive abdominal fat (especially around the organs) contributes greatly to the development of diabetes.
To keep your waistline under check, eat plenty of nutritious foods rich in protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Avoid junk foods and processed sugars. Drink lots of fluids such as water, green tea, herbal teas, juice, decaffeinated coffee, cocoa, milk, beer, wine, sports beverages, unsweetened apple cider vinegar, tomato juice, blackberry juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, vegetable broth, etc.
. Do not skip meals. Instead, try having smaller portions throughout the day, focusing on the foods that were listed in the info box toward the start of this post.
- Take supplements
Taking appropriate nutritional supplements can enhance the effectiveness of treatment for diabetes management. Some important examples of supplements include Vitamin D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Calcium Phosphate Magnesium Combinations, Fish Oil, Probiotic Supplement, Chromium Picolo Silico Carbogen Complex, Garlic, Glutathione, Folate, CoQ10, and many other natural vitamins and minerals.
While there are many different approaches to home remedies for high blood sugar in pregnancy and the management of diabetes in pregnancy, often times what is missing are the correct supplements and vitamins that your body needs to be at optimal health, especially management of diabetes in pregnancy. The problem is that most supplements are not made for pregnant people.
Because of this, we cannot recommend any such supplement for women that are pregnant. Talk to your doctor about which supplements are right for you and your (soon to be) baby.