Recently, actress Salma Hayek revealed to Oprah Winfrey that her pregnancy, at age 40, was tough. “I gained a lot of weight. I had gestational diabetes. The pregnancy was really difficult for me,” she said.
She's not alone. Every year, 2%-10% of pregnancies in the U.S. are affected by gestational diabetes, which puts women at risk for high blood pressure during the pregnancy, a C-section delivery, and full-blown diabetes down the road.
The fetus is also affected, with increased risks of a high birthweight, premature birth, and developing diabetes later in life.
What can you do to avoid gestational diabetes? If you have obesity, high blood pressure, and/or high triglycerides, a recent study published in Plos Medicine may have found a powerful solution.
It turns out that sticking to a Mediterranean-style diet that includes lots of nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish, along with low to moderate intake of poultry — and avoiding of sugary drinks, fast food, and foods rich in animal fat — can slash your risk of developing gestational diabetes by 35%.
And you may gain less excess weight during pregnancy.
If you're at risk for gestational diabetes (elevated blood sugar, triglycerides, obesity, or are, like Hayek, older during pregnancy), get a glucose screening or tolerance test at week 24 or earlier.
Want to get into the Med diet? Pick up a copy of “YOU: Having a Baby.” We have recipes developed by master chef Jim Perko, nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick, and medical director Elizabeth Ricanati.