Natural Approach to Gestational Diabetes

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Certain lifestyle changes may help protect against gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that starts or is first diagnosed during pregnancy. Occurring in three to eight out of every 100 pregnant women in the United States, gestational diabetes can increase your risk of having a large baby and needing a cesarean section at delivery (as well as raise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life).

In addition to receiving regular prenatal care, you may be able to boost your defense against gestational diabetes by making changes to your daily regimen. A review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2018, for instance, found that lifestyle changes including healthy eating, physical activity, and self-monitoring of blood sugar levels were the only intervention that showed possible health improvements for women and their babies.


There's some evidence that improving your diet may offer some protection against the condition. According to a review published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, for instance, diet and physical activity interventions designed to reduce gestational diabetes appear to be more effective than standard care, however, there shouldn't be a "one size fits all" approach to these interventions.

In another report, scientists analyzed previous trials on different types of diets and found that most diets, with the exception of diets high in unsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids, improved fasting glucose levels compared to standard gestational weight gain advice. Another review also found some evidence that suggests there is no obvious difference for women receiving low- compared to moderate-to-high glycemic index diet recommendations.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been found to optimally reduce fasting glucose levels when no gestational weight gain advice was given, and another review concluded that diets similar to the Mediterranean or DASH diets were associated with lower risk of gestational diabetes.

Including foods rich in vitamin E and zinc, if your diet is currently low in these nutrients, may be of some benefit. In a study published in Clinical Nutrition Research in 2017, for instance, researchers compared antioxidant intake and levels in pregnant women and found that total antioxidant capacity was lower in women with gestational diabetes, possibly related to their lower intake of vitamin E and zinc.

Vitamin D

Running low on vitamin D may raise your risk of gestational diabetes, according to a study of 171 pregnant women (including 57 with gestational diabetes). Among those who developed gestational diabetes, vitamin D levels were significantly lower (compared to study members who were free of gestational diabetes).

In addition, a 2016 research review of 20 previously published observational studies also found that low vitamin D levels were associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes.

In a report published in 2018, scientists analyzed data from five previously published trials (involving 310 women with gestational diabetes) and found that supplementation with vitamin D may lead to an improvement in various measures of health in the mother and child. However, the use of vitamin D supplementation as a means of reducing gestational diabetes risk or treating the condition is still being investigated.


In a review, researchers noted that lifestyle interventions may increase the number of labor inductions.

A study published in PLoS One in 2017 found that fasting glucose levels in pregnant women increased with diets high in unsaturated or monounsaturated fatty acids. Researchers caution that the conventional dietary recommendation for gestational diabetes has been to strictly limit carbohydrates. Women often substitute fat for carbohydrates, which can in some cases unintentionally worsen insulin resistance. What's more, restricting carbohydrates can lead to maternal anxiety in some women.

It's important to keep in mind that dietary supplements are largely unregulated. If you are thinking of making a change to your diet or are considering taking a dietary supplement, be sure to consult your physician first.

A Word From Verywell

If you're considering the use of any type of natural remedy to manage or prevent gestational diabetes, talk to your doctor about choosing a treatment that best suits your health needs. Because gestational diabetes may cause a number of serious complications (such as increased risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy and low blood sugar or illness in the newborn), it's important to work closely with your doctor in managing this condition. Your treatment program will focus on keeping your blood sugar in check during pregnancy and ensuring that the fetus is healthy, which will include making changes to your diet, exercising regularly, and—in some cases—using prescribed diabetes medicine or insulin therapy.

The most important step in fighting gestational diabetes is beginning your prenatal care early and seeing your doctor for regular prenatal visits. You should also be aware of risk factors for gestational diabetes (including African or Hispanic ancestry, family history of diabetes, obesity, and being older than 25 when pregnant), and watch out for gestational diabetes symptoms (including fatigue, blurred visions, frequent infections, and increased thirst).

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