Food and Behaviour Research

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Nutrition therapy within and beyond gestational diabetes

Hernandez TL, Mande A, Barbour LA (2018) Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2018 Apr 19. pii: S0168-8227(18)30370-X. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2018.04.004. [Epub ahead of print] 2018 Apr   pii: S0168-8227(18)30370-X. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2018.04.004. [Epub ahead of print] 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here


With the global rising prevalence of gestational diabetes (GDM), an adaptable, economical approach to nutrition therapy that effectively controls maternal glycemia while promoting normal fetal growth will have far-reaching implications.

The conventional focus has been to rigidly limit all types of carbohydrate. While controlling glucose, this approach fosters maternal anxiety and is a primary barrier to adherence. Many mothers substitute fat for carbohydrate, which may unintentionally enhance lipolysis, promote elevated free fatty acids (FFA), and worsen maternal insulin resistance (IR). Nutrition that worsens IR may facilitate nutrient shunting across the placenta, promoting excess fetal fat accretion.

Evidence suggests that liberalizing higher quality, nutrient-dense carbohydrates results in controlled fasting/postprandial glucose, lower FFA, improved insulin action, vascular benefits, and may reduce excess infant adiposity. Thus, a less carbohydrate-restricted approach may improve maternal adherence when combined with higher quality carbohydrates, lower fat, appropriate caloric intake, and ethnically acceptable foods. Such a diet can be culturally sensitive, socioeconomically attentive, minimize further weight gain in GDM, with potential relevance for pregnancies complicated by overweight/obesity.

Future research is needed to better understand the effect of macronutrient composition on the placenta and gut microbiome, the benefits/risks of nonnutritive sweeteners, and whether precision-nutrition is beneficial in pregnancy.