Friday, January 15, 2016

Pre-Pregnancy Potato Consumption Linked to Gestational Diabetes

A woman’s risk of gestational diabetes seemed to increase by 27% if she regularly consumed between two and four cups of potatoes a week before pregnancy. Five or more cups a week appeared to increase risk by 50%, even after researchers accounted for pre-pregnancy obesity and other potential risk factors, the study found.

“The more women consumed potatoes, the greater risk they had for gestational diabetes,” said senior author Dr. Cuilin Zhang, a senior investigator with the U.S. National institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Potatoes are regarded as a kind of vegetable, but not all vegetables are healthy.”

The findings from the study were released online Jan. 12 in the British Medical Journal.

Potatoes are the third most commonly consumed food crop in the world, after rice and wheat. About 35% of U.S. women in the childbearing years eat potatoes daily, according to the background information in the study.

Eating a cup of potatoes can send blood sugar levels skyrocketing, on par with swigging a can of cola or munching a handful of jelly beans, according to Harvard nutrition experts.

Elevated blood sugar levels can promote insulin resistance and contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, Zhang said.

Many women also eat potatoes prepared as French fries, and the oils used for frying can increase insulin resistance when consumed, she added.

The researchers also estimated that women could lower their risk of gestational diabetes by 9-12% if they substituted two servings of potatoes every week with with other vegetables or whole grains.

Gestational diabetes can cause health problems for newborns. They may suffer from low blood sugar and have breathing problems right after birth, and have a higher chance of dying before or soon after birth, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

My Take:
I received an e-mail from one of my patients this morning who has developed gestational diabetes. When I ran across this research ten minutes later my blog subject was chosen. Of late, the pickings have been slim. Much of current research is repetitive and even more is nonsensical. Unfortunately, the format for valid research dictates that most research proves things we already know.

Potatoes are a starch, like the two more popular foods noted – rice and wheat. They are all cheap foods to grow and store, full of empty calories and almost devoid of micronutrients (especially when processed). They are candy bars without great taste. It is how we feed the poor, because starches sustain life, but not health.

Pregnancy is a tremendous stress on a women’s body. She has to process more nutrients than normal and gives first to the developing baby. This helps insure a healthy child but it leaves the mother as an empty shell from a nutritional standpoint. It takes two years for her to recover from the nine months of sacrifice.

Gestational diabetes is, in part, due to the nutritional base that a woman has build prior to conception as noted by this study. However, the real root of the issue is metabolic syndrome. If she has an under-active thyroid, insulin resistance, central obesity, high serum lipids, or high blood pressure she is prone to developing gestational diabetes. Although the diabetes typically resolves after the pregnancy, it is a harbinger of things to come.

The Bottom Line:
Gestational diabetes is another early warning sign of metabolic syndrome. It reflects both the stressors of pregnancy and life-long negative health habits.

Source: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 National Institutes of Health

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