Gestational diabetes is a specific type of diabetes that occurs in pregnancy.
Research has shown that women who have gestational diabetes may have it again in their future pregnancies.
Moreover, this disease may increase the risks of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers from the University of Newcastle suggest that women with gestational diabetes can eat a healthier diet and be more active to reduce their diabetes risk.
There are five things these women can do:
1. Monitor the risk of type 2 diabetes
Scientists suggest that all women diagnosed with gestational diabetes should have a 75g oral glucose tolerance test at 6–12 weeks after giving birth.
This can help check how their body responds to a spike in blood sugar after they’ve had the baby.
It may give a better picture of their risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the near future.
Researchers suggest that women with gestational diabetes should have regular testing (every one to three years) to see whether type 2 diabetes has developed.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Eating fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, fish and foods rich in fiber and monounsaturated fats can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
One recent study shows that among women with prior gestational diabetes, those who ate a healthy diet had a 40-57% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
3. Take exercise regularly
It is known that increasing the physical activity level can help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The current guidelines suggest all adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or accumulating 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity a week.
Exercises like swimming, jogging, walking, and cycling are very helpful to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, sedentary habits like watching TV is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes in women with a history of gestational diabetes.
Strength training such as lifting weight can also help lower the rate of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Breastfeed your baby as long as possible
Research shows breastfeeding for longer than three months reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by about 46% in women who have had gestational diabetes.
It is possible that breastfeeding leads to improved glucose and fat metabolism.
5. Keep a healthy body weight
Being overweight and obesity are big risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
One recent study showed that in women with previous gestational diabetes, a weight gain of 4.5kg during 2.2 years follow-up increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 1.54 times.
If you gain too much weight during pregnancy, consider losing weight by changing your eating habits and being as active as you can.
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