By sticking to a healthy diet in the years after pregnancy, women who develop diabetes during pregnancy can greatly reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a study supported by the National Institutes of Health has found.
Previously, it was not known how much the risk for type 2 diabetes in these women could be lowered through adhering to healthy diet.
In about 5 percent of U.S. pregnancies, women who do nothave diabetes before becoming pregnant develop high blood sugar levels in pregnancy. This condition, called gestational diabetes , raises a woman's risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life up to sevenfold, compared to pregnant women who don't have gestational diabetes. Little is known about the role healthy lifestyle factors may have in preventing progression from gestational diabetes to type 2 diabetes later in life.
The study found the greatest reductions in type 2 diabetes risk were for women who followed diets rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and included poultry, seafood, and nuts, with limiting intake of red and processed meats. Those who followed this type of diet in the years after having gestational diabetes consistently reduced their risk by about half that of women who did not.