How to Naturally Prevent
Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women (140,000 cases) in the United States each year. It starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy.
Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be used as energy. Glucose eventually builds up in the blood to high levels, called hyperglycemia.
The cause is unknown, but new research provides some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop.
But these hormones also block the action of the mother's insulin in her body.
This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother's body to use insulin. She may need up to three times as much insulin.
In order to prevent gestational diabetes, we need to increase insulin production and maintain insulin sensitivity.
How to Naturally Increase Insulin Production
Increasing insulin production early in pregnancy benefits both you and your baby. Insulin helps to support cellular energy by placing glucose inside the cells.
Glucose will only convert into energy when inside cells. If insulin levels drop during pregnancy, the baby's development might slow-down.
Supporting healthy insulin levels is the first step in prevention. Two nutrients have been shown to safely increase insulin production:
- Tart Cherries
Antioxidants found in tart cherries activate pancreatic beta-cells to produce 50% more insulin. The increased production occurs only when blood sugar levels. Taking 1200 mg/day is the effective dose.
- American Ginseng
American ginseng is a non-stimulating herb that protects pancreatic beta-cells from the physical stress caused from pregnancy.
It minimizes the damaging effects caused by stress hormones and preserves beta-cell function.
Studies show that 250 mg/day of American Ginseng increases insulin production by 25%. No side effects were reported by study participants.
How to Naturally Maintain Insulin Sensitivity
Increasing insulin production is useless if your body becomes resistant to its effects. Insulin resistance is the underlying cause of both type 2 and gestational diabetes.
Cells resistant to insulin cannot convert glucose into energy and soon become dysfunctional.
Restoring and maintaining insulin sensitivity is the second step in prevention. Two nutrients offer protection against insulin resistance:
- Lipoic Acid
Found in leafy green vegetables and organ meats, lipoic acid is the top choice for preventing gestational diabetes. It works by stablizing insulin receptors.
Fasting insulin levels, a measurement of resistance, often return to normal after taking lipoic acid.
The right dose is 250 mg/day of the "R" form. This is the biologically active form of lipoic acid used by the body.
- Vitamin B6
Supplementing with 100 mg/day of vitamin B6 is an effective strategy for maintaining insulin sensitivity. A product providing a mixture of different types of B6 is your best choice.
Look on the label for both pyridoxamine and pyridoxal-5-phosphate.
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