High blood sugar that develops more commonly in the second half of pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth is called gestational diabetes. In pregnancy, the placenta makes hormones that increase sugar in the blood. If the pancreas does not make enough insulin to process this sugar, this can lead to gestational diabetes. This can put the baby at an increased risk for excessive birth weight, preterm birth and difficulty in breathing, low blood sugar, or type 2 diabetes later in life. Pregnancy diabetes can also lead to complications in the mother such as high blood pressure, the serious complication of preeclampsia, and an increased risk of future diabetes.
In most cases of pregnancy diabetes, the condition disappears after delivery. However, you should keep your sugar under control to avoid risks to the baby.
A healthy diet, moderate exercise, and regular monitoring of blood sugar can help manage pregnancy diabetes effectively. You can also use natural herbal remedies to keep your blood sugar under control. However, if your blood sugar level is not in control with these measures, you might require tablets or insulin for maintaining a healthy blood sugar level to prevent any risks to you and your baby.
Eating right is the primary and most important natural remedy to combat and prevent gestational diabetes. Follow these tips to keep a tab on the sugar levels in your blood:
Your pregnancy meals should be regular and well planned. You should take care not to skip meals or have long gaps between meals by eating healthy snacks in between.
You should plan for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Fruit servings could be a banana or an apple, a handful of grapes, or 1 tablespoon dried fruit or any other fruits. Fruit juices should be avoided. One serving of vegetables could be a bowl of salad or 3 heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables.
Reduce the intake of processed and sugary foods such as sugary drinks, fruit juices, snacks, and desserts. Know what you eat; check the food label for sugars such as sucrose, maltose, etc. Eat foods with low glycemic index (e.g., porridge, yam, plantain, multigrain or granary/seeded bread, quinoa, basmati rice, beans, muesli, lentils, fruits, and vegetables).
Avoid sugar-free foods as they have no special health benefits and could act like laxatives.
Eat less carbohydrates, spread your carbohydrates throughout the day, and preferentially use nutritious carbohydrates (wholegrain starchy foods, pulses, fruits, and vegetables). Avoid highly processed carbs (white bread, refined cereals).
Fish is a lean, non-fatty source of protein. However, avoid raw shellfish and fish that might have high levels of mercury (swordfish, shark and marlin, tuna). A non-vegetarian diet should have at least two portions (one portion is 140g) of fish per week, of which one portion should be oily fishes like mackerel, sardines, salmon, herrings, trout, or pilchard.
Avoid the use of alcohol during pregnancy.
You can also use herbal remedies along with a healthy diet and exercise for healing diabetes naturally. Natural remedies for pregnancy diabetes involve various herbs classified below as per their healing mechanism as follows:
Herbs acting as secretagogues or improving insulin sensitivity in the cells.
Herbs inhibiting the absorption of glucose by inhibiting enzymes like α-glucosidase and α-amylase.
Multimodal activities of herbs like garlic, ginseng, aloe vera, fenugreek, bitter melon, holy basil, curry tree, and Madagascar periwinkle.
Here are some specific herbs that you can easily incorporate in your diet to achieve better control on your blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
Garlic: Numerous studies have proven its anti-diabetic activity via its compound allicin. Allicin improves the metabolism of the liver and insulin release from pancreas, helping control diabetes better.
Bel or bilva: The leaves of this common Indian fruit are known to help in reducing spikes in blood sugar levels.
Aloe vera: Studies have found that aloe vera juice stimulates production and release of insulin from the pancreas. This helps achieve better control in gestational diabetes.
Neem: Leaves of this ancient, beloved tree help increase the use of glucose by the cells. This reduces blood sugar levels and the effects that high levels of blood sugar have on various tissues.