Potato intake has been correlated with a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes, in a recent study featured in the British Medical Journal.
The basis of the research was the Nurses’ Health Study II, and the analysis of 15,632 medical records was conducted by experts at Harvard University’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Of the expectant mothers included in the 10-year survey, carried out between 1991 and 2001, 854 eventually suffered from gestational diabetes.
This condition, which appears during pregnancy and affects 4% of all women, is marked by a temporary increase in blood sugar levels, which normally subsides a short while after delivery.
Despite being so brief, gestational diabetes can put the entire pregnancy at risk, maximizing the expectant mother’s likelihood of requiring a Cesarean section instead of having a successful vaginal birth.
Moreover, the metabolic disorder makes women twice as susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes in the future, and it has also been associated with a higher probability of preeclampsia (signaled by excessively high blood pressure).
Also, women who suffer from diabetes strictly during pregnancy are at a higher risk of giving birth to an overly large baby, often delivered prematurely. Infants born this way also tend to have hypoglycemia (often associated with seizures) or respiratory issues, or to be affected by type 2 diabetes as they grow older.
Previously, researchers had determined that gestational diabetes is more prevalent among those female patients over the age of 25, who have a high body mass index, and who have a family history of type 2 diabetes. Now, it appears that even potato intake may be a factor contributing to this highly dangerous condition.
When analyzing the subjects’ daily eating patterns against the incidence of gestational diabetes among that group, study authors discovered that among women who had eaten the highest amount of taters in the year prior to conception, there was the highest prevalence of gestational diabetes.
More precisely, the incidence of this condition doubled among those who had a minimum of 5 servings of potatoes on a weekly basis.
Even when controlling for other risk factors, the correlation persisted, being statistically significant especially when the participants opted for the baked or fried version of these vegetables.
However, experts also noticed that when women replaced 2 weekly potato servings with legumes, various other veggies and whole grains, the likelihood of this condition taking over decreased by up to 12%.
One possible explanation for the association between diabetes and potatoes is the fact that spuds are known for their high glycemic index, raising the level of blood sugar by a wide margin, and disrupting insulin production.
Despite these new findings, researchers don’t claim that women intending to conceive a baby should renounce potatoes altogether.
The study simply indicates a link between gestational diabetes and these vegetables, and not a cause-and-effect relationship, especially since there may be other factors at play, given that potato enthusiasts are also more likely to smoke or to be overweight.
However, it is still recommended to have balanced eating habits, practicing moderation instead of favoring mashed potatoes, french fries and other potato-based products too much.
Despite their undeniable popularity, accessibility and hunger-curbing properties (due to high levels of natural resistant starch) taters aren’t the only veggies out there. Legumes, gourds, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables should be treated as an equally integral part of a healthy diet, scientists insist.
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