Veggies During Pregnancy May Protect Against Diabetes

Expectant mothers who consume daily veggies less likely to have children with diabetes.

There are countless good reasons to eat vegetables and here’s another one: expectant mothers who eat vegetables every day have children who are less likely to develop type 1 diabetes, according to the results of a study published in Pediatric Diabetes.[1]

While nutrient dense food is always important for optimal health, it is critical during pregnancy when a growing fetus relies on nutrients from the mother in order to thrive and develop. Though this is common sense, there is now hard data to back up this theory.

Understanding Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes (formerly known as juvenile diabetes) results from autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and is preceded by a condition called islet autoimmunity. Put simply, children at risk of developing type 1 diabetes have antibodies in their blood that attack insulin-producing cells. Elevated levels of these antibodies are considered a risk marker for type 1 diabetes.

The Data on Vegetables and Diabetes

A population-based study conducted at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden included analysis of blood samples from almost 6,000 five-year-olds. The results of the blood analysis indicated that the risk markers for type 1 diabetes were twice as common in children whose mothers rarely ate vegetables during pregnancy. Children of mothers who reported eating vegetables every day were at the lowest risk. (In this study, vegetables were defined as any vegetable except for root vegetables.)

The Takeaway Message

The takeaway message from this study is—no surprise—eat your veggies before, during, and after pregnancy. Although the researchers can’t definitively say that vegetable consumption prevents type 1 diabetes, there does appear to be an association between veggie consumption and decreased risk. In other words, it certainly can’t hurt to increase vegetable consumption and it will likely help.

Reference:


[1] Brekke HK, Ludvigsson J. Daily vegetable intake during pregnancy negatively associated to islet autoimmunity in the offspring–The ABIS study. Pediatric Diabetes. 2010; 11(4): 244-250.