Mediterranean diet in pregnancy may have a few benefits. It may lead to a reduction in weight gain and gestational diabetes. At the same time, it does not lower the overall risk of other problems in a mother and her child.
Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and weight gain
A study in the journal “PLOS Medicine” shows that this diet can lower the risk of gestational diabetes by 35%. Moreover, on average, it can reduce the weight gain in a pregnant woman by 1.25 kg.
The pregnant women, having risk factors like obesity, increased lipid levels, or high blood pressure is at high risk. These issues can lead to diabetes in pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, and restriction of fetal growth.
The pre-eclampsia is the onset of high blood pressure in pregnancy that can further affect multiple organs. In addition to problems during pregnancy, these women and their babies are at high risk of diabetes type 2 and CVD.
The study shows that the Mediterranean diet in pregnancy can benefit these high-risk women. This diet includes a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and pulses. Intake should be high to moderate for fish, and low to moderate for poultry.
It also involves a low intake of red meat and the avoidance of fast food and sugary drinks. Such a diet, rich in MUFAS and PUFAS, lowers the risk of CVDs in the general population.
However, up till now, no one has known about the effects of this diet in high-risk pregnant women. This study includes 1252 women and five maternity units in the UK.
And it shows that such a diet can prevent poor pregnancy outcomes in high-risk women. It can lower the weight gain and can reduce the risk of diabetes in pregnancy. Women at high risk should start taking this diet early in pregnancy.
Mediterranean diet may not lower the overall risk of maternal and fetal complications
This study has randomized multi-ethnic high-risk women into two groups. The first group received only prenatal care. While the second one got a Mediterranean diet along with prenatal care.
To increase the dietary intake in pregnant women, the research team provided them with mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts about 30g/day). The members of the study got extra virgin olive oil (0.5 L /week) for using it as cooking fat. They also received dietary advice at 18, 20 and 28th week of gestation.
The results have indicated that despite a reduction in weight gain and the risk of diabetes, other pregnancy problems didn’t get better. These problems may include stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure.
The members of the second group had an overall better quality of life in contrast to the control group. This group reported a reduction in bloating. On the other hand, they also stated no effect on the other symptoms like vomiting and nausea.
Later, the research team assessed the data of this study, along with the data of a Spanish study. This Spanish study included 874 women on a Mediterranean diet in pregnancy. The team found a similar reduction (about 33%) in gestational diabetes, but there was no effect on other problems.
Overall these results have shown the benefits of the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy. Still, there are a few limitations, as this study hasn’t used any objective data to measure dietary intake.