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New Study Shows Healthy Diets Linked with Decreased Hypertension Risk Following Gestational Diabetes

New Study Shows Healthy Diets Linked with Decreased Hypertension Risk Following Gestational Diabetes
April 21
09:15 2016
Gestational diabetes is a known predicator of high blood pressure (and high blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke). As reported by Fox News, a healthy diet may decrease a woman’s risk of developing high blood pressure after experiencing diabetes during pregnancy.

Diabetes during pregnancy – gestational diabetes – is not uncommon. The condition affects roughly 200,000 American women each year and typically manifests around week 24.

Gestational diabetes often has no symptoms, and a diagnosis does not mean that you will have diabetes after giving birth. If you are diagnosed, however, it is vital that you follow your doctor’s advice regarding blood sugar levels throughout the pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes raises the chances that a woman will develop high blood pressure in later years, but a new study sheds some light on how you can decrease that risk.

The study found that diets rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and low in refined grains and processed meats were related to a lower risk of:

  • Pregnancy-related diabetes
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High blood pressure in future years

Senior investigator Dr. Cuilin Zhang and his team tracked nearly 4,000 women in a study lasting from 1989 to 2011. During this time, 1,069 women developed hypertension (high blood pressure).

The study, which was published in the journal Hypertension, found that those with the healthiest diets were 25% less likely to develop high blood pressure.

flygyal-legumesDr. Zhang believes fiber from legumes and whole grains could improve the way the human body processes sugar and deals with inflammation. In addition, the high amounts of vitamin K, potassium, antioxidants, and ascorbic acid found in vegetables and fruits could help the blood vessels and heart.

Zhang notes that a healthy diet will reduce hypertension risk for everyone – not just women who have experienced pregnancy-related diabetes.

These results are not shocking, says North Carolina Doctor Cheryl Bushnell. “The healthy diets in this study all emphasize nutrients (fruits and vegetables, fresh vs. non-processed food) that are high in potassium and low in sodium, both of which can help lower blood pressure.”

Hypertension is “the single-most modifiable risk factor for stroke, so avoiding it will help reduce the risk for stroke,” she adds. “Other major conditions associated with (high blood pressure) include heart disease, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease, all of which shorten the life expectancy.”

Bushnell encourages all women to discuss their history of pregnancy-related diabetes with their doctors. Zhang adds that all doctors should recommend a healthy diet post-pregnancy.

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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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