Heavy consumption of red meat during pregnancy increases the risk of gestational diabetes, Australian researchers said.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute found that eating red meat before pregnancy could heighten the chances of gestational diabetes, posing severe health risk for mothers and babies as well.
"There have been several reports linking red meat with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and now the work of a number of research teams worldwide is showing this link for diabetes during pregnancy," said lead researcher Philippa Middleton.
She, however, assured that there are also positive sides to consuming meat during pregnancy. "The latest research from the United States has shown that eating fish and poultry does not increase the risk of gestational diabetes, and consuming more vegetable and non-meat protein is associated with a reduction in risk. For example, just over half a serving of nuts per day can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes by 40 per cent," Middleton explained in a press release.
Middleton suggested pregnant women to switch red meat meal with fish, poultry and other vegetarian dishes, once a week. This would lower the chances of gestational diabetes. Also expecting mothers are advised to follow a balanced-diet in order to avoid iron deficiency. She further advised that women should regularly go for health check-up to know if they were becoming anaemic.
Several studies have shown strong link between red meat intake and diabetes during pregnancy. Still health experts are unclear about the connection.
"More research is needed to better understand why this is happening and how to adapt women's diets and other lifestyle behaviours to prevent both gestational and type 2 diabetes," Middleton said.
The commentary is published in the journal Evidence-Based Nursing.