To drink or not to drink: Glucola and Gestational Diabetes


Most mothers these days have a plethora of information at their fingertips. A simple search will bring you to many opinions on Glucola and the evil (or not) in it. If any of you are like me, you get tired of figuring out fact from fanaticism. So let’s break down this post into some hardcore facts: What is gestational diabetes? I eat well. I follow the Whole30, paleo, Trim Healthy Momma or fill in the blank diet and I am low risk. Why should I test for gestational diabetes? Let’s start with Diabetes 101 Diabetes 1 – childhood or diabetes caused by a genetic or physical damage or defect. However, without a scientific breakthrough, it cannot be cured. Their body doesn’t produce insulin. By monitoring your diet, they can control how much insulin they need by regulating how much sugar they have ingested. However, they need artificial insulin to live. Diabetes 2- This is diet/lifestyle diabetes. While, I think we can all have predispositions to different problems in life, this is typical caused by you or me. This is caused by learned eating habits. It is caused by sedentary lifestyles. This person has made choices to be diabetic…. Whether intentional or not. There can be a point where you damage the pancreas and other organs to a point not being able to completely heal them. The pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes occurs when one of the following occurs:

  • When the pancreas does not produce any insulin

  • When the pancreas produces very little insulin

  • When the body does not respond appropriately to insulin, a condition called "insulin resistance"

When you eat or drink, a lot of your food is broken down into a simple sugar called "glucose." Glucose gives energy to your body. Insulin is released by the pancreas to regulate how much sugar you have. The more sugar you have, the more insulin is released to help your body push more glucose into the cells including fat cells. Excess glucose is also stored in the liver. Gestational diabetes is triggered by pregnancy. Hormone changes during pregnancy can affect insulin's ability to work properly. The condition occurs in approximately 4% of all pregnancies.

Normal pregnancy physiology. The body needs to enhance nutrient delivery to the baby. So lactogen, estrogen and progesterone counter act the function of insulin. The placenta also makes potent enzymes which destroy insulin. The mother’s system secretes more insulin to make up for it. So baby wants glucose to grow, mom is producing more insulin than pre-pregnancy to keep blood sugars level. The baby has a glucose level about 20-40 points lower than mom. If mom’s sugar levels are averaging 20-40 points higher than they should, then babies are averaging 20-40 points higher than they should. Extra glucose crosses the placenta to the baby, however extra insulin does not. This causes fat growth in a baby which causes a big baby. Which is why midwives say, “Protein make strong babies, carbs make fat babies.” Can you see a woman that is even borderline or normal before pregnancy in her blood sugar, may not be able to handle the extra insulin and glucose exchange in the body at pregnancy? Her body may over-react or not be able to keep up with pregnancy changes regardless of diet. Can you see the extra strain on the liver which can lead to a higher risk of pre-eclampsia due to diet or high blood sugar? Also certain illnesses can affect your body’s ability to produce insulin, as well as, too much stress in your life. There are also many pregnancy physiological changes that we still do not understand. Things that affect glucose levels:

  • Caffeine and smoking cause the liver to release glycogen and cause a flooding to the system all at once.

  • Being overweight can cause decreased insulin receptors. This is why the