Planning a Pregnancy? Eat Your Fiber
Fiber-Rich Diet Before Pregnancy May Help Women Avoid Gestational Diabetes
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 27, 2006 -- If you're a woman planning to get pregnant, you might want
to pump up your fiber intake.
Doing so could make you less likely to develop gestational diabetes,
researchers report in the October edition of Diabetes Care.
Gestational diabetes only occurs during pregnancy. It affects
about 5% of pregnant women in the U.S., or around 200,000 women per year,
according to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
Researchers on the new study included Cuilin Zhang, MD, PhD, of the
nutrition department at Harvard School of Public Health and Boston's Brigham
and Women's Hospital, a teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School.
Zhang's team analyzed data from the Nurses' Health Study II, which included
more than 116,000 female nurses. Every two years, the nurses completed
questionnaires about their diet and health.
The researchers focused on the more than 13,000 nurses who had a baby during
an eight-year period. Of those nurses, 758 had gestational diabetes.
The study found gestational diabetes was rarest among nurses with the
greatest fiber intake. Those women consumed about 26 grams of fiber per day, on
The USDA recommends people consume 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000
calories. That's 28 grams of fiber per day, based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
In Zhang's study, every 10-gram-per-day rise in fiber consumption was linked
to a 26% drop in the nurses' odds of getting gestational diabetes.
Carbs Count, Too
Eating high-quality carbohydrates was also associated with avoiding
High-quality carbohydrates, such as fruit and vegetables rather than
pastries and candy, don't make your blood sugar quickly soar and plummet.
Instead, they're steadier sources of energy, keeping blood sugar on a more even
Zhang and colleagues weighed other gestational diabetes risk factors before
coming to their conclusions.
They call for more studies, since the nurses may have been particularly
health conscious and may not represent all women.
Ready to fine-tune your fiber intake? You've got lots of choices.
You'll find fiber in plants and plant-based foods that haven't been refined,
and in products with added fiber.
Fruit and cereals were the most common dietary fiber sources in Zhang's
But those aren't your only options. Legumes, vegetables, and whole grains
are also rich in fiber and are high-quality carbohydrates.
Here's a quick list of 15 foods and their grams of fiber per serving:
- 1/2 cup cooked navy beans: 9.5 grams
- 1/2 cup ready-to-eat 100% bran cereal: 8.8 grams
- 1/2 cup cooked black beans: 7.5 grams
- 1 medium baked sweet potato with skin: 4.8 grams
- 1 whole-wheat English muffin: 4.4 grams
- Small raw pear: 4.3 grams
- 1/2 cup cooked mixed vegetables: 4 grams
- 1/2 cup raw raspberries: 4 grams
- 1/2 cup stewed prunes: 3.8 grams
- 1 ounce almonds: 3.3 grams
- Medium raw apple with skin: 3.3 grams
- Medium raw orange: 3.1 grams
- 1/2 cup cooked pearled barley: 3 grams
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat spaghetti: 3.1 grams
- 1/2 cup cooked collard greens: 2.7 grams