Gestational (pregnancy) diabetes is a growing problem in the healthcare sector. A remarkable seven per cent of all pregnancies in the USA have gestational diabetes complications, posing a disadvantage over the long term for both mother and child. This is because it is associated with the predisposition to the state of being overweight or with type 2 diabetes. Dietary protein is a significant regulator of glucose metabolism. Therefore, a US study conducted in 2013 examined the relationship between protein consumption and the onset of gestational diabetes. The study was based on data from the "Nurses Health Study II". Since 1989, this study has been monitoring more than 100,000 American nurses and evaluating their dietary habits and medical conditions that manifest themselves by conducting regular interviews. The analysis of the data from 21,457 pregnancies in the years 1991-2001 pertaining to women who were healthy before they became pregnant revealed 870 cases of gestational diabetes. When comparing eating habits, the researchers found that there is a much higher risk of developing gestational diabetes when consuming animal protein – especially red meat – compared to vegetable protein. In particular, high nut consumption, including peanuts and peanut butter, reduced the risk of gestational diabetes. Once five percent of the animal protein in the diet was replaced by vegetable protein, the risk of gestational diabetes was reduced by 51 per cent. Peanuts and nuts in general are an excellent source of protein, rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, fibre and magnesium, and they have a relatively low glycaemic index. These factors, individually or in combination, are associated with improved insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of diabetes.
Bao W et al.: Prepregnancy Dietary Protein Intake, Major Dietary Protein Sources, and the Risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. A prospective cohort study. Diabetes Care. 2013 Jul; 36(7): 2001–2008.