Pregnant women and women who are planning for pregnancy should limit their intake of red meat in order to reduce their risk of gestational diabetes.
That is the view of researchers in Australia who say that various studies show eating a lot of red meat before pregnancy or whilst pregnant may increase the risk of gestational diabetes (diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy), which can pose severe health risks for both the mother and baby.
“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,” commented Philippa Middleto, of the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Institute.
“While this news is alarming, there are also some positives,” she added, with separate research from the US showing that eating fish and poultry does not raise the risk of gestational diabetes, making them ideal alternatives to red meat, while consuming more vegetable and non-meat protein, such as nuts, can lower the risk.
“Based on current evidence, pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant should consider eating more vegetable protein, and nuts, and replacing some red meat with fish and poultry,” she said.
“Midwives, dieticians and others involved in pregnancy care can help women to make these dietary changes in the hope of reducing poor outcomes for the mother and the baby.”
According to the researcher, the link between red meat and type 2 diabetes is growing stronger all the time, although the underlying mechanisms behind this association are still unclear.
“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 concluded.

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