Sugar Intake During Pregnancy is Linked to Child’s Allergies and Asthma

eating sugar while pregnant

If you’re a Health Hero – or Health Hero in the making – you probably know all about the power of nutrition. As a firm believer that food is medicine, I know that making good food choices is one of the most powerful and natural ways to improve your health from the inside out. How you choose to nourish your body has a huge impact on your health.

Pregnant women need to be especially conscious of how they’re nourishing themselves, as their choices affect the wellbeing of their unborn children. But what about those cravings? Those strong cravings for sugary foods can’t be easy to ignore. But now more than ever, there is good reason for pregnant women to control their sugar intake.

Did you know that an expectant mother’s diet – and how much sugar she eats while pregnant – might affect her future child’s risk of developing allergies, allergic asthma and lung inflammation?

The higher the sugar intake, the greater the risk.

This is pretty serious stuff.

A new study links high sugar intake to a higher risk of your child developing an allergy.

A team of British researchers evaluated the sugar consumption of nearly 9,000 pregnant women. After comparing those who consumed the most free sugar with those who consumed the least, they found the following:

  • A 38 percent higher risk of allergy diagnosis for the children whose moms had high free sugar intake during pregnancy.
  • A 73 percent higher risk of the children developing two or more allergies.
  • A 101 percent risk increase of the children developing allergic asthma. This was double the risk compared to the children of moms in the low-sugar intake group.

While this study was only observational, the researchers believe that a high-sugar diet during pregnancy activates an immune response, which may lead to allergic inflammation in a baby’s developing lungs. The women in this study with high-sugar intake consumed between 16 to 69 teaspoons daily, while the women with low-sugar intake consumed less than 7 teaspoons daily.

Worldwide allergy rates for kids have climbed between 40 and 50 percent over the last 50 years, so this is certainly an issue that deserves our attention.

What’s a Health Hero to do?

If you’re an expectant mother, my best recommendation is to make your nutrition a priority and prepare yourself to combat cravings and reach for the healthy stuff instead. Remember – planning ahead is key! Planning your meals and snacks in advance might be your greatest ally as you strive to improve your nutrition and reduce your child’s risk of health issues. Get started by taking a look at my favorite healthy recommendations!

The best things to eat when you’re stressed.

The best foods to fight inflammation.

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The best feel-good foods to boost your mood.

The best sugar-free mango lime pancakes with ginger & coconut.

Good nutrition isn’t about deprivation. It’s about nourishing yourself with healthy, natural whole foods. It’s about balance and moderation. Food is more than just nourishment – it’s medicine. Whether you’re a mom-to-be protecting your child’s health or someone simply looking to live a healthier lifestyle, choose to make small, easy lifestyle shifts that can make drastic improvements in your life and reduce the risk to you and your child.

Make healthy living a part of every day.

The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
Dr. Nandi

Partha’s Prescriptions

  • Limit free sugars. These are sugars added to food by you or the manufacturer and should be limited to 6 teaspoons or less daily.
  • Enjoy natural sugars. Unlike free sugars, these are found naturally in whole foods and vegetables. Keep “everything in moderation” in mind, but feel free to go a little crazy with the fruits and veggies.
  • Plan ahead. Preparation is key to nutrition, so keep your kitchen stocked with delicious whole and natural foods. When you’re dealing with strong cravings, and have no healthy options, you’ll just grab whatever you can find. Having healthy options at the ready allows you to practice making good decisions – like grabbing some veggies and healthy dip instead of the candy bar. So next time you head to the grocery store, consider stocking up on smart choices that will put you (and your baby) on a path to a healthier lifestyle.
  • Focus on the food groups. Incorporate healthy foods from the different food groups. You’ll get nourishment that is balanced and varied, which keeps you from getting bored and helps you to avoid those sugary temptations.
  • Reduce exposure to tobacco smoke. Pregnant women should avoid exposure before and after birth. This decreases the baby’s risk of developing wheezing and asthma.

You can find this and other health articles by Dr. Partha Nandi, M.D., F.A.C.P., on his website, Ask Dr. Nandi.

Practicing Physician, Chief Health Editor at WXYZ, Television Show Host, Speaker


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