What's Wrong with Drinking Diet Soda While Pregnant? (Only, Everything!)


By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. One in 3 children are obese. And obesity puts kids at risk for numerous health problems, like diabetes.

A recent study suggested that some mothers with gestational diabetes may be putting their unborn children at risk for weight gain, by drinking artificially sweetened beverages (ASBs). In the study, researchers examined 918 pregnant women with gestational diabetes between 1996 and 2002. Half of the women examined reported that they consumed ASBs, and about 9% of the women reported they consumed ASBs daily.

The final results of the study showed evidence that the women who drank diet soda were 60% more likely to have babies with a high birth weight, compared to the women who did not drink diet soda. Furthermore, the women who drank water instead of sweetened beverages were less likely to have children who were overweight by age 7.

This study highlights the lasting effects a pregnant woman’s diet can have on her child.

More research is needed to definitively determine if ASBs have an effect on childhood obesity. We have to factor in what other foods these expectant mothers were eating as well. And it is important to note that the researchers of this study said that diet soda in moderation is usually fine.

So how else can pregnant women be proactive about protecting their baby’s health weight-wise?

I think preventing gestational diabetes, in the first place, is key.

And there are certain nutrients, including minerals, that may help.

Maintaining a healthy diet and a healthy weight are key in preventing and managing diabetes. And what you may not know is there is a specific nutrient that may be a key weapon in preventing this disease that affects so many people - Magnesium.

Magnesium is an essential mineral because it is an important cofactor for hundreds of processes and reactions in the body. “People with higher amounts of magnesium in their diets tend to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Magnesium helps the body break down sugars and may help reduce the risk of insulin resistance (a condition that leads to diabetes),” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In one study, which involved 286,668 participants (with 6-17 years of follow up), it was found that just a 100 mg per day increase of magnesium in the diet reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by a “statistically significant” 15%.

Magnesium is associated with better management of diabetes and reduced complications from the disease such as vascular diseases, hypertension and retinopathy.  

So how can you get more of this mineral in your diet?

In general, men need about 400-420 mg of magnesium per day. Women need about 310-320 mg. If you are pregnant or have any known health issues, talk to your doctor about what your daily intake should be. You should also get nutritional testing to determine what your existing magnesium levels are.  

There are a variety of delicious and healthy foods that are rich in magnesium. Leafy green vegetables (like spinach), legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains contain magnesium. Foods with fiber, like cherries, are also good sources of magnesium, and many cereals are fortified with this essential mineral. If you have difficulty eating magnesium rich foods, talk to your doctor about obtaining a high quality magnesium supplement. There is also some evidence that magnesium may be absorbed through the skin, so taking a bath with magnesium salts may improve your magnesium levels.

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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