If you thought adopting a diet rich in fruits and vegetable consumption is the healthiest option during pregnancy, then think again. Research shows that a diet with high fructose intake may adversely affect the placenta, placing the fetus’ growth at risk. This could result in metabolic health issues during the baby’s life.
Fructose is a sugar found commonly in fruits and honey. Manufacturers have increasingly introduced fructose and it’s more processed counterpart, high-fructose corn syrup, into drinks and packaged foods to sweeten products ready for sale on shelves. We already know that a diet rich in sugar leads to obesity and diabetes. We can now add restricted fetal growth to the list of dangerous disorders caused by heavy consumption of fructose.
Unlike other sugars, fructose is not converted into energy by the body but is instead broken down in the liver to form fat commonly known as triglycerides. As a by-product during this process, large amounts of uric acid are released, which is generally flushed out by the system in the form of urine and stool. If too much uric acid is produced, it interferes with the metabolic rate of the body leading to diabetes and other health conditions.
For pregnant women, the risks during pregnancy include larger placenta, but smaller fetuses. The risk on the fetus continues post birth when the body tries to compensate for lost growth during the fetal stage, which can develop into adult diabetes.
It is, therefore, advisable for pregnant women to restrict the intake of fructose and high-fructose foods in their diet. Treatment can be administered by including allopurinol – a prescribed medication that reduces the excretion of uric acid and is safe to take during the second and third trimester, thereby allowing the fetus to grow.