Gestational diabetes is hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels) that onsets during pregnancy. It affects about 9% of all women according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 (CDC ,2014). Women with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for having large birth weight infants than mothers who do not have gestational diabetes. Large birth weight presents many risks during delivery for both parties as well as for the child after their birth including, hypertension and risk for obesity and diabetes. These women also have a high risk of permanently developing diabetes mellitus type 2 that onsets during pregnancy.
Science and Research
Capsaicin has been shown to help manage glucose levels and insulin levels during pregnancy. Capsaicin in foods is the heat factor. The amount of capsaicin is measured by the scoville scale using scoville units. This scale judges how spicy one pepper is to another; for example, the bell pepper contains 0 scoville units and a jalapeno has 2500-8000 scoville units.Foods with capsaicin include sweet bell peppers of all colors and hot peppers such as jalapenos, thai chilis and habaneros. Although the amount of capsaicin in sweet peppers is much lower than in hot peppers, it does exist, nonetheless.
Consumption of capsaicin containing chilis during pregnancy either through food or supplements can improve postpartum high blood glucose and high insulin levels which will allow the mother’s blood levels to go back to their pre pregnancy numbers and not remain in the diabetes mellitus type 2 ranges. This also decreases the large birth weight risk for your infant. Postpartum blood glucose levels should be monitored by your OB/GYN or general physician given that all women and children who had gestational diabetes in utero are at a high risk for developing diabetes mellitus type 2 permanently.
Simple ways to eat your capsaicin containing meal
-Chicken Fajitas: Lean chicken breast fully cooked and sauteed bell peppers come together to make a tasty and wonderful meal that can be created in just a few minutes. Top with avocado, salsa and sour cream on a bed of shredded lettuce.
– For a simple, one pan plan: Use a glass baking dish, add cubed chicken, sliced bell pepper and sliced onion, top with spices, Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 mins or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with your favorite taco toppers.
-Add hot sauce for even more capsaicin
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes-gestational.html
(2) Yuan LJ, Qin Y, Wang L, et al. Capsaicin-containing chili improved postprandial hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and fasting lipid disorders in women with gestational diabetes mellitus and lowered the incidence of large-for-gestational-age newborns.Clin Nutr. 2016 Apr;35(2):388-93. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2015.02.011. Epub 2015 Mar 2.”