Updated: Nov 1, 2018
For women who are pregnant, doctors recommend a glucose screening test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy to check for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can be a serious condition, just as traditional diabetes. The cause of the condition is still unknown but the effects on your baby could be carried through their adult life.
When you have gestational diabetes, your pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, however the insulin does not lower your blood glucose levels. Now, insulin will not cross through the placenta but glucose and other nutrients do. When glucose levels are high, the baby’s pancreas will make extra insulin to get rid of blood glucose, which increases the baby’s energy levels. That extra energy is stored as fat and can lead to macrosomia or a “fat” baby. This can also lead to excess insulin levels after birth and they could be at risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes as adults.
One cause for gestational diabetes in otherwise non-diabetic or healthy women may stem from your diet during pregnancy. Sugar cravings can be severe and I know that first hand (nightly ice cream runs anyone?!). The good news is normally it can be reversed by diet and making sure you are eating low carbs, low sugar and lots of veggies.
So I am sure you're all wondering why I would refuse this test…. because of what I found out is actually IN the test beverage:
I advise everyone to always know what you are putting in our body. When I was told about the test the first question I asked was “what’s in it?” The answer was “just glucose” (glucose is a simple sugar). Now for those of you who know me, I was a bit skeptical- as I look at every label and always want to understand what the ingredients are. I reached out to both nurses and doctor’s and received the same answer; “it’s just glucose.” Well let me tell you, it is NOT “just glucose.” When I went in for the test, I was able to take the picture included in the article. You can clearly see the ingredients I would have ingested:
Dextrose (D-Gluclose Source: Corn)
I want to first address the last 3 ingredients. Natural flavoring or natural flavors per the Code of Federal Regulations can potentially contain hundreds of ingredients whose significant function in food is flavoring other than for nutritional purposes (21CFR101.22). This flavoring is also manufactured. Why are they “flavoring” sugar? Especially with something that has NO nutritional value!
On to Citric Acid. Many people think this is just Vitamin C because citric acid naturally occur in many citrus fruits. However this Citric Acid is not from fruits- this is industrial produced citric acid derived from a mold (Aspergillus niger) that is then fed on sucrose or glucose to produce citric acid. Ewe.
Sodium Benzoate is used as a preservative. This is also synthesized in a lab by combining benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide. On top of the fact that I would not want to put anything synthesized in a lab into my body, there is an even bigger issue. When Sodium Benzoate is combined with Citric Acid, it has the ability to turn into Benzene. Benzene is a known carcinogen and has been linked to cancer. You can read more about all the effects of Benzene and it’s cancer risk right on the American Cancer Soceity’s website.
Now while the FDA regulates the amount of the above ingredients and deems small amounts “safe” there is absolutely no way I am taking that risk, especially while I am pregnant.
These ingredients allow this product to “stay on the shelf longer.” This by no means is beneficial for me or anyone ingesting the product. It is a benefit for the company manufacturing it as they can produce large quantities at a reduced cost. I will not subject myself or my baby to these chemicals so that companies can make a few more million dollars by saving on production.
Lastly, let’s discuss the glucose, which is the entire reason this product is produced and should be the only ingredient. Glucose is important for the body and is found naturally in fruits, vegetables and honey. However, the glucose in this product is derived from corn and manufactured similarly to high fructose corn syrup. I assume this is also from GMO corn, as there is not a non-GMO label on this bottle (which is a whole other topic for another day!). Again, this form of Glucose is highly manufactured and highly processed. Using corn is a cheaper way to produce a sweetener which is why it is added into so many products. The goal of this test is to see how your body is processing “sugar”. My issue with this is that I do not eat or drink products that contain manufactured Glucose or High Fructose Corn Syrup. There are also many other natural ways to increase your sugar level. Your Doctor or Midwife will need to give you the best substitute based on your situation but some options available are:
Organic Dye Free Jelly Beans
Grape Juice & Banana’s
So what did I do? My Midwife recommended I monitor my blood sugar the old fashion way- by using a Blood Glucose Monitoring System, aka: finger pricking test. Now this is definitely not the most convenient, nor did I enjoy the experience, but I would choose it any day over ingesting the ingredients I researched. This also provides a much more accurate look at my glucose levels based on what my diet truly is.
My best piece of advice is to make sure you educate yourself on everything you are putting into your body, regardless if it is recommended by your doctor. You have the right to know and to ask what the available alternatives and options are.