I’m officially 26 weeks pregnant & the biggest hurdle I’ve had to tackle so far with my first pregnancy, is discussing alternative glucose tolerance testing methods with my OBGYN.
The typical Glucose Test isn’t completed until 24-28 weeks into your pregnancy. So if you’re newly pregnant, or considering getting pregnant soon – you still have plenty of time to do your own research and find an alternative that works for you.
I chose to let my OBGYN know that I would prefer to opt for an alternative method of the second trimester glucose screening versus drinking Glucola during one of my first appointments, so that there would be no surprises later on for either of us. She surprisingly didn’t even roll her eyes at me, which I was pleasantly surprised by and she agreed to discuss alternatives without hesitation.
There’s a chance your doctor might not be as open minded as mine luckily was, and that’s ok. You have the right as the patient to advocate for what is best for you. Pushing back against the standard “norm” makes some doctors very uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to request an alternative method. The more informed you are when you bring it up, the easier the conversation will be.
I mentioned a few of the terrible ingredients in the Glucola Drink and how I haven’t consumed anything that processed, in years. She admitted that she had never actually thought to look at the ingredients before. She was under the impression that it was just a bottle of sugar water.
I politely laughed, and told her I might actually be willing to try it, if that’s truly all it was. But sadly, it contains way more than just 50 grams of sugar.
Check out this Ingredients list:
Water, dextrose (D-glucose from corn), citric acid, natural flavoring, food starch modified, glycerol ester of wood rosin, brominated soybean oil, food dye and coloring: Yellow #6, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, BHA, and .10% Sodium Benzoate
Standard Ingredients of Glucola as Produced by AeroMed
I’d rather skip it.
That being said – this is currently the “standard practice” for every pregnant woman in America to drink, in order to assess their risk for Gestational Diabetes.
I’m not discounting the importance of ruling out your risk factors for developing this condition during pregnancy, even if you’re completely “healthy” with no “history”. It’s still important to screen for this high risk complication.
We can only create change in the system by educating ourselves first, speaking up, requesting alternative methods and sharing what we’ve learned with our doctors along the way & hope they listen!
If you don’t care to learn more about the ingredients & you’re solely interested in learning about the Alternative Testing Methods available to you as an informed patient – read this post instead. I dive into the alternative screening method I chose to complete, instead of drinking Glucola.
Here’s a Quick Breakdown:
Dextrose (D-glucose from corn):
Most likely sourced from GMO corn, heavily sprayed and contaminated with glyphosate & plenty of other herbicides, fungicides, you name it. I avoid GMO ingredients, not only because they have been genetically modified in a lab, but mostly because they are the most heavily sprayed crops. That’s what they’re built to withstand, after all.
Whenever I see the word “flavor” on a label, red flags go up. This can include an array of chemicals, carrier solvents, or preservatives that the company is not required to disclose.
I copy and pasted the quote below, directly from the EWG website, discussing the meaning of “natural” when it comes to added “flavors” in our food:
Food manufacturers can use a natural solvent such as ethanol in their flavors, but the FDA also permits them to use synthetic solvents such as propylene glycol.
Flavor extracts and food ingredients that have been derived from genetically engineered crops may also be labeled “natural” because the FDA has not fully defined what the term “natural” means.EWG food Scores: Natural vs. Artificial Flavors
Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin:
Possibly not as scary as it sounds, because I can’t find a ton of information on this ingredient other than the fact that it’s used as emulsifier in sports drinks and sodas to keep the ingredients in suspension (well-combined) instead of having to shake them back together.
It’s also a common ingredient found in gatorade, used to replace brominated soybean oil (BVO). But in this instance, this ‘Glucola’ drink actually contains both.
It’s a derivate from pine trees, mixed with a few chemicals in a lab to create an emulsifier that hasn’t been very well studied for safety in our food. I’d rather not worry about it, and avoid it all together.
Brominated Soybean Oil (BVO):
Otherwise known as Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) this ingredient has been patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. It has also been widely banned for human consumption in other countries – which means it was removed from food products in those places & is illegal to use in food production. We’re still using it in America – most commonly in sports drinks and sodas. Oh & in drinks we give to pregnant women.
It has been found to affect reproductive health, cause skin lesions, liver lesions, neurological problems, as well as increase triglyceride and cholesterol content in the heart and liver – according to various scientific research studies listed by the EWG, here.
I found this excerpt from the Scientific American Article about Brominated Vegetable Oils extremely interesting:
A 1971 study by Canadian researchers found that rats fed a diet containing 0.5 percent brominated oils grew heavy hearts and developed lesions in their heart muscle. In a later study, in 1983, rats fed the same oils had behavioral problems, and those fed 1 percent BVO had trouble conceiving. At 2 percent, they were unable to reproduce.The Scientific American
If you haven’t heard about the terrible side effects linked to artificial food colorings in food – I highly encourage you to do your own research on this topic. Food products containing artificial food colorings in Europe come with huge Warning Labels. Companies like Kraft, removed yellow food dies from all macaroni and cheese products in Europe way before they began adjusting the ingredients in America. Plenty of other companies are guilty of this as well.
Start by reading this article published in 2010. The opening two sentences are quite possibly, all you need to know.
Most importantly – adding yellow food dye has no bearing on the effectiveness, quality, or flavor of this drink or any food for that matter. It’s solely added for the visual benefit of being drawn to “pretty things”. I’m confident that pregnant women would still drink this drink even if it was completely clear or possible even slightly cloudy – it is supposed to be a bottle of sugar water after all.
Sodium Hexametaphosphate, BHA, and .10% Sodium Benzoate:
Preservatives, Thickeners, Stabilizers, Emulsifiers. In other words – chemicals I choose to avoid in my food.
These are not food products, they have no health benefits, they are solely used to keep products “shelf stable” and well suspended (well mixed) so they appear “normal” to the consumer.
I prefer consuming real food, with simple ingredients I can pronounce.
So, Why Do Doctors Ask Us to Drink It?
The drink contains 50g of Glucose in order to purposely spike your blood sugar and measure how well your body’s insulin response tolerates this surplus of glucose.
This test is currently the best standard practice available to ensure that you and your baby are not at risk of suffering the consequences of undiagnosed Gestational Diabetes later on during your pregnancy.
If Glucose intolerance is found to be a problem for you – the next step is to closely monitor your blood sugars at home, watch what you eat more closely and focus in on your daily exercise routine to help manage your blood sugar levels naturally without needing to resort to medication.
Either way, in my opinion – it’s a great way to learn a little more about your body and adjust your daily routine, for the health of yourself and your baby.
Now that you know why I asked my doctor for an Alternative Method to drinking Glucola, check out this post to learn more about the various methods that are also available to you, what I personally chose to do instead, & why.
Thanks for reading.
I’m not here to point fingers, shame you or discourage you. If you’ve already consumed Glucola previously with your current or past pregnancies, that’s totally fine. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Just keep in mind – my favorite quote:
“Do Better, Once You Know Better”Maya Angelou
There’s nothing we can do about the decisions we’ve made in the past, other than educate ourselves to the best of our ability and move forward with the new knowledge we have.
We can’t change the system by just sitting back and agreeing to everything. We have to keep our heads up, eyes open, and speak up when we learn something we don’t agree with.
Preventative Health Podcast Host: The Critical Conversations Podcast
Resources Used for This Post:
- EWG food Scores: Natural vs. Artificial Flavors
- Environmental Health Perspectives Article: DIET AND NUTRITION: The Artificial Food Dye Blues
- The Scientific American Article: Brominated Battle: Soda Chemical Has Cloudy Health History
- Gestational Diabetes: Please Don’t Drink the “Glucola” Without Reading the Label – written by Aviva Romm, MD