A healthy diet during lactation is capable of preventing metabolic alterations in offspring


Following a healthy diet during the lactation period manages to normalize the lipid content in milk and prevent metabolic alterations in offspring, according to a recent study carried out by a team from the Obesity and Nutrition area of ​​the Center for Biomedical Research in Network (CIBEROBN).

Through this study, published in the journal ‘Molecular Nutrition & Food Research’, we sought to evaluate in an animal model whether normalizing the maternal diet during lactation manages to prevent the harmful effects of consuming an obesogenic diet before and during pregnancy exert on the ‘lipidome’ or lipidomic profile (the set of hundreds of lipids) in breast milk and the plasma of offspring, discovering that it is possible to achieve it.

This new knowledge is relevant since, in addition to the existing evidence on the importance of the nutritional environment during fetal life for the correct growth and subsequent health of the offspring, it shows that the recovery of a healthier maternal diet during lactation can prevent, at least in part, metabolic disorders caused by poor diet and obesity during the prenatal stages.

In addition, previous intervention studies in animal models have shown that the intake of an obesogenic diet during the perinatal period affects the function of the mammary gland and, therefore, the composition of milk, meaning that these alterations can “program the offspring” for a greater propensity to develop chronic pathologies in adulthood.

In view of this, the researchers considered it “interesting” to study possible intervention strategies during the lactation period to prevent just the adverse effects caused by an unbalanced maternal diet during pregnancy, or even prior to it.

To do this, they performed an analysis of the lipidomic profile to determine the alterations in said profile that could be potentially involved with the risk of the offspring developing diseases in later stages of life, also analyzing the lipid profile of the plasma of the offspring in the stage end of lactation.

The results of this study showed that maternal consumption of an obesogenic diet throughout the perinatal period (specifically, from one month before pregnancy and during pregnancy and lactation) causes a notable change in the lipid composition of milk and in the plasma of their young at an early age.

Such alterations were largely reversed both in the milk of mothers who received a standard (balanced) diet during lactation, and in the plasma of their offspring. The reversal of these changes has been related, at least in part, to the recovery of the expression levels of the hormone adiponectin in the mammary gland, as well as to the decrease in the expression of several proinflammatory factors.

The authors of the study, led by Professor Catalina Picó, are now studying the extent to which these results (obtained in an animal model) can be extrapolated to humans.

In any case, they recommend extreme care in feeding during lactation, as it is “a critical period” in which it is possible to correct metabolic alterations in the offspring that may have been misprogrammed by previous periods of unhealthy feeding or lifestyle.

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