Following a healthy diet during the lactation period manages to normalize the lipid content in milk and prevent metabolic alterations in offspring. These are data from a study by the Obesity and Nutrition area of the Center for Biomedical Research in Network (CIBEROBN). The research has been published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. Through this study, we sought to evaluate in an animal model whether normalizing the maternal diet during lactation manages to prevent the harmful effects that the consumption of an obesogenic diet before and during pregnancy exert on the ‘lipidome’ or lipidomic profile (the set of the hundreds of lipids) in breast milk and the plasma of offspring, discovering that it is possible to achieve it. Reversing the damage of pregnancy This new knowledge is relevant as it shows that the recovery of a healthier maternal diet during lactation can prevent, at least in part, metabolic disorders caused by poor nutrition 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. This means that these alterations can “program the offspring” for a greater propensity to develop chronic pathologies in adulthood. Intervention during lactation Taking this into account, the researchers considered it “interesting” to study possible intervention strategies during the lactation period to prevent 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. They also analyzed the plasma lipid profile of the pups in the final stage 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 with the decrease in the expression of several proinflammatory factors. Extrapolating to humans The authors of the research work, led by Professor Catalina Picó, are now studying the extent to which these results can be extrapolated to humans. In any case, they recommend extreme care in feeding during lactation. This is “a critical period” in which it is possible to correct metabolic alterations in the offspring that may have been poorly programmed by previous periods of unhealthy feeding or lifestyle.
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