They reveal why prolonged breastfeeding prevents obesity

There is plenty of scientific evidence showing Benefits of Breastfeeding for the health of the baby, not only during its first years of life or its adolescence, but throughout its adult life. Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the newborn begins to suckle within the first hour after birth and that he is exclusively breastfed for the first six months, without giving him any other food or drink, not even water.

WHO says children can start take other foods after six months of age, but this is compatible with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or more, because the prolonged breastfeeding have many health benefits for mother and child. In fact, a group of Spanish scientists have just discovered why maintaining breastfeeding for longer can prevent the obesity adulthood.

The team made up of Galician researchers from the CIBER of Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN)the Singular Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases (USC CiMUS) and the Health Research Institute of Santiago de Compostela (IDIS) It has been found that small rodents fed longer at the breast have less likely to be obese when they reach adulthood, even if they are exposed to a diet rich in fats.

Activation of brown fat, which burns calories

“We are very satisfied because, for the first time, we have described the mechanism by which breastfeeding protects against the development of obesity with long-term effects in adulthood,” says Luisa María Seoane, who has led the study. French and German researchers also took part in the study and their results, which were published in Natural metabolismshow that this protective effect against overweight is maintained in rodent offspring even when fed with high calorie diets.

“For the first time, we have described the mechanism by which breastfeeding protects against the development of obesity with long-term effects in adulthood”

This phenomenon is explained, according to the researchers, by the release of a protein called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) from the liver, which can reach the hypothalamus, the area of ​​the brain involved in controlling the consumption and use of energy in the body. In the hypothalamus, FGF21 activates dopamine receptors – a neurotransmitter with many biological functions – resulting in increased activity of the brown fata fat that burn calories and thus causes a higher energy expenditure.

The impact of maternal nutrition on their offspring has been widely studied, but the mechanisms by which breastfeeding influences lifelong energy balance were not yet understood. “Our work describes for the first time the existence of a mechanism altered by breastfeeding with permanent effects until adulthood and which involves both peripheral organs, such as the liver or adipose tissue, and the brain”, explains the principal researcher of CIBEROBN.

The mechanism responsible for the beneficial effects of breastfeeding has been described for the first time, which is an unprecedented feat, but the researchers acknowledge that “future research is, however, needed to determine whether these effects also occur in humans through Clinical studiesand better understand the long-term metabolic benefits of breastfeeding.


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