Research Shows Probiotics May Reduce Risk of Childhood Obesity
A study that has been published in the British Journal of Nutrition discovered that expectant mothers who consume probiotic foods while pregnant may reduce the chances of their offspring having weight issues later in life.
Researchers say women who consumed probiotics during their first trimester were less likely to suffer from gestational diabetes, which can result in delivering an overweight baby. Overweight infants may also suffer from excess insulin and be at risk for becoming obese or developing type 2 diabetes during adulthood, according to the American Diabetes Association.
In the study, 256 women in their first trimester of pregnancy either received the probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis or did not. Researchers found that probiotic intervention reduced the frequency of gestational diabetes, which happens when the body is unable to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy.
The end result was that high blood glucose levels for the mother during pregnancy, and the risk of delivering an infant with macrosomia (aka an overweight baby.) According to the American Diabetes Association, "babies with macrosomia face health problems of their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth.
“Taken together, long-term health benefits for mothers and children may be conferred by balanced maternal nutrition during pregnancy and lactation and by promoting the healthy gut microbiota in the mother and the child,” wrote the researchers, led by Raakel Luoto.
“The results of the present study add weight to the argument that the continuing burden of Western lifestyle diseases is modifiable. Based on the present findings, perinatal dietary counseling combined with probiotics could provide a safe and cost-effective tool in addressing the obesity epidemic,” added Luoto.
The term "probiotics" refers to dietary supplements or foods that contain beneficial, or "good," bacteria that are similar to those normally found in your body. Fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir are the most common sources for probiotics. It can be found in cheese, including cottage cheese, and buttermilk. Fermented soy products, including miso and tempeh also have probiotics as well as bananas and artichokes. Alliums like onions and garlic contain probiotic compounds. Be sure to read the labels as foods with probiotics will have ingredients like inulin, lactose, arabinogalactan, fructooligosaccarides (FOS), polydextrose or lactitol.
Kirsi Laitinen, a nutritionist and senior lecturer at the University of Turku suggest we pay attention to this study. "Bacteria are passed from mother to child through the birth canal, as well as through breast milk, and research indicates that early nutrition may influence the risk of obesity later in life. There is growing evidence that this approach might open a new angle on the fight against obesity, either through prevention or treatment.”