` Olive Oil-Enriched Diet During Pregnancy Can Benefit the Unborn Through Adulthood - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil-Enriched Diet During Pregnancy Can Benefit the Unborn Through Adulthood

Sep. 29, 2015
Ylenia Granitto

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A recent study has shown that a diet rich in olive oil has a pos­i­tive effect on the devel­op­ment of the unborn child and may also affect her adult life.

During the ges­ta­tion, there is a great incor­po­ra­tion of fatty acids into the fetal brain, in order to main­tain the ade­quate devel­op­ment,” explained one of the authors of the study, Prof. Marilise Escobar Burger. Since olive oil is con­sumed in the Mediterranean diet with great results, the idea was that the olive oil, with a favor­able fatty acids pro­file, could be good as well in the pre­na­tal period.”

The joint study was con­ducted by researchers from the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology of the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM) and from the Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences of the University of Milan (DiSFeB).

Olive oil dur­ing peri­na­tal period seems to be able to pre­vent oxida­tive dam­age and improve the expres­sion of pro­tec­tive neu­rotrophins in the adult brain.- Camila Simonetti Pase, Federal University of Santa Maria

The researchers eval­u­ated the influ­ence of dif­fer­ent diets on rodent pups: a group of female rats received a diet enriched with 20 per­cent olive oil (OOED) and one group was sub­jected to a stan­dard diet (CD). They mon­i­tored their pups at var­i­ous times — preg­nancy, lac­ta­tion, and after wean­ing until the pups’ adult­hood — and mea­sured oxida­tive and mol­e­c­u­lar brain para­me­ters and weight dur­ing their lives, achiev­ing very pos­i­tive results for lev­els of pre­frontal cor­tex and hip­pocam­pus.

At adult­hood, ani­mals in the group OOED showed less brain lipid per­ox­i­da­tion and higher lev­els of glu­tathione sulfhydryl groups in the pre­frontal cor­tex and lower brain lev­els of reac­tive species in the hip­pocam­pus.

Interestingly, the group of ani­mals whose diet was changed from a CD to OOED 21 days after birth showed a greater weight than the group that remained the same orig­i­nal diet (OOED) to adult­hood.

It was also inter­est­ing that the con­sump­tion of OOED dur­ing preg­nancy and lac­ta­tion sig­nif­i­cantly increased the pre­frontal cor­tex expres­sion of trophic mol­e­cules that play an impor­tant role in neu­ronal plas­tic­ity and cog­ni­tive func­tion.

The new fact about this study is that olive oil diet dur­ing peri­na­tal period seems to be able to pre­vent oxida­tive dam­age and improve the expres­sion of pro­tec­tive neu­rotrophins in the adult brain,” researcher Camila Simonetti Pase (UFSM) explained. The neu­rotrophins eval­u­ated in our work (BDNF and FGF‑2),” added Verônica Tironi Dias, are related to cel­lu­lar sur­vival, plas­tic­ity and pro­tec­tion from neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive and psy­chi­atric dis­eases.”

The idea of the study and the joint col­lab­o­ra­tion started when Dr. Angélica Martelli Teixeira, who used to work with fatty acids in Brazil, got in touch with the Italian researchers of the University of Milan dur­ing an exchange pro­gram in Italy for her PhD.

Marco Andrea Riva works in a lab­o­ra­tory ded­i­cated to psy­chi­atric dis­or­ders and fac­tors that may affect the risk of devel­op­ing them in the pre- and peri­na­tal period. There is a clear evi­dence that expo­sure to stress makes the indi­vid­ual more vul­ner­a­ble and more sus­cep­ti­ble to develop dis­eases, such as depres­sion or schiz­o­phre­nia, later in life espe­cially if they are exposed to stress­ful events dur­ing early life. Different fac­tors can affect brain struc­ture and func­tion, not only those related to the envi­ron­ment but also nutri­tional ele­ments,” he explained.

The study adds to a body of research that show how diets rich or poor in fats or in sugar may have effects on the mech­a­nisms of brain func­tion and func­tional recov­ery after trau­matic injuries.

This research sup­ports the evi­dence that a diet rich in monoun­sat­u­rated fats, already dur­ing the pre­na­tal period, make the brain more plas­tic, more dynamic and there­fore, prob­a­bly, more resis­tant to any neg­a­tive envi­ron­men­tal stresses in adult life,” Prof. Riva con­cluded.

The results open a line of pio­neer­ing research on feed­ing and adju­vant ther­a­peu­tic strate­gies and on the poten­tial of healthy eat­ing habits to pre­vent neona­tal con­di­tions and their influ­ence on adult life.



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