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

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

Sep. 29, 2015
By 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.

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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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