Oklahoma City — A recently published study of pregnant women with gestational diabetes shows the importance of a mother’s diet in altering the microbiome and reducing her child’s risk of obesity and the development of conditions such as diabetes, the University of Oklahoma reports.
The study published in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinologyled by Jed Friedman, PhD, director of the OU Health Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes (GDM) occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin. GDM affects 1 in 10 pregnant women in the United States and is usually diagnosed in the late second trimester. For women, GDM increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and coexisting after pregnancy. In newborns, GDM may worsen health and increase the risk of metabolic disorders later in life such as diabetes as well as heart disease. GDM has been increasing in recent years due to the obesity epidemic, advanced gestational age, and metabolic syndrome in pregnant women.
When a woman has GDM, her gut microbiome, as well as her baby’s microbiome, is negatively affected. The microbiome, which includes trillions of microorganisms in the gut, influences many functions essential to overall health.
“Children of women with GDM are more likely to be obese and have a higher risk of developing infections and various types of metabolic diseases, including diabetes,” Friedman said. “We wanted to see if we could reduce this risk through the mother’s microbiome by changing her diet during pregnancy.”
In a randomized controlled trial, half of the participants were provided the CHOICE (Choice of Healthy Choices in Carbohydrate Energy) diet when they were diagnosed with GDM. The CHOICE diet contains 60% complex carbohydrates, 25% fat and 15% protein. The control group was fed a more conventional diet containing 40% complex carbohydrates, 45% fat, and 15% protein. Study participants received all meals, delivered to their homes, so that their diets were consistent from the time of diagnosis until birth.
Researchers studied stool and blood samples from women during pregnancy and their infants for four months after they were born. They discovered that the CHOICE diet – which contains more complex carbohydrates and lower fat – not only benefits the mother’s microbiome during pregnancy, it improves the “good” bacteria in the baby’s microbiome, reducing the number of “bad” bacteria that play a role in the development of obesity and an increased risk of infection. Metabolic diseases.
In particular, women following the CHOICE diet had higher levels of beneficial microorganisms called cleft teens Compared to women on a traditional diet. This type of bacteria is usually suppressed in women with GDM.
“We believe these bacteria took advantage of the higher complex carbohydrates in the diet of women following the CHOICE diet to make the gut healthier,” Friedman said. “For children, we don’t yet know if their improved microbiome profile will benefit them in the long term, but we have evidence from this study and others that the consequences for metabolism could be significant.”
Not only does the study emphasize the importance of a healthy diet for pregnant women and the future development of their children, but it provides further evidence that modifications to the microbiome can greatly impact future health. Understanding how the mother and infant microbiome interacts in early life with lifestyle and the environment is one of the most important aspects of this study.
Microbiome studies are a major part of the research focus at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. One of the center’s three pathways toward diabetes treatment is the “first thousand days” – from conception until the child’s second year of life. During that time, there are important windows to evolution, such as those of the microbiome, that affect a person’s health across a lifetime.
“GDM passes a greater risk of obesity and diabetes to the next generation, but if we know the microbes involved in this risk, we may be able to make improvements that benefit the infant’s metabolism and reduce the chances of obesity,” Friedman said. “Pre-pregnancy weight loss and lifestyle modifications are our main goals to try to mitigate the risks. Now that we know that the microbiome is disrupted and that nutrition during pregnancy can reverse this, this is a real goal for us both scientifically and therapeutically.”
Friedman began studying while at the University of Colorado and completed it after moving to Oklahoma, in collaboration with his colleagues at the University of Colorado. While the study was small, it paved the way for additional research into the effects of highly controlled diets on the microbiomes of women with gestational diabetes and their babies.
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