There’s no denying it, being a mom is a miracle.
Besides creating and carrying a new life, a mother’s body can produce all the food a baby needs in their early months.
But did you know that breastfeeding can also be a gift to the mother herself?
Researchers have noticed that moms who breastfeed seem to have a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes later in life.
However, why this happens has remained a mystery. Until now, that is. A group of scientists led by Julie Hens, from Yale University, think they might have found the reason.
Clues from Mother Mice
These scientists shared their discoveries at a big meeting of doctors and researchers in Chicago, called the Endo 2023 conference.
They were looking for any changes in the body’s way of using and storing energy, also known as metabolism, that might be caused by breastfeeding. Their work involved a group of mommy mice.
After giving birth, some of these mice were allowed to breastfeed their pups, while others were not. When the scientists compared these two groups, they noticed a couple of interesting things.
First, the mice that breastfed seemed better at using a hormone called insulin. Insulin is really important because it helps our bodies use the sugar from the food we eat. Without it, the sugar stays in our blood and can cause problems.
The second thing they noticed was that the breastfeeding mice had more of the special cells that make insulin, compared to those that didn’t breastfeed. These cells are called beta-cells and they live in an organ called the pancreas.
Connecting the Dots
According to Hens, the team thinks that both of these things might be the reason why breastfeeding seems to protect against type 2 diabetes.
This kind of diabetes usually happens when our bodies stop responding to insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance, or when we can’t make enough insulin. Both of these can cause our blood sugar levels to go too high.
There are many things that can cause insulin resistance, including certain genes and being overweight. Pregnancy can also cause it, especially in the last few months.
This is why some women develop a temporary form of diabetes during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes.
For a long time, people thought that breastfeeding might protect against diabetes by helping women lose weight after pregnancy. But according to this study, it seems like the process of breastfeeding itself, rather than weight loss, is what helps.
Hens hope that her work will help people understand that breastfeeding is not only good for the baby but also for the mom. She and her team are still trying to learn more about how exactly breastfeeding might protect against diabetes.
They believe that their research could help improve health for new moms and also for people with type 2 diabetes.
If you care about diabetes, please read studies about common vegetables that may reduce kidney damage caused by diabetes, and why more than half of people with type 2 diabetes die from heart disease.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about a new early warning sign for heart disease, and results showing common high blood pressure drugs may increase the risk of this heart disease.
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