Pregnant women and breastfeeding mums may have a bigger influence on their babies’ future food preferences that previously thought, a new study has found.
Junk food diets that are high in sugar, salt and fat may change the reward receptors in the brains of unborn and breastfeeding babies, altering their natural food preferences. So if you’re hopelessly addicted to chips, it may be time to have a word with your own mum!
Diet choices made by rats whose mums had been fed a variety of diets were investigated in the study. Those rats whose mums had been given the “junk food diet” were found to be more likely to choose unhealthy foods when they grew up.
The researchers also measured the levels of feel-good chemicals in the brains of the rats. They discovered that rats whose mums had eaten less nutritious diets had more receptors for such chemicals once they were weaned. This led them to choose a similarly unhealthy diet for optimum enjoyment.
Researcher Beverly Muhlhausler, from the FOODplus Research Centre in Australia believes the results will help experts give better advice to mums-to-be and new mums about their diets, giving their babies the best start in life.
Want to give your baby the best start? Here’s what to tuck into during your pregnancy.