Groundbreaking Research Finds Another Lifetime Benefit for Nursing Moms

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We all know that breastfeeding has proven health benefits for both mom and baby, and many of them last for life.

Depending on the length of time spent nursing and the number of children breastfed, women are given many protections against cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

And now, researchers are adding another great reason for women to breastfeed for as long as possible.

A study recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine was conducted on almost two hundred women, divided nearly evenly between those who breastfed their babies and those who did not.

They were examined two months after giving birth, with annual medical follow-ups for at least three years postpartum.

The women who breastfed for any length of time were shown to have several protections against developing diabetes throughout the three-year study period.  Benefits could last even longer.

The reduction in risk for diabetes is related to the hormone prolactin, which helps promote milk production.

Prolactin was found to increase beta cells in the pancreas – the essential organ which regulates digestion and blood sugar.  When beta cells are healthier due to increased prolactin, blood sugar is easier to stabilize.

Many of us have heard of the benefits of the chemical serotonin, and breastfeeding helps with its production as well.

Serotonin is most often linked to feelings of happiness and contentment, though it has many functions in the body.

It can help regulate physical systems in the body, as well as factor into our mental sharpness, learning, and memory retention.

So it may come as no surprise that when serotonin is produced in pancreatic cells during breastfeeding, it improves the health of those cells and reduces stress.

By increasing beta cells in the pancreas, serotonin can also help prevent spikes in blood sugar.

This is especially good news for all new moms.  Pregnancy inevitably causes weight gain, and therefore increased insulin resistance, which can increase the risks of developing gestational diabetes.

And gestational diabetes, along with family history and obesity, greatly increases the risk of developing adult-onset (Type II) diabetes later in life.

If left untreated, diabetes can wreak havoc on the body, leading to any number of side effects, from skin and eye problems to heart disease and stroke.

The study was conducted at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and the authors of the study are hopeful the research may lead to understanding further how diabetes can be prevented in adults.

They are pleased to have discovered yet another health benefit of this natural form of infant feeding and are interested in using their research to discover more ways to improve women’s metabolic health.

Breastfeeding is a win-win in many different ways, and now there are even more benefits for women’s lifetime health.