Consuming a high fibre diet may reduce the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy, reveals a latest study published in the journal Nature Communications. Preeclampsia is a condition that pregnant women develop. It occurs in up to 10 per cent of pregnancies and is characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine and severe swelling in the mother’s body. Eating fibre-rich foods may stave off the risk and also do wonders for your overall health.
“Simple recommendation to ‘eat real food, mostly plants and not too much’ might be the most effective primary prevention strategy for some of the most serious conditions of our time.
“The mother’s gut bacteria and diet appear to be crucial to promoting healthy pregnancy,” said study lead author Ralph Nanan, Professor at the University of Sydney.
The findings showed that pregnancy outcomes and infant immunity are linked to gut bacteria.
Plant-based fibre is broken down in the gut by bacteria into factors that influence the immune system.
For the study, the team investigated the role of these metabolic products of gut bacteria during pregnancy. The study revealed that in humans, reduced levels of acetate, which is mainly produced by fibre fermentation in the gut, is associated with the common and preeclampsia.
Additionally, it also interferes with the child’s immune development whilst in the womb, some evidence suggesting a link to higher rates of allergies and autoimmune diseases later in life.
According to researchers, in many cases preeclampsia happened to affect the development of an important foetal immune organ – the thymus. The findings revealed that foetuses in preeclamptic pregnancies had a much smaller thymus than children from healthy pregnancies.
The cells the thymus normally generates — called ‘T’ cells, and specifically those associated with the prevention of allergies and autoimmune conditions such as diabetes — also remained lower in infants after preeclampsia, even four years after delivery.
The team further examined the The mechanisms of acetate on the developing foetal immune system in separate experiments involving mice. The tests showed acetate was central in driving foetal thymus and ‘T’ cell development.
The results highlight the importance of diet and gut bacteria during pregnancy. According to scientists, it may be an effective way to maintain a healthy pregnancy and to prevent allergies and autoimmune conditions later in life.