Breastfeed Now: Avoid Alzheimer’s Later
Surprising new research reveals that women who breastfeed their infants may be doing more than nurturing their children as nature intended: They may be protecting themselves from Alzheimer’s disease in the future. Breastfeeding’s benefits are myriad. A vast amount of evidence shows that breastfed infants enjoy a host of benefits. Breastfeeding for at least the first six months of life is linked to better language skills and greater intelligence later in life, for instance. Infants who are breastfed have stronger immune systems, and are less likely to contract serious infections. New research indicates they even enjoy a decreased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD later in life.
We also know that breastfeeding may help new mothers shed excess weight in the postpartum period, and breastfeeding mothers are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression. A reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life is a newly identified benefit for breastfeeding mothers.
It’s uncertain how or why this might occur, but investigators speculate that breastfeeding affects mothers’ sensitivity to insulin. Pregnancy naturally produces a state of mild insulin resistance, in which the body’s cells do not absorb glucose in response to insulin as readily as they did before pregnancy. Breastfeeding reverses this temporary insulin resistance. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by insulin resistance in the brain, so breastfeeding may somehow prime the brain to resist this condition in the future.
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