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Antioxidants Found In Human Breast Milk, Kiwi Help Prevent Liver Disease

Update Date: Jan 10, 2017 08:50 AM EST

A common antioxidant found in human breast milk and food like kiwi may prevent liver inflammation and protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a new study found.

Antioxidants, which are commonly found in fruits and vegetables, have been thought to prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Studies in the past have shown that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent chronic diseases. However, it is still unclear whether the antioxidants in them are the ones providing the protection.

Specific Antioxidant Protects The Liver

Now, a new research links one specific antioxidant to the risk of developing liver disease. Published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the researchers have found a natural way that could protect against liver disease. The antioxidant, called pyrroloquinoline quinone or PQQ, is found in soil and many foods, including kiwi as well as in human breast milk, has been found to protect mice against liver disease.

When the antioxidant was given to obese mouse mothers during pregnancy and lactation, PQQ protected their offspring from developing symptoms of the liver at. Moreover, it prevented damage that may lead to liver disease in early adulthood.

The non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common liver disease in the world. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of all adults in the United States has NAFLD. Moreover, it also affects more than 60 percent of those who are obese. When a person suffers from this liver disease, he is at a higher risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer.

"We know that infants born to mothers with obesity have a greater chance of developing NAFLD over their lifetime, and in fact one-third of obese children under 18 may have undiagnosed fatty liver disease that, when discovered, is more likely to be advanced at the time of diagnosis," Karen Jonscher, lead author of the study, said as reported by Science Daily.

"The goal of our study, which we carried out using a mouse model of obese pregnancy, was to determine whether a novel antioxidant given to mothers during pregnancy and breastfeeding could prevent the development of NAFLD in the offspring," she added.

Examining The Effects Of PQQ On The Liver

The team of researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus conducted a study to examine whether an increased dose of PQQ administered prenatally on obese mice could curb the progression of the liver disease.

The researchers fed the two diets - a high-fat, high-sugar Western diet and a healthful diet, to pregnant mice to induce obesity. A subgroup from each of the two groups also received PQQ in their drinking water.

They also fed the offspring with the two diets for 20 weeks, as well as having received PQQ through their mother's breast milk.

The mice fed a Western diet gained more weight than their counterpart. They found that PQQ treatment reduced both liver and body fat in obese offspring.

The good news is, the team also found reduced indicators of oxidative stress and proinflammatory genes in obese mice that were given PQQ, which means that the antioxidant could help reduce liver inflammation, Medical News Today reports.

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