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A maternal diet enriched in fibre and polyphenols during pregestation, gestation and lactation has an intestinal trophic effect in both the dam and the offspring.
* 1 , 1 , 2 , 2 , 1 , 1
1  Universisad de Barcelona, INSA
2  Universidad de Barcelona, INSA
Academic Editor: Maria-Luz Fernandez


Ceballos D 1,2, Casanova-Crespo S 1,2, Rodríguez-Lagunas, M.J. 1,2, Castell, M. 1,2, Massot-Cladera M 1,2, Pérez-Cano, F.J. 1,2

1Department of Biochemistry and Physiology, Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Science, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

2Institut of Research in Nutrition and Food Safety (INSA-UB), Barcelona, Spain

Author responsible:


Maternal diet during lactation, pregnancy or even before can influence the health of the baby; being the Mediterranean diet the one with the highest level of evidence due to its richness in fiber and polyphenols, among other bioactive components.

This study investigated the impact of a diet rich in fiber and polyphenols supplemented during pregestation, gestation, and lactation at intestinal level in both dams and their offspring.


Two groups of rats were formed, one receiving the experimental diet high in fiber and polyphenols (HFP) and the other serving as the reference diet (REF). Animals received the diet during pregestation (21 days), gestation (21 days), and lactation (21 days). At the end of lactation, organ samples were obtained and evaluated. Among others, the intestine was on the main focus and obtained for weight, size, histology, and immunoglobulin (Ig) A response.


A significant increase in the relative weight of the caecum and small intestine was observed in pregnant rats from the experimental HFP group compared to the REF group (p<0.05). Surprisingly, the offspring from the HFP group also influenced the intestinal weight and exhibited significantly greater length of the small intestine at both 1 and 21 days of life compared to the offspring from the REF group (p<0.05). This trophic effect is not related to a direct intake of the fiber or polyphenols and therefore they could be derived from intrauterine epigenetic changes, the impact of diet on maternal milk composition or microbiota, or a combination of these factors. Future studies will evaluate the mechanisms involved to gain a better understanding of these results.


In conclusion, a diet rich in fiber and polyphenols appears to have an intestinal impact in both pregnant rats and their offspring. However, further research is required to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of these effects and their potential implications for maternal and neonatal health.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet, maternal diet, fibre, polyphenols, gut