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“There is never enough food to feed the hungry soul.” — Gabriel Cousens, MD

Providing Babies with the Ideal Food for Optimal Health

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Posted: Sat, Jul 11, 2015
By: Danielle Heard, MS, HHC
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Breast milk is the ideal food for babies.1 It not only provides nourishment but it is also designed to provide immune system support and protection.1(121), 2 The interesting thing about breast milk is that its composition is always transforming and changing because the mother’s food intake is always changing. This not only provides optimal nutrition for the needs of the infant, but it also introduces the infant to many different flavors which helps to mold their future eating habits.1(121)

The first initial form of breast milk is a fluid that is called colostrum.2(164) It is thick and sometimes yellow, and is produced in the first several days of birth. Colostrum is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate and fat than mature breast milk which is produced a couple of weeks after the birth. Colostrum is very important as it inoculates the infant with secretory immunoglobulin A and lactoferrin proteins as well as other proteins that are found in breast milk. Infants only need a small amount of approximately 1.5-2 tsp per feeding for several days of this special first milk. What is noticeable about the composite of colostrum is that it has 151 mcg of Vitamin A as retinol versus only 75 mcg found in mature milk. It is also higher in the electrolytes -sodium, potassium and chloride. A mother’s breast milk is designed to provide immunological protection to the infant via mononuclear cells. These mononuclear cells are highest in colostrum but they are also present in mature milk.2(165)

Hundreds of nutrient components consisting of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids and amino acids have been identified in mature human breast milk. It also contains water which rehydrates the infant and suspends the nutrients such as milk sugars, proteins, immunoglobulin A, sodium, potassium, citrate, magnesium, calcium, chloride and water-soluble vitamins.2(165)

Interestingly, breastfed infants consume less calories than infants fed human milk substitutes (HMS).2(166) Breastfed infants are also leaner in weight at 8 -11 months versus infants fed human milk substitutes (HMS). The weight differences however eventually are not noticeable as the infants grow and age. But according to Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatric expert, breastfeeding does have the advantage of reducing the risk of developing illnesses such as diabetes, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and even allergies with its increased immunity.1(122)

If a mother cannot provide breast milk for her infant or chooses not to breastfeed, there are commercial human milk substitute (HMS) formulas available. They are designed to have the same composition as breast milk but unfortunately they do not provide the equivalent health properties of breast milk.1(124) For example, as previously mentioned, breast milk is always changing composition and flavor as well as is a living food with antibodies, hormones and growth factors. Breast milk has hundreds of components versus the commercial formulas that only have about 29 nutrients. The infant formulas contain select nutrients and are designed to be shelf stable with preservatives. The flavor of formulas also remains the same since it does not change like breast milk. Formula feeding misses the opportunity to introduce infants to a variety of healthy foods and flavors that can make the transition to healthy solid foods easier. Additionally, these human milk substitute formulas must have higher amounts of nutrients such as iron and calcium because the infant does not absorb them the same as they would with breast milk. It takes higher amounts of vitamins and minerals in order for the infant to receive an equal amount that would be received from breast milk. When choosing a human milk substitute formula, it would be important to choose one that is organic. The type of formula selected would be based on the baby’s need. Soy formulas are not considered to be one of the best options but they provide an option for infants allergic to dairy.

It is not recommended to feed infants homemade dairy formulas or raw goat milk under the age of 6 months. The concern for using homemade dairy formulas is its impact on kidney health, an also potentially causing electrolyte imbalances, nutrition deficiencies, poor weight gain and growth. Additionally, some babies have allergies to cow or goat dairy increasing their risk of ear infections and wheezing.1(122) Cow’s milk is made with 82% casein and primarily beta lactoglobulin and breast milk is 70% whey and primarily alpha lactalbumin.1(121) Beta lactoglobulin are the primary allergy causing molecules in cow’s milk. Breast milk also provides babies with healthy probiotics and their bowel movements are soft and less smelly than that formed from a diet of cow’s milk. If a mother cannot breastfeed, then it would be important to provide the infant with a human milk substitute (HMS) that has been formulated with the correct nutrition composition and not a homemade dairy formula. A clinical nutritionist can help mothers ensure they are giving their babies optimal nutrition beginning with preconception through the introduction of solid foods and family meal planning.

Breastfeeding is extremely important. Each year the Big Latch On is held globally to help increase awareness of breastfeeding and solidarity among nursing mothers. The 2015 Big Latch On will be held this year on Friday, July 31, 2015 and Saturday, August 1, 2015.3 If you would like to participate with your nursing baby, please click here for more information.

Breast milk is the ideal food for babies

1. Greene A. Feeding Baby Green. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2009:120.
2. Brown J. Nutrition Through the Life Cycle, 4th Edition, International Edition. Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdon, United States: Wadsworth CENGAGE Learning; 2011:164.
3. The Global Big Latch On. Home. Big Latch On. http://biglatchon.org/. Accessed July 11, 2015.

Thank you very much for reading my blog and please continue to visit often.

I wish you good health, happiness and love!


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Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | © 2008-2023 Artemis in the City, LLC. All rights reserved.
Email: info@artemisinthecity.com | Phone: 903-759-0172 | United States
Artemis in the City and logo and Food for the Untamed Soul are trademarks of Artemis in the City, LLC.