Breastmilk: The Original Fast Food

baby-formulaYears ago when infant formula first came to the mainstream markets moms and moms-to-be rushed to get their fair share. This was the ‘new and improved’ way to nourish your baby. But long gone are those days and now we know that the story is a bit more involved. Infant formula, while important if for some reason the mother can’t nurse or breastfeed, is far less superior than the mother’s own breast milk.

And not only is breast milk good for baby, nursing has outstanding health benefits for mom too. According to the United States Department of Health, breastfeeding leads to lower rates of both breast and ovarian cancer in moms.

Moms who nurse also see a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, according to The National Women’s Health Information Center, a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Liquid Gold for Your New Baby

Breastfeeding is good for moms and the superior choice for infants. The nutritional content of the breast milk is the perfect first food for baby.

Breast milk is loaded with exactly the right nutrients in the exact amounts a new baby needs. Something infant formula can’t even come close to replicating even with the most advanced technology. As I’ve said before, God gave us pretty much all we need from the get go to be healthy and vibrant. This couldn’t hold more true than with nourishing breast milk.

One of the most vital ingredients in breast milk is what is often referred to as ‘liquid gold’ or colostrum. This thicker, yellowish breast milk is made during the later stages of pregnancy and what the baby gets right after birth. Colostrum is loaded with nutrients and antibodies to give your baby the very best start at the get go.

Colostrum is what your baby gets for only the first three or so days then the milk becomes what is called mature milk. This mature milk contains the ideal combination of protein, sugar, water, and fat for your baby to begin his or her exciting growth process outside of the protected environment of the womb.

But nutrients isn’t all that colostrum and mature milk contain that are key for babies health and well being during these first few critical months. Antibodies are a vital part of the mother’s breast milk.

Antibodies protect your vulnerable newborn from both viral and bacterial infections. In fact, according to The National Women’s Health Information Center babies who are fed by breastfeeding have lower incidence of both ear infections and diarrhea. Although both of these infections seem of little concern they can be not only painful but dangerous in the newborn baby, especially diarrhea.

It’s also shown that formula fed infants have a greater risk for the following problems:

Formula Fed Infants are at Greater Risk for:

  • Gastrointestinal tract problems
  • Respiratory issues
  • Asthma
  • Dermatitis
  • Obesity
  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Childhood leukemia
  • SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome)

There’s no doubt that the unique, divinely inspired breast milk a mother so abundantly produces for her baby is simply the best possible food to begin life. Breast milk is also easy for baby to digest. But the benefits don’t stop there.

Long List of Outstanding Benefits of Breastfeeding

Not only is breastfeeding far superior to formula feeding for both the mom and baby from a health standpoint there are also additional benefits.

Breastfeeding costs less.

Have you priced infant formula, bottles, and the rest of the supplies needed to bottle feed your baby? The costs are high (estimated at $1,500 annually) and will continue to be part of your expenses for at least the first year or two of baby’s life. Add to that the increased costs of medical care from doctor’s visits and any medications prescribed and the cost of bottle feeding far exceeds the costs of breast feeding. That $1,500 plus co-pays at your doctors could make for a relaxing family vacation to be enjoyed by all, including your healthy, happy newborn.

Breastfeeding is less wasteful.

If you’re at all concerned about the wastes many of us in the United States are thoughtlessly putting into landfills, then breastfeeding is a great way to reduce your own impact on the environment. Think of all the bottles, liners, formula cans, nipples, and more you’ll be adding in just one year’s time to the landfills when you choose the bottle over the breast. Breastfeeding uses no bottles, liners, ingredient cans, or anything. Of course you may opt at some point to pump and bottle your milk but this is far less wasteful than the daily supplies needed for expensive and inferior bottle feeding.

Breastfeeding strengthens the bond between mother and child

In our age of science, facts, and data we often overlook the most important aspects of life. The bond that forms between mother and child during nursing is one of the most important connections that either human being will ever have. This bond will uphold the child for a lifetime and give the mother feelings of deep love, peace, and a true, unbreakable bond with her child that will last for their lifetimes. And if you must have the science – mothers produce oxytocin when they are about to nurse to allow the milk to flow. This oxytocin has a calming effect on both mother and child.

Although the health benefits of nursing are unparalleled, the bond that is formed during nursing is simply one of the best joys you’ll ever experience and should not be missed if at all possible.

Which brings me to my next point – what’s possible. For some people under certain circumstances breastfeeding is not an option. These are usually medical in nature and extreme. (Be sure not to confuse what you may perceive as ‘inconvenient’ or ‘challenging’ as impossible.)

If You Absolutely Can’t Breastfeed

If for some reason you can’t breastfeed it’s vital to choose an infant formula that is of the highest quality and as close to mother’s milk as possible. Not all infant formulas are created with integrity and high standards so don’t simply think the formula on the grocery store shelves is the best choice for your little one.

In fact infant formula has been found to be laden with dangerous ingredients which actually increase a baby’s risk of developing certain illnesses. This $8 billion dollar a year industry doesn’t want you to know that so do your own research and make the choice that’s best for you, your baby, and your entire family.

Some of the common problems with infant formula include the water it’s mixed with being contaminated with dangerous microorganisms such as giardia and cryptosporidium both of which can cause extreme cases of diarrhea which in infants can be deadly. The water used (including bottled water) can also contain environmental pollutants like insecticides, solvents, and other dangerous chemicals an infant’s body cannot tolerate. This is being found in mainstream American homes.

And what’s more is the ingredients infant’s formula is made with are far from superior. Recalls of infant formula have occurred for finding things like broken glass, pieces of metal, and even salmonella in the formula. I don’t have to tell you that your baby will not do well ingesting any of these.

Soy Based Formulas: Beware

It’s important to note here that soy based formulas bring into play an entirely different problem when it comes to feeding your newborn. Plant based soy (the very kind used in infant formula) contains phytoestrogens. These estrogens have been found to be 13,000 to 20,000 times higher in the blood of soy formula fed babies than natural estrogen concentrations, according to the National Resources Defense Council or NRDC.

Research has clearly shown that higher levels of estrogen in the body, especially for longer periods of time, can increase the risk for certain diseases, particularly aggressive cancers.

If you’re a new mom or mom-to-be, if it’s at all possible please breast feed your baby. You’ll not only be doing a huge service to your baby and yourself but the world as a whole too.

If You Must Use Formula Choose the Very Best

As I said there are valid reasons and women face circumstances that make breastfeeding impossible. If you fall into this small category and must use formula be sure to choose a formula that is as close to natural as you can get. These aren’t the formula bottles you’ll find at your local supermarket.

One of the best ways to feed your baby when you can’t breastfeed is through making your own formula. Yes, you heard me right, making your own formula. Though many pediatricians scoff at this mere thought the fact is that there are reliable, tested, recipes to make your own baby formula.

Sally Fallon offers recipes for making your own baby formula; one is raw milk based and one is liver based. Sally Fallon is president of Weston A. Price Foundation, promoting Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts. Her book, Nourishing Traditions, contains these homemade infant formulas and more. You can find homemade formula recipes on their Real Milk website here.

Sources

American Pregnancy Association (2007)

Natural Resources Defense Council (2005)

Women’s Health (2010)

Public Broadcasting System (2010)

Josh Axe

Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world...Sign up to get VIP access to his eBooks and valuable weekly health tips for FREE!

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3 comments so far - add yours!

  1. Emily says:

    Dr. Axe,

    What do you think about adoptive breastfeeding? We have a baby due in a few months (by adoption). I know breastfeeding is absolutely best and it is something we want for our children. You do have to take hormones and medication to lactate without a pregnancy. Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? Thanks!

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