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Food & Health

What's In Your Breast Milk?

Most people are aware that breast milk is good for a baby. What people may not know is exactly what is in breast milk that makes it the ideal baby health food. Discover it now!

Breast milk is designed for your baby and has everything your baby needs to be healthy and grow. It is uniquely superior because it has all nutrients your baby needs and it is easy to digest. Here is what Breast milk has and what these things do for your baby.

Breast milk contains a few different types of proteins. Two of the main types are: whey and casein.  The proportions are roughly 60% and 40% respectively. This balance of the proteins allows for quick and easy digestion.  It is the whey protein that has the great infection-protection properties. These are not the only types.

There are also small percentages of:

  • Lactoferrin inhibits the growth of iron dependent bacterias. Lactoferrin is one of the components of the immune system of the body
  • Secretory IgA protects the infant from viruses and bacteria, specifically those that the baby, mum, and family are exposed to.  It also helps to protect against E. Coli and possibly allergies. Eating fish can help increase the amount of these proteins in your breast milk.
  • Lysozyme is an enzyme that protects the infant against E. Coli and Salmonella. It promotes the growth of healthy intestinal flora and has anti-inflammatory functions.
  • Bifidus factor supports the growth of lactobacillus, which is a beneficial bacteria that protects against harmful bacteria.
  • Alpha-lactalbumin unfolds into a different form and binds oleic acid to form a complex called HAMLET that kills tumour cells. This is thought to contribute to the protection of breastfed babies against cancer.

Breast milk contains fats that are essential for the health of your baby.  These fats are necessary for brain development, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and are a primary calorie source. 

It is essential that breast feeding mothers have a balanced diet. The types and amounts of vitamins that their breast milk contains, is directly related to the mother’s nutritional intake. Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, are present in breast milk as are the water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, and panthothenic acid. Many pediatricians’ advise nursing mothers to continue on prenatal vitamins for this reason.

Lactose is the primary carbohydrate found in human milk.  It accounts for approximately 40% of the total calories provided by breast milk.  Lactose helps to decrease the amount of unhealthy bacteria in the stomach, which improves the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.  It helps to fight disease and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the stomach. 

 Leukocytes are living immune cells which are found only  in breast milk. They help fight infection and activate other defense mechanisms. To date, they cannot be added to formula. 

Breast Milk is Best
Breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates.  There is nothing better for the health of your baby. Baby formulas are an alternative for mothers who cannot breastfeed but it is always best to breast feed when possible.

Did you Know?
The composition of breast milk changes to adapt to the needs of a growing baby.

  1. Colostrum is produced during late pregnancy and during the first week after child birth. It has three times as much protein as the mature milk. Colostrum has more antibodies, less sugar, and less fat compared to mature milk.
  2. Transitional Milk is the milk made after colostrum and before mature milk (sometime between day 4 and day 10 after birth). Its composition is somewhere between that of colostrum and mature milk.
  3. Mature milk is high in water content along with carbohydrates, fats, proteins and various minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Mature milk continues to change over the course of the first year: nutritional composition of breast milk will gradually decrease 10% to 30% to accommodate the intake of solid foods.

What are some other breastfeeding topics you’d like to read about? Leave us a comment down below.