Breast Milk vs Infant Formula: Our Foremothers Knew Best

One of the hardest decisions for some new mothers today is whether or not to breastfeed their babies.  And although their natural, maternal instincts might give them a nudge towards breastfeeding, the call of our modern day society will often yank them to the nearest baby aisle to purchase a can of infant formula. Let’s face it-the grocery store aisle is a well established path that has been taken by most of our lactating sisters in modern society.  And unfortunately, most of us fall prey and take the path of least resistance.  But why is that?  Why aren’t we more like our great grandparents or their grandparents before them?

 

Breastfeeding During a Time When Women Owned Their Bodies

 

When we look at birthing customs as late as the 17th and 18th centuries,  it appears that breastfeeding was a naturally perfect business solution for European working class women because it benefited their families in the following ways: 

 

(1) It nourished their babies,

(2) It was used as a contraceptive to assist with birth spacing, and

(3) It allowed them to earn an income by becoming a wet nurse for wealthy women

 

Not surprisingly, wealthy women on the other side of the royal gates were highly discouraged from breastfeeding.  Unlike their working class sisters, they were expected to bear many children for their respective monarchies and since breastfeeding would possibly act as a contraceptive, it was frowned upon.   Therefore, they used their female slaves (if they had them) or they hired working class women to be their wet nurses.

 

Needless to say, as Europeans migrated to the Americas, they continued with this highly popular system of breast feeding.  It worked primarily because the whole birthing process was controlled completely by women, such as midwives, female relatives and neighbors. Men were generally off doing “men” activities, and had absolutely no interest in being a part of a woman’s care…that is until they saw dollar signs.

 

Monetizing Women’s Care

 

Fast forward to 19th century America and you will find that things were changing rapidly. Male doctors had replaced midwives and I guess it should go without saying that if your function is deemed passé, your once expert advice is soon to follow.  The  newly found “father knows best” advice of male doctors replaced the sage wisdom of midwives in the birthing business.   And since this new, sophisticated mother was “hanging onto her doctor’s every word,” it’s not surprising that she would soon ditch the whole “dated” concept of breastfeeding and readily embrace the new instant infant food options that her burgeoning country was headed towards.

 

Introducing -Drum Roll Please…..Instant Infant Formula

 

Not to be economically outdone by their European peers, American doctors and businessmen kept a watchful eye on the European market, and by 1967, the European chemist Baron Justus von Liebig gave them just what they were looking for-a highly successful processed food for babies.   There had been other versions of artificial baby milk formulated by other chemist; however, they did not fare as well as Liebig’s.  And as they say in business, timing is everything.  Hence, American businessmen wanted to capitalize on the milk of this very lucrative cash cow.

 

While Liebig originally formulated his baby food out of personal necessity, American businessmen marketed the concoction in the US as an equal-if not better substitute to breastfeeding.  American doctors “bought into the concept” and began to advise their patients that it was no longer appropriate for them to breastfeed, and before you knew it, Liebig’s instant formulas was being sold in America by 1869.

 

Soon after, Nestle capitalized on the “infant formula is better” bandwagon and created his version of “better than breast milk,” infant formula. Everyone raved about it- both doctors and middle class mothers who switched to instant formulas agreed that it was the best food for their growing babies.  And, as with everything else in a society defined by social stratification, the ideology trickled down to working class mothers who eventually bought into the marketing ploy and began feeding their babies  infant formula too.

 

Cash Cow’s Milk on Steroids-No Pun Intended

 

We’re now in the 21st century and the growth of the instant infant formula business is one of the most recession proof businesses in the world.  It’s extension into the global market place; coupled with the strong partnership that infant formula manufacturers have with healthcare professionals, has created a money making machine that generated $36.7 billion in 2012.  So it’s not surprising that soon after a newborn baby takes its first breath, a smiling nurse is right there to put a bottle in it’s mouth.  And while this scenario might be the norm; fortunately, there has been a slow, yet steady increased interest in breastfeeding, and this new genre of informed mothers has begun to re-claim the natural purpose of their breasts.

 

Breast Milk is the New Fad

 

During the past decade, there has been a huge global reform from healthcare professionals, The World Health Organization, midwives, and mothers for women to return to breastfeeding, and as a result, breastfeeding has been increasingly on the rise. This strong comeback is probably due to the fact that scientific research demonstrates that breast milk is extremely superior to instant infant formulas in the following ways:

 

Important Facts about Breastfeeding

 

  • It builds your baby’s immune system,
  • It protects against lymphomacrohn’s diseasetype 1 and type 2 diabetes, asthma and allergies, respiratory infections, eczema, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis,
  • It improves your baby’s brain functions, It helps your baby to be more emotionally secure because you are bonding closely together,
  • It improves your baby’s IQ, 
  • It saves you thousands of dollars, and
  • There are at least 400 nutrients in breast milk that processed milk cannot duplicate.

 

These nutrients work in tandem (because they’re naturally found in breast milk), which maximizes their nutritional effectiveness. Conversely, any isolated, synthetic vitamin that is found in infant formulas offers no real nutritional value. Synthetic vitamins lack the synergy of multiple nutrients working together that vitamins derived from whole foods, such as breast milk, would have.

 

Where Do We Go From Here?

While the scientific research is very compelling, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of increasing the number of mothers who breastfeed.

 

It’s understandable that many women are still undecided about whether or not to breastfeed their babies, and reasons vary from the fact that they view instant formulas as a fashionable trend to the fact that instant formulas are more convenient, especially if you are a working mother.  

 

In America, the biggest group to lag behind in breastfeeding are African American women -probably for the same reasons as other mothers.  The good news is that there are sites such as Blacktating, that might be of great support and possibly provide the much needed resources to help get them started.  

 

Lastly, there are other alternatives if a mother is unable to breastfeed (unfortunately it happens),  such as using a wet-nurse, using a breast milk bank, or making your own healthy, homemade recipe of infant formula.  A homemade recipe might not be breast milk, but at least mothers can control the ingredients to ensure that they are natural, and/or organic, and preservative free.

 

 

Here’a a Video of a Mom Making Infant Formula

 

References

Battling It Out for the Infant Formula Market

 

Eating Trans-fat has been Linked to Depression

It seems like everywhere you turn, there is somebody somewhere who is cranky or saying that they are depressed-it might even be you making the claim. In fact, depression is so common now that even children are moodier than they were a generation ago.  Even in the happy land of social media sites like Facebook, you are apt to view a post streaming through your rss feed, proclaiming depression. However, before you seek therapy or play doctor and prescribe Prozac, you might want to check out your diet.

It turns out that a study done by the universities of Nacarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canria in Spain showed that depression is also linked to a diet high in trans-fat.  Unfortunately, consuming trans-fat is very common in conventional foods. Conventional foods are processed foods-or foods that have been alterned from their natural state.  They are usually found in the inner aisles at grocery stores or at restaurants (especially fast food restaurants). However, don’t despair-you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of depression.  While consuming trans-fats is highly common, it can be avoided by making the following changes:

(1).    Increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish oil, cod liver oil, flax seed oil and/or flax seed. Everyone should be consuming these even if they’re not depressed; and

(2).   Read your labels.  Don’t take the claim of “zero trans-fat” that’s found on the front of the package as the gospel. The FDA allows companies to put “zero trans-fat” on their packaging if one serving of food has less than 0.5 g of trans-fat.

(3).  Go the extra step and turn to the back of the package where the ingredients list is, and, allow me to quote the late William Faulkner, “read, read, read.” If the ingredients list has the words partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, that’s a trans- fat.  You might be saying that you are only going to eat one of those cookies. But let’s not fool ourselves; many of us always eat more than one serving of food, especially when we are snacking.  And if that’s not reason enough, the FDA says that there are no safe amounts of trans-fat so that means none should be consumed.

Now you see that avoiding trans-fat is quite simple and moreover, being happy really can be a choice. If you fuel your body with the right whole foods, you’ll be amazed at how wonderfully happy you can be. Before you know, the whole world could truly be happy-Now imagine that!

See California Bans Trans-fat video

 

 

 

Vitamin D is What Your Body Needs!

One of the biggest health epidemics today is vitamin D deficiency; therefore, everyone should get their vitamin D levels checked during their annual physical. Moreover, you should request that your doctor give you the more accurate 25(OH)D blood test for the best results. What exactly is vitamin D and why is it so important?

Technically, vitamin D is not a vitamin, but rather a metabolic product called calcitriol. Calcitriol is a secosteroid hormone, which means that it is similar to a steroid and has an endocrine mechanism of action. Over 2000 of the genes in your body are regulated by vitamin D. Therefore a deficiency in this hormone has a tremendous impact on your health and has been linked to several diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, and birth defects. In addition researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas say that there is a correlation between low serum levels of vitamin D and lupus. If you are deficient in vitamin D, let’s examine how you can restore your levels safely?

If it is summer time, good old fashion sunlight is the ideal way to obtain vitamin D. If you have pale skin, you only need about 10-50 minutes in the sun with 40% of your body exposed. If you have dark skin, you will need to stay in the sun significantly longer. Also, note that sun bathing for 30 minutes during the summer, produces about 20,000 IUs of vitamin D. During the winter, you can use safe tanning beds such as The Vitality Home Tanning Bed (for body tanning) or the D Lite tanning system, which produces vitamin D in your body; however, your body doesn’t tan. If you’re one of those people who are afraid to catch some ultraviolet B rays, you can always take an oral vitamin D supplement or you can buy a vitamin D spray.  Do not take the synthetic vitamin D2 supplement that your doctor might recommend. Instead, take a vitamin D3 supplement for optimum absorption. Adults can safely take up to 5,000 units per day (children should take half of that amount). Make sure that your progress is being monitored monthly by your doctor because over dosing on this vitamin can be fatal. Your vitamin D levels should be at least in the 50-60 ng/ml range for optimal health. If you have cancer, your levels should be in the 60-90 ng/ml range to aid in restoring your health.

Here what Dr. Oz  has to say.