There are so many benefits that breastfeeding offers. Breast milk will always be the best source of nutrition for a newborn.
There are so many components in breast milk that can effectively protect the baby from various diseases, illnesses, and infection. It is also far better than formulas because babies can easily digest the proteins in it, and the iron and calcium it contains are better absorbed.
Here are the various components present in breast milk, as well as the many nutrients it provides for your baby:
Nutrients and Vitamins in Breast Milk
1 – Proteins
The balance between casein and whey allows the baby to easily and quickly digest them. Some formulas try to copy the components in breast milk, but cannot copy them because the components in breast milk vary to suit the baby’s needs.
Therefore, if the amount of casein in the formulas is higher than the approximate or needed percentage, the baby will exert more effort just to digest it. Whey protein makes up most of the protein present in breast milk.
The proteins present in breast milk contain effective protection properties that prevent infections. Other proteins that can be found in breast milk are:
- Lactoferrin - Lactoferrin is a good protein that prevents the development of bacteria, which is iron dependent, in the gastrointestinal tract. It stops the growth of organisms like yeast and coliforms that need iron.
- Immunoglobulin (IgA) - This component works exceptionally well at protecting your baby from bacteria and viruses, especially those that the mom and the rest of the family are exposed to. It is also great at fighting off allergies and E. Coli. There are also other immunoglobulins present in breast milk, such as the IgM and the IgG. These immunoglobulins also help fight viral and bacterial infections. If you want to increase a number of immunoglobulins in your breast milk, you could do so by munching on fish.
- Lysozyme - This is the enzyme responsible for shielding the baby against Salmonella and E. Coli. It promotes the healthy development of the intestinal flora and contains anti-inflammatory functions.
- Bifidus - This is a component that promotes the growth of the healthy bacteria called the lactobacillus. The Lactobacillus helps safeguard the baby from damaging bacteria by producing an acidic environment, in which bad bacteria cannot survive.
2 – Fats
Breast milk contains good fats that are necessary for your baby’s health. These fats are important components that aid in brain development, absorption of vitamins, and serve as the main source of calories.
These fats are long chain fatty acids that are essential not only for the development of the brain but also the retina and the development of the nervous system. These components are deposited in your baby’s brain during the latter part of your pregnancy and are still continually present in breast milk.
3 – Vitamins
The vitamins present in the breast milk, as well as their amounts, are directly proportional to the vitamin intake of the mother. This is the primary reason why it is vital that the mother gets sufficient nutrition and vitamins.
Vitamins A, E, K, and D, which are fat-soluble vitamins, are important vitamins for your baby’s health. Vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid, which are water-soluble vitamins, are also necessary.
4 – Carbohydrates
The main carbohydrate present in breast milk, which makes up approximately 40 percent of the total calories provided, is lactose. Lactose is an essential component because it helps reduce the amount, if not totally eliminate the bad bacteria present in the stomach, which results to better absorption of magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. It is effective at fighting off various diseases and encourages the growth of good bacteria.
Unlike formulas, which do not change according to the baby’s needs, breast milk has the best combination of vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. There is no other milk better for the first few years of your baby than breast milk.
It contains leukocytes, which can only be found in breast milk. It has high amounts of antibodies, enzymes, hormones, and living cells that make it extremely good for your baby. These components cannot be created, nor added to artificial milk.
Healthy Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby
The right milk for your baby is breast milk, and there are many benefits that breast milk and breastfeeding offer that extends beyond the basic nutrition. Aside from having a lot of nutrients and vitamins that babies need during the first six months of their lives, breast milk also contains numerous disease-fighting properties that effectively shield them from various illnesses.
Breast milk is the only milk that has the perfect amount of nutrition for babies. It contains the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates, which are components that your baby needs for him or her to grow healthy.
Aside from that, breast milk is easier to digest than formulas. It contains a lot of antibodies that prevent your baby from getting viruses and harmed by bacteria. Breastfeeding can decrease the risk of your baby developing allergies and asthma.
Also, babies who were exclusively breastfed for the first six months never or only had a few ear infection, instances of diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, as well as trips to the doctor.
Here are more of the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby:
Breastfeeding protects your baby from various illnesses. There are a lot of studies conducted from all parts of the world, which have shown the reduction of ear infections, stomach viruses, respiratory illnesses, as well as meningitis in breastfed babies, and when they do get them, they are less severe.
The main factor that strengthens the babies’ immune systems is the immunoglobulin, which is produced in significant amounts in the first milk or the colostrum. As the colostrum transitions into mature milk, the amount of immunoglobulin also starts to decrease.
Your breast milk is precisely tailored to your baby. The body can respond to the pathogens, which are the bacteria and the viruses present in your body and produce a secretory immunoglobulin that is extremely specific to those pathogens, which creates armor for your baby based on the bacteria and viruses you are exposed to.
The good thing about breast milk is that it can protect your baby even after he or she is done with his or her breastfeeding stage.
Numerous studies show that breast milk effectively reduces a baby’s risk of developing certain types of cancer, while scientists are still in the dark as to how it reduces the risk, they think that the antibodies present in it give the baby’s body a serious boost in his or her immune system.
Breast milk has also been proven to help prevent children from getting diseases that often occur later in life like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and hypertension.
Babies who drank formulas instead of breast milk have a higher risk of developing ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Breastfeeding can prevent the development of allergies. Babies who drank formula or cow’s milk tend to develop more allergies than babies who were exclusively breastfed.
A lot of researchers think that the immune components, which are unique to human milk like secretory immunoglobulin, are the ones responsible for preventing allergic reactions of babies, especially to food, since they provide a protective layer to the babies’ intestinal tracts. Without the protective layer, inflammation might occur, break down the intestine wall and make it leaky.
When this happens, the undigested proteins will be able to go across the gut where they can seriously cause allergic reactions and serious health problems.
Babies who were only fed formula or cow’s milk are not able to get this protective layer, making them more susceptible to allergies and inflammation, which in turn causes more serious health issues.
Breastfeeding can boost your child’s intelligence. Many studies show the link between breastfeeding and cognitive development. Based on those studies, babies who were breastfed got higher scores than babies who were not breastfed on a vocabulary exam.
Premature babies, who were seriously underweight and who were breastfed immediately after birth showed a great improvement in their mental development, compared to other premature babies who were formula-fed.
When mothers breastfeed their babies, not only do the babies receive the beneficial long chain fatty acids, but an emotional bonding also occurs, which many experts think to contribute as well to the mental ability of their babies.
Breastfeeding can prevent your child from becoming obese. Breastfeeding has been proven to reduce the risk of children becoming obese or overweight in the future. Breastfeeding affects weight gain due to various reasons.
The first reason is babies who were breastfed have shown to be better eaters, which allows them to create healthy eating patterns.
The second reason is breast milk contains a lot less insulin than artificial milk.
The third reason is babies who were breastfed were found to have a higher amount of leptin in their bodies.
Leptin is the hormone that helps regulate fat and appetite. When you compare breastfed and formula-fed babies, the formula-fed babies were found to gain weight more quickly during their first few weeks of their lives. The rapid weight gain that these babies have shown have been linked to becoming obese in the future.
Breastfeeding decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Babies who drank breast milk have lower risks of SIDS. Thus, the reason why many healthcare professionals recommend breastfeeding babies for as long as possible.