Breast milk and mixtures: what is common between them?
For starters, compare breast milk with infant formula. In some respects, the mixtures are similar to breast milk: they contain nutrients, moisture and energetically valuable ingredients, so the baby will grow with any diet.
However, despite notable advances in the development and production of milk formulas, in terms of health benefits, they cannot be compared to breast milk. Breast milk is the product of millions of years of evolution, turning it into an ideal food for babies. It is much more complex in composition than milk of other mammals, since it contributes to the formation of a more complex brain, a unique digestive and immune system.
Cow’s milk, on the basis of which most milk mixtures are made, meets the special needs of calves. It is dangerous for human babies to drink it in its pure form, therefore, in the manufacture of infant formula for babies, it undergoes complex processing.
“Do you know that the level of salt (sodium) in cow’s milk is toxic to babies?” – Professor Peter Hartmann, a recognized international expert on breastfeeding and breast milk production from the University of Western Australia, notes, – In the early 1980s, it was found that cow’s milk is toxic to experimental animals – rabbits and mice. Currently, if a substance is recognized as toxic to experimental animals, it is not used in drug research. In other words, by modern standards, it would be forbidden to make mixtures of cow’s milk. Breast milk, in contrast, has a very low concentration of sodium. ”1
What is breast milk made of?
Each drop of breast milk – whether it is colostrum, which forms a protective coating on the mucous membrane of the newborn’s stomach, or mature milk, which promotes the growth and development of the baby, contains thousands of useful ingredients, including:
anti-disease antibodies; 2
hormones to stimulate healthy appetite and strengthen the bond between mother and baby; 3
stem cells that promote the development and restoration of organs; 4
white blood cells to fight infections; 5
beneficial bacteria that protect the digestive system of the baby; 6
prebiotics – oligosaccharides – to maintain healthy microflora in the gastrointestinal tract; 7
long chain fatty acids for the development of the brain, nervous system and eyes; 8.9
enzymes to strengthen the digestive and immune systems; 2
nucleotides and hormones that promote healthy sleep patterns. 10
One of the advantages of breast milk over mixtures is that it is alive. It adapts to the changing needs of the child. When your baby gets sick, the amount of white blood cells and antibodies in your breast milk will increase to fight the infection. 5
“The protective properties of breast milk are its main feature and a unique result of the evolution of lactation,” Professor Hartmann explains. “But we still do not have enough data to understand all the protective functions of milk, because it has a very complex composition.”
“Take, for example, oligosaccharides: there are more than 200.11 of them in breast milk. This is the third most concentrated component of breast milk, but we still very vaguely imagine what functions they perform. Most likely, they have a very complex structure and in this regard have similarities with certain proteins. The interaction of the oligosaccharide with the corresponding protein produces a certain biological effect. ”
“In general, when you don’t quite understand how something works, you should not interfere! Breast milk is the norm. ” Read more about breast milk in our article What is breast milk made of ?.
What does baby formula consist of?
The composition of the mixture may vary depending on the country and manufacturer, but usually the baby milk mixture is made from processed skimmed cow’s milk with the addition of emulsifiers and stabilizers, which facilitate the process of mixing fats with water when diluting the mixture. The composition may also include:
lactose (the natural sugar found in milk) and / or other sweeteners, for example corn syrup, fructose or maltodextrin;
vegetable fats, for example palm, rapeseed, coconut, sunflower or soybean oil;
fatty acids, usually based on fish oil;
vitamins and minerals of plant and animal origin;
some enzymes and amino acids;
probiotics (in some mixtures).
It should be noted that mixtures of other types, for example, hypoallergenic, mixtures based on goat milk or soy may have a different composition.
“Studies show that in the composition of breast milk there are more than 1000 different proteins, while the best producers of milk mixtures are thinking about increasing the content of only one of them,” Professor Hartmann explains. “Moreover, we learned to synthesize only some oligosaccharides from those that are part of breast milk. Therefore, adding a pair of proteins and oligosaccharides to the mixture will not make it real breast milk! ”