The phrase, “you are what you eat (which by the way should really be, you are what you absorb) starts on the day that you’re born.
Your baby’s quality of life starts to be defined the minute you decide to give him/her breastmilk or formula.
- Breastfeeding has nutritional, intellectual, immunological, emotional and psychological benefits.
- Formula has nutritional benefits.
It’s important that when talking about any food item that you keep in mind that nutritional benefits are comprised of two things:
- The actual nutrients found in that food item
- And how those nutrients impact your direct and overall health
Today we will focus on the nutritional benefits of breastmilk and formula by doing a side-by-side comparison. And will discuss how these nutritional benefits impact your baby’s health now and for his/her lifetime.
My Story in Deciding How To Nourish My Baby
As I shared in the last post, when I became pregnant with my firstborn, I KNEW I wanted to breastfeed.
So when I was hours away from holding my baby in my arms, I was SUPER happy to see the best educational visual EVER hanging on the hospital wall (where I had my baby naturally with no medications) that showed how long the list of positive ingredients in breastmilk was in comparison to the list of ingredients in formula.
I didn’t need the extra push or validation to breastfeed, but if I did, seeing that poster would have made me sing “Whoomp there it is! Whoomp there it is! Shaka laka shaka laka shaka laka shaka whoomp!”
( I LOVE this commercial. Are you wondering if I dance to it? You betcha! ? )
So if you need some validation or anybody in your life needs some validation that breastmilk is the optimal food to feed your baby, “Whoomp, here it is!” =)
So How Do The Breastmilk And Formula Ingredients Compare?
Today, I will share a few of these ingredients with you.
But before I do, let me just tell you the “score” so that you can see who the clear winner between breastmilk and formula is (not because I say so but because science and nature do).
The number of breastfeeding nutrients listed was 248 nutrients. Formula had a total of 46 ingredients.
There’s a pretty big difference, isn’t there? (It’s a difference of 202 ingredients, in case you’re wondering).
Said another way, formula only has 19% of the ingredients that can benefit your baby’s body that breastmilk has.
Is There A Place For Formula?
I compare breastfeeding and formula feeding to food. Breastmilk is the organic food. Formula is the regular food.
Can both keep the baby alive? Yes.
But which will be most nutritious and better absorbed for your body?
Let’s compare apples to apples. Would an organic apple be better absorbed by your body (since it’s freer of pesticides)… or would a regular apple?
The choice is quite clear.
And don’t be confused, even though I know that there’s formula now being called “organic.” The milk your breasts can produce is what is really organic.
In other words I get that sometimes it’s necessary to give formula to babies… but… formula has only been around for about 151 years. Have you ever wondered how civilization survived before then? With primarily regular breastmilk, of course.
And, just FYI, the idea that moms should breastfeed is something that humanity has believed since the Renaissance. Back then, even wet nurses were not looked upon so favorably.
If you want a breakdown of what breastmilk and formula contain, you can scroll all the way to the bottom of this post, but for now, let’s focus on translating what those nutrients mean health-wise for your baby… which is after all, one of the most important things.
In the meantime, let’s talk about the ways that breastfeeding is beneficial for the baby, shall we?
15 Illnesses That BreastFeeding Helps Prevent (And That’s Just The Tip Of The Iceberg)
Breastfeeding allows your baby to have less:
- Allergy risk
- Asthma risk
- Atopic dermatitis
- Type 2 Diabetes Risk
- Ear Infections
- Meningitis and other bacterial and viral infections
- Obesity risk in childhood and a 15-30% reduction in adolescence and adulthood obesity
- Pneumonia risk
- SIDS risk (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Is reduced by over a third)
- Wheezing and bronchiolitis
These are the 15 illnesses that breastfeeding helps protect your baby from, which are listed in ABC order.
The neat thing about this list is that there are short term benefits and there are long term benefits, which means that your decision to breastfeed is literally a gift that can keep on giving.
For example, kids who are breastfed perform better on IQ tests. That’s a nice perk, isn’t it?
What Is It About Breastmilk That Helps protect against these illnesses?
In a nutshell, breastmilk has nutritional substances that formula doesn’t that can offer those protections.
So while more doesn’t ALWAYS equal better, the nutrients found in breastmilk certainly make a strong difference.
What Does The American Academy of Pediatrics Say About The Choice to Breastfeed?
Given the benefits breastmilk provides, even the AAP says that “choosing to breastfeed should be considered an investment in the short- and long- term health of the infant, rather than a lifestyle choice. Plus, the longer you breastfeed, the greater the benefits for you are and the longer they will last.
What Has Been Your Experience?
- How Has breastfeeding helped your baby, you and the relationship you have with your baby?
Please leave a comment below.
What’s the Breakdown of Nutrients in Breastmilk Vs. Those in Formula?
Since formula was made to mimic or mirror breastmilk, it is important to note that there are some similarities between the two. But they’re certainly not equal.
To better understand this comparison, let’s pretend that the ingredients found in breastmilk and formula are like branches on a tree. And let’s pretend that the variety of ingredients that fall under those main categories are leaves.
Breastmilk and formula have a similar number of branches but boy, oh boy the number of leaves on the trees varies significantly.
Imagine a tree with 9 branches.
- Amino acid
Both breastmilk and formula have these 9 branches.
However, BREASTMILK has 10 ADDITIONAL branches (meaning Formula has none of the following):
- Carboxylic acid
- Uric acid
- Growth Factors
- Antimicrobial factors
So that means that breastmilk has more than double the amount of branches.
AND that’s not all. In BREASTMILK, there is more variety of these nutrients than in formula.
- 2 types of Carbohydrates
- 7 types of Protein
- 53 types of Fat
- 18 Minerals
- 16 Vitamins
- 9 Enzymes
- 13 Nucleotides (which are one kind of non-protein nitrogens)
- 20 types of Amino Acid (which are another kind of non-protein nitrogens)
- 2 types of Carboxylic acid
- Uric acid
- 14 Peptides
- 48 Growth Factors
- 2 Antiproteases
- 38 Antimicrobial factors
This gives us a grand total of 248 positive ingredients in BREASTMILK .
On the other hand, in FORMULA, you can find:
- 2 types of Carbohydrates
- 1 type of Protein
- 6 types of Fat
- 13 Minerals
- 15 Vitamins
- 1 Enzyme
- 4 Nucleotides (which are one kind of non-protein nitrogens)
- 2 types of Amino acid (which are another kind of non-protein nitrogens)
- AND one ingredient you can’t find in breastmilk, which is Soy Lecithin.
This gives us a grand total of 46 ingredients in FORMULA.
This are quite eye-opening facts about the nutritional and health benefits of breastmilk, aren’t they?