Hello everyone. Today’s article is a guest post from Kodjo Hounnake who manages his own health and fitness blog – Kodjo Workout.
Breast milk is the most preferred type of milk for babies. Beyond its nutritional values, breastfeeding a baby has many other advantages that need to be highlighted. From a nutritional standpoint, studies reveal that breast milk contains vitamins and nutrients that are key to the baby’s developmental phase of the first 6 months of its life. More specifically, breast milk is jam-packed with substances that protect the baby from illnesses. So let’s review in more detail the health benefits of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding As A Disease Fighting Tool For The Baby
Several studies conducted around the world demonstrate that breastfeeding lowers the baby’s risk of contracting a plethora of illnesses including (but not limited to) meningitis, ear infections, lower respiratory diseases, and stomach bugs. The same studies showed that even when the breastfed babies contracted these diseases, the effects were less notable than otherwise. Feeding babies breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months has shown the best protection against illness.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences a breastfed baby’s mortality is decreased by approximately 20% between the ages of 28 days and one year. To understand how this is possible, one has to look at a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A or secretory IgA for short. This is an immune factor present in breast milk that combats the invasion of germs, by building protective barriers on the mucous membranes of the baby’s intestines, throat and nose.
A mother’s breast milk is tailored to her baby. Basically, the mother’s body responds to pathogens (which are viruses and bacteria) by creating the secretory IgA specific to neutralize those pathogens, offering protection for her baby based on whatever pathogens the mother is exposed to.
Breastfeeding Can Protect The Baby Against Allergies
Typically, babies fed with formula based on soy or cow milk tend to be more prone to allergies than breastfed babies. As mentioned above, the secretory IgA (which is present only in breast milk), creates protective layers in the baby’s intestinal tract and other places. This protective barrier has a critical role as without its presence, inflammations can develop in the baby’s intestine, causing it to allow indigested proteins to sip through the gut triggering allergic reactions and other health ailments.
This layer of protection does not exist in babies fed with cow or soy milk formula. This causes these babies to be particularly responsive to allergies.
Breastfeeding And Baby’s Intelligence
Besides the nutritional value of breast milk, it has also been discovered that there is a connection between breastfeeding and the child’s cognitive development. Several tests were run, among which thousands of children who were breastfed, scored materially higher on vocabulary topics than their counterparts fed with formula. Also, the studies show that the longer the babies were nursed, the higher were their scores.
Experts argue that the tight bond (between mom and baby) that gets created as a result of breastfeeding, partly explains the child’s fast cognitive development. However the more concrete explanation resides in the fatty acids contained in breast milk, which play a significant role.
Breastfeeding And Cancer Risk Reduction
Breastfeeding is not beneficial only to the baby. Numerous studies have found that the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of contracting breast and ovarian cancer. The risk of breast cancer has been shown to decrease the most after one full year of breastfeeding.
It is not entirely clear how breastfeeding activity contributes to reducing the mother’s risk of cancer. However it’s argued that it may have something to do with the structural changes that breast tissues are subject to (breast cancer), combined with the fact that lactation inhibits the level of estrogen hormones produced by the mother’s body (ovarian cancer).
About the Author:
Kodjo manages a health and wellness blog at www.Kodjoworkout.com where he discusses any and every health and lifestyle-related topic, including exercising at home, fast food consumption, dental implants, coffee addiction, etc..