High Nutritional Benefits of Breast Milk Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1715 Words
Date:  2022-06-27


Bosi et al. (2016) and Yngve and Sjostrom (2001) studies agree that breastfeeding is the recommended infant feeding especially due to its nutritional benefits which have a significant impact on the growth and health of the infants. Children who are breastfed for the recommended six months or an extended period have lower morbidity rate from diseases than those who infant formula as a feeding method. The advantages of breastfeeding children are experienced even in later stages of adulthood according to the research by the University of Sheffield in 2014. Breast milk is the natural food for infants and is regarded by Martin, Ling, and Blackburn (2016) and Yngve and Sjostrom (2001) in there research as a unique and the most recommended way of providing appropriate nutrients required by infants for healthy growth and development. In another case supporting breastfeeding, Fewtrell et al. (2017) in the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) Committee on Nutrition Department of Health recommend that breastfeeding which should take place for six months, followed by complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for at least two more years which agrees with the research by Yngve and Sjostrom (2001).

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According to Prentice et al. (2016), the main nutrients in breast milk include carbohydrates, fats, micronutrients, and proteins. The milk energy contains approximately 40% of carbohydrates which are mainly represented by lactose, monosaccharides, and oligosaccharides. The important fatty acids include Arachidonic (AA), EPA, LCPUFAs, and DHA. The fatty acids are important for neurological development. Fats are also considered to be readily digested and absorbed from breast milk. Cholesterol and Carnitine forms an essential part of breast milk that facilitates fatty acid metabolism. Micronutrients in breast milk are represented by vitamins A, B1, K, and D. The bioactive components contained in the breast milk affect the biological processes and hence a direct influence on the health of an infant. The bioactive components include secretory immunoglobulin A, the enzyme lysozyme, and protein lactoferrin. The bioactive proteins contained in the breast milk affects the intestinal tract, vasculature, the nervous system and the endocrine system functioning and development in infants (Martin, Ling, and Blackburn, 2016).

According to ("World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative Steering and Core Groups," 2016) breastfeeding is regarded as the best and safest way of ensuring the infant's health, growth and development goals are achieved. Breastfeeding promotes the healthy development of the children because they contain important nutrients that cannot be found in infant formula feeding approach. According to White, Allen, and Department of Health, (2011) in the research found out that breast milk contains bioactive components that are necessary for antimicrobial activities. The bioactive components enhance the nutrition absorption process and are adapted uniquely for digestion by the immature gastrointestinal, renal and metabolic systems of the infants. To meet the changing nutritional components by the infants, the nutritional profile of the breast milk changes depending on the stage of lactation. The changes under each lactation process are meant to ensure that the infant is provided with complete nutrients required in its first six months for effective growth and development (White, Allen, and Department of Health, 2011).

Immunity Protection of Breast Milk on Infants

Exclusive breastfeeding is an essential practice that helps to ensure that the infant mortality rate is reduced due to their advanced ability to fight against childhood diseases such as pneumonia. In cases where the infants are attacked by such conditions, exclusive breastfeeding will help to ensure their quick recovery. Research by Kakulas (2015) breast milk was found to be a major source of stem cells that provides infants with protection against disease-causing microorganisms in the new environment. This is important research that offers more insight on the health significance of continued breastfeeding of the infants instead of using infant formula. At birth, the immune system of infants is immature, and the immune cells in the colostrum offer the infants with instant protection (Kakulas, 2015). Another study by Munblit et al. (2017), confirms that breast milk has important active immune elements that change in response to genetic and environmental factors which promotes good health and the maturation of the infant's immune system. Breastfeeding can promote the sensory and cognitive development thus ensuring that infants are protected against infectious and chronic illness. The breast milk provides unique immunological, nutritional and psychological benefits. Research results by Earle (2002), indicates that regarding morbidity, the breastfeeding practice protects the children against diarrhea and respiratory illnesses. The research findings also indicate that failure to breastfeed the infants has a long-term effect on the health, nutrition, and development of infants (Earle, 2002).

According to Earle (2002), breast milk in the United Kingdom is very low despite the high benefits of breast milk on the health of the infants by boosting their immunity against diseases. The breast milk does not contain any additional risk of bacterial contamination since it does not require any manufacturing and a lot of handling processes. Improved breastfeeding practices could assist to reduce the artificial infant feeding practices which will help lower high infant's mortality rates across the globe. Breastfeeding is related to the reduction of mortality rates and infant morbidity, and research has confirmed that breastfeeding plays a significant role in reducing the sudden infant death syndrome which is another empirical support for infant mothers to adhere to the exclusive six months breast milk feeding approach (Earle, 2002). Cytokines in the human breast milk as the isoforms of TGF beta which can improve the immune of infants and reduce allergy especially in infants by regulating inflammation according to Munblit et al. (2017). In another study by Pirila (2014), breast milk was found to have a significant impact on the ability of the infants to fight disease-causing microorganisms. Breastfeeding provides early protection from diseases such as cholera in both urban and rural environments. In the urban areas, exclusive breastfeeding reduces gastrointestinal diseases especially for the children whose mothers adhered to the six months recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding. Similarly, exclusive breastfeeding protects against respiratory diseases in the first year of the infant's life according to Pirila (2014). Therefore, multiple studies mentioned above recognizes the importance of breastfeeding in the first six months primarily due to the immune protection of the infants from the active immune components in breast milk.

Necessary Nutrients in Infant Formulas

Proteins, Nucleotides, Fats, Carbohydrates, Prebiotics, and Probiotics

According to Scientific Recommendations for a National Infant Feeding Policy (2011), the basic components of infant formulas are similar to that of natural breast milk and include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals as earlier mentioned. The mentioned nutrients are necessary for infants' growth and development. The vitamins and other nutrients contain iron that assists the infants in preventing anemia. Elements such as nucleotides contained in the nutrients are considered to be important metabolic regulators necessary for energy transfers and breaking of large food molecules. Nucleotides play a major role in immune and gastrointestinal systems thus reducing instances of diarrhea and plasma antibodies. The nutrients are important in that they support neurological development and visual function as posited by Dodds (2010). According to Martin, Ling, and Blackburn (2016), infant formulas is an alternative to breast milk and provides infants with the necessary nutrition in the first six months of the infant life for the parents who chooses to use infant formula instead of breastfeeding an aspect that has been found in a large population of mothers in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Infant formula is based on hydrolyzed protein, soy protein or cow milk but the composition is usually changed to meet the nutritional and metabolic needs of the children. It is important for infant mothers to choose infant formula products that meet the necessary nutritional needs that ensure the infant growth. According to Kent et al. (2015), infant formula is based on Bovine milk and contains a high level of fat, protein, and minerals which are necessary for the infant growth and development. Although soya infant formula exists, it is discouraged due to phytoestrogens presence. The proteins, lipids and carbohydrates present in the infant formulas have a minimum and maximum limits regarding composition. Whey and Casein in infant formulas provide proteins and amino acids and are added in infant formulas with the aim of improving the overall nutritional value of the formulas according to Kent et al. (2015). Fleischer Michaelsen et al. (2003) agrees with Kent et al. (2015) that carbohydrates play a significant role in providing the necessary energy for the infants. Besides, fats in the infant formulas also play a significant role in proving infants with the energy needed.

Martin, Ling, and Blackburn (2016) confirms that formula milk is also supplemented with a combination of probiotics and prebiotics in an attempt to match the contents of human milk. The importance of probiotics and prebiotics in the infant formulas is to reduce the overall incidence of infectious diseases likely to infect infants. The prebiotics can be identified as non-digestible food ingredients involved in a selective stimulation of growth and activities of beneficial bacteria in the colon. Meyer and Shah (2013), agrees with Martin, Ling, and Blackburn (2016), that probiotics are considered as live micro-organisms that have beneficial health effects when consumed. Some infant formulas have been added prebiotics components such as fruit-oligosaccharides and galacto-oligosaccharides to undertake a similar role to over two hundred oligosaccharides contained in the human breast milk according to Braegger et al. (2011). The appropriate use of probiotics in the infant formula ensures that the balance of intestinal microflora is balanced, thus favoring the beneficial bacteria over pathogenic bacteria. The beneficial bacteria are then capable of protecting infants against common infections (Meyer and Shah, 2013).

Carnitine, Inositol, Taurine, and Choline

According to Crawley and Westland (2011), there is enough evidence that the infant formula has improved over the last couple of years, some major differences with breast milk remain. Breast milk is considered to be dynamic since it adapts to the individual needs of children whereas in infant formula there is need to choose products that have necessary amounts of carnitine, inositol, taurine, and choline. Mikhael (2015), notes that ingredients are added to the infant formulas to ensure that it is a suitable source of nutrients for infants and also provide other benefits similarly provided by the breast milk. Carnitine is necessary for energy production and is therefore concentrated in skeletal and cardiac muscle. According to Mikhael (2015), carnitine is a very important ingredient in infant formula that mothers should observe when purchasing infant formula products because it has an essential role in the growth and developme...

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