Nutritional Benefits for Breast Milk Paper Example

Paper Type:  Case study
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1726 Words
Date:  2022-06-20


Breastfeeding is essential to both mothers and their children. 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 (O'Donovan et al 2015, pp.2864-2873). The oligosaccharides perform the protective functions for infants. The essential proteins in the breast milk include casein and whey. The fatty acid composition in breast milk is different from that of cow's milk. 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 (Quigley et al. 2016). 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.

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Research studies have proved that children who breastfeed for more extended periods of time have lower infectious morbidity and are more intelligent than those who breastfeed for short periods or those who did not breastfeed at all. The advantages of breastfeeding children are experienced even in later stages of adulthood (Victora et al. 2016 p.475-490). Breast milk is the natural food for infants (Fewtrell et al., 2017 pg. 119-132). Breastfeeding is therefore regarded as a unique way of providing appropriate food required by infants for their healthy growth and development (Corona et al. 2016 pg 156-160). One of the optimal breastfeeding methods is exclusive breastfeeding which should take place for six months, followed by complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for at least two more years (Martin, Ling, and Blackburn, 2016 pg. 279).

The European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) Committee on Nutrition Department of Health and Children recommend that exclusive breastfeeding should take during the first six months of life. After that, the breast milt milk should be combined with other complementary foods for at least two years and beyond (Fewtrell et al., 2017 pg. 119-132). The recommended practice is regarded as the best and safest way of ensuring the infant's health, growth and development goals are achieved. The 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 (Brown, A., 2014. pp.587-598). Parents are greatly discouraged from introducing complementary foods especially if the infant has not attained an age of at least four months (Whitford et al. 2018). However, the babies require complementary foods to introduce more nutrients after the age of six months. The nutritional components of breast milk contain carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals and other trace elements (Rollins et al. 2015 pg 491-504). The energy content is composed of fats at 54%, carbohydrates at 40% and proteins at 6% of energy.

Immuno-protection benefits of breast milk

Breastfeeding promotes 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 (Kirchberg et al. 2015 pp.149-158). The benefits are important for the protection of both infants and their mothers in the short and long term. 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 (Smith, 2018. pp.220-225). Breastfeeding has positive implications for the well being to the mothers. Breastfeeding mothers reduce the risks of contracting ovarian and breast cancer. The post-partum bleeding and more rapid uterine involution are reduced.

Previous research studies have indicated that breastfeeding practices protect infants against deaths in high-income countries (Whelan, and Kearney, 2015pp.2274-2282). Overwhelming evidence 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. Breastfeeding has also been identified as a potential factor that can influence the achievement of the sustainable development goals by the governments. Such goals include the improvement of maternal, child health and reduction of chronic illness such as cancers. No preparations are required for the breast milk since it is always readily available on demand and of the right temperatures. 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. By the year 2001, UNICEF under the state of the world's children had established that improved breastfeeding practices could assist to reduce the artificial infant feeding practices and save at least 1.5 million infants per annum.

The necessary nutrients in infant formulas

The proteins, nucleotides, fats, carbohydrates, prebiotics and probiotics

The infant formula is regarded as the only viable alternative to breast milk for healthy infants in their first four months of development. Some mothers chose the infant formulas for some reasons even though breast milk remains the recommended breastfeeding practice (Smith et al., 2016 p.205). Legally, infant formulas refer to commercial products that provide the required nutrients to infants with an average age of between 4-6 months (Brown, and Arnott, 2014). The manufacturers of the infant formulas are continuously improving the formulas in an attempt to ensure that such formulas match the nutritional contents of the breast milk. The nutritional contents in the infant formula are therefore closely similar to that of natural breast-milk and contain proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and other minerals (Appleton, 2018 pg.12). The Infant Formula and Follow-On Formula Regulations of the year 2007 were established to strictly regulate the composition of infant formulas in Europe to ensure that they meet the metabolic needs for infants in a similar manner to the breast milk.

Cow's milk proteins form the basis of infant milk through modifications designed to ensure that the formula is suitable for infants (Boyle et al. 2016 pp.701-710). The nutritional components of breast milk are therefore different from that of formula milk. Under some medical situations, breastfeeding is not the most advisable way of achieving the optimal growth, health, and development of infants. The infant formula in such a situation has a significant role to offer a suitable alternative to the breast milk (Winter, 2016 pp.624-628). The infant formula as an alternative should provide complete nutritional requirements of the infants. 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.

Formula milk are 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. On the other hand, 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 (200) oligosaccharides contained in the human breast milk (Gidrewicz, and Fenton, 2014 pg.216). 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.

The Carnitine, Inositol, Taurine and choline

Other 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 Grote, et al. 2016, p.250). Carnitine is necessary for energy production and is therefore concentrated in skeletal and cardiac muscle. Inositol under certain conditions and standards provide an essential growth factor which is synthesized in the body. For many years, Taurine has been added to infant formula as a form of amino acid. The presence of chorines in the infant formula serves an important function as phospholipids in brain, liver and other body tissues. The mentioned nutrients are important for normal membrane composition, lipid metabolism, and brain development.

In August 2014, the European food safety authority (EFSA) provided a scientific opinion on the essential composition of infant and follow-on formula. According to EFSA, there was a scientific consensus that breast milk provides the preferred food for infants. All infant formula milk should, therefore, provide the required nutrients for proper growth and development of the infants. Under the specifications for other ingredients in IF and FOF, chorine was identified as a mandatory IF and at least 7mg/100kcal maximum contents should be provided in the infant formula. The human body can provide chorine through diet. An average of 500 kcal/day of chorine can be considered adequate for infants with a minimum age below six months. Inositol is also mandatory in IF, and infant formula should contain minimum contents of 4 mg/100 kcal. Taurine can be added to an infant formula on a voluntary basis. Taurine concentration on infant formula should provide a maximum of 12 mg/100 kcal. Such concentration of Taurine content would play an important role in intestinal fat absorption, hepatic function and visua...

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