Everyone knows you need to eat well and stay properly hydrated when you are breastfeeding your child. However, what most women don't know is that your body is lacking many vitamins, minerals, and healthy bacteria because of your everyday diet. Read on to learn about some unconventional supplements that are on the market that nursing moms should be aware of.
Breastfeeding your child is the best option, however, your body may be lacking some vital nutrients that you may not be getting in your standard, over the counter prenatal vitamins. Probiotics are all the rage these days, and there has never been a better time to start taking them as when you're breastfeeding. Studies show that breastfed babies have fewer infections, and days of diarrhea if the mom is taking probiotics. (1)
What are probiotics?
"Probiotics are organisms such as bacteria or yeast that are believed to improve health. They are available in supplements and foods. The idea of taking live bacteria or yeast may seem strange at first. After all, we take antibiotics to fight bacteria. But our bodies naturally teem with such organisms.
The digestive system is home to more than 500 different types of bacteria. They help keep the intestines healthy and assist in digesting food." (2)
How do they work?
Research shows that digestive disorders occur because the balance of organisms is being disturbed in your small intestines. Taking probiotics helps to restore the natural balance, and helps aid your overall health in many ways. In babies, specifically, it has been shown that taking probiotics regularly may help improve the following ailments:
- Colic and/or reflux
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
The bacteria that resides in your intestines is inadvertently passed to your nursling through your breast milk. When a mother is taking probiotics, research has shown that these good bacteria bugs (aka: flora) can be useful to help improve many common baby "problems" such as eczema or colicky behavior. When your gut is toxic and unbalanced, your baby is not getting the best breast milk possible.
Some Bifidobacterium strains are considered as important probiotics and used in the food industry. Unfortunately, most people today seem to be lacking this strain in their flora.
"Mother's milk contains high concentrations of lactose and lower quantities of phosphate (pH buffer). Therefore, when mother's milk is fermented by lactic acid bacteria (incl. bifidobacteria) in the infant's gastrointestinal tract, the pH may be reduced, making it more difficult for gram-negative bacteria to grow." (4) Bifidobacterium has been shown to discourage the growth of pathogens in breastfed babies. It has been labeled as an "important probiotic" and is most commonly used in the food industry as an addictive. (It's most commonly used in yogurt-like products.)
Many times, bifidobacterium is found in dairy products because it's a naturally occurring bacteria. However, we adore the Bifido Probiotic from Living Streams. These probiotics are filtered in their purest form, and are 100% dairy free and grain free. They are pre-digested, so all of the benefits are absorbed into the body from the beginning.
Moringa and bifido are the perfect compliment to each other. "Moringa is a plant that is native to the sub-Himalayan areas of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. It is also grown in the tropics. The leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and root are used to make medicine." (5)
Moringa is known as the perfect plant, and is used regularly in India and Africa in feeding programs to combat malnutrition. Some women report moringa as a galactagogue, and report a big increase in breast milk production once starting to take moringa regularly. It has also been known to help nursing babies increase in weight, as it is very high in both calcium and potassium. It is often prescribed by midwives to increase breastmilk supply, and can easily be made into a tea. (6)
We recommend the Liquid Moringa Probiotic Complex from Living Streams. When taken in conjunction with the bifido, it is easily absorbed, and your baby is reaping the true benefits of the mooring for vitamins and health, while also being passed to your healthy gut flora. Please note that the moringa complex has a very unpleasant odor.
Nursing mommies should look at adding alfalfa into their diet because of it's high levels of vitamins A, C, E, and K4; and minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorous, and iron. It has also been shown to prevent the chemical absorption of cholesterol in the gut. (7) It is often labeled the "miracle vitamin."
We recommend Alfalfa Probiotic Complex from Living Streams. It has a unique blend of probiotics, alfalfa, and volcanic ash. However, please note that the alfalfa complex has a very strong odor and taste.
Iodine & Magnesium:
Dr. David Brownstein has written entire books on the detriment of being iodine deficient. To summarize, Iodine levels in the US soil have fallen 50% over the past 50 years and soil in the US is deficient in iodine. Additionally, the World Health Organization states that iodine deficiency is the largest single cause of mental illness. (8) To read more, check out his book, Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It.
The typical American female diet isn't nearly high enough in magnesium. It is important to replenish your magnesium through your balanced diet, as it is present in foods like legumes, whole grains, green vegetables, seeds, and nuts (almonds, particularly).
We love the Mag Oil from Living Streams, because it contains both magnesium as well as iodine.
On the same note, magnesium is also easily absorbed through the skin. What nursing mommy doesn't love a bath break every once in a while? Soaking with these Magnesium Flakes from Living Streams has transdermal magnesium therapy and well known to relieve pain in joints and muscles. They are directly from the Dead Sea, and are the cleanest minerals around. They contain 31% magnesium, 80 trace minerals and low sodium. Not only are they perfect for your tired and aching muscles, they are also an amazing addition to your baby's bath.
Using these unconventional probiotics and vitamins will put you in your best health ever, as well as set your baby up for optimal gut flora, at least for the first year of their lives. We encourage you to explore the use of these supplements safely, and as always, make sure to consult your primary care physician before consuming.
Make sure to check out How To: Eating Well While Breastfeeding