Breast Feeding vs the Best Baby Formula: More New Findings

The eternal debate of Mother Nature vs Technology. Does breast feeding still beat the newest, best baby formula on the market? Your baby’s health is on the line.

It’s already pretty clear that breastfeeding is far superior to formula feeding.  The reasons are many and have been reviewed in a prior blog post that can be read here.  But, just in case these reasons are not enough to steer a new mother to breastfeeding, here’s an even bigger reason:

It’s because of what we do NOT know about breastfeeding.

What does this mean?  It means that there is an awful lot that we probably don’t know about what compounds are present in breastmilk that are not present in formula.  Just within the past decade or so we have added DHA to formula.  Then probiotics.  Then the fact that the bacterial composition in breast milk changes over time.  Then prebiotics to support the growth of the good bacteria.  Then the hormone visfatin that fights off obesity and diabetes was found in breastmilk. 

It seems like we continue to find out new aspects to breast feeding.  It then takes some time for these new findings to catch up to what companies are putting in the best baby formula money can buy.  This can only mean one thing.  Formula has always been, and always will be, inferior to breast feeding.  Breast milk is just far too complicated for us to understand and thus, far too complicated to reproduce in its entirety.

Just in case you think I’m off base and that the best baby formula now contains everything there is to be found in breast milk, let me direct you to this particular study.

Researchers looked at the antioxidant compounds present in breast feeding mothers during different stages of lactation–1, 4 and 13 weeks post partum.  First of all, the list of antioxidant compounds found in the breast milk was quite extensive (Tweet this).  The list included these classes of compounds:

The flavonoids (think compounds in tea, spices and vegetables):

  1. Epicatechin
  2. Epicatechin gallate
  3. Epigallocatechin gallate
  4. Naringenin
  5. Kaempferol
  6. Hesperetin
  7. Quercetin

The carotenoids (those colored pigments found in nature–think beta-carotene):

  1. Alpha-carotene
  2. Beta-carotene
  3. Alpha-cryptoxanthin
  4. Beta-cryptoxanthin
  5. Zeaxanthin
  6. Lutein
  7. Lycopene

The researchers found that the flavonoids remained relatively stable throughout the lactation period studied, but the carotenoids decreased over the time period studied.  Why this change occurred, researchers were not able to ascertain.  But clearly these are protective compounds available to breast feeding newborns that are not found in even the best baby formula.  And I’m sure we have not even begun to discover the other gems that Mother Nature has infused into breastmilk.

 If you have had a baby recently, did you feel that the hospital staff was undeniably dedicated to promoting breast feeding, or did you feel some pressure to use baby formula?


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.