The Official Divine Mama Breastfeeding Diet October 1, 2013 14:32
At last! I finally had some time to put together what I think is a great dietary guideline to follow while you are breastfeeding since each day I receive so many questions about food choices - what's good, what's bad, etc. for breast milk.
While lactogenic foods are important, they are just one part of a more comprehensive diet and lifestyle plan that will help you and your baby reach optimal health while breastfeeding.
I have studied over fifty different dietary theories as a pharmacist and nutrition counselor. Unfortunately, I have found that most mainstream theories contradict themselves, making it difficult to sift through all of the information and make the best decisions for you and your baby.
From my knowledge of lactogenic foods and from my personal experiences, I’ve created an official Divine Mama Breastfeeding Diet with the intention of providing you with simple guidelines that will help take the guesswork out of your quest for wellness.
Learn more about the diet here!
Heard of Moringa? It's an herb that helps milk supply. June 9, 2013 00:00
For any new mother who wants to do the best for her baby, breastfeeding can easily provide many benefits. However, some women have problems producing enough milk throughout the breastfeeding years. There can be causes for low milk supply such as being under stress or having some types of hormonal imbalances. Other causes can be having duct milk damage from previous surgeries, smoking, or even getting pregnant again while nursing. When these possible causes can be ruled out, Moringa can be an option to help increase breast milk flow.
The Moringa tree was first referenced around 2000 B.C. when it was used by people in Northern India. It was believed the tree had medicinal benefits and was able to prevent over 300 diseases. This tree was also used for various reason by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians as both protection from the hot sun and as a lotion. Maurian warriors of India ate the leaves believing they had the power to increase their strength and stamina.
Although the Moringa tree is native to the Northern part of India, it is now found in many areas of the world including Central and South America, Africa and Asia in tropical and sub-tropical climates. This tree can grow up to 12 meters high and has drooping branches on which there are small leaves that contain an incredible powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. It grows best in sandy or dry soil with bright sunshine, but cannot tolerate excessive flooding or soil with little drainage. The tree needs little water, making it a valuable commodity in drier climates.
The Moringa tree has many uses including: food for humans and forage for livestock, medicine, dye, water purification, and can also help to increase flow of breast milk in lactating women, as has been proven in studies. The leaves of the tree are full of vitamins and minerals which contain:
* 7 times the Vitamin C content of oranges
* 4 times the calcium content of milk
* 4 times the vitamin content of carrots
* 3 times the potassium content of bananas
* 2 times the protein found in yogurt
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee did a study to find out how Moringa effects the rate of milk flow in lactating mothers. Two groups of mothers were given breast pumps and asked to pump every four hours. One group was given the supplement and the other was not. The mothers in the study were asked to write down how much milk was produced each time they pumped over a three day period. The results came back showing that the mothers who had used the Moringa supplement produced more milk overall than those mothers who didn’t use the supplement.
In another such study, the same results were found. Mothers were asked to measure their breast milk production on the third, seventh, and fourteenth day of production. Although all mothers had about the same results on the third day, the mothers taking a Moringa supplement had increased production on the seventh and fourteenth days when compared to those who didn’t take a supplement. These promising results will most likely lead to even more studies showing the efficacy of the supplement on lactating women.
For any mother who struggles with not producing enough milk, the Moringa supplement may be just what she and her baby needs. There are no ill side effects and a good variety of vitamins and minerals come from it. According to both studies done, it may be beneficial for a mother to begin taking the supplement as soon as she gives birth, enabling her milk flow to increase by the third day after birth.
With permission from Hilary Jacobson, here's a great comprehensive lactogenic list of foods from her book, Mother Food for Breastfeeding Mothers...
Lactogenic foods support lactation for many reasons. Eating sufficient calories and getting an abundant supply of nutrients is helpful in itself for lactation, but these foods also contain substances that interact with and support the chemistry of lactation. These substances include phytoestrogen, natural plant sedatives, plant sterols and saponins, and tryptophan, among others. In addition, a rich supply of minerals and a good balance of fats ensure that the mother’s cells and nerves are functioning at an optimal level.
Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked, for instance, steamed, or sautéed in butter and then simmered in a bit of water. Fennel seed is well-known as an herb to increase milk production. The vegetable, containing the same pharmacologically active volatile oils, acts as a gentler support.
Carrot, Beet, Yam
These reddish vegetables are full of beta-carotene, needed in extra amounts during lactation. Carrot seed has been used as a galactagogue, and the vegetable, also containing the volatile oils and phytoestrogen, acts as a gentler support. The beet is a wonderful source of minerals and iron. Taking raw beet can help alleviate iron deficiency. These vegetables are naturally sweet, and they support the liver.
Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
Dark green vegetables are a potent source of minerals, vitamins and enzymes, as well as phytoestrogen that support lactation. Dandelion and stinging nettle leaves are diuretic, and can help reduce edema during pregnancy and after birth. They can be plucked from your garden in early spring and eaten whole, chopped into salad, or used to make tea. Stinging nettle can be harvested for salad or cooked as spinach. In your market, you'll find arugula, beet leaves, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, chicory, collard greens and others.
Grains and Legumes
Grains and legumes have a long history as galactagogues. The most commonly used grains include oats, millet, barley and rice. Oats are the most widely used lactogenic food in the US. Legumes to include in your diet are chickpea, mung beans and lentils.
Nuts that support milk supply include almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts. As much as possible, eat raw nuts, not roasted or salted. The taste of raw nuts will grow on you.
Oils and fats
Healthy fats play a vital role in cellular and neural metabolism. The kinds of fats a mother eats will influence the composition of fats in her milk. Please see the article “Dietary Tips for Pregnancy and the Postpartum” for more information.
The renowned expert in fats, Mary G. Enig, suggests that mothers get regular and substantial dosages of butter and coconut oil. In addition, use cold-pressed virgin olive oil, and take equal amounts of cold-pressed sesame oil and flaxseed oil in salads.
One way to balance the fats is to dribble a quarter teaspoon of olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, and a thin slab of butter over meals. Be sure to eliminate unhealthy fats such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and transfatty acids from your diet, as these will also enter your milk.
In addition, be sure to have a source for essential fatty acids. For more information, see “Dietary Tips.”
Lactogenic beverages include getting enough plain water to hydrate the body, drinking commercial lactation teas, non-alcoholic beer, ginger ale, Rivella, and natural herbal root-beers from your health food store. Check out coffee substitutes based on the lactogenic grain barley, such as CARO, Roma, Caffix, Pero or Dandy Blend. These imitation coffees usually also contain chicory or dandelion, plus malt—ingredients that are all lactogenic. A recipe for "Barley Water," a potent lactogenic beverage, is at the bottom of this article.
Garlic is famous for its medical benefits, and has a long history as a galactagogue.
In one study, babies were seen to latch on better, suckle more actively, and drink more milk when the mother had garlic prior to nursing(2). If you do not wish to eat garlic, try adding a capsule of garlic extract to a meal eaten about an hour before breastfeeding.
If you would like to introduce garlic to your diet, and are not used to eating garlic, introduce it very slowly and observe your baby’s reaction. Take only 1 – 2 cloves per day. These can be chopped or pressed through a garlic press into any food after it has finished cooking. Try it in vegetables, rice, grains, pulses, salad sauce, spaghetti sauce, or other sauce.
Our culture does not encourage eating garlic, and many people do not tolerate garlic well (or onions, another food which is traditionally lactogenic). For this reason, garlic is not recommended by the American Herbal Product’s Association while breastfeeding except under the guidance of a qualified herbalist. However, if you do tolerate garlic there is no reason that you should not benefit from it. Take garlic in moderation as do mothers all over the world.
Caution: Do not combine with anticoagulants, as garlic has blood-thinning actions.
Danger: Babies and small children should never be given garlic in any form, whether fresh, dry, powdered or in capsules, to chew, swallow, eat or suck on. Garlic is highly caustic to delicate body tissues, and rubbing it in one’s nose or eyes could be painful and dangerous. Babies will benefit from the garlic a mother eats, and that reaches him through her milk.
Ginger is helpful for the letdown and milk flow. Some mothers benefit from drinking ginger ale. Even commercial ginger ale is flavored with “natural flavoring” that is real ginger.
Warning: Do not use ginger or ginger ale in the early postpartum if there was significant blood loss during birth. Do not take ginger immediately after birth due to danger of hemorrhaging.
Caution: Ginger tends to compound and increase the effects of medication being taken. Talk to your doctor if you are taking medication, especially diabetic, blood-thinning, or heart medicine.
Sources: You can find ginger at your local grocery store. Check out stores that sell Asian foods, health food stores, and on line.
Spices in your kitchen can be used to support milk production. Try adding marjoram and basil to your meals, and anise, dill or caraway. Black pepper, taken in moderation, is helpful.
This powdered yellow root gives curry its yellow color and basic flavor. A potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, turmeric is being studied in connection with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatism, and cancer. Turmeric has lactogenic properties and can also be taken to help prevent inflammatory conditions. One half teaspoon of turmeric a day may help prevent inflammation in the breasts.
Caution: Some herbalists warn that pregnant women should not use turmeric if they are at risk for miscarriage.
Oats (Avena Sativa)
The humble oat is one of our most nutritious foods, and contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and trace elements that nourish the nerves, support the metabolism of fats, and uplift the spirit. In traditional medicine, both the seed and the leaf—called oat-straw—are taken. Oats are prescribed as a nervine tonic in the treatment of nervous exhaustion. In Europe, women traditionally take oats after birth. Oats are taken today in the US to increase milk production, both as food and as a supplement. Like other galactagogues, oats are antidepressant, antispasmodic, and they increase perspiration.
Allergy: Occasional. Persons sensitive to gluten in wheat are frequently able to tolerate oats.
Dosage and Preparation:
Taking large dosages of oats is helpful in kick-starting milk production.
Oatmeal can be taken for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Oat-straw is especially rich in minerals. It is available as capsules or as an ingredient in so-called “green-drinks.” Take as indicated on the package.
Fluid extract: 3 – 5 ml (15 – 35 drops), three times a day.
Nutritional and Brewer's Yeast
Nutritional or brewer’s yeast frequently leads to a significant boosts in a mothers’ milk supply. Mothers sometimes say that they feel much more energetic and emotionally balanced while taking yeast. This may signal a lack of essential nutrients in their diet, in particular, chromium, vitamin B complex, and especially vitamin B12, found in some brands of fortified nutritional yeast. Brewer’s and nutritional yeast also contain protein and good levels of phytoestrogen.
Allergy: Persons who are allergic to yeast should avoid these products.
Side-effects: Occasionally, mothers or babies become gassy, more so with brewer’s yeast than nutritional yeast. To be on the safe side, start with a small dosage and slowly increase.
Sources: Vegetarian stores and health food stores.
Green foods are reputed to increase the fat content of breastmilk. Some mothers supplement with chlorophyll. So-called "green drinks" can be very helpful. Their ingredients include barley-grass, alfalfa leaf, spirulina, corellas, kelp, oat-straw and other herbs with lactogenic and medicinal properties.
Caution: Chlorella, a common ingredient in commercial green-drinks, is used by medical specialists to chelate (remove) heavy metals from the body, especially mercury. If not taken at the correct dosage, chlorella can lead to an increase of mercury in the bloodstream and probably in a mother’s milk as well. It is wise to choose green-drinks that only contain a low percent of chlorella.
Sources: Super markets, health food stores, online.
Green papaya is taken as a galactagogue across Asia. It is a superb source of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamins C, A, B, and E. Green papaya is the unripe fruit, and it needs to be simmered until soft. Green papaya can also be taken in supplement form.
Allergy: Persons allergic to latex may be allergic to papaya and other fruit.
Caution: Persons taking Warfarin should consult with their doctor before taking papaya supplements.
Large, black sesame seeds are used to increase milk production across Asia. Husked, light-colored sesame seeds are also effective and easier to digest. Sesame seed "butter" known as Tahini can be found in health food stores. Sesame is our most potent vegetable source of calcium!
Allergy: Allergy to sesame is becoming more common.
Spirulina is a non-toxic variety of blue-green algae. It has been farmed in lakes and ponds as a food source for thousands of years. It is valued for its proteins, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and essential fatty acids. Spirulina's nutrients are easily absorbed, even when a person’s digestion is not up to par.
It is important that spirulina be cultivated on a farm that is not located in waters that are contaminated, in particular with heavy metals. It is also advisable not to use spirulina that has been genetically ‘improved.’ Spirulina and other “green foods” may increase the fat-content of breastmilk.
Note: It is not wise to rely on spirulina as a source of B12.
Barley-water is used medicinally to treat colds, intestinal problems (both constipation and diarrhea) and liver disorders. It was recorded in Greek medicine two thousand years ago as a galactagogue. Taken for a week or two, it often helps mothers with chronic low milk supply. Make a pot in the morning and drink it throughout the day, warming each cup and sweetening it with a natural sweetener as desired.
Barley-water can be made with whole grain or pearl barley. Barley flakes can also be used, though these have been processed and are possibly less potent than the whole or pearled grain.
Protein: Essential Building Blocks for You and Your Baby April 20, 2013 00:00
Most people don’t know as much about protein as they think they do. When you were in school, or perhaps in your own kitchen as a child, you learned that protein was one of the rainbow colored sections that comprised the all-powerful Food Pyramid. The protein section of the poster was filled with pictures of beans and chicken legs, nuts and eggs. Your mother complained that the only protein she could get down you was peanut butter. Now, as an adult and a mother, you know that protein is important to growing bodies. But what, exactly, is t protein-rich food comprised of and why is it necessary for a healthy body and mind?
Proteins are the building blocks of life.
Simply stated, proteins are compounds formed from various combinations of amino acids, of which there are twenty, arranged in countless combinations.
Every single chemical reaction and every body function relies on the presence of amino acids. So you can see that proteins really are a requirement for a healthy body. They build cells, regulate fluids, rebuild tissues, and are vital to hormone, antibody, and enzyme production. In the absence of carbohydrates and fat, proteins also supply the body with energy.
Eight of those twenty amino acids that form the proteins are not produced or stored inside the body, so they absolutely must be consumed throughout the day. They are phenylalanine, tryptophan, valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, and threonine. These eight are called essential amino acids, as in, “It’s essential that you eat them!”
Essential amino acids are found in a variety of protein sources like fresh water fish, eggs, nuts, and some nut oils. But it’s also important that you eat a balance of various types of proteins, essential and non-essential, as your body often cannot produce enough of the non-essential amino acids to meet your needs. Let’s see if we can make it easy for you to figure out just how much and what types of proteins to include in your diet.
Healthy Protein Consumption
You may have heard proteins referred to as complete or incomplete, high-quality or lower-quality. These terms simply refer to whether or not a protein source provides you with all of your essential amino acids in the necessary proportions. Sources such as meat, dairy, poultry, eggs/egg whites, and fish provide you with the correct balance of all of your amino acids. However, you can still get all of your amino acids by combining several incomplete proteins such as nuts and oats, or beans and brown rice.
Eating large amounts of red meat and dairy can actually add too much fat to your diet, without the necessary fiber for a healthy digestive system. Instead, you should balance your protein intake by combining lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy and eggs, with combinations of nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
How much is enough?
The Food and Drug Association recommends a daily protein intake of about 50 grams, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This might look like two poached eggs for breakfast, a yogurt cup for a snack with granola, a cup of beans and brown rice as part of your lunch, a pork chop with dinner, and a handful of almonds and seeds somewhere in between.
Contrary to what you may think, the necessary intake of protein does not changed based on physical activity. Instead, protein needs are based on your weight, and should be right around .8 – 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Protein for Breastfeeding and Pregnancy
However, if you are a nursing or pregnant mother, you will need to increase your protein intake by about thirty additional grams per day. While still in the womb, this protein is crucial to the healthy development of his or her body and brain. Also, the amino acids that you take in will help regulate your sleep and your emotions, two very important things for your own personal well-being.
Infants use a third of their dietary protein to build new muscles and connective tissues. Since their primary, and best, source of nutrition is their mother’s breastmilk, you will need to make sure yours has all the protein necessary for your baby’s healthy body.
You can add extra protein into your diet easily by snacking on unsalted nuts, egg whites, lean meat slices and hard cheeses, or by sprinkling your cereals and yogurt with flax seeds. Skip the chips and opt for edamame or raw trail mix, and add a slice of turkey bacon to your morning omelet. Carry some prepackaged protein bars in your purse to avoid grabbing a bagel when you’re out running errands.
With just a few simple changes, you’ll be able to add the right kinds of protein to your diet… for your body and your baby’s.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administrationhttp://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/FoodLabelingGuide/ucm064928.htm
- Nutrition and Well-being A to Z
- The Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/protein/
- USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
There's Sugar, Then There's Sugar - Understanding the difference between sucrose and fruit sugar February 2, 2013 00:00
All sugar is not created equal.
Understanding the difference between refined white and brown sugar and the natural sugars found in fresh, cooked, or dried fruits and vegetables is essential to making healthy food choices for you and your children.
How Refined Sugar Hurts Your Body
Refined sugar, scientifically known as sucrose, is composed of fructose and glucose molecules. When you eat something containing this kind of sugar, like a candy bar or soda, you feel an instant rush. Why? Because of how the body metabolizes sucrose.
When you consume sucrose, your body instantly releases insulin to combat the rapid rise in glucose levels. Insulin's job is to help cells absorb the glucose and store it as fat for when your body needs energy later. Because the sucrose is introducing pure glucose into the body, the amount of insulin produced is overwhelming. Your liver and muscles can store some of it, but much of it will get converted into fat, your body's energy storage facility.
While that burst of energy provided by refined sugar might be good for someone performing incredibly strenuous activity, like a firefighter running up several flights of stairs or an athlete preparing for a race, for most of us it just starts a vicious cycle of insulin resistance and sugar cravings. Insulin resistance causes cells to say, “Whoa, no more glucose.” Since the cells aren't opening their doors, the body actually produces more insulin to try to stabilize glucose levels.
The bottom line is that high insulin levels build fat. That's why refined carbohydrates and table sugar, as well as high fructose corn syrup, make you fat even when they are fat free. Of course, this type of insulin regulation disorder can eventually cause Type 2 Diabetes and possibly affect heart function.
It doesn't stop there. Insulin plays an important role in regulating brain function. An inability to properly process insulin can potentially lead to psychological disorders like depression, anxiety, and memory loss. Did you ever eat a pint of ice cream because you were depressed, only to have it make you feel even more depressed? I'm not saying that the results are that instant, but the long-term correlation is there and being studied more thoroughly by mental health researchers.
Sucrose and Breastfeeding
While many nursing mothers crave sugar, it's better to grab an apple than a slice of cake. When your blood sugar spikes as a result of eating something filled with sucrose, your nursing baby's blood sugar will spike, too. Babies are not well-equipped to manage blood sugar spikes, and the unstable insulin production can interrupt the development of healthy physical and cognitive function.
The high levels of sugar in the breast milk can also cause early tooth decay, according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association. This is especially true for babies nursed longer than twelve months. Breast milk with high sugar content also increases the risk of thrush, a yeast infection caused by the high acid levels present in sugar.
Why is Natural Sugar Better?
The natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables have a different chemical makeup. Fruit sugar is simply fructose, which must be broken down into sucrose and glucogen by the pancreas before it can be used as energy or stored in the fat cells. This is why natural sugars rank lower on the glycemic index than sucrose. It takes your body time to turn natural sugar into glucogen to be used by your cells, so insulin doesn't have to rush in to balance suddenly high glucose levels.
When you consume healthy amounts of natural sugars from fruits, your body doesn't need to spike its insulin production. Just as high levels of insulin are directly related to weight gain, low levels of insulin help keep you lean.
Furthermore, it's widely recognized among the medical community that eating lots of fruits and vegetables keeps your heart healthy, your blood pressure and cholesterol down, and your mind clear. Not only is fructose a healthier form of sugar, the fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that a spoonful of sugar will definitely not give you.
Satisfying the Sweet Tooth
Even' the healthiest people want to indulge in a little something sweet once in a while, and in fact those cravings are your body's way of telling you it needs energy! But don't fuel it with calories that aren't just empty, but potentially dangerous to your health. Instead, appease your sugar craving with healthy alternatives like dates, dried cherries, dried apricots, coconut, nut butters, and a nearly unlimited variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Once you switch to these healthier alternatives, you'll start to notice that sucrose-based desserts like ice cream, candy bars, and cookies taste sickly sweet. Instead, you'll crave apples and almond butter, and your body will thank you for it.
Turner, Joel. Sugar's Negative Effect on Our Brains. Kale University. 17 May 2012.http://kaleuniversity.org/6231-sugars-negative-effect-on-our-brains/
Griffin, Sharon. The Effects of Sugar on Breastfed Babies. Livestrong. 28 March 2011.http://www.livestrong.com/article/69073-effects-sugar-breastfed-babies/
Ketterer C, Tschritter O, Preissl H, Heni M, Häring HU, Fritsche A. Insulin sensitivity of the human brain. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;93 Suppl 1:S47-51. doi: 10.1016/S0168-8227(11)70013-4. Review. PubMed PMID: 21864751. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21864751
National Institute of Mental Health: Diabetes and Depression. PsychCentral.http://psychcentral.com/lib/2008/diabetes-and-depression/all/1/
Effect of Fruit and Vegetables on Insulin Resistance. NIH Clinical Trial.http://clinicaltrialsfeeds.org/clinical-trials/show/NCT00874341