It’s a well-known fact that nothing beats breast milk for the best infant nutrition. There are times, however, when breast feeding is just not possible and infant formula is used. All of this is a highly personalized choice, but if you are considering infant formula for your baby, then you need to know that some of it can be counterproductive—or even downright detrimental—to your baby’s health.
Just look at the ingredients label on some baby formulas, and you’ll find things like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), hydrogenated oils and conventional cow’s milk. HFCS, for example, can pave the way to weight and other health problems for children. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that people who drank beverages containing HFCS gained more weight than people who ingested the same number of calories a day, but didn’t consume as much HFCS.
The problem starts at the biochemical level. When your baby ingests breast milk as a first food, its natural, healthy sugars tell the brain that the body has eaten enough. Not so with fructose. That’s why it’s so common to overeat. The brain doesn’t get an indicator that the body is satisfyingly full. Unfortunately, the unhealthy cycle of overeating HFCS can continue because the baby now has a “taste” for HFCS—an eating habit that can continue throughout life and lead to an unhealthy weight as well as other problems. Breast milk, however, can set the standard for your baby to enjoy a lifetime of eating right and maintaining good health.
Too much HFCS can also lead to the development of other health problems, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. For instance, HFCS is metabolized by the liver differently than other sugars, leading to unhealthy levels of blood triglycerides and overall cardiovascular unhealth.
Another common ingredient that is found in much higher concentrations in baby formula is manganese. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that soy-based baby formulas contain about 80 times as much manganese as mother’s milk, while animal-based formulas contain about 30 times more manganese. Babies aren’t able to absorb and excrete excess manganese during the first year of life. Additionally, elevated manganese levels have been linked to behavioral problems later in life.
That’s not all, though. Some baby formulas may also contain excessive levels of metals like aluminum, cadmium or lead. The Natural Resources Defense Council says, “In the past, [baby formula] recalls have been ordered because of contamination with substances such as broken glass, fragments of metal, salmonella or other bacteria. The fungal toxin aflatoxin has also been detected in some commercial formulas. Although detected levels were very low, this toxin is known to cause cancer and is not present in breast milk.”
And then there’s the water that is used to mix the formula. Water from the tap—or even some bottled drinking water that isn’t truly pure—can introduce chlorine byproducts, pesticides, lead, solvents, arsenic or nitrates from fertilizer runoff to your baby.
You want only the best for your baby. If breast milk isn’t an option, then please thoroughly check out the ingredients in baby formula before deciding. You can also make your own baby formula as an alternative to commercial baby formula. If you’re interested, here’s a link to my baby formula recipe: