Until recently, the methods of postnatal care in our society were robust and undiluted. No amount of modernity could tamper with it. However, when it finally caved, it was to the busyness of our lives these days. When mothers no longer have time or leisure to breastfeed the baby, the obvious choice is to switch to infant formulas that would provide the baby with adequate nourishment.
Our elders often tell us that there is no replacement for mother’s milk. However, this is only partially correct. Recent developments in the field of nutrition have discovered that if we add prebiotics to instant formulas, it comes close enough to the benchmark, which is breast milk. How? Let us break it down for you.
Breast Milk and Instant Formula
Other than being a great bonding experience, breastfeeding is good for both mother and child. Breast milk has natural antibodies that protect babies from infections and sickness. It is ideal for the delicate gut lining and the sensitive digestive system of babies. It is digested easily and is less likely to cause constipation and gas. Breast milk has components that can stimulate the cognitive functions in babies, thereby working as a catalyst for brain development. Breast milk influences the health of a baby by lowering the risk of several diseases such as asthma and diabetes even in the future.
When breastfeeding is not a viable option, mothers choose infant formulas. Baby formulas gained popularity due to the flexibility and convenience they offer. Their composition is similar to that of breast milk and is often enriched with vitamins and nutrients beneficial for babies. However, formulas always fell short because they couldn’t match the composition of breast milk. Having natural antibodies and promoting digestion were benefits breast milk had over infant formulas.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that induce the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut and aid digestion. The good bacteria play a significant role in our digestive health as well as immunity. They help to improve digestion and inhibit the growth of pathogens. In addition to that, studies have shown that prebiotics also help in boosting brain activity when the products of prebiotic fermentation influence the neural pathway between the gut and the brain. Dietary fibers are a good source of prebiotic oligosaccharides, but they are also available in the market as supplements.
Benefits of Having Prebiotics in Formulas
Both breast milk and infant formulas have their own advantages. However, you might not want to start your parenting journey with compromises. The solution, then, is to find common ground. The dilemma of choosing between breast milk and instant formula can now be resolved by opting for infant formula infused with prebiotics. This will make up for the absence of antibodies, as well as promote digestion in babies. According to a recent study by researchers in the Department of Animal Sciences, Division of Nutritional Sciences, and Neuroscience Program at University of Illinois, there are other added advantages to this. Infant formulas with prebiotics were shown to have a positive effect on brain chemistry. This could aid memory and learning in the baby, resulting in faster cognitive development (1). Infant formulas supplemented with prebiotics influence the microbial activity in the gut, similar to the effect breast milk has.
Infant formulas with prebiotics effectively bridge the gap between breast milk and infant formula. By bringing together the natural goodness of breast milk with the convenience and ease of formulas, these pose as the next best thing available to busy parents. These could also ease the stress surrounding the right nutrition and the good health of babies.