Following on from my recent post on our experience of tandem nursing, I have been promising to share one of the recipes I used to boost my energy, health and production of milk. It is so important for all lactating women to eat healthy foods which can replenish the nutrients that are constantly being used to make milk. As a vegan, breastfeeding two young babies, I was extra vigilant about eating well to maintain a full supply of milk and stay in good health myself. In the early days of breastfeeding two infants, I drank the following smoothie daily:
Breastfeeding Mama’s Super-Smoothie
I make no claims to be a medical professional or nutritionist I found the following information that seems to back up my instinctual choice of these ingredients:
Coconut milk is close to human breast milk in its pH, and fat and nutrient content and is also a good source of calcium, manganese, selenium, zinc and iron. Interesting coconut milk and breast milk are two of the most abundant natural sources of lauric acid which is considered antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal.
Herbalist, wellness practitioner and researcher in human development Cori Young says:
A study published in 1998 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that lactating mothers who eat coconut oil and other coconut products, have significantly increased levels of lauric acid and capric acid in their breast milk. Thus, the milk supply has increased amounts of the protective antimicrobials , which will give even greater protection to the nursing infant.
Pregnant females store fat to assure successful lactation. Any lauric acid and capric acid in the diet becomes part of the adipose stores. The milk fat of a lactating mother is made up of these stores as well as her current diet. If her diet doesn’t contain lauric acid, then generally her milk fat will contain around 3% lauric acid and round 1% capric acid.
When a lactating woman adds foods rich in lauric acid to her diet, the amount of lauric acid available in her breastmilk increases substantially to levels three times the original level and nearly double the amount of capric acid. In countries where coconut oil is a diet staple, levels of lauric acid in the mother’s milk can be as high as 21% and capric acid can be as high as 6% giving her infant even more protection against viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. (source: here)
Avocados are considered by many to be one of natures superfoods. They are nutrient dense providing a wide range of vitamins and minerals including Vitamins K, C, A, E & many B vitamins, as well as Potassium and Magnesium. They are high in dietary fibre and, according to some sources, provide all of the essential amino acids needed to be obtained through food.
About two-thirds of your brain is composed of fats. Myelin, the protective sheath that covers communicating neurons, is composed of 30% protein and 70% fat. One of the most common fatty acids in myelin is oleic acid, which is also the most abundant fatty acid in human milk and in our diet.
Monosaturated oleic acid is the main component of olive oil as well as the oils from almonds, pecans, macadamias, peanuts, and avocados.
Bananas are high in vitamins B6 and C, pottasium, manganese and dietary fibre.
According to eMedTV Vitamin B6 helps the immune system produce antibodies. Women need 1.6 milligrams of B6 every day, and men need 2 milligrams. Breastfeeding women have a higher need for vitamin B6 compared to most other adults (including pregnant women).
An article found on the website of the Bastyr Center for Natural Health reads:
Vitamin B6 Important for Developing Infants, Mothers
The amount of vitamin B6 in a woman’s breast milk may influence the development of her infant, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (2002;102:1433–8). The mother’s vitamin B6 intake affects the amount found in her breast milk, and higher amounts in the milk are associated with improvements in learning capacity and central nervous system function.
Read the rest of the article here
For a fuller explanation of the nutrients in bananas and their many health benefits see the website of ‘The George Mateljan Foundation for the World’s Healthiest Foods’
A good source of natural DHA and alpha linolenic acid. Kelly Mom, one of the best websites I’ve found on breastfeeding, explains much more about DHA, alpha linolenic acid and their foods sources here
Dates are perfect for sweetening smoothies and other treats as they add natural sugars along with a range of other nutrients (unlike sugar or refined sweeteners)
According to e-How Health:
Dates are filled with a variety of nutrients such as calcium, sulfur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium. The fruit also boasts a variety of vitamins including Vitamin A1, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, and 20 different kinds of amino acids, which aid in the digestive process.
Read more of the article: What Is the Nutritional Value of Dates? here
I’ve been using Spirulina infrequently for many years and was told by a friend that it helped boost breastmilk production. With it’s super dose of nutrients in just a small amount of the product it’s easy to see why that’s probably true. With all is purported health benefits, I now add Spirulina in smoothies for my little ones too!
Wikipedia says that Spirulina is:
Shown to be a rich source of Essential fatty acids: gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and also provides alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), linoleic acid (LA), stearidonic acid (SDA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA).
Spirulina also contains vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinamide), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin E
So as well as tasting great, it seems like this smoothie also packs a good nutritional boost too and I’d recommend it to anyone, pregnant, lactating, vegan or not! I love smoothies and you can read some of my other recipes here and here. Let me know if you enjoy it and what other super-smoothies you make.
For more on maternal health and nutrition during breastfeeding read this article written by a team of medical doctors.