Breast milk is nature's gift to babies. It is the first thing they drink when they are born and it is what sustains them until they are 6 months old. It is well known that a baby doubles its birth weight by four months and trebles it by the time they are a year old. This is a period when the human baby grows the most in the shortest period of time. When the baby's body develops, organs, brain everything develops with it.
So if the baby is exclusively on breastmilk, what is in it that facilitates this rapid growth?
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Composition of breastmilk
Now that we know all the components of breastmilk what is in it that facilitates this rapid development? It is important to understand what facilitates baby to grow at such a rapid pace. We know that proteins are the building blocks that support human growth and development. Proteins play a fundamental role in building a strong foundation for your baby’s healthy development and hence are rightly the ‘bricks of life’.
What do proteins in breastmilk do?
1. Impact of proteins on digestion and excretion:
The composition of breastmilk, the first milk that baby drinks is 80% whey and 20% casein. This becomes 60% whey and 40% casein gradually. A fun fact moms don’t usually know, is that breastmilk changes its composition to adapt to a growing baby’s needs. When the baby is born, breastmilk is 80% whey to help make it extremely easy for the baby’s tummy to break down and digest breastmilk. It changes its composition as baby’s tummy develops and it better able to digest breastmilk.
These proteins are found in a partially hydrolysed state, which means that they are not taxing on the baby’s developing gut. It also contains certain enzymes which help digest proteins in baby’s stomach.
2. Impact of protein on the immune system:
- Breastmilk changes in composition when the baby is sick too! Breastmilk contains components from the mother’s immune system that transfers immunity to the baby, helping the infant to strengthen their natural or ‘inborn’ immunity.
- Breastfed babies have stronger immune systems and have a lower risk of getting colds, coughs and recurrent ear infections. Proteins can contribute to support your baby’s immune system and build a strong foundation for healthy development.
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3. Protein and healthy growth and weight gain:
Experts have recently discovered that the quality and quantity of proteins may influence your child’s health later on. Appropriate amounts of proteins – not too little but also not too much – can help reduce your child’s risk of becoming obese when he or she reaches school age.
With so many essential functions, proteins are no doubt, extremely important for the proper growth and functioning of the body. But that doesn’t mean loading up on proteins to ensure faster growth. The quality and quantity of proteins consumed goes a long way in preparing the body for optimum growth and ensures there is no risk of developing health risks later on in life. The early years are easy. Breastmilk provides the perfect amount of proteins for the growing baby and creates a strong foundation for baby to nurture full potential.
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This post is written in association with Nestle Start Healthy Stay Healthy.