Mother’s milk is still best for baby. In this age of infant formulas and working mothers, this admonishment continues to be told.
Morever, mother has to keep fit and eat right for the sake of baby. Mothers looking for more nutritional ways to improve theirs and their baby?s health would be glad to know that a tropical fruit has wonderful health-enhancing properties that would benefit their breast milk. This fruit is the coconut.
The coconut had always been a reliable cure-all for mothers in tropical countries. In Samoa for example, a mother who has just given birth is given a coconut porridge dish called vaisalo. It is made from young coconut meat and juice, and starch. Vaisalo nourishes the mother and enables her to start an abundant and quick flow of her milk.
What the Samoans have known long ago is only now proven by Western medicine as a truly effective and health practice. What scientists have discovered is that the coconut oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) which improve the absorption of nutrients already existing in the mother’s diet. The MCFA enables the absorption of minerals, magnesium and calcium, some of the B vitamins, the fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, K and beta carotene, and some amino acids.
Thus, a mother who has consciously eaten the right foods can be sure that the nutrients will be absorbed in her milk and therefore ingested by her baby.
Natural fats in milk
A mother who has consciously eaten the right foods can be sure that the nutrients will be absorbed in her milk and therefore ingested by her baby.
MCFA is naturally found in mother’s milk. But it can be as low as three or four percent. Eating coconut products can increase the levels of MCFAs significantly. The more MCFAs in the mother’s diet will further ensure that more nutrients will go to her milk.
A study featured in the journal Indian Pediatr by Vaidya, U.V. et al, has shown that low birth weight infants who were given infant formulas containing MCFAs gained weight quicker than a group of infants who were not given the MCFA formula. The study cited that the weight gain was due to physical growth and not fat storage.
Aside from the increased amount of nutrients, more MCFAs from the coconut also increase the lauric acid in the mother?s milk. Lauric acid is known to provide protection for the baby from harmful microbes. Along with capric and caprylic acids also present in the MCFAs, mother?s milk is fortified with the widest and strongest germ-killing effect.
No wonder the coconut is a recently much appreciated fruit by nutritionists. Mothers in the tropics and Asia avail of this fruit in the local markets and groceries. But for those who don?t live in the tropics and in Asia, virgin coconut oil extracted from coconut meat, containing the much needed MCFAs, can be availed of in groceries.
Increase MCFA in your milk
A nursing mother who eats 40 grams (about 3 tablespoons) of coconut oil in one meal can temporarily increase the lauric acid in her milk from 3.9 to 9.6 percent after 14 hours, according to a 1998 study by Francois, C.A. et. al published in Am J Clin Nutr. Caprylic and capric acids are also increased.
This increase would enhance the protective nature of the milk and provide a high percentage of easily digestible fatty acids that can promote growth and development.
Mothers who include coconut products in their daily diet can increase the MCFA content in their milk to as much as 18 percent, according to the study.
Mothers who do not include coconut products in their diet before giving birth and while nursing can only produce about three percent lauric acid and one percent capric acid from their mammary glands. This of course translates to lessened nutrition and poor anti-microbial protection for the baby.
Take the case of one nursing mother who realized the MCFA’s importance as cited in the Bruce Fife, N.D. book Coconut Cures:
She had difficulties when she had her ninth baby; the baby was not gaining weight as fast as should be.
“My youngest fell way off the growth curve my other [children] had typically followed.” she said. She also had to deal with postpartum depression. Her local naturopathic doctor suggested that she take virgin coconut oil as part of her medication.
“He told me that it was very possible that since I’d had so many children, nursed most of them, and probably ate the typical American diet (which is unfortunately true), I could very easily not have enough good fats in my system and that could be affecting the quality of my milk.” she said.
Within two months of her taking virgin coconut oil, her baby gained three pounds. Three months later, she gained three more pounds. Her pediatrician was surprised about the dramatic weight gain of her baby. She had to tell the doctor that it was the virgin coconut oil that did it.
This is the reason why virgin coconut oil is a recommended treatment for malnutrition among children. In a study conducted among malnourished preschool children in the Philippines, coconut oil was shown to be superior to soybean oil as a supplement. One group of children whose diet included coconut oil were observed to have gained weight faster and had improved nutritional levels. The group which had soyabean oil for supplement lagged behind in weight gain and nutrition level.
The 1992 study published by Intengan, C.L.I, et al in the Philipp J Intern Med cited coconut oil?s ability to make more nutrients out of the foods taken by the schoolchildren made the difference. Taken with a well-prepared diet, coconut oil acts like a multivitamin and mineral supplement.
The child’s health is after all a reflection of the mother’s health habits.
Becoming aware of the nutritional content of your diet is a must for pregnant and lactating mothers. The proliferation of sweets, refined grains, processed vegetable oils, foods already stripped of natural vitamins and nutrients, has caused unbalanced diets among mothers and children who rely solely on these foods. Pregnant women especially need to be more careful in planning their diets because their unborn child needs nutrients to grow and develop. The mother who does not eat the right diet may end up being depleted of nutrients.
Eliminating junk foods, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, taking a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement, and taking coconut oil daily are important steps towards a healthy diet.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administation. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition.
You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program.