Sally Errey, RNCP
Breast is Bestfor Antioxidants
Why breastfeed? The benefits to babies include enhanced immunity, complete and balanced
nourishment, more efficient digestion, optimal brain development, and mother-child bonding. Mothers also benefit from faster recovery, postpartum weight loss, a sense of well-being and relaxation, and even reduced risk of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.
New research from the Children's Hospital at Sanliurfa, Turkey (Nutrition 2006), now shows that breast milk has more antioxidant power than a formula made from cow's milk. For the study, which observed healthy term infants from three to six months of age, different markers were recorded, such as the total antioxidant capacities of the plasma, bilirubin, albumin, and vitamin C. Total antioxidant capacity and vitamin C levels were found to be significantly higher in the infants who were breastfed. Indicators of oxidative stress (the opposite of antioxidant activity) were also higher in those fed with the formula. The researchers concluded that breast milk provides greater antioxidant power with less free-radical stress.
Medical research is now discovering what mothers have known for millennia breast milk is a natural food for life.
Phytoestrogens Boost Fertility
Infertility is an increasingly common problem defined by the inability to conceive after actively trying for one year, and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is often considered as a solution.
In a study at University Hospital in Perugia, Italy (Fertility & Sterility 2004), women who were undergoing IVF treatment (fertilization of the egg takes place outside the body and is implanted in the uterus) were given progesterone with 1,500 mg of soy isoflavones, while the control group was given progesterone and a placebo. Progesterone is required to assist with the implantation of the embryo in the uterus, and it became apparent that the soy isoflavones assisted with greater fertility and birth success rates.
The study assessed rates of embryo implantation, biochemical pregnancy (based on hormone levels), actual pregnancy (seeing an embryo with heartbeat via ultrasound), miscarriage, and delivery. Women who had received the isoflavones had significantly higher rates of pregnancy and delivery than the control group. Thirty percent of the study group gave birth, compared to 16 percent in those who received no soy supplementation. The soy phytoestrogens, while having no adverse side effects, may have a hormone-like activity in the body and consequently enhance fertility for women in an IVF program. Further study is encouraged to understand how phytoestrogens exert their positive effects.