Brain Health Benefits of Breast Feeding
Major infant brain growth occurs during pregnancy and during the first two years of life, which makes it important for parents to feed their babies proper nutrition between birth and two years old. During this stage in their lives, babies have the greatest need for DHA, an omega-3 fat that is a major structural fat in the brain and accounts for up to 97 percent of the omega-3 fats in the brain.
Mothers who breast-feed can provide their babies with DHA by taking it themselves. DHA is not naturally produced in the body, so it’s important that breastfeeding women consume a healthy diet that includes DHA omega-3 to support both their health and the health of their developing infant.
According to Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. and author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, Most women do not get enough DHA in their diets. The primary source of this omega-3 fat is fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, which are not staples in the Western diet.
“Fortunately, there are easy ways for nursing moms to consume more DHA,” said Elizabeth. “Certain prenatal products and DHA-fortified foods are making it easier for women who are breastfeeding to include this important nutrient in their diets every day.”
Here are a few of Elizabeth’s favorite DHA-packed products for nursing mothers:
- Mission Life Balance Whole Wheat Tortillas are fortified with a vegetarian and sustainable source of DHA. Use them to make a sandwich wrap with fresh turkey, lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard.
- Take Expecta LIPIL DHA Supplement for Moms to help add DHA to your daily diet.
- Go Italian and make a bowl of tomato pasta with DHA-fortified Francesco Rinaldi’s ToBe Healthy Pasta Sauce. Be creative and add your favorite veggies, such as spinach, carrots and red peppers.