Facts and Myth of Most Common Alternative Uses of Breast Milk

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We all know that breast milk is often refer as “liquid gold” but do you know why? It’s not because the color of the milk looks like gold but it is the price of breast milk cost more (400x more) than crude oil per ounce in weight.  Hence the liquid gold term. Crazy isn’t it. Not only breast milk is the superb choice to feed our precious little ones but it has many benefits for both baby and mother as we already know.

Though, there’s always the common advice from breastfeeding and mom’s support group suggesting other uses of breast milk to cure infant common illness (ear infection, pink eye, blocked tear ducts etc). So, let’s examine what actually works based on research studies.

Myth: Breast feeding / Breast Milk can prevent or cure ear infection

Facts: Breast feeding will reduces the risk of getting ear infection. Not completely prevented it.  On the other hand, dropping a few breast milk into the ear of the baby during ear infection doesn’t support by the research. Most ear infection (otitis media) is a middle ear infection, which is behind the ear drums. So, the breast milk doesn’t reach the inflamed area behind the ear drum to be beneficial to treat it. However, if the infection is an outer ear infection (swimmer’s ear), then breast milk will work. Remember one important fact is that most ear infection will clear on its own within 48-72 hours without antibiotic treatment. If your child has recurrent/frequent ear infection, it is best to seek medical advice.

Myth: Breast milk is great for atopic eczema/ diaper rash

Facts: Truth ! Yes, breast milk has been proven in a randomized clinical trial (Kasrae et al 2015 and Farahani et al 2013) treat atopic eczema and diaper rash respectively. Breast milk works just as effective as the 1% hydrocortisone cream. So, you can definitely try dabbing a few drops of breast milk to the affected area.  One side note is that this will only works on infant with mild to moderate atopic eczema (or dermatitis) and bacteria diaper rash. If the diaper rash are caused by yeast, breast milk will make it worse due to the milk sugar content.

Myth: Breast milk can be use to treat conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Facts: Maybe. Mixed review noted in two separate research done in 2012 (studies in British) and 2014 (studies in Iran with neonatal infant). Breastmilk was noted to be effective in inhibiting growth on gonorrhea, which is the most common bacteria that causes pink eye. However, when comparing to antibiotic ointment, breastmilk comes in second. So, if you live in a rural area without quick access to medical care, then breast milk will not be a bad idea and will not hurt your infant.

Myth: Breast milk can help clear block tear ducts

Facts: False claims. There’s a studies published in the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics in 2007 indicates that most blocked tear ducts cleared on its own with or without treatment. However, if you do choose to use breast milk vs antibiotic, it is probably safe as well. Just make sure to clean the gunk from the infant eyes and massage the corner of the eye with warm compress.

Myth: Breast milk can help with infant acne and adults too

Facts: Likely ! Studies have shown that breast milk contains lauric acid, which is a component to help combating acne. Put a few drops of fresh breast milk on the baby’s acne area, leave it air dry for about 10 minutes, then clean the face with some water. As breast milk contains lactose (milk sugar), which may cause the face becoming sticky and causing other irritation to occurs.

Myth: Breast milk is great for sore nipple

Facts: Although there’s no research to back this up but it has been the gold standard from breastfeeding organization (Le Leche) across the world to recommend hand express a few drops of breast milk and apply around the areola area to lubricate to prevent drying and cracking of the nipple.

Well, as you can see breast milk really is a powerful resource. Even the latest research has shown positive association between breast milk properties with cancer treatment and C-difficile. More clinical trials are underway !

Hope you all enjoyed this findings as much as I did. As a mom, I’ve tried it all and some works better than the other. Just remember, even though breast milk is great for many uses, it still harbor quite a lot of bacteria in them, most of them are beneficial to the gut of babies. Make sure to practice good hygiene when hand expressing and storage to reduce as much contamination as possible.

 

 

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Raising Adventurous Young Eater

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A lot of parent appears to be in a lot of constant struggle (including myself) with their children when it comes to eating.  Every day is different, they can be the best eater one day and the next is “NO, NO, NO” for all the foods they used to like before, leaving parent scratching their heads.

I believed that eating is a learned behavior and we can foster that sophisticated palate at a very young age.  What is young you ask?  The answer is infancy (Day 1) You can expose your infant to different flavor through your breast milk. How neat is that?!?!  Mother’s breast milk changes according to the types of food she’s eating. So, the more variety of foods you eat, the more complex taste your milk will be and the baby is less likely to reject new foods later on as they already are familiar with the flavor .

Well, formula mamas don’t get discouraged either, any duration of breastfeeding you can provide still shows good benefits and reduces their risk of becoming a picky eater when they reach pre-school age.  Remember: Any breastfeeding is better than nothing. You can still teach your young child to eat a variety of foods when they are starting complimentary foods (right about 6 months of age).

Here’s a few tips that can get you started:

DINING ATMOSPHERE

The eating environment for your child should be enjoyable.  No distraction of TV, video games, phone and tablet. All electronics to be turn off at meal time. Meal time should be around the same time everyday. Kids does well with routine and it does take about 6-7 weeks to build up a new habit. All family members needs to sit down at the table and eat together. Everyone needs to eat the same food (correct texture and consistency for the young infant), family style. Let the children pick and choose what they wanted, at least all food should be sampled.  No yelling, shouting or force feeding as we don’t want your kid to associate eating with bad experiences.

ROLE MODEL

Baby and toddler are smart, they observe adults behavior and emulate them. They also learn to manipulate the parent so they get what they wanted. So parent needs to be consistent (Both mom and dad) in relaying the same message for their kids when it comes to food and eating. If you are not an adventurous eating, please don’t expect that your child will eat everything you ask them to.  Be a role model for your children, eat and try new food in front of them.

IT TAKES MORE THAN ONE TRY

The key is “Try new food”, it takes repetition of 9-10 tries of introduction of the same food before the kid will accept/like them.  Just because they don’t like it in the beginning, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t try it again. Sometimes is the texture they don’t like, so be in tune with the types of foods your child enjoys.

HAVE FUN WHILE LEARNING

For young children less than 3 years old, let them play with the food.  It’s going to be messy but allowing the children to play with food will reduces their anxiety of eating them later on. Set them up on high chair or booster seat and teach them about the food, play (brush their teeth with it, splash, smash, tear) and then show them how you cook with it in food later on.

Take them to grocery stores and let them pick a new food (preferably fresh foods, not processed) from the isle and both of you can explore together what to make using it. Making food into fun shapes and sizes with cookie cutter would work too.

Educate your young child why the food is good for them, whether it be strong bones, good vision, become a super hero that they admires or becoming strong and tall like the athletes they wanted to become or grow tall enough to get to the rides in adventure parks.

DON’T SKIMP ON FLAVOR

Food doesn’t have to be bland. It can have some flavor.  Infant less than one year old is best to stay away from salt but you can include other herbs and spice (Not spicy) to amp up the flavor of foods. But, if your children prefers bland food, that’s ok too, as long as they are open in trying different foods.

 

NO SNACKING 1 1/2-2 HOURS BEFORE MEAL TIME

Children stomach capacity is small. If they snack too close to meal time, then they wouldn’t be hungry at meal time. Then you’ll be struggling to even get him/her to take a bite of food, but then later at bedtime they will be asking for cereal when they become hungry.  Occasionally that’s ok when you don’t want to deal with power struggle with your stubborn child (we are all human after all).  However, if it continuous, then the children will learn that it’s acceptable for him/her not to eat lunch/dinner because he/she will get to snacks all day and eat their favorite cereal at bedtime.

REWARD SYSTEM

Kids thrive on being praise and feeling proud of themselves. So, if they eat a new food, reward them with things they like to do, whether it be a chocolate/ice cream after meal or 20-30 minutes more play time with his/her favorite activities.

Bottom line:

  • Breastfeeding from Day 1.
  • Let the young kids explore with food, have fun while doing it.
  • Don’t make separate meals to cater to them. Eat together as a family.
  • Be persistent, consistent and patience.  Routine is your best friend !

 

Is Probiotic Safe for Babies/Toddler?

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You’ve probably heard all the good things about probiotic for adults and then you started wondering if it will benefit your babies and young children as well.  The short answer to this question is YES!  Although the research on safety on probiotics for infants are limited but of all the available research out there, side effects are rarely reported.

What are Probiotic exactly ? Probiotic are the “good bacteria” itself that’s helps with our digestive system and with consumption will enhance the health of the host (a.k.a -human). It may also improve outcome of pregnancy, certain intestinal problem such as irritable bowel problem or antibiotic associated diarrhea.  Probiotic often shows up on food as “live culture” such as yogurt, cheese, kefir, or probiotic drink (such as Yakult). Probiotic also presents in the non-dairy products such as fermented foods – Kimchi, tempeh, miso, natto beans, sauerkraut, Kombucha to name a few.

Of course we don’t anticipate young infants (<6 months of age) to eat all this probiotic foods but guess what ?! Human milk is full of probiotic properties (specifically Bifidobacterium Infantis) that was discovered in the intestinal tract of babies, which is the reason why breastfeeding infant does not get sick as often compared to formula fed babies.

If you are formula feeding your babies, don’t feel guilty. You have done the best you could to provide what you can either first few days, weeks or months of available breast milk to help your baby kick start a better immune system.  There’s also probiotic formula available on the shelf these days, mostly labeled as “Formula for supplementing”.

Also, don’t get confused between prebiotic and probiotic. There’s a big differences.

What are Prebiotic? Prebiotic are non-digestible dietary fibers that fuel the good bacteria in our gut (a.k.a bacteria’s food). The more of prebiotics that we consume, the more gut flora will grow and stays to help keep us healthy.  Prebiotic also helps produces vitamin B, helps with calcium digestion and absorption as well. Good prebiotic sources includes: Artichoke/Jerusalem Artichoke, chicory roots, leeks, garlic, onions, asparagus, banana, whole wheat products, scallions, apples and legumes.

Therefore, once your babies reaches the age to introduce solids. Try to introduce as much prebiotic food sources in their diet to help colonize their little gut with the good bacteria and ward off illness as much as possible. When prebiotic and probiotic combined, they are a dynamic pair to keep the digestive system healthy.

I always recommend to get your probiotic sources from food before opting for the pill forms.

 

 

 

Monthly CSA Updates

It’s been more than a month since I joined the CSA and has been very pleased with my weekly produce that I picked out.  Most of the time is the same type of veggies that I eat all the time but I tried to be a little bit adventurous from time to time to pick a vegetables that I’m don’t usually cook at home such as patty pan squash, lemon cucumbers and swiss chard.

I enjoyed all the seasonal produce that are available weekly at the farm stand where I picked up my small share.  They are fresh, delicious and worth the extra money that I paid for instead of sifting through the produce isle in the store.

One surprised thing was that my daughter even know that each week I will bring home the “goodies bag”. As soon she sees the red bag I brought home, she immediately says “Mama…strawberries !” and start digging through the bag.  I enjoyed letting her discover all the produce and using it as a tool to teach her the fruits and vegetables that are healthy for her.

2016-06-30-17-00-53
Week 3: Strawberries, cucumber, patty pan squash, carrots, plums, italian kale, & garlic.      New Menu Item: Roasted patty pan squash & Asian Cucumber Salad
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Week 4: Swiss Chard, Cauliflower, Lemon Cucumber, Strawberries, Plums, Carrots, Zucchini.           New Menu Item: Swiss Chard with spaghetti & meat sauce,  Lemon Cucumber Salad
2016-07-14-17-16-30
Week 5: Italian Kale, Eggplant, Cauliflower, Plums, Strawberries, Zucchini, Basil                 New Menu Item: Basil Eggplant Stir Fry

 

Shellfish Safe for Babies too ? Oh Yes !

Can baby have shellfish ? Of course, as long as your child is not at high risk for shellfish allergies (as in you and your partner and families doesn’t have shellfish allergies) then try to introduce the shellfish to your babies diet once they have developed a good chewing and swallowing skills (8-9 months onward is usually safe after most complementary foods has been introduced, and as long as proper textures is provided).  American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that you no longer have to wait till one year old to introduce seafood shellfish and crustaceans.  If you still aren’t sure, check in with your child’s pediatrician for advice.

So, where should you start ? Try clams, it has a milder taste compared to all the other shellfish such as oyster and mussels. Plus, clams has many good nutrients that are good for your child’s development.

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Clams are a good source of following nutrients:

PROTEIN
We already know protein is important as it’s a building blocks of all of our body cells structure.  Adequate intake of protein will help maintain our muscle mass and it’s important to help in children’s growth and development.

VITAMIN B12 
B12 is an essential for DNA and nerve cells formation. It is also an important vitamins to help prevent anemia. How much B12 you require is based on your age. According to National Institute of Health (NIH) the requirement for young infants (Birth to 12 months = 0.4-0.5 mcg/day), children age 1-8 (0.9-1.2 mcg/day), children age 9-13 (1.8 mcg/day), Teenager and adult are the same at 2.4 mcg/day. Pregnant and lactating women needs slightly higher intake at 2.6-2.8 mcg/day.

ZINC
Zinc helps with our immune system, reproductive health, wound healing and cell formations. It is required for proper taste and smell too.

SELENIUM
Selenium is a trace elements that plays an important role in DNA synthesis and protection from oxidation damage and infection. Research has shown that selenium can help with certain cancer prevention, brain function, thyroid and heart disease.

OMEGA-3 Fatty Acids
DHA and EPA are the two commonly known Omega-3 fatty acids that helps with heart disease. How? It helps lowering the triglycerides level in the blood stream.  DHA is an important nutrients to help with brain development, especially in growing children.  It is also believed to help with Alzheimer’s and dementia as well.

Based on USDA nutrient database, a pound of clams with shell would yield about 2 oz meat that contain:

Energy 84 calories
Protein 15 g
Fat
(Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
1.1 g

222 mg

Carbohydrates 3 g
 Minerals/Vitamins
Zinc  1.6 mg (20% RDA)
Calcium 52 mg (6% RDA)
Selenium 36 mg (52% RDA)
Phosphorus 192 mg  (20% RDA)
Manganese 0.6 mg (28% RDA)
Potassium 356 mg  (10% RDA)
Vitamin B 12 56 mg ( 922% RDA)
Vitamin C 12 mg (20% RDA)
Niacin 1.8 mg (10% RDA)
Riboflavin 0.2 mg (14% RDA)

How to Clean Clams?

Cleaning clam doesn’t require a lot of work. Once you’ve purchase clams from reputable sources (reputable fish market to get the fresh one) you’ll need to soak them in some salt water solution to make the clam spit out the sand and impurities – so called “Purging clams”. Most US retailers already pre-purge their clams, and you can still do it at home for a precautionary step just because I really hate biting into clam that has sands as it will ruin the taste and eating experience for sure.

How to cook Clams ? 

You can steam, boiled, sauteed, broiled, baked, stir fry and/or use it to make soups.  For young babies, you just make sure to chopped it small or minced it  cause clams tends to be chewy in texture.  Check out my clam recipes here.

Caution : 
Any seafood and shellfish consumption does carry a certain level of risk to exposure of environmental toxin (E.coli, Norovirus and also bacteria that can cause hepatitis A). Therefore, always always buy from reputable sources. Shellfish always have to fresh until it’s cooked. It should be shiny, closed (well sealed), no cracks, and smells like the sea. If you smell the fishy odor, likely it’s no longer fresh.

DID YOU KNOW ?
Clams are actually sustainable foods !

Based on Seafood Health Facts organization, Clams represent one of our nation’s most sustainable seafood resources. Natural production remains strong and exceeds demand, and farmed production is improving and expanding. The ocean based resource of surf and mahogany clams is managed under a Surf Clam–Ocean Quahog Management Plan and the resource is healthy. Other clam species are primarily harvested in state waters (up to 3 miles from shore) and are managed by state fishery management programs. Clams are a good example of a sustainable resource because they are dependent on clean and healthy waters, and are effectively managed at the local level. They are an important part of a healthy ecosystem because their active filtering can help improve or maintain water quality.