breastfeeding graphichhs.gov breastfeeding

If you guessed breastmilk, you’re right.  Just in time for National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, Tom Frieden, M.D., Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced that “babies who are breastfed have lower risks of ear and gastrointestinal infections, diabetes and obesity, and mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers.”  Talk about an easy and loving way to stay well!

But wait – the news gets better. Research published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, shows that breastfeeding also improves children’s vocabulary, memory and learning — long after breastfeeding stops.

The researchers also found that lactating women who consumed more than two servings of fish per week, had babies with improved visual motor abilities. That’s because a woman’s diet influences the nutritional quality of her breastmilk, and certain species of fish are especially high in omega-3 fats, which are critical for optimal brain development.

However, fortified organic milk, and organic milk and meat from pasture-raised cows also provide omega-3s.  In fact, you could say that if breastmilk is the world’s first best milk, then organic milk, because of its higher omega-3 content, and other advantages (no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or GMO ingredients) is the world’s second best milk.

How we nourish our children from pregnancy and beyond affects their lifelong health.  A recent report from the University of  Washington, for example,  shows that diet ranks number one in preventing chronic disease.  Fruits and vegetables are especially protective, but  organic produce provides additional benefit, due to reduced exposure to pesticide residues. Even the  President’s Cancer Panel Report recommends choosing foods grown without pesticides, and recognizes children’s greater susceptibility to harm from pesticides.

Mothers provide children’s “first environment.” But organic farmers protect that environment by caring for our natural resources, producing truly healthful food, and safeguarding the world’s first and second best milk.

 

Learn more about protecting children’s environments with Penelope Jagessar Chaffer on Food Sleuth Radio.