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The human body, when looked at in enough detail, is truly miraculous. A study in 2009 found that human breast milk actually varies its composition throughout the day, sending circadian signals to the infant to help regulate its biology appropriately.

Among many different nutritional factors, the milk varied in composition by providing more cortisol in the daytime and more melatonin at night. Another study has found that, when the baby is ill, the mother's breast milk provides more immune factors to help the infant body to fight off the infection.

Such amazing findings have wide-ranging implications (not the least of which questions the value of infant formula in providing all the 'nutrition', or more accurately information, the baby needs).

Join us on this episode of Objective:Health as we explore the amazing benefits of breast feeding.

And check us out on Brighteon!

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Running Time: 00:32:08

Download: MP3 — 28.9 MB

Here's the transcript of the show:

Erica: Hello, and welcome to the Objective Health Show. I am your host today, Erica. Joining me in our studio are Doug, Elliot, and Tiffany. We have got Damian in the background on the ones-and-twos.


Erica: Thanks everyone for tuning in. We are changing up our format in this new year, 2020. Hopefully it proves to be prosperous. Today we are going to focus on one topic and the topic, as you can see from our visual behind Doug, is human breast milk and babies and how breastfeeding helps babies tell time via circadian signals from mum.

We chose this topic because a recent article which came out which talked about how human breasts milk is actually more than just a meal. It's a clock providing time-of-day information for infants and the importance of proper feeding times. In our modern day culture, for anyone who has young babies, the propensity to pump has become really popular. In the article they were saying 65% of mums now pump, most likely in the US because we have three weeks of maternity leave in the U.S.

Tiffany: If that.

Erica: If that. It's really small. Most mums have to go back to work to pay for this brand new baby that they have. While this technology is great it could have some detrimental side effects for babies. What I find interesting about the article is that it shows that it sets up that circadian clock in people for the rest of their lives. It sets the proper feeding and the difference between morning time milk as opposed to evening time milk. They call it milk influx.

Tiffany: I think pumping your milk is one of those modern day convenience things. For a while, maybe back in the 1950's-1970's breastfeeding wasn't really that "in vogue" and there was a lot of formula feeding. In the last decade or so it has been more encouraged that breast milk is best, encouraging women to breastfeed. There are programs for mothers at local health departments and there are all these signs up saying "breast milk is best".

But like we said, if you have to go to work and your relatives are watching your baby and you have to pump because you still want your baby to be breastfed because breast milk is best, you have to just be careful for reasons that we will get into. I was surprised, I didn't even think about this. I don't have any children. Do you think about it Erica? You've breastfed.

Erica: I did. It's interesting because even getting a baby to breastfeed initially can be difficult. I think that's why they set up these organisations. In the U.S. they have an organisation called the La Leche League. If your baby is born in a hospital they come in and they teach you how to get the baby to latch on properly and they remind you not to get frustrated if the baby is not suckling properly or if it doesn't want to eat.

In those first 48-hours after the baby is born the milk is pure colostrum, it has all the important antibodies and nutrients for the baby. It's really a transition for a lot of mums because it's not the most comfortable thing, and this might be sharing too much information but the La Leche League will tell you if you are feeling sensitive with breast feeding then to take a toothbrush and brush your nipple to harden it up a little. {Laughter{

Doug: Wow!

Erica: My kids are in their 20's so this was a long time ago, but I would get frustrated the first week and say "it's too painful" or "my milk isn't coming" and just give up. That's where formula comes in, especially in the hospital. "We'll give your baby formula" and if you don't start in the first window then it's really hard to go back to getting the baby to learn how to latch on.

One of the things is a bottle, the baby doesn't have to work so hard for the milk, it just pours into their mouth; whereas, if the baby is breastfeeding it has to work really hard and it has to learn how to use the muscles for suckling. Aside from all that there is the importance of bonding, having that initial experience of holding the baby, bonding with the baby and giving up your time schedule as a parent and being on that baby's time schedule.

I could see how it's frustrating and yes the bottle seems better but after reading this article it seems like you're setting the baby up later in life for issues with circadian rhythms and night-and-day eating habits.

Doug: The article is fascinating because I never really thought about this kind of thing before. For people who are interested in looking for it, it's on a site called TheConversation.com it's called Human Breast Milk may Help Babies Tell Time via Circadian Signals from Mum. It's really fascinating because what it made me think about was the idea that the baby is not just getting food, it's not just a meal, like you were saying Erica. There's information there that the baby is actually taking in, information from the mother. The mother is used to reading the environment so the baby is getting all this information about the environment that it is going to be encountering. One of those being circadian signalling, because there is more cortisol in daytime milk and then there is more melatonin in the nighttime milk.

It's much more complicated than that, there are a lot of different fluctuations that are going on but the idea is that the baby is getting information about the environment, when nighttime is, when daytime is and so its body can react to that in a proper way. There was even another article that we were reading for this which said that when the baby was getting sick, the mother's milk would be higher in amino compounds to help the baby to fight off that illness. There is so much synergy going on and it was really, really fascinating.

Tiffany: I thought that the article you mentioned Doug, was really fascinating.The woman that the article was about pumps her milk. She took a picture of the milk she pumped the day before she noticed that her baby got sick and it was white-looking regular milk. Then, she noticed that her baby was sick and she pumped the next evening and the milk was thick and yellow looking, like colostrum.

Before I read the entire article, my question was. how does the mum's breast know to change the milk? Apparently it's not just information going from the mother's breast milk into the baby. When the baby is suckling, the baby's saliva goes up into the nipple and the contents of the saliva enters the mothers receptors and she can see if there's an increase in white blood cells or if there is some kind of sickness going on and it can alter the content of the breast milk. How the human body works is just so incredible.

Doug: Yeah, it's pretty amazing.

Elliot: I would bet that it's nearly impossible to fully replicate that kind of thing. If you have that constant intercommunication between the child and the mother, this direct feedback relationship with information going back and forward all the time, and probably many other aspects to this that hasn't even been discovered yet. Maybe electromagnetic aspects.

Tiffany: Or emotional aspects.

Elliot: There is probably all of this non-biochemical stuff that they can't even measure. But ultimately when you think about the feedback you realize how important that is for providing the baby with a stable foundation and for allowing them to effectively adapt to various different changes. For instance, the type of environment that the mother lives in. There is all of this information about the microbiome as well.

The mother's body is adapted to a very specific environment: the type of bacteria in the house, the type of bacteria in the local community, the different types of soil, the minerals in the soil, the lack of minerals in the soil, the vitamin intake, the chemicals in the air, and the amount of silica in the rainwater. Ultimately, there are probably millions of factors which are communicated to the baby and telling the baby "Right, this is the environment you are going to be coming into. You need to build a system which is suited to this environment so that you can survive".

Then, you think about how potentially important that is. It hasn't even been fleshed out but I can imagine that that is pretty damn important to get a baby in a healthy state . Then you try to replicate that by taking amino acids, by taking fats, by taking sugars and putting it into a formula bottle? It was always doomed to fail. There is no way that that could ever mimic the complexity of the mother's milk.

Then, we can take in this information as well, this recent stuff about the circadian rhythm. Whenever you try to cheat the system, you're always going to lose to some extent. You can understand the predicament that women are in because they live busy lives. They have to work jobs. They don't have time to be feeding the baby all day long but effectively they are potentially going to be causing problems to the baby down the line if they don't do that. Sometimes it's not possible of course.

In the morning time, the mother's breast milk contains a complex set of different hormones. Doug just touched on it a minute ago. It contains higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol is one of the stress hormones. It naturally follows the circadian cycle. It's higher in the morning time in human beings and is called the cortisol awakening response. It is one of the things that helps us get out of bed in the morning.

Cortisol is one of the things that is going to wake the baby up and keep the baby awake in the daytime and it communicates that it is morning time, that it is daytime. Not only that, there are other things. It also has specialized immune cells, it has higher levels of minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. These are all highest in the morning time.

On the other hand, you have this nighttime hormone melatonin which is associated with sleep in human beings and it naturally starts to gradually increase in the evening time upon dimmed light. When the lights go down, our body starts making melatonin. If the baby has got its eyes closed all day or if he is sleeping, he's focused on building a body. He is not really concerned about trying to detect whether it's night or day but the mother, in giving the baby the nighttime hormone the mother is communicating that in this amazing way that I certainly didn't think occurred. It's amazing!

Doug: It is! What's really also interesting is that the study that they were referring to in the article came out in 2009, so they have known about this for a very long time, for 11 years. I didn't know about this before, not that I'm the target audience {laughter} necessarily but I do look into the nutritional aspects of newborns, so I'm surprised that I had never heard of it.

The advice that they give in the article is that if women are pumping then they should be marking the time of day down on the milk so that if they are required to give pumped milk, if than can't be breastfeeding when they need to, then at least they'll be able to match up morning milk or evening milk with whatever time of day the baby is actually feeding on it, which is probably a good idea.

Ideally, the child would be getting it directly from the breast because that gives immediate feedback. It is a communication about the immediate environment that the child is in at that moment. Going with formula feeding should be the absolute last resort because it is just missing so much. It would be like feeding your kid who is solid food some donuts. {laughter} "Well, it's got the fat and the carbs and the protein in there" but that's about it.

Tiffany: I didn't know this either, but there are milk banks all over the country. They are in nearly every state in the US and I think there are some in Canada too. The whole purpose of these milk banks is for mums who may have recently had a baby or recently lost a baby to donate some of their breast milk and the hospitals use it in neonatal intensive care units.

They collect the milk and the mums have to be tested, like if you were to give blood, for hepatitis, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. They run all these tests on the women. They test their milk for purity. So you can't smoke, you can't use drugs or anything like that. They accept your milk into these intensive care units and use it for babies whose mums can't produce enough milk or for the babies who might be premature and can't latch onto a nipple.

They get the milk and they'll screen it for contaminants then they'll combine different mother's milks which makes sense, even though I think it's gross. It seems like it should all just come from one source. In some cases they'll homogenize it and in some cases they'll pasteurize it all which is ewww.

Doug: That's ridiculous

Tiffany: That's not the best thing.

Erica: Think about the bacteria.

Tiffany: The fact that they would go through all of that trouble to collect breast milk from these random women and then freeze it and ship it out to hospitals just shows that formula ain't worth the plastic that it's stored in. Formula must be the worst thing ever if they have this whole network of milk banks that people can donate to. I have also read that sometimes vegan mum's milk doesn't come down or they don't produce enough and they will try and get milk from some of their vegan friends.

Elliot: It's better than formula, but not much better because it's basically soy formula.

Tiffany: These vegan mums want milk from another vegan mum, so if that mum is just drinking soy milk herself that's basically soy formula. I'm sure it's still better than formula.

Doug: I think it would be.

Tiffany: There aren't any vegan formulas in the US. I think in Europe they do have vegan baby formula. In the US they just have organic or dairy free or soy formulas. That's the best you can get.

Doug: What is it about them that's not vegan?

Tiffany: The D3, they get it from sheep wool. You have to put D3 in baby formula or you can't sell it.

Erica: About babies that are fed formula, I used to take care of a lot of babies back in the day and they would have this very yeasty smell to them. I know that sounds crazy but it seemed like the formula caused a lot of mucus and a lot of buildup and it would actually come out of their pores like a yeast smell. It was really bizarre.

On the alternatives to milk, going back to what you were saying Tiffany, sometimes for whatever reason women aren't producing enough breast milk or they have to supplement, what started happening in the 1990's was that instead of giving a baby cow milk - because that's not necessarily the best thing - the option was goat milk because they're smaller animals and a little bit more like the size of a human, but that's definitely not vegan.

It is a reality that sometimes there's not enough milk or you might have a really hungry baby that can suck you dry in a sense. When I was breastfeeding, my homeopath told me to drink dark beer like Guinness. {laughter} He said that it had the most nutrients in it which would go directly to the baby, obviously minus the alcohol. Then, they have all these mother-milk teas that you can make that help you produce more milk. I could see how being a vegan could be difficult if you are already low in fat in general, your body is just going to produce what it needs to provide for the baby.

Tiffany: For the vegans they have something called the "booby bar". It's a vegan lactation bar and it has flax seed, oats and other herbal ingredients in it.

Doug: Probably fenugreek and there is another one I can't remember that's supposed to be good for breast milk production.

Erica: Another interesting part of the article was where they were talking about chrono signals in milk and how that calibrates the infant circadian biology. If babies drink mistimed milk they may struggle with sleep and digestion and development. That's pretty interesting. It goes back to what you were saying about the importance of timing and labeling the milk.

There are plenty of mums who spend all night asking why this baby is wide awake in the middle of the night and then asleep all day? After months of that, that is why you see women at the grocery store with their shirt inside out, and they are dishevelled and they haven't showered in days. {laughter} The rhythms are so important because it sets up the rest of that child's life.

Maybe that's why we are seeing this rise in obese children, because of having the convenience of formula. It completely knocks everything out of whack and now these children are eating much more food than they need to, they are eating late at night or all day long and it is wreaking havoc on the system.

Doug: Considering the fact that having a baby that is up when it's supposed to be asleep is basically torture for the new parents, I'm surprised that this whole milk thing hasn't been more widespreard. Maybe it is in new-mother circles, maybe it is spreading around there, but like I said I'd never heard of it. That surprised me because a lot of the times folk remedies tend to spread around in different circles. You hear about different ways of dealing with different things. This sounds like something that every mother should be informed of.

Tiffany: Not only should you not use formula, but if you do have to pump then make sure you label the time on there.

Erica: It should be something that doctors, especially doctors who are working with pregnant women, should be informed about because if you care - maybe I'm being optimistic here - are concerned about the future wellbeing of your young patient then you would think that something as basic as this type of information would be shared. "Do you want to sleep well at night and want your baby to sleep well at night? These little things that you can do."

Tiffany: That will probably be the best selling point. If you want your baby to be able to sleep when the baby is supposed to be asleep and you'll get more rest too, breastfeed your baby, preferably on demand.

Doug: It might be expecting a bit too much out of doctors though, to be honest. {laughter} I'm not sure they should be giving new baby advice to the mothers.

Tiffany: They should put it on the front page of whatever magazine new mums read.

Erica: What is that? Mother's Day? I don't know. A couple of years ago - and I think we even did a show on this back in 2017 - do you guys remember that article which said that it was dangerous to call breastfeeding natural?

Doug: Yes, I do remember that.

Erica: The nutritionists were promoting disinformation. The studies have been out for years they're like, "No, it's not natural. They need to be immunized and promoting breastfeeding is problematic and even troubling."

Doug: For a while there they were actually trying to say that formula feeding was better than breastfeeding. It's mind boggling that they think that they can get away with something like that.

Erica: It was in the journal Pediatric! [Laughter]

Tiffany: That journal is dead to me.

Erica: Exactly

Doug: Cancel your subscription, Tiff!

Erica: They were saying that the intent of the article appears to be aimed at bolstering vaccines. They call it "ethically problematic", uuugh.

Doug: I know that Nestle was in a lot of trouble a while back, maybe in the 1980's. I am quoting this all from memory so I might have some of the details wrong, but Nestle was in third world countries, in Africa if I'm not mistaken, convincing mothers that their formula was better than breastfeeding and getting them to stop breastfeeding and favour the formula instead.

It came to widespread attention as far as I know because the water that they were mixing the formula with was not sanitary. There were a bunch of babies who were getting sick and dying. If the mother is drinking the water and it's going through them and they are acclimatised to it then they are filtering it for the baby. The baby is not necessarily going to be exposed to that but it probably will get the immune components that the mother has created. So the baby will get a natural immunisation to whatever is in the environment. But in this situation, it was the opposite. They were directly giving the baby dirty water mixed with formula so the babies were getting sick and maybe even dying . It was a big controversy. Nestle is a very evil company by the way. I'll just say that.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Erica: I've probably shared this on a past show, but I had the chickenpox while I was breastfeeding and I didn't know I had the chickenpox until I went to the hospital and they told me; I had never had it before. I was breastfeeding my daughter while I had the chickenpox and she didn't get them even though I had the open sores. She got that natural immunity.

A few years later when she was 7 or 8 she did get the chickenpox but she didn't get them nearly as bad and I thought that was really fascinating. You can have this really contagious illness, you're breastfeeding your baby and they don't get the illness. Probably because of the antibodies.

Doug: That's amazing.

Erica: We have gone into the vaccine issue so many times in the past, a lot of kids were getting natural immunity to illnesses like that via the breast milk, building their immune system and introducing these types of pathogens in a way that they can fight safely.

Doug: Breast is best guys. [Laughter]

Tiffany: That's the takeaway message.

Erica: I wonder if we will see new breast milk bars opening.

Doug: I don't know about that.

Erica: It will be pumped, it will be on tap. {laughter}

Tiffany: IBut i'll be labelled with the proper time.

Erica: You can have your morning milk with your coffee. Your warm glass of labeled breast milk so it is not mistimed.

Doug: If you want to stay up late you can have morning milk at night. If you have to pull an all-nighter.

Erica: We read another article called Breast Milk Should be Drunk at the Same Time of Day that it was Expressed, this was from back in 2009 in Science Daily. They talked about how scientists look at nucleotides in breast milk, adenosine, guanosine and uridine, and those actually excite or relax the nervous system of the child and promote restfulness or sleep and how that varies in the 24-hour period.

I don't know a lot about those nucleotides but I would imagine that it's important for brain development, physical development and the overall health of a baby.

Tiffany: I think there are more components than any laboratory can find that are in breast milk. Like you said Doug, breast is best. Don't try and fool mother nature because you will not win.

Doug: Yeah, and your kid will pay the price.

Erica: The formula thing was a try and fail. Anything else guys?

Tiffany: That's it.

Elliot: Probably one last thing I would say is that breast is definitely best. {Laughter}

Doug: Well put Elliot.

Erica: Thank you folks for tuning in and I hope this little short bit on breastfeeding is helpful. You can share with your friends and family and "like" and subscribe to our YouTube channel below. We look forward to seeing you all again. Thanks for joining me hosts.