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Diet matters: Standard American Diet produces trans fat in breastmilk

Washington Head Start bans breastfeedingBreast is best…it’s our mantra; however, not all breastmilk is created equally. We know you can pass toxins to your baby via breastmilk, but formulas also contain toxins and genetically modified ingredients.  Mother Jones reported:

But even though artificial human milk is regulated by the FDA, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last year that a thyroid-affecting chemical used in rocket fuel contaminates 15 brands of powdered infant formula, including two that accounted for 87 percent of market share in 2000.

That research is a little dated, but unfortunately our world has not become any less toxic.  Still, breast is best, since there are potential toxins in both formula and breast milk.

Putting the toxins argument aside, there is another very important aspect of breastfeeding that is often overlooked…diet!  Good prenatal care focuses on nutrition, but what about post natal care?   I know I started drinking coffee after my baby was born, but I still ate organic, whole foods.  I did feel like I could relax a little on my diet after the baby was born, yet that is a very false misconception.

I came across a recent post that got me thinking about the Standard American Diet (SAD) and breastfeeding (via Cheeseslave).  Of special concern is the passage of trans fat to baby via the breast.

Healthy Roots, Happy Soul writes:

But I have a question… What if the diet of the mother is not the best? What if the mother eats a Standard American Diet full of trans fats, pesticides, and genetically modified organisms.Then is breast best? Or not so much?

The Problem With Trans Fat

The majority of us now know trans fats are bad news. We’re not talking about the small percentage of natural trans fat found in dairy and animal meats – we’re talking about man-made trans fat.Consumption of hydrogenated fats is associated with a host of other serious diseases, not only cancer but also atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, immune system dysfunction, low-birth-weight babies, birth defects, decreased visual acuity, sterility, difficulty in lactation and problems with bones and tendons. (source)

Trans fats are  found in processed foods like baked goods, pizza dough, frozen foods, margarine, and shortening and “food” that comes from fast food joints. These are things we should NOT be consuming. However, unfortunately a large majority of people do…

Another study was conducted in 2010 between a group of 96 women; mothers who only breastfed their infants, those who only used formula milk and those who used a combination of breast milk and formula.

The study found the infants whose mothers consumed more than 4.5 grams of trans fats per day while breast-feeding were twice as likely to have a high percentage of body fat than babies whose mothers consumed lower amounts of trans fats. (source)

“Trans fats stuck out as a predictor to increased adiposity in both mothers and their babies,” said study co-author, assistant professor Alex Anderson, of the University of Georgia. (source)

Diet does matter.  Diet especially matters when breastfeeding. Whatever we consume, our children will consume.



  1. Yikes, if my wife starts breastfeeding I ‘ll make sure she eats healthier. I’m a stay at home dad, so I always try to cook some real healthy food for my wife, but it’s tough because kids take up most of my time, and cleaning the host making it nice for her is also tough, so I admit sometimes I don’t cook the healthiest things. But very interesting article, my kids were brought up with baby formula, because mommy had to go work…

  2. It’s always important to watch what you eat when breastfeeding cause what you eat transmits to the baby. So, eat whole foods and staying away from refine sugars and process foods is best.

  3. Of course everything has some kind of toxic or germs. I mean it’s impossible to live in a toxic-free life. As well having a bit of germs can help your immune system to be better.

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