Parents want their babies to be healthy, happy, and well-fed. Traditionally, mothers could breastfeed, use formula, or combine both to feed their infants. It is often in the best interests of mothers and babies to breastfeed exclusively or supplement breastfeeding with formula. There is a wide variety of breast milk substitutes on the market today: a regular and organic baby formula that is available in powder, liquid concentrate, and premix form. Choosing between them can be quite confusing. To address some of them, we will cover the following topics in this article:
- What is organic food?
- Organic baby formulas
- Benefits of organic baby formula
- The concerns related to organic baby formulas
- Formula buying tips
What Is Organic Food?
To understand organic food, we must first understand what the term organic means. Food is considered organic in most regions of the world based on its production method. From the following definitions, you can conclude that organic foods are free of pesticides and artificial colors and flavors, as well as antibiotics and growth hormones.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that organic foods come from animals not given antibiotics or growth hormones. The term organic does not necessarily guarantee nutrients, health, safety, or a lack of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers made with sewage sludge. In the EU, organic labels take into account farming practices and sustainable agriculture, animal welfare, and food supply chain issues. The European Union has more stringent standards than the United States. Organic food in India meets the National Standards for Organic Products of India. The standards mean that no chemicals, pesticides, or hormones are used during the growth of the product and its raw components.
Organic Baby Formula
Organic baby formula contains only organic ingredients, as its name implies. Therefore:
- Synthetic preservatives not used
- Artificial colors are not allowed
- There is no pesticide residue
- Growth hormones are not used
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not allowed
- There are no potentially toxic substances
A formula must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients and processing aids to qualifying as organic. A USDA organic seal certifies that the product does not contain banned ingredients on the US National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. The EU organic certification also requires most (preferably 95 percent) of ingredients to be organic. There are, however, stricter regulations in the EU for organic certification (for example, the farm location needs to be specified so that transparency is guaranteed).
In general, organic baby formula is made from cow’s milk. In addition, there are formulas containing soy products or protein hydrolysate for babies allergic to soy or milk. A goat milk version is also available. To mimic breast milk, organic baby formulas may contain additives such as DHA, ARA, prebiotics, probiotics, whey protein, and other micronutrients. Powder, liquid concentrate, and ready-to-eat forms are available for these formulas.
Benefits of Organic Baby Formula
Having clarified what organic formula is, let’s look at the benefits of feeding organic baby formula.
1. No Artificial or Synthetic Ingredients
Organic baby formula is free of synthetic or artificial ingredients, so it is healthier for your baby. Natural baby formula contains no artificial sweeteners that might pose a health risk to your baby. Kids often develop intolerances to unnatural ingredients. In turn, this can lead to gastrointestinal problems.
2. Complete and Easy to Digest
Organic formulas closely follow breast milk’s nutritional profile. Organic baby formula contains organic lactose as its primary source of carbohydrates and a vegetable oil blend similar to the fatty acids in breast milk. Most baby formulas contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), essential for brain and eye development. Some organic formulas also contain additional whey to achieve a protein ratio similar to breast milk’s ratio of whey and casein. Organic baby formulas are often easier to digest than regular formulas.
The ingredients in organic formulas are non-GMO (genetically modified), free of toxins, and certified organic. Additionally, organic formulations exclude undesirable and possibly dangerous chemicals including carrageenan; highly processed sweeteners like glucose syrup, corn syrup, and brown rice syrup; and artificial preservatives. Also, it does not contain milk from genetically modified cows or cows fed on pesticide-treated grass.
Choosing organic formulas ensures you’re providing your children with the nutrition they need while minimizing their exposure to potentially harmful ingredients. Using these types of formulas can help your child avoid the many health problems that standard formula can cause.
3. Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are often included in organic formulas to mimic the immune-boosting properties of breast milk. A prebiotic such as galacto-oligosaccharides is very similar to human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). HMOs found in breast milk are linked to the development of healthy gut microbes, which has been shown to reduce the risk of infection and allergies, as well as support brain development.
The organic baby formula also has the following health benefits:
- It contains lutein, which is great for your child’s vision.
- It is rich in antioxidants, making it a great food for babies.
- Heavy metals aren’t as prevalent in it.
Choosing between organic or standard formula makes you choose organic because you believe it’s the healthiest choice. However, that won’t always be the case. Certain organic formulas include chemicals that you would not like to give to your baby. Below is a list of things to watch out for when choosing organic formulas.
Sugar is the main ingredient in many milk products, but corn syrup or brown rice syrup are also used. As a result of eating corn syrups as a principal source of carbohydrates, children may become obese, develop diabetes, or even experience metabolic changes in the cells of their bodies. Brown rice syrup may contain carcinogenic arsenic. In response, many European brands have banned the use of sweeteners in baby formula.
2. Additives and Harmful Chemicals
Most infant formulas contain a blend of vegetable oils as their primary source of fatty acids. Most baby formulas contain palm, sunflower, safflower, and rapeseed oil. Coconut and soy oils are also used. There is evidence that they can reduce calcium absorption. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is very beneficial to the brain, eyes, and especially the heart. The formula milk may use a synthetic omega oil, which is usually extracted from algae and soil fungi with the use of hexane, a neuro-toxic solvent. Taking in heavy oils can cause diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting in children due to the stomach’s inability to deal with them.
Manufacturers of organic baby formula sometimes add carrageenan, an additive derived from seaweed. Evidence suggests that this compound is carcinogenic, and it may cause colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
Potentially toxic contaminants (for example, chloropropanols, furans, glycidyl esters, etc.) can be formed in infant formulas during processing. Toxins can negatively affect a child’s health. However, in most countries, these chemicals have not been found in levels that are harmful to babies.
Packaging is also of concern. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical used to line metal-based food and beverage containers that prevent rust and prolongs shelf life. BPA can be transferred from the container to the food inside. BPA in an infant’s diet is associated with hyperactivity and aggressive behavior.
Read the labels on all organic baby formula types to verify they are free of potentially harmful ingredients and that your baby’s health and nutritional requirements are met.
Consult your baby’s pediatrician before making the transition to organic infant formula.
Additional information may be found at the source. Manufacturers of infant formula often change their formulas and packaging. Typically, contact information for a 1-800 consumer question line can be found on the product canister and ask about the issues that concern you. Be persistent, until you find out what you need to know.
The first year of your baby’s life is a time of rapid growth. Baby formulas must provide adequate macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in the right amounts to support your growing baby’s nutritional needs. Dietary supplements for infants are closely monitored by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure they meet the nutritional requirements.
It doesn’t matter if you feed your baby formula by choice or by necessity; you want to give them the best you can and, for some parents, that means organic formula. Compared to the traditional formula, feeding organic formula is a healthier option.
Going organic is a practical option for parents who are concerned about their child’s exposure to pesticide residues and potentially harmful chemicals with manufacturing formulas. A formula is also a good option for babies who may have endocrine dysfunction or a compromised immune system since it can help reduce health problems caused by consuming formulas containing pesticide residues.