We live in an age where it is impossible to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals. Industrial waste and pesticides have been successful in polluting every spec of soil in which food is grown and every drop of water that we drink. If that was not enough, we have those who purposely pollute the milk that we drink by feeding the poor cows so called “proteins” and antibiotics.
The point here is that we adults can still survive the side effects of the toxins or slow poison because of the quantity of these chemicals in proportion to our body weight. Not to mention that our immune system is already developed. But when the same chemicals go into a baby’s body they may get affected in ways that can have lifelong disabling consequences. The development of some of the baby’s organs is not complete until the child is about 2-years old. The liver and brain are two such organs that are still developing and can get severely impacted by chemicals. Toxic food exposes the brain to irritants and results in malfunctioning of the brain.
We are what we eat! Unfortunately, we cannot control everything that we eat. It takes a big incident such as the China milk scandal to shake the authorities. It is a shame that such incidents are forgotten soon and the big industrial giants continue to contaminate everything we feed our children.
Even the mother who is nursing her baby should avoid all processed food to minimize her exposure to chemicals. Those who do not have the option of breastfeeding their baby should carefully select the formula for the baby. Formula is designed to supply all the calories and nutrition that a baby needs to be healthy but they are not all the same. This article will throw some insight into the world of formula and help parents make a decision. Here are some things to look out for.
Research done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2009 found that a chemical used in formula milk that is also used in rocket fuel is being used by 15 major brands. Out of these 15 brands, 2 of them Similac and Enfamil, account for 87 percent of the market share. The formula based on cow’s milk had higher levels of perchlorate. This chemical affects the functioning of the thyroid gland.
According to the CDC, the presence of iodine in baby formula can reduce the effects of perchlorate in baby formula. Therefore, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) makes it mandatory to include iodine in all formulas. Since perchlorate is a natural chemical and exists everywhere in the environment and the food chain, everyone is exposed to low levels of perchlorate. Even though mother’s milk is found to have traces of perchlorate, formula milk is at risk of having higher amounts from both the powder and the water used for mixing.
In 2008, six infants died after drinking melamine adulterated infant formula milk. In total, around 300,000 infants were the victims of adulterated milk and 54,000 were hospitalized due to kidney damage. The World Health Organization (WHO) does not approve the use of melamine in food products. In America, melamine is found in formula milk and the FDA justifies that the levels are extremely low. Melamine is rich in nitrogen and widely used in processing of plastics and adhesives too.
How does melamine finds its presence in milk and milk products? This chemical cannot dissolve on its own in water until mixed with other chemicals, so it is believed that it is through human action that cow milk is contaminated with melamine. Using preservatives and additives for spiking production is not uncommon and dairy farm owners sometimes have no option but to use the “protein powder” provided for increasing the milk supply.
13 Genetically Modified Ingredients
Increasingly, more and more countries in the world are passing legislation against the use of Genetically Modified Food (GMO). GMO food has been associated with cancer, organ failure and birth defects. GMO food products are used in top brands of formula and recently one of them, Similac, has started selling Non-GMO baby food in the USA. The two main ingredients of formula, corn syrup and sugar, are often genetically modified to a great extent.
During the first two years of life the baby’s organs are still developing and any exposure to toxins can make changes in their brain, immune system and intestines. There is reason that the developmental problems in children these days are increasing at a frightening rate. Organic formula is a better choice for those babies who are not breastfed. Even though some companies provide organic or non-GMO food, there are other ingredients that can make the organic formula milk unsafe, too. Therefore before picking an organic formula, the label should be checked to ensure no presence of harmful ingredients.
12 Artificial DHA and ARA
Almost all baby food and other food supplements for children advertise the presence of DHA and ARA in their products. These are essential fatty acids extracted from oils. But these oils are obtained from the processes that use the neurotoxic hexane. These oils are added to the formula in an attempt to replicate the presence of these fatty acids in breast milk. However, various studies have shown that artificial DHA or ARA do not provide any nutritive value to the formula.
The issue with the artificial DHA and ARA is that it is obtained from different types of algae and fungus. No research has been conducted yet to find out more about these microorganisms. Moreover, these microbes are not a part of the human diet. DHA and ARA were made a part of formula almost a decade ago. Later, after receiving complaints, the manufacturers conducted a research that showed that DHA/ARA leads to a significant increase in relative liver weights apart from giving some babies an upset tummy, but the usage still continues.
11 Soy Formulas
Some parents feed their infants soy formula when they find their baby experiencing discomfort from the milk-based formulas. If there is a milk allergy in the family, parents tend to avoid the milk-based formula and go for soy formula. But the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children allergic to cow’s milk should not be fed soy formula, either. The reason is that soy milk is supposed to be harmful to babies for three reasons.
Soy formula contains phytoestrogens that are similar to the female hormone estrogen. This compound can flood the infants with these hormones that can create long term implications like developmental problems during puberty for boys and early adolescence for girls. Another constituent called Phytic acid that is present in the outer layer of soy seeds stops absorption of essential chemicals. Research in 1967 established that babies who had soy formula had a zinc deficiency. Even the organic soy is not free from all these components and it is equally harmful for the baby.
Carrageenan, which is derived from seaweed, is used in many types of powdered or liquid products to stabilize or thicken them. It has no nutritive value whatsoever and it is widely used in organic products too. It is also used in infant formula but it has been proved in numerous animal based studies that carrageenan is harmful. It results in inflammation of the intestines and also a cause of colon tumors.
Carrageenan has been banned in the European Union, but it is still in use in America. Interestingly, in the past, carrageenan was used to cause inflammation of tissues in animals in order to test the new anti-inflammatory drugs as told by Dr. Tobacman, M.D. Associate Professor at University of Illinois College of Medicine. This additive is commonly used in packaged almond and coconut milk too. Regular intake of carrageenan is considered harmful for adults by researchers, so why give it to delicate babies?
9 BPA in Plastic
Bisphenol A or BPA was used in plastic products to harden it and prevent bacteria from food. This chemical has been proven unsafe in animal tests and that is why it has been banned in America. Even though it has been banned, some studies found that even BPA free bottles leach harmful chemicals, in fact more than the plastic with BPA. In Environmental Health Perspectives a study was published in 2011 that showed 500 plastic products, including baby bottles, leached chemicals.
Therefore, a plastic bottle may contain from 5 to 30 different chemicals that may leach chemicals when heated. So the formula should only be poured into the feeding bottle after it cools down. Baby bottles should never be put in a microwave or oven. Glass bottles are better than plastic for the baby. Mamas should avoid buying plastic bottles with “PC” or recycling number 7 on them.
Dioxin is a known cancer causing agent and endocrine disruptor. Formula milk contains this chemical and mothers exposed to dioxin also pass this on to the baby with breast milk. Dioxin it seems is everywhere in the environment and very difficult to avoid. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends a safe exposure limit for dioxin, but infants receive 77 times higher amounts of dioxin and adults receive 1200 times more.
Various studies found that dioxin causes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, endometriosis, reduced hormones and early menopause. These results can be caused by the unavoidable low level exposure to the chemical. Adults get exposure to this chemical through meat, fish, shellfish and even dairy products. It is well established in the food chain and prominent in animal fat. Dr. Mercola says, “Infants are not only born with dioxin in their bodies, but continue to receive a steady supply of it after birth.”
7 AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products)
When formula milk is processed under high temperatures it results in by-products called advanced glycation end products, which are a type of sugar molecule. These products are harmful in the long run and keep building in the body over a period of time. These sugar molecules damage proteins in the body by attaching itself to them. This can expedite the aging process and also results in inflammation that could cause other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
The baby gets AGEs even from breastfeeding if the mother is exposed to AGEs, but it is transferred only in small amounts. However, the baby gets double the exposure if shifted to formula within one year. AGEs can be avoided by rejecting food items cooked at high heat, which also includes processed and pasteurized products. In a study it was found that people could reduce their insulin levels by 35 percent by avoiding AGEs products in their diet.
6 Palm Oil
The formula manufacturers, in an attempt to replicate the palmitic acid in breast milk, add palm oil to formula. But this artificial preparation leads to low bone density in infants as their body does not absorb calcium properly. This happens because the structure of palmitic acid and the formula palm oil is different. When the palmitic acid is not absorbed by the body it reacts with calcium and makes calcium insoluble.
Therefore, the body excretes the insoluble fat and calcium. The large scale use of palm oil started after FDA came strict on trans fats about 10 years ago. All the leading manufacturers substituted trans fat with palm oil. The demand for palm oil increased by 500 percent and is also leading to deforestation and species extinction on a big scale especially in Indonesia. So, this palm oil is as bad for the planet as for the baby.
5 High Levels of Manganese and Fluoridated Water
The presence of manganese in food leads to low IQ levels. Manganese is present in high quantities in drinking water and baby formula as well. Although manganese is an essential nutrient, if it is ingested in excess it becomes a neurotoxin. Those workers who mine manganese suffer from manganese poisoning, Wilson’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Soy formula is prepared with huge proportions of manganese and is completely unsafe for infants.
Soy formula contains manganese 200 times more than breast milk. It can lead to brain defects in infants and it also alters adolescent behavior. There is no doubt that soy milk has many constituents that harm the baby. So it should never be touched by a mother. If soy formula is mixed with fluoridated water it is even more harmful as fluoride increase manganese absorption in the body. Fluoridated water also results in zinc deficiency, which further alters the manganese levels in the brain.
Preservatives are not just a part of ordinary formula but also organic formula milk. Even though it is banned to add preservatives to organic milk, preservatives such as beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate are being added by manufacturers. In fact, it has has come to light that organic milk has more preservatives than non-organic and the number goes up to a dozen. According to the Cornucopia Institute, the only formula that does not contain any preservatives is Baby’s Only Organic, which is manufactured by Nature’s One.
Preservatives and additives are added to almost all products available on the shelf. Artificial colors, flavors and preservatives create toxins in the body that affect the developmental milestones of a baby such as vision, balance, auditory and movement related skills. Children below 2 years should not be fed any processed food and infants have no other food better than breast milk.
3 High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
High fructose corn syrup is an artificial sweetener that is biochemically extracted from corn. High fructose corn syrup used in baby formula causes obesity, heart disease and diabetes in children, as well as adults. Obesity leads to many other health issues that may result in complications. Regular high intake of sugars and HFCS has also been linked to diseases like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and anxiety disorders.
Fructose also triggers overeating as it stops the brain from sending signals to stop more intake of sugars, which happens when natural sugar is ingested. Corn syrup is processed differently than other sugars in the liver, which causes an increase in triglycerides that clog the arteries. Shockingly, 50 percent of the fructose corn syrup supplied in America contains mercury too. Another shocker is that America stands at the top in consumption of high fructose corn syrup. No wonder America is the world capital of obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
2 Synthetic Nutrients
Formula milk is laden with synthetic nutrients to imitate breast milk. Some synthetic nutrients are also found in organic formula. Many such synthetic ingredients are neurotoxic and processed with harmful chemicals that are known carcinogens. L-Carnitine is one such example, which was also banned by the National Organic Standards Board. Other common toxic, so called nutrients, are lycopene, lutein, taurine, L-methionine and nucleotides. Most of these chemicals are banned in the European Union.
Everyone knows that big manufacturers try to source and process a few nutrients in the cheapest possible way. But the question is how long the authorities will turn a blind eye to issues as serious as this. The most shameful thing to have happened is to consider a chemical to be harmful and then a month later allow these industrial giants to use them freely. Infants feeding on these toxin rich formulas are prone to suffer from chronic disease as they grow up.
1 Fluoridated Tap Water
Water from some public water systems contain high levels fluoride, which can be harmful for the babies. The American Dental Association advises against the use of tap water as it may cause dental fluorosis or discoloration of teeth. If the level of fluoride in water is greater than 0.7 mg/l then it should not be used. Bottled water is believed to contain less fluoride and the label mentions the level of fluoride as per FDA’s requirement.
Grocery stores also sell bottled water specifically for baby formula. Apart from the water, even the infant formula (organic too) contains fluoride. In a research it was found that infants who are mostly fed formula may be getting more than optimal fluoride through milk. But apart above the most dangerous thing is when fluoridated water comes in contact with manganese, it alters brain function. Whenever you buy anything packaged, you should read the ingredients and know what you’re getting. This is especially true for what you give your baby as its first nutrition.