Nutrient Density is Key
The words ‘nutrient dense’ are bandied around a lot lately and are often unfortunately used to promote food products that actually aren’t all that healthy for us.
Nutrient-dense foods are the ones that will give you the most bang for your buck as they’ll contain a high proportion of vitamins and minerals relative to the amount of energy (kilojoules) they contain.
However, it’s important to look for foods that are naturally nutrient-dense (such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, lean red meat, dairy and wholegrains) rather than relying on those that have been fortified (added to foods), such as breakfast cereals, breads and fruit juices.
Basically, to keep it simple, you want to be eating foods that are as much in their natural, unprocessed state as you can, as much as you can and this in turn will help keep both your energy levels and your milk supply up!
Some great examples of nutrient dense foods that are ideal for breastfeeding mums are:
- Chia seeds which are easy to add to your morning bowl of porridge or chia puddings are easy to prepare and healthy to eat at any time of the day or night.
- Oats are another fantastic nutrient dense food, which are also a great source of protein & fiber, as well as being a long reputed milk-boosting galactagogue for breastfeeding mums.
- Coconut products like coconut milk and coconut oil are another easy switch that breastfeeding mums can make to gain both nutrient density and milk boosting benefits.
- For those who need to steer clear of gluten and wheat products, choosing products that are instead made from buckwheat or millet flours. Both of these are fantastic gluten and wheat free nutrient dense ingredients that are included in many alternative breads, savoury and sweet products and even beverages. Millet in particular is also an unsung hero in the world of milk-boosting super foods!
Include Good Fats Wherever Possible
Wherever possible, try to include as many good fats from foods like avocados, salmon, olives, raw nuts and seeds as these can really help towards increasing the quality of your milk supply and help your baby’s brain the essential nutrients it needs for development.
Increase Your Fluids
I know the idea of getting litres of water a day in can be daunting, but it’s a lot easier to achieve if you’re able to change up what you drink throughout the day.
Drinking herbal teas either hot or as cold, iced teas is a great way to increase your fluid intake but keep it interesting at the same time. If you make your herbal teas from the many lactation teas available these days, this is a double-whammy approach to helping your milk supply in two ways at once, as these teas are loaded with reputed milk-boosting ingredients like fennel, fenugreek, lemon balm, lemon myrtle, aniseed, and even sometimes turmeric and ginger. The combinations you can find to keep things interesting can be endless and you’ll find you’ve been able to consume many litres a day with minimal effort.
Another double whammy approach to fluids is to also include coconut water and coconut milk into your day as well, so you’re gaining the benefits of the nutrients and good fats and milk-boosting qualities of coconut products as well.
Beware of Brewer’s Yeast
While Brewer’s Yeast is an age old and still popular milk-boosting ingredient that’s commonly added to many lactation support recipes and products, breastfeeding mums in particular need to beware of the potential this ingredient has for causing yeast overgrowth (or Candida), which is a very real and annoying problem to deal with that can affect both mums and babies simultaneously.
Instead of relying on this single ingredient to ‘milk-boost’ a recipe or product, it’s far better to choose from an array of other well reputed ingredients or foods and include as many as you can into every meal.
Eat an Array of Good Old Fashioned Fruits & Vegetables
When it comes to ensuring optimal nutrition while breastfeeding, you just can’t beat the inclusion of good old-fashioned fruits and vegetables into your every day diet, so that you and your baby are receiving all the essential nutrients they bring to help keep milk supply going as well as ensuring it’s quality.
Some amazingly nutrient dense and breast milk enriching ones are carrots, sweet potato, beets and red or orange peppers, garlic, avocado, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, rockmelon and even mango!
By Kelly Northey
Kelly Northey is the founder and creator of the Yummy Mummy Food Company range of 100% healthy lactation support products including lactation cookies, foods, beverages and teas. Since 2012 she has helped tens of thousands of mums and mums-to-be reduce morning sickness symptoms or increase their milk supply.