This article describes ten benefits of using goat milk formula for children 18 months or older.
As a parent, you try your hardest to give your child the best possible care. One of your biggest concerns will definitely be the child’s nutrition. Understanding the infant’s nutrition is crucial because giving them a balanced, nutritious diet from birth will ensure and enable good health throughout their lifetime.
Breast milk is the perfect food for the newborn until the age of six. After they pass six months, other food has to be fed to the baby to ensure a balanced diet. But once the baby reaches eighteen months of age, they are ready to have a variety of food to ensure an overall balanced diet. One delicious food item in an 18-month olds diet is milk. There are many types of milk available, such as almond milk, soy milk, buffalo milk, and good old cow milk. Recently, doctors are recommending goat milk as an ideal substitute for cow milk. Why? Read on to find out.
- More digestibility than cow milk
Goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk because goat milk has smaller fat molecules. The ease of digestion depends upon the levels of microproteins present; in goat milk, it is lower, which is why it is easier for our digestive system to process and digest it.
- Less lactose, better for the intestines– Lactose is the main kind of carbohydrate in cow and goat milk. But cow milk contains more lactose content than goat milk. Cow milk has 5% lactose while goat milk has 4.20%. This low content of lactose will help the baby’s intestinal health and function.
- More nutrients than cow milk
Except for Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin B9, goat milk contains more proportions of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, vitamin B1, and Vitamin B6.
What are the benefits of these higher levels of nutrients in goat milk?
- Calcium: Goat milk has a greater concentration of calcium compared to cow milk. Hence it will build strong bones and teeth in infants. If they develop the habit of drinking goat milk later in life, it will also help them to prevent osteoporosis.
- Iron: Iron is necessary to produce hemoglobin, enable proper neurological development, and reduce anemia.
- Magnesium: Magnesium will support heart and organ health.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus is needed in infants for muscle repair, good growth, mineral homeostasis, and bone mineralization, which is the process by which the bone matrix gets filled with calcium compounds.
- Sodium: Sodium helps to modulate cellular water balance and initiate immune function, muscular contractions, nerve function, and more.
- Vitamin B1 or thiamine: This helps in metabolic activities; it helps break down carbohydrates for energy and also for proper motor function, heart function, and overall balance.
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 in children is needed for proper brain development and the functioning of the nervous system.
However, to make up for these missed nutrients, it will be better for your child if you choose goat milk formula that is fortified with vital nutrients. Packaged goat milk is also more likely to be pasteurized than raw goat milk; fortified goat milk is the ideal choice for children of 18 months.
- Reduces iron deficiency and anemia
Regular intake of goat formula milk will reduce iron deficiency and enhance the regeneration of hemoglobin.
- Less chance of allergic reactions
Studies have found that for every four infants, one infant who was allergic to cow milk was not allergic to goat milk. Even generally, people who are allergic to cow milk are not allergic to goat milk.
- Presence of oligosaccharides making it closer to breast milk
The laboratory study by RMIT published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that oligosaccharides, a kind of prebiotic that augments the growth of beneficial bacteria and provides immunity against harmful bacteria in the intestines, are found in goat milk.
Prebiotics regulate the gut microbiome by boosting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, improving the metabolic activity of the colon, and at the same time prevents the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Fourteen naturally occurring prebiotic oligosaccharides are found in goat milk formula, of which five are found in breast milk. Though cow milk formula is the most common alternative to breastfeeding, with respect to oligosaccharides, goat milk is considered to be more beneficial than cow milk.
Two types of oligosaccharides, fucosylated and sialylated, are abundantly found in goat milk. Fucosylated, found in breast milk, provides an anti-infection element to breast milk.
- Structural difference in proteins of goat milk from cow milk
Milk and other formulas create curds when reacting with the baby’s stomach acids. Curd is the name given to the clusters of protein produced by the chemical reaction between protein and stomach acid.
Importantly, cow milk creates hard curds in the stomach while goat milk will create soft curds. This makes it much easier to digest.
Cow milk contains allergenic casein protein, alpha s-1, while goat milk contains very little amount of it. Goat milk’s instant formula has lower levels of alpha-CN and higher levels of beta-CN than cow milk protein. That is why, despite both containing almost the same level of allergenic protein, goat milk is closer to human milk.
- Low level of cholesterol
The amount of cholesterol in cow milk is 14mg/100g whereas cholesterol in goat milk is 11mg/100g.
- Less inflammatory issues
There are two versions of a protein called beta-casein: A1 and A2. Many people drinking cow milk often end up having abdominal cramps and acid reflux. This is because cow milk has the A1 type of protein, which causes these problems.
On the other hand, goat milk contains high levels of A2. Research shows that A1 and A2 have different processes and mechanisms of digestion. Hence goat milk has fewer inflammatory issues than cow milk and is more suitable for infants.
- Lacks growth hormones
Cow milk contains growth hormones to artificially boost cows’ milk production; they are administered to meet consumer demand. These growth hormones can worsen digestion problems. Goats are generally not given growth hormones so a baby drinking goat milk will not face digestion problems arising from the presence of growth hormones; they will be able to enjoy the milk in its natural form.
Is plant-based milk a safe option?
Nowadays, plant-based alternatives to animal milk are rising in popularity. This milk is made from almonds, oats, rice, peas, soy, and other plants. How is the milk from these obtained? The plants are soaked for some time, then ground. Water is added to the mixture and a paste is formed. The paste is then pressed or strained and the remaining liquid is filtered out, which is the milk.
Plant-based milk has fewer fats and lactose but does not provide key nutrients such as Vitamin D, calcium, protein, and phosphorus in sufficient amounts. Also, they have added ingredients like sweeteners which can trigger food allergies. Many children may have soy intolerances which can cause inflammatory bowel conditions.
Goat milk can be an excellent food item for an infant when it is part of a balanced diet. Due to the absence of vital vitamins, selenium, and folic acid in goat milk, you should opt for fortified goat milk and formula options. Raw goat milk will be unsuitable for the baby.
You must remember that before making any changes to the baby’s diet, consult with a pediatrician. Parents must understand the risks and benefits of making dietary changes as they will affect the health of the baby in the short run and the overall wellbeing of the child in the long run. Build up the diet slowly and if your child does not respond to the change made in the diet, immediately consult your doctor.