From the point of view of inexperienced parents, formula looks like a set of not always obvious components. Despite the variety of contents of infant milk, the principle is the same: fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, some additional ingredients like prebiotics, probiotics, etc. As a result, the main difference between different types of formula is the sources of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Let’s focus on the carbohydrate components in the content of the baby formula.
The presence of sugar in formula
Being a carbohydrate that is absorbed fast, sugar is found in the content of most formulas, since it’s important for a child that carbohydrates are quickly and easily digested. Among the most common bases for sugar are glucose, galactose, and fructose.
Sugar can be quite dangerous for infants. Recent research has shown that table sugar provokes a lack of B vitamins in the child’s body, which are extremely important for the normal digestion of babies. In addition, sugar alters the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the blood, increasing the level of calcium and decreasing the level of phosphorus. It disturbs the proper assimilation of calcium. Poor absorption of calcium leads to the development of rickets and negatively affects the formation of teeth and bone tissue.
Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the amount of sugar in the content of the formula. The need for sugar under one-year-old is only 4g (slightly less than a teaspoon).
It’s known that one of the main carbohydrate sources is lactose which is found in breast milk. This is the reason why a kid’s immature organism digests it easily. Lactose is the remains of one molecule of glucose and galactose. Moreover, it is a breeding ground for beneficial bacteria in the digestive system and doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as other types of sugar.
Sucrose is quite often found in soy milk or lactose-free formula. This is regular table sugar which you usually add to coffee or tea. It is categorically not recommended to use formula containing only sucrose as a carbohydrate. In the baby’s organism, sucrose is separated into glucose and fructose meaning that 50% of all carbohydrates are fructose, which is contraindicated for those from 1 to 3 years old.
Corn syrup and maltodextrin
Both corn syrup and maltodextrin are common types of carbohydrates in baby food that increase blood sugar rapidly. Maltodextrin is also often obtained from corn starch, as well as other starches (e.g. potato). It is slightly less sweet than corn syrup.
So why is sugar in infant formula?
First of all, it is a source of easily digestible carbohydrates and that is very important. Secondly, some sugars (e.g. maltodextrin) also serve to create a thicker consistency. Thirdly, for formulas based on partially hydrolyzed proteins, corn syrups are added to get rid of unpleasant odors and tastes.
Still, it is better to look for formula without corn syrup, maltodextrin, and glucose syrup among the components, because they have a high glycemic index which leads to high blood sugar and can be harmful to a baby.
Also read: Things You Need to Keep in Mind If You are Planning on Breastfeeding Your Baby