Breastfeeding provides ideal nutrition for infants, boosting their immune systems and promoting healthy development. Many nursing mothers wonder if consuming wheatgrass and barley could impact their milk supply or the quality of their breastmilk. Understanding the potential benefits and risks can help mothers make informed decisions about incorporating these ingredients into their diets.
Nutritional Profile of Wheatgrass and Barley
Wheatgrass and barley are nutritious grasses often consumed as juice or powder supplements.
Wheatgrass is the young grass shoots of the wheat plant Triticum aestivum. It contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients:
|Vitamin C||Vitamin E||Vitamin K|
|Vitamin A||B Vitamins||Iron|
|17 Amino Acids||Chlorophyll||Antioxidants|
Barley is a cereal grain from the grass Hordeum vulgare. It contains:
|Fiber||Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6|
Both wheatgrass and barley supply antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids important for health.
Potential Breastfeeding Benefits
The nutritious profiles of wheatgrass and barley may benefit breastfeeding mothers and infants:
Increased Milk Supply
Some breastfeeding mothers report wheatgrass and barley help increase their milk supply. This may be due to:
– Improved nutrition from the dense vitamins and minerals.
– Phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen and prolactin involved in milk production.
However, no studies confirm wheatgrass or barley definitively increase breastmilk supply.
Improved Milk Nutrients
The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in wheatgrass and barley could potentially enhance the nutritional quality of breastmilk.
For example, wheatgrass provides vitamin A needed for infant vision and development. Barley supplies vitamin B6 important for baby’s brain development and immune health.
However, research has not specifically analyzed impacts on breastmilk composition.
Some sources claim wheatgrass and barley can help detoxify breastmilk by removing heavy metals, pollutants and toxins.
No evidence supports this directly. But improved maternal nutrition could theoretically reduce toxin transfer to milk.
Potential Breastfeeding Risks
Despite potential benefits, wheatgrass and barley also have possible risks for breastfeeding:
Wheat grass contains gluten, which can trigger allergic reactions or sensitivities in mother or baby. Barley contains gluten-like proteins which may also elicit adverse reactions in those with gluten intolerance.
Mothers should discontinue use if any allergy symptoms appear.
High supplemental doses of certain nutrients like vitamin A can deplete levels of other nutrients like vitamin D.
Excessively high intake of wheatgrass or barley could potentially lead to imbalanced nutrition for mother or baby. Moderation is advised.
Wheatgrass and barley could be contaminated with bacteria, molds mycotoxins if not properly cleaned or sourced from reputable suppliers.
Unsafe products could make mother or baby sick. Only certified organic, reputable brands should be consumed.
Interactions with Medications
Wheatgrass and barley may interact with certain medicines.
For example, wheatgrass is high in vitamin K, which could interfere with blood thinners. Barley contains gluten, which could diminish effects of medications for celiac disease.
Mothers should consult their physician before using wheatgrass or barley supplements.
No official recommendations exist for wheatgrass or barley consumption during breastfeeding. Most sources suggest:
– 1-2 ounces wheatgrass juice per day
– 30-45 grams barley per day
These small amounts are likely safe for most mothers and allow benefits without significant risk. Larger doses may be unsafe and require medical supervision.
When used in moderation, wheatgrass and barley are likely safe for breastfeeding mothers. The dense nutrition may support milk quality and supply. However, large or excessive amounts could pose risks like allergies, deficiencies and contaminants. Nursing mothers should exercise caution, watch for side effects and consult a doctor before using wheatgrass or barley supplements. A balanced diet focused on whole foods remains the healthiest approach for breastfeeding nutrition.