Dr. Jennifer Wider, medical advisor for the Society for Women’s Health Research, said there’s no good scientific evidence that spicy food has an adverse effect on breastfed babies.
Enhancing babies’ tastebuds through spicy food
Instead, she says a breastfeeding mother’s diet contributes to determining what kind of eaters their babies will grow up to be. Nursing mothers who eat a variety of flavours, including spicy food, help enhance their babies’ taste buds.
Wider reminds the public that mums don’t formulate breast milk directly from the digestive tract but “from the mother’s blood.”
“So, if [a nursing mother] eats cruciferous vegetables, for example, the nutrients will be pulled into the breast milk, but the gassy component may not affect the baby.”
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases said that mums take four to six hours on average to make breast milk. A mother’s body chemistry can speed up the process to an hour, or as slow as 24 hours.
Breaking down spicy food
After the mom breaks her food down into protein, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and water, some of these components are diverted elsewhere. The body’s circulatory system then transports these nutrients to the mammary glands along with flavours and scent molecules.
This same kind of nutrient transfer also happens during the pregnancy. While babies are in their mother’s womb, they absorb what the mother eats through the bloodstream and amniotic fluid.
So, if a mother’s diet includes spicy food during pregnancy, chances are high that the baby will become accustomed to strong flavours, according to Dr. Paula Meier, professor of paediatrics and nursing at Rush University Medical Centre.
Experience different flavours
Lucy Cooke, senior research associate at University College London, supports this finding.
“Breastfed babies are generally easier to feed later because they’ve had this kind of variety experience of different flavours from their very first stages of life, whereas a formula-fed baby has a uniform experience,” Cooke said.
Cooked added that there is one key thing to remember about diets. While breastfeeding, mothers should expose themselves to a wider variety of different flavours as they can possibly manage.