Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lecithin, Plugged Ducts & Mastitis

I had not heard of lecithin until today, in the Midwifery Today e-newsletter, where they featured this information about it:
Lecithin is present in many of the foods we eat, but it is most concentrated in foods that are high in cholesterol and fats. Organ meats, red meats and eggs are the most concentrated sources of dietary lecithin. With the current trend of reducing cardiovascular disease and improving overall health quality, many breastfeeding women lean toward low-calorie, low-cholesterol diets. People are limiting their consumption of organ meats and eggs, thus limiting their intake of lecithin (USDA 1979 and 1992). This reduction most likely results in an inadequate dietary intake of lecithin.

The diet of the average American today also has less lecithin than that of the previous generation because purified and refined foods comprise the bulk of their diet. With the current demand for highly processed foods, refined sugars and hydrogenated fats, consumption of lecithin is further decreased, possibly even to the point where consumption of foods containing lecithin is at suboptimal levels for health.

The average pregnant and breastfeeding woman eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in saturated fats, is not able to naturally produce enough lecithin to assist with the emulsification of fats in her blood stream and carry out milk duct cleanup.

Scientists tell us that the body, without dietary sources, is not able to synthesize an adequate supply of lecithin. Lecithin is produced in the liver, and small amounts are present in foods such as brewer's yeast, grains, legumes, fish and wheat germ. People who eat the SAD, elderly people, breastfeeding women, infants, children and those who would like to improve memory, strengthen nerve growth and decrease buildup of fatty deposits in liver, heart and brain would benefit from supplemental lecithin.

The best form of supplemental lecithin is the granular form. Avoiding liquid lecithin, usually found in gel capsules, is advisable. It is primarily designed for commercial use as an emulsifier in food, cosmetics, paints and so on. It is a bad-tasting, sticky material and consists of about 37% oil and only 60% phosphatides. This combination would add to the high dietary fat content that lecithin has to clean up in the body. Capsules are a high-calorie, low-potency supplement, but if a pregnant or breastfeeding woman cannot find granulated lecithin locally or has difficulty adapting to sprinkling granules on her food, taking lecithin in capsule form is far better than not taking it at all.

— Cheryl Renfree Scott
Excerpted from "Lecithin: It Isn't Just for Plugged Milk Ducts and Mastitis Anymore," Midwifery Today, Issue 76
I thought it was particularly interesting in relation to plugged ducts and mastitis. Kellymom also has a page about plugged ducts and lecithin, Lecithin treatment for recurrent plugged ducts.

Plugged ducts can be very uncomfortable and can lead to mastitis. Kellymom has some excellent general information on plugged ducts and mastitis: Plugged Ducts and Mastitis.

These are the recommendations I share with my clients on how to avoid plugged ducts & mastitis:

** Do not wear bras that are too tight.

** Do not wear underwire bras.

** Take care of yourself: get some rest, and eat nutritious food.

** Breastfeed frequently, making sure to empty both breasts over the course of several feeding sessions.

** Pay attention to how you sleep – avoid compressing breast tissue overnight.

** Make sure to feed baby from both breasts during the night, too. Sometimes it’s easier to favor one breast if baby is sleeping with you.

When I had mastitis (thankfully, only once) from a plugged duct, what helped me the most was hot showers and really hot compresses over the blockage and feeding my son from that side first, when he was hungriest. The trick that I didn’t hear about until later: point the baby’s chin toward the blockage (try different positions as necessary), as that tends to direct the most efficient pressure at the plugged duct.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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Blogger Jennmoya said...

So if I added more eggs and organ meats to my diet would it have the same benefit of taking lecithin granules? I just don't like the idea of using a soy by-product. I have been suffering from plugged milk ducts.
Thank you for the wonderful information.

July 30, 2010 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger TheUpLater said...

I'm wondering the same as Jenn. I'm 30w pregnant and still nursing my son. With him, I was very prone to clogged ducts and, beginning this week, have noticed some clogging beginning to happen already. I'm wondering if soy lecithin granules, which were my saving grace with my son, would be safe to take during pregnancy and at what dosage. I'm finding a lot of conflicting opinions in my online research. I know this article is a few years old, but I'm hoping for answers anyway. :) Thanks!

January 25, 2013 at 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the up later...
No taking the lecithin granules will not be harmful. I am 36 w pregnant and I have had a midwife who is very knowledgeable about everything "ALL Natural" She has written a book and has thousands of very successful non-complicated deliveries in her girls she works with. In her book she recommends in the 3rd trimester to intake soy lecithin granules to help the babys head become heavier, and stay in a head down position for the delivery. Also in my book it says that baby receiving the granules in 3rd trimester tend to be smarter and better problem solvers in life than those who didn't have it. Book is great info and it has a section on anything and everything pregnancy wise if your looking to have more kids. Its a better alternative and if your looking for all natural pregnancies this is definately the way to go. Every ailment under the sun for pregnancies there is a cure. I am on my 5th child and found her and this book pregnant w my 4th child. Wish it had been my 1st. no sickness with any of my children and felt great. it's called Powerfully Pregnant by Donna Young. Purple book with white lily on the cover. Goodluck with your pregnancy and life.

January 18, 2014 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger paulinha said...

I have been taking soy lecithin in capsules and I didn't know the granules are better. How should I take them? in which dosage? thank you very much!

September 7, 2014 at 4:08 AM  
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