Can A Breastfeeding Mother Eat Kola Nuts?



Breastfeeding mothers often have questions about their diet, especially as regards foods alien to them or with surrounding controversies. The foods you eat while breastfeedingis important for your health and your baby's. 


However, major concerns are often raised as to what to eat and how to consume it right. The consumption of kola nuts is one such that has raised wary concerns, especially with lactating mothers as consumers. 


While the fruit seems laden with potential benefits, there may be certain risks to consider. Let us explore the pros and cons of eating kola nuts as a breastfeeding mother.


Importance of diet as a breastfeeding mother


During the period of breastfeeding, deficiency in your diet may reflect in the lowest level in your baby and may put them at risk of certain health challenges over time.


While breastfeeding, you must stay steady on calories and foods rich in protein, iron and calcium. This is to boost the milk supply, provide energy, strengthen the bones and transport oxygen through the body.


A proper diet is essential for a breastfeeding mother as it helps to balance the nutrients in the breast milk for adequate growth and development of her and the baby.


What is Kolanut?

Kolanut is a nut from the kola tree native to West Africa. The tree has existed for centuries, with its fruit used in some cultures as ceremonial offerings to traditional heads and in producing local medicines.


When chewed fresh, this nut-containing caffeine has a nutty astringent taste but is milder after it has gone dry. The main active ingredient in kolanut is caffeine, which is strongly discouraged in large amounts during pregnancy. 



Composition of kolanut

Aside from having caffeine as its chief component, other compounds like theobromine and theophylline make up about 2% of the fruit.


Kola nuts contain a small amount of tannins and flavonoids. It is also a great source of nutrients like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, potassium, protein, carbohydrates and lipids. These compounds all contribute to the unique flavor and medicinal properties of kola nuts. 


Nutritional benefits of kolanut 

Kola nuts have several potential nutritional benefits. Some of these benefits include;


  • A source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties: Antioxidants serve the purpose of shielding the cells from damage. When there is an inflow of oxygen through the body, cells can repair themselves. 


  • Boosts energy level: Kolanut contains B vitamins, which are important for metabolism and energy production. Also, the caffeine content assists in stimulating the central nervous system, thereby increasing alertness.


  • It may increase blood circulation: Kola nuts have been shown to increase blood circulation and boost the immune system because of the caffeine and theobromine content. It aids in speeding up the heart rate, which increases blood circulation.


  • Cognitive stimulants: Kola nuts are sometimes referred to as cognitive boosters, because they improve blood circulation in the brain, thereby facilitating cognition and concentration. 


  • Relief of exhaustion and physical fatigue: The caffeine content in kola nuts may stimulate the central nervous system, the heart, and muscles.


Can a breastfeeding mother eat kolanut?


While some studies have found kola nuts to be safe for breastfeeding mothers, others consider it unsafe. However, experts advise limiting caffeine intake to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day while nursing.


Slight traces of caffeine can enter the breast milk, and babies are more sensitive to caffeine. It is expedient that you closely reduce kolanut intake to ensure it is on the low side or steer clear altogether. If you decide to consume any at all, you must monitor the adverse effects on your baby.



Side effects of eating kola nut as a nursing mother 


There are several potential adverse effects of kola nuts on a breastfeeding mother, but most of these effects are tied to the caffeine content, although this may vary in persons.


Some of these side effects include but not limited to:

  • Jitteriness 
  • Insomnia and restlessness 
  • Bowel irritation
  • Allergic reactions
  • Increased heart rate and anxiety
  • Substance dependence and addiction 


Kola nuts may also be counterproductive if used with certain medications, and therefore, it is necessary to check with your healthcare provider before consumption.


Despite the many health benefits of kolanut, they are yet to be scientifically proven beneficial for breastfeeding mothers. Consume in moderation because of their high caffeine content. Excessive intake of caffeine and other nicotine-containing substances can pose a threat to human health. The limit for daily intake of caffeine should not exceed 300 mg.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Can I take bitter kola as a nursing mother?

It is not entirely advisable to eat bitter kola as a nursing mother because the caffeine content or any other compound can get into the breast milk, but if you must, it has to be in moderation.


Does kolanut increase breast milk production? 

The caffeine content serves as a stimulant and may have the potential to increase milk production in some women. However, there is no scientific proof of this. It is best to speak with a doctor before eating kola nuts to boost breast milk in the mammary glands.


Can I eat kola nut while breastfeeding?

When consumed as much as food, kolanut can be safe while breastfeeding.

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