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Galactagogues: Superfoods For Promoting Breastmilk

Galactagogues: Superfoods For Promoting Breastmilk

It is a well-known fact that breastmilk is the best and complete form of food for babies up to 6 months of age. Not being breastfed can increase the risk of many diseases in later life for the baby as well as for the mother.

However, in India, approximately only 50-60% of children under 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed (NFHS-5). There can be many factors for this such as an increasing shift towards formula milk, certain health conditions, etc.

If you are a new mom or know someone who is, you must have heard them being worried about not producing enough breastmilk for their babies. There can be various causes of low breastmilk supply. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle pattern even before conceiving, too much stress, preterm birth, certain medications, health conditions are a few to name.

The amount of breast milk produced depends on the demands of the baby. When mothers give formula milk without any medical indication for it, it can trick the breasts into producing less milk as there is no demand.

Now, there are a few medications that help increase milk supply. But we have many natural sources as an alternative. So, lactating mothers need to know about certain foods believed to help increase their breastmilk production. These foods are called Galactagogues.

Superfoods that may improve the production of breastmilk:


Methi seeds are the most commonly used galactagogue. It has been used for decades to help increase breast milk supply. To boost milk supply, methi seed water can be taken. Or chewing the seeds. Methi leaves are eaten as a vegetable. It can also be added to various other dishes.

Fennel seeds (saunf):

This is another traditional remedy. Some studies show that fennel seeds increase the hormones which help in milk production. Mothers can try saunf water or add saunf to make saunf tea or in other dishes.


Garlic has a lot of health-benefiting properties. It is believed to increase breastmilk supply, though there is not much scientific evidence. And it can affect the taste and smell of breastmilk. Garlic is generally used in vegetable curries in our Indian cuisines.


We use ginger as a common household ingredient and it has been used as a remedy for many health conditions. Ginger also has certain compounds which help in boosting breastmilk production. Breastfeeding mothers can add ginger in tea or curries or simply in water.

Seeds such as garden cress, flaxseeds (alsi), sesame seeds (til):

Are all potent galactagogues. They contain certain compounds and essential fatty acids which are required for breast milk production.

Other spices like turmeric (haldi), cumin seeds (jeera):

All these spices have been a part of our Indian food for so many years. They are also believed to help in breastmilk production.

Asparagus (Shatavari):

It is mainly used in Ayurveda for its medicinal properties. It acts as a galactagogue by increasing the production of hormones that help produce breastmilk.


They contain compounds that activate hormones responsible for milk production. Papaya can be taken in the form of fruit or its leaves in the form of juice.

Whole grains:

Moving on from spices and condiments, whole grains such as oats, millets, barley, dalia, are all helpful in maintaining hormonal balance. And thus, help in milk production. We are a carb-rich nation, so these whole grains can be easily added into a lactating mother’s daily diet.

We can have many more foods believed to aid in lactation such as chickpeas and lentils, green leafy vegetables, gourd vegetables, banana flowers, coriander, tulsi, nuts like almonds, and walnuts, etc.

Now, how do we add these foods to increase breastmilk?

Here are a few galactagogue recipes to try:

Methi seeds laddoo

Ingredients include ½ cup methi seeds, 1 cup jaggery, 200g dates, powdered almonds and cashews, dry roasted khus-khus seeds, ½ cup water, and ghee.


a. Deseed the dates, chop, and shallow fry in ghee until they become soft. Make a fine paste.

b. Dissolve jaggery in water and filter it.

c. Roast methi in very little ghee until aroma arises and makes a fine powder.

d. Warm the jaggery water mix, add all the ingredients, and mix.

e. Make ladoos and store.

Methi soup

Ingredients include 1 cup fresh fenugreek leaves, ½ cup onion, 1 ripe tomato, 3-4 garlic cloves, 2 cups water or dal water (Cook in a pressure cooker: 2 Tbsp Yellow Moong Dal (split yellow gram) in ½ cup water, Salt and pepper to taste, 2 tsp sesame seed oil, coriander


a. Heat oil in a pan, add chopped onion, garlic, and sauté until onions turn translucent.

b. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes

c. Now add cleaned and chopped fenugreek leaves and sauté until the greens wilt

d. Add 2 cups of diluted dal water, salt and simmer for 15 minutes. You can also pressure cook for 7-8 minutes.

e. Blend half of the quantity and then add this to the rest of the soup and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add pepper to taste.

Multiseed mukhwas

Ingredients include 1/4 cup flax seeds (alsi), 1/8 cup black sesame seeds (kale til), 1/4 cup fennel seeds (saunf), 1/4 cup white sesame seeds (til), 1/8 cup carrom seeds (ajwain), 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt


a. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Keep aside for a while.

b. Dry roast it on a pan until aroma arises.

c. Cool the mix and store well.

Likewise, we can use other recipes like oats porridge, halim (garden cress seeds) ladoo, garlic roti, adrak-tulsi tea etc can be tried.

Final Word

In conclusion, galactagogues may have benefits for a breastfeeding mom. However, mothers should take precautions as some may have side effects when taken too much. Hence, a well-balanced diet along with some galactagogue ingredients added works perfectly fine for a breastfeeding mother.

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