The optimum nutrition for a baby may come from breast milk, but for many women breastfeeding is not an option. The alternative is commercially prepared infant formulas that have stood the test of time as nutritious alternatives to breast milk. However, as most infant formulas are based on cow’s milk whey and casein as a protein source, many babies develop a variety of symptoms ranging from dermatological and respiratory problems, to gastric distress and other allergic reactions.
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Now two Israeli baby-food executives and the owners of Heart baby food have come up with the world’s first viable dairy and soy-free solution. Setting out to solve what began as a personal problem, Hamutal Yitzhak and Uriel Kesler teamed up to create a new vegetable-based baby formula called Innovative Dairy Infant formula (INDI) that contains neither cow’s milk nor soy, and still claims to provide all the necessary nutrients.
For babies who are intolerant to both dairy and soy, many stores offer hypoallergenic or hydrolyzed formulas, which break down milk proteins into tiny particles that trick the body into believing it isn’t allergic. Still, only 90 percent of children with cow’s milk allergies, which is about two to three percent of infants, can tolerate these formulas. Soy based formulas may be a solution, but infants who are allergic to milk are commonly also allergic to soy.
As the creators of this first-of-its-kind formula, Kesler tells NoCamels that after his granddaughter was born, he realized that the market lacked real alternatives to soy and milk-based formulas. Often overwhelmed with digestive problems, the only solution for his granddaughter was a hydrolyzed formula with a terrible taste and smell, making feeding time for her, and those around her, a difficult process. That’s when Yitzhak, one of the first experts to warn of the dangers of plastic BPA-filled baby bottles, and Kesler came together to give parents what they deserve— INDI—the world’s first vegetable-based formula.
Using the profits that they earned from Heart baby food, Yitzhak and Kesler began research on their new formula at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. They started off experimenting with almonds, but soon discovered that they needed more than just almond paste to fulfill the regulations governing the ratio of protein, fat, carbohydrates and essential amino acids required in infant formula. Through trial and error, they uncovered a secret plant-based component to add to their almond recipe. The rest, as they say, was history!
For those of you eager to know what that secret component is, according to the company, you’ll just have to wait to find out. Yitzhak explains, “We can’t release it yet, until we commercialize the product.”
The veggie-based formulas of the future
Founders Yitzhak and Kesler hope to see their formula hit the market within the next year. They recently completed their first industrial trial in a baby food factory in Germany and are in negotiations with several major companies to acquire additional investments.
“We still need another year to complete safety tests with the babies to make sure there are no side effects. We also need to complete our patent registration and then we will be ready to start marketing,” says the team.
Yitzhak and Kesler hope that their new formula will provide parents with a real alternative to milk and soy-based formulas that have been proven to cause allergies and other side effects. Offering a price competitive with other baby formulas, and targeting babies from 0-36 months, they aspire to appeal to the market at large. “We want to have a formula that babies will like. We want to be able to provide a solution to all babies suffering from allergies. We want to solve these problems.”