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Helping children grow to attain their optimum height is often a big concern for parents. But what we don’t realise is how a child’s height can actually also affect his confidence. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with your child being short for his age or growing at a slower rate than his peers. Many a time, kids who are comparatively shorter are made fun of or are bullied at school, and this may make them fearful and can also impact their self-confidence.
It is important to note here that height is usually determined by genes. However, studies have found that external factors, like the food one eats, can also make a difference and influence the height of the person in his growing years. The three most important determining factors for height are genes, diet and lifestyle. You cannot change the genetic makeup you have passed on to your kids, but you can do your bit to ensure that the other two factors are taken care of – that your child has a healthy diet and lifestyle to support his growth. Inadequate nutrition can stunt the growth of a child, no matter how strong his genes are.
Video: 10 Best Foods to Increase Height in Children
The Relationship Between Food and the Height of Children
If you and your partner are tall, the chances of your child being tall are very high. Similarly, if both parents are short, the child is also mostly going to be on the shorter side too. But what a lot of parents are unaware of is that it is in their hands to enable their kids to grow to their full height, which might be more than their genetically determined height, if the recommended diet to increase height in children is followed. It might not make a dramatic difference but can boost the predetermined height of the child by a couple of inches.
A child starts growing almost instantly after birth. It is important to know that women reach their full height approximately by the age of 19 and men can grow up until the age of 25. In our bodies, it is mainly the pituitary gland which plays the biggest role in determining our height. The pituitary gland secretes the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which is responsible for an increase in height. There are a number of foods which can help in stimulating the function of the Human Growth Hormone so that one can achieve the maximum possible height in their growing years.
When it comes to the relation between food and child growth, you should understand what nutrients help the child and how. Read on for a list of foods that can help your child grow tall.
Amazing Foods for Kids and Children to Grow Taller Naturally
So, which are the foods that can help children grow taller naturally? To understand this, let us look at the nutrients that help your child grow and the foods that contain those nutrients.
Nutrients Essential to Achieve Optimum Height
This is one of the most important dietary factors when it comes to boosting height in kids. Protein is essential for building, developing and maintaining muscles and tissues in the body. Protein deficiency can lead to stunted or abnormal growth as well as low muscle mass. Hence, you should make sure that your child’s diet is balanced with enough proteins in it.
Certain minerals in food are essential for supporting the growth of the child in terms of height. Foods which are rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, iodine, manganese and fluoride are known to enhance growth in children and teenagers. Calcium is crucial as well, as it not only supports growth but also makes the bones strong.
When it comes to bone health and height, Vitamin D plays a crucial role. This is because it helps in the absorption of calcium in the body. A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to not only weak bones and stunted growth but can also have a negative effect on height. Apart from this, the other vitamins essential for proper growth in kids include Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, riboflavin, ascorbic acid and Vitamin F. Vegetables and fruits rich in vitamins are essential in a healthy, balanced diet.
Carbs are usually considered harmful, but they are actually essential in a diet for kids to increase their height. Carbohydrates give energy to the body, especially in the case of kids. Having said that, you obviously need to ensure that your child’s diet comprises of healthy carbohydrates. The carbohydrates he consumes should be from whole-grain foods like wheat and cereals. Food comprising of refined flour, such as pizza, burgers, and white bread, are rich in carbohydrates that can be harmful.
Besides carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, your child also needs the recommended amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in his diet to ensure good health and optimum height. Encourage your child to pick foods which contain these nutrients when making meal choices.
Foods That Help to Increase Height
Your child can get the above-mentioned nutrients from a variety of foods. These include:
1. Dairy Products
Dairy products like milk, cottage cheese and curd are all high in essential minerals like calcium and vitamins like A, B, D and E. Milk is also a good source of protein, which helps in cell growth in the body. No child’s diet is complete without a big glass of milk every day. Yoghurt is a great option too!
High in proteins, calcium, Vitamin B12 and riboflavin, eggs are essential additions to your child’s diet if you want to boost his height. The white in the egg (or albumin) is 100% protein. So, if you want to keep the fat away, you can feed him only egg white and not the yolk. The best part about eggs is that they can be prepared in so many ways that your child could be having them every day and not get bored! From the humble boiled egg to tasty omelettes, there are a variety of ways to cook eggs!
Chicken is also high in protein just like eggs; in fact, it is one of the highest protein-content items among animal-based foods. Chicken helps in building your child’s tissues and muscles which, in turn, helps him grow taller.
This is another underrated nutritious food that helps boost your child’s health and height! It is rich in proteins, folate, vitamins, carbohydrates and fibre, and is a good alternative for those looking for vegetarian protein options. Tofu made from soybeans is beneficial for health too!
Rich in potassium, manganese, and calcium, the humble banana is a simple fruit which can really help in boosting your child’s health.
6. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are also great foods to give your kid when he is growing. Nuts and seeds are rich in essential minerals and vitamins as well as healthy fats and amino acids, which are vital for growth. You can add them to breakfast cereals or other breakfast preparations or give these to your child as a snack.
7. Leafy Green Vegetables
Your kid might make a face when he sees green veggies, but you know how good they are for him! Green veggies like broccoli, spinach, peas, okra and brussels sprouts are rich in essential minerals, vitamins and fibre too. All these elements are imperative for good overall growth and development. Green veggies should be included in his diet, no matter how many excuses he makes not to eat these!
The intake of fresh seasonal fruits is also good for your child. They are so rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre that any child’s diet would be incomplete without them. So, make sure you feed your child all types of fruits, especially those rich in Vitamin C and A, like papayas, oranges, watermelon, mangoes, apples, and apricots.
Another non-vegetarian option, fish is rich in proteins and Vitamin D, which are necessary for bone and muscle development.
It’s no secret that carrots are rich in vitamins A and C. These vitamins are essential for preserving calcium in the bones and keeping them healthy.
11. Whole Grains
Whole grains are very healthy and are essential for kids. They are a storehouse of energy, being very rich in fibre, vitamins, iron, magnesium and selenium. Whole grain bread and pasta are great options to include in your child’s diet to boost his height!
12. Red Meat
Meant to be given in moderation, red meat is another non-vegetarian food option which is super rich in protein. However, since too much red meat is not good for the body, its consumption should be moderate.
Another food that’s known to stimulate the growth hormone in the body is beans. Whether they’re boiled, baked or cooked, they are great for your child! Plus, beans come loaded with fibre. proteins, and other nutrients as well.
Foods to Avoid
While the above foods help increase height in children, there are some which are detrimental to growth as well. The intake of excessive sugar, salts, coffee, fat and aerated drinks should be curbed. This is because these foods, known as calcium inhibitors, can impact the absorption of calcium in the body in a negative way. Smoking and consumption of drugs in your child’s growing years can also stunt growth and take a negative toll on health. Children with poor eating habits can also develop health complications like obesity, heart disease, type 1 diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis, in the long run!
Here are some more tips that you can follow in addition to providing your child with a healthy diet, that can help boost his growth:
- Make sure your child has a regular sleep routine. The body releases the growth hormone while we rest, so it’s imperative that your child doesn’t skimp on sleep at all. Depending on the age of the child, the hours of sleep required can vary; newborn babies need at least 14-17 hours of sleep every night, while 3- to 11-month-olds need 12-17 hours of sleep per night. As the child grows older, the duration tends to decrease and comes down to 10-13 hours of sleep for ages 3 to 5. Sleeping and waking up at the same time every day not only has health benefits but instils discipline too.
- Encourage your child to exercise and play every day instead of being sedentary. Some activity or sports outdoors every day is bound to do him good, not only in terms of helping him get essential Vitamin D from the sun but also by exercising his muscles in the process. If possible, engage in some fun outdoor activities with your child that both of you can enjoy and bond over.
- Ensure that your child maintains a good posture. This will not only help keep the muscles in his back and neck healthy, but it will also help him look taller too. Slumping, hunching over, and slouching can make your child look shorter than he is and lead to pain in his back and neck too.
- Exercises like swimming, those that involve jumping (like basketball), certain yoga poses like Surya Namaskar, stretches, skipping and jogging can also go a long way in boosting your child’s height during his growing years. Do remember that this works best when supplemented with a balanced diet and lifestyle.
- Make sure your child has a healthy lifestyle. The type of lifestyle you lead as a family can really help in boosting your child’s health and height as well. Keep your child off junk food and make sure he enjoys home-cooked meals, which is how you can also make sure that the diet is balanced in every aspect.
- Ask your doctor to recommend some good supplements to boost your child’s health and immunity. Vitamin and mineral supplements can help your child get a good balance of nutrients in the body. But this should be done only on a doctor’s recommendation. Over-the-counter products marketed as ‘height enhancers’ for children may not work. Avoid giving them to your child without consulting your doctor first.
Your child’s height is majorly determined by the genes. And while there is no magic potion which can boost your child’s height overnight, a good diet and lifestyle can go a long way in making your child taller. Plus, a healthy and balanced diet has other advantages too, such as helping your child maintain his overall health and boosting his development.