IS the height of your child pre-ordained? Scientists have been arguing for years on nature vs. nurture and how our genetics rule our lives. Can we grow taller? Get smarter? What should we do to help our child maximize their potential? Well, here are some simple tips and the secrets behind beating and improving our genetics.
In this Article:
- Can you beat your genetics?
- Nutrition is key – what foods are best?
- Exercises to help your kids grow taller?
- It’s all in the sleep
- And one last secret…
Can you beat your genetics?
Well, yes, to a point. You aren’t going to turn your child into a 7’ footer if both parents are average height. So, if you want your child to be an NBA’er or an WNBA’er put a basketball in their hands. You aren’t going to be able to shoot them up a foot by giving them a supplement or vitamin to increase their height. However, science shows, depending upon your ethnic background – genetics – accounts for only 60 – 80% of your child’s height.
We’re talking about inches and sometimes centimeters of improvement. Will it make a difference? Yes, studies show that future income is influenced by height in both men and women. An extra inch can equate to as much as $800 increase in annual salaries. That’s a huge difference over a lifetime. In addition, that added inch increases perceived attractiveness and even intelligence in all sexes. If you’re taller, people will automatically think you are smarter and better looking. It’s just human nature.
Let’s maximize but how?
Nutrition is key – what foods are best?
Nutrition is the biggest influence on height outside of genetics. Eat right to increase your height. Foods high in protein, vitamin D, and calcium are all key elements. There is no magic bullet, but eat these foods to help maximize your child’s height…
Plant-based protein – Protein is key for your child and has the biggest impact upon height. Nuts, nut-butters, beans and lentils, are all excellent sources of protein. A stalk of celery filled with healthy peanut butter or almond butter is like a turbo boost for height. Quinoa is a complete plant protein that tastes great and can be added to many dishes. Flax seeds, hemp seeds, chickpeas can all be added to dishes to increase protein and variety in your child’s diet. Toss some walnuts or almonds into some yogurt. It’s easy to add protein if you make it a priority.
Whole Eggs and Dairy – Eggs have been in the diets of humans since the beginning. Eggs are nutritious whole foods and are rich in protein. The white of the egg is albumin and is 100% protein. However, we recommend using the whole egg. Whole eggs add healthy fats, Vitamin B12, and calcium. Eggs are also extremely versatile. Scrambled, fried, baked, hard-boiled; eggs can be cooked in many ways. I’m sure your child will have a favorite. Who doesn’t love a good egg burrito for breakfast?
And let’s not forget milk. Milk is high in protein, vitamin D, A, B, E and calcium. These are all critical in helping your child grow tall. Avoid milk that isn’t organic. Organic milk is free of rBGH and rBST, two growth hormones which can negatively impact your child’s growth, and antibiotics. A cleaner diet will help maximize growth naturally. Milk is also high in Omega 3’s. Healthy fats are essential for proper nutrition
Veggies - I know. It’s hard to get your kids to eat vegetables. Check out this article for some simple, fun ways to get kids to eat more veggies . Kale and Spinach are packed full of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Bananas – An easy one because every kid loves Bananas. Bananas are rich in manganese, potassium, and calcium, the king of height.
Fruits – Oranges, apples, mangoes, nectarines, grapefruit; they all work great. Fruits high in vitamin C will help the body absorb and utilize calcium. Calcium is critical to growth.
So why not meat? - Well, lean meats and fish, especially those that are grass-fed, organic or wild caught are fine. They are high in protein and healthy fats. Just keep them to a minimum. Use them as a supplement to a plant-based diet. Variety is important in your diet. Chicken works as well. Organic and free-range chickens free from any hormones or antibiotics are best.
Foods to avoid – Sodas and all aerated drinks are not only full of sugar or worse sweeteners of some type – often hidden – but they are also calcium inhibitors. That’s right, they actually often block the body’s ability to efficiently absorb calcium. And as we know, calcium is critical to growing taller. Carbohydrate rich foods – especially those that are highly processed – such as cereals, rice, breads, and pastas can negatively impact the bodies human growth hormones. If you’re going to eat these carbohydrate laden foods, try and stick to whole grains and natural foods, not the instant or processed versions. In general, stay away from highly processed foods. Fresh and natural is the way to go.
One last thing - Unless ordered by your doctor stay away from supplements, pills, and magic potions that claim to increase your child’s height. They don’t work. You want whole foods. You want a balanced diet. You want vitamins that are not fortified or synthetic but vitamins from whole foods.
Exercises to help your kids grow taller?
Exercise helps. Exercises that focus on movement and that elongate the body help children grow taller. Exercise can help stretch and elongate the bands of cartilage and tendons around the arms and legs. This creates room allowing for better bone growth. Posture helps as well. Standing straight and tall helps make room for proper bone growth resulting in taller children. In addition, daily movement and exercise will help promote growth hormones within the body. Let your kid play in the back yard. Get some vitamin D. Go on a nature walk. Chase the dog. Move! Every day.
Try these great exercises to improve posture and help your child grow tall…
Yoga – Today we are lucky to have many, many types of yoga available. We can stream a class into our home. There are yoga’s that specialize in improving posture. Really, any type of yoga is great for boosting height. Pick one you like and do it together as a family.
Stretching – Don’t like yoga? Try some stretching. Simple stretches that will elongate the spine and neck are the best. You are trying to free up your joints and loosen tendons and ligaments to give all of your bones the room and strength to grow. Anything that helps elongate your body creates room for growth. Create a daily stretching routine and join in with your kids. It’s fun, cheap, and will help your kids grow tall. You’ll feel energized.
Hanging – Did you know astronauts are 3 to 5% taller when they get back from space. Gravity is a constant force in our life and is compressing us every day. Do some hanging. Just ten minutes a day can make a difference. Pull-ups are great exercise but if your kid can’t do a pull-up – just let them hang. If you have a park nearby with a jungle gym – walk over with your kid and have them do some monkey swings. They stretch the body, elongate the spine, and build strength.
Swimming – swimming may be the king of sports for making kids taller. Again, it elongates the spine, stretches the neck and core muscles, and it promotes growth hormones in the body. Most exercise and sports will promote growth hormones. Tennis, basketball, soccer (stay away from those headers though) are all great sports and will help promote growth hormone production in the body. However, swimming helps to elongate the body as well. It’s stretching and strength building in one fluid motion.
Exercise to avoid – Heavy weight-lifting can interfere with the natural human growth hormone in pre- and early teens. Stick to bodyweight exercise and sports to build strength. Disruption of growth hormone secretion can have a dramatic impact on height.
It’s all in the sleep
You’ve probably come down for breakfast and sworn that your child grew an inch overnight. And you’d be right. Well, that’s because, even though your activities throughout the day help regulate growth hormones most of these body building, height making hormones are secreted at night while in deep sleep. You literally grow in your sleep. Children need 11-14 hours of sleep a night. Teens need 8 -11 hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep also affects weight. Excessive weight can be a double whammy. It disturbs hormone levels, increases stress on the heart and cardiovascular system, reduces height, and often leads to obesity in adults. Get them to bed early and let them sleep.
Try these steps for better sleep…
Create a nighttime routine - We all have morning routines. Create a nighttime routine for your children. Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bedtime. Brush your teeth. Put on PJ’s. Climb in bed and say goodnight. Say a prayer together. Give thanks for your day. Your routine can take any shape or fashion but stick to it. It’s a signal to the body to start preparing for sleep.
Don’t eat too late – Help your body stick to the natural sleep cycles. As it gets dark the body signals itself to start slowing down. Your body is preparing for sleep. A late meal creates work for the body via digestion. This can cause sleep disruption and overall poor sleep.
Exercise – Exercise during the day – movement – helps sleep during the night. But not too late. Exercise and move throughout the day. Don’t disrupt the evening with intense workouts. A gentle stretching routine at least an hour before bed may help but gentle is the keyword. Build your child’s evening around preparing for sleep.
Dark and cold is good – Deep sleep is easy and more likely to be undisturbed in a dark room. Remove any light source. Turn off computers. Shut off phones. No TV. No music. If your child needs some sound try some gentle, low volume “pink” noise. Pink noise is the sound of wind, or the ocean, or a heartbeat. Whales singing.
Keep the room between 65 and 70 degrees for kids. Your body temperature decreases while you are lying in bed trying to sleep. This helps initiate sleep and helps foster deeper, undisturbed sleep. Keeping the room below 70 will help the body ease into sleep.
And one last secret…
The power to have an impact on your child’s height doesn’t last forever. Most children have reached their maximum height by the time they have finished puberty. It’s important to start these steps today. Help your child reach their full height and potential.
That’s it. Eat right. Exercise right. Sleep right. Beat your genetics.