(a blog from a concerned parent and a doctor....)
Being tall means you’re naturally a success. People look up to you. Tall people have an edge, literally over the others, be it self esteem, standing out, making a presence. In my case, as a surgeon, in operating theatre, when the ease of viewing a surgery.. the list is endless.Is your child’s height under your control?
Does how tall you grow, really in your control? Growth can happen in childhood, puberty and post puberty. During each of these phases, there are so many factors which influence the speed of growth. The final height a person reaches is mostly related to the parental and genetic make up. But the extra few inches which make a big deal for each person could come with other influences.. Let us look through a few things which could impact our growth.
This blog is for parents. Most of the questions which arise in your mind about child growth and your concerns may find its answer here.. Many of the concepts discussed here may already be common knowledge for you, just make sure you are on the right track...
Between 2 to 10 years of age, a child will grow at a steady rate about 6-7 cm each year. The rapid growth spurt starts around time of puberty and continues till 9-15 years of age. Moreover this regular growth can get slowed when a child is sick for a prolonged period, or in children suffering from chronic illnesses. When the child recovers from the illness, there can be a rebound or catch up growth, based on the nutrition support of the child at that time. Otherwise most children follow a uniform growth within the percentiles in a paediatrician’s chart.
The most common influence is genetic and so pushing the child to eat more food is not going to increase the height, but may increase the weight and childhood obesity is a common problem and has been shown to trend to obesity in adulthood, which as you know is fraught with its own problems.
Let us make the best of our environment which will give good support to our children’s growth. Being a dad of two kids, and watching them grow, the single most factor I’ve seen is food.DIET:
Bones form the frame work of our body. Bones undergo continuous remodelling – there is dynamic breakdown and buildup happening all the time. The framework and scaffolding needs protein, calcium and vitamin D.
Foods which contain good sources of protein are fish, chicken, dals, soya,egg white and milk. In a study, when children were given a regular intake of egg, there was better growth. One of our yester chief minister’s introduced the concept of one egg/day/child in government schools. It has long been debated if cow’s milk is better or substituting almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk is better. Cow’s milk has been shown to stimulate growth in well nourished children in studies. Lactose has potential growth stimulating effects and the high content of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc in mild also help in growth.
Vegetarian sources of protein are slightly inferior to animal protein, but still offers its own goodness. They are soy bean, pulses such as beans, peas, sprouted lentils, nuts, mushroom etc. Millets, rice, wheat are all a source of protein, but they have more carbohydrates than protein. Children require around 1 g/kg/day of good protein. Taking natural source of protein in food rather than protein supplements will definitely make a difference in the long run.
Calcium is found in milk, green leafy vegetables, fish, meat, almonds etc. Vitamin D is freely available in the morning sunlight from 10 am- 1 pm and also between 6:30 to 7:30 am. So encourage your children to play outdoors and adopt one sport on a compulsory basis.It is also found in fish, cod liver oil, meat,eggs, mushrooms etc.
The key to encourage a child to eat healthy, is to eat healthy yourself. Including a wholesome meal with all nutrients, with low preservatives should become a habit.
A child needs healthy exercise to keep the bones growing well. The bone has ways to sense the stress and strain it is subject to. The more the impact on the joints and bones, more growth signals and remodelling signals are sent to the bone. The bones grow stronger as a result. This is a well proven fact. In fact, when a person is bedridden for prolonged periods of time, the bones are so weak that even a trivial trauma can cause a fracture.
Which are the exercises which would help a child grow taller? The first exercise that springs to any mind is skipping and a sport like basketball which involves a lot of jumping. Good stretching exercises and hanging by hands on the monkey bars in a park and swimming are really good for growth too. Yoga, especially surya namaskar with its wide range of stretches is also good for overall health.
A good 10-12 hours of sleep is a must in a child upto 12 years of age. Older children too need atleast 8-10 hours of sleep. The growth hormone gets secreted more in children during sleep. So ensuring good sleeping habits is of prime importance. Going to sleep before 8:30 - 9 pm and waking up at 6-7 am ensures atleast 6 healthy sleep cycles.
A child who is emotionally secure and happy, grows well. Studies do show that children who have had emotional problems have a lower adult height. So teaching the importance of being happy and teaching our children to be emotionally strong is very important, not only for their mental health, but also for their physical height.
All in all, looking up at all the tiny hints, it does look like giving an egg, fish, milk and green vegetables everyday, sending them to the playground in the early morning to skip and play on the monkey bars happily with friends, and sleep for 10 hours at night... regularly.... is the best bet. We can’t beat our parental genes, as they are the ones which are going to actually determine the height mostly. But if doing this all can add an inch more, who’s complaining!!!!