Please let my child be short, said no mum ever. Indeed, the quest for height is an age-old one, forged by the belief that tall equals success in all aspects of life. Even the language we use has influenced this perception. You look UP to someone you admire and look DOWN on one you don’t. In fairytales that you read to your little ones, the vertically-challenged are presented as evil, grotesque, caricatures – think the hunchback of Notre Dame, Rumpelstiltskin, and all the witches in every fairy tale.
In contrast, men who are “tall, dark, and handsome” are eligible and desirable conquests. And who hasn’t sighed wistfully at the lissome length of a catwalk model? The nearer to the sky your hair is, the better, it seems, and those of us with tall parents can stand… er… tall, smug in the assurance that we will grow to have height, thanks to mum and dad.
But let’s not celebrate too early. According to Scientific American having tall relatives does not guarantee that you will be as well. In fact, only 60 to 80 per cent of someone’s height is due to genetics. The rest is due to environmental factors and lifestyle choices.
But while maximum height may be pre-dominantly determined by our genes, there are still many things that you can do to encourage healthy growth in your child. These are what some mums in Singapore swear by.
Tian Qi Capsules (田七 药囊)
Tian Qi, known in English as “Notoginseng,” is said to encourage blood circulation and aid in correcting poor blood flow. Hence it is believed to improve nutrient flow to bones, and around the body. Because of this, many mothers use it to help their children grow during puberty. As an added benefit, it is also said to benefit the healing of wounds, broken bones, and tissue damage.
“My son has been engaged in sports since he was a young boy,” says Janice Ong, 48, a former tutor and mother of three. “To excel in the sports he loves, he eats Tian Qi regularly, and hopes that he’ll be healthier and stronger during his growing years.”
If your child is not able to swallow pills, you can break the capsule and dilute the powder within with water, and let them drink it. Do note that children under 10 years old should not take Tian Qi.
Tian Qi & Ginseng Soup
Tian Qi can also be used in soups. This recipe is from Gastronaut Diary.
- Tian Qi (田七) 10 g, sliced thinly
- Ginseng (泡参) 20 g, sliced thinly
- Pork trotter 500 g
- Chicken feet 300 g
- Chicken 400 g
- Honey dates 6
- Chinese yam 250 g, cut into chunks
- Water 4 litres
- Salt 2 tsp
- Put both Chinese herbs in a cloth bag. Secure the opening tightly.
- Blanch pork trotter, chicken feet and chicken for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse meat under tap water.
- Add Chinese herbs, honey dates and Chinese yam in a pot of water. Bring to boil.
- Add meat and boil for 10 minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 2 hours.
- Season soup with salt.
- Serve hot.
Peanut Root Soup
Another well-known traditional soup to add height to kids is the peanut root soup. For this, you need to use raw groundnuts with roots and leaves attached. You can buy this from wet markets. Some stalls only have it on certain days; ask the vegetable stall aunty when they have it, and to reserve some for you. A handful is enough. Cut off the leaves (they make the soup bitter), and use only the stem and the roots.
What’s tough about this is that it is time-consuming to make, as you will have to wash the soil and dirt off the peanut roots. Tip: soak them in water for 30 minutes first to loosen the dirt, then use a toothbrush to help scrape it off.
This recipe is from the Simple Everyday Food blog.
- 250g or more Peanut Roots (excluding stem and leaves)
- 250g Pork Rib
- 1 handful of red dates
- 1500ml Water
- 1-2 tablespoon soy sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Soak, scrub and rinse the roots many times to remove all dirt and grit.
- Blanch the pork rib in some boiling water to remove bad taste and blood. Discard water.
- Bring 1500ml of water to boil, add all ingredients and bring to boil at medium heat. Once it boils, simmer for about 3 hours or longer.
- Serve warm.
Tuina is a form of Chinese medicine technique, usually used with acupuncture and other traditional massage methods. It aims to balance all treatments holistically, and children can consider tuina as part of their holistic approach to reaching maximum height. “Paediatric tuina can correct imbalances in the body, boost general health, improve digestive function and sleep quality, creating an optimal environment to support your child’s growth and development,” says Eu Yan Sang physician Tan Wen Jia.
Besides genetics, nutrition, sleep, exercise, lifestyle, and environment all play a part in your child’s growth and development.
Repeated studies have shown that aside from genetics, nutrition has a heavy impact on growth. The first thing to do is to get rid of carbohydrate-heavy diets. They do not benefit maximum growth. Instead, give your child a diet high in proteins, vitamins and minerals. Low-calorie, high protein foods, such as eggs and peanuts (if there is no allergy), are excellent.
Studies performed on swimmers, gymnasts and tennis players have suggested there is a link between doing aerobic activity and height. While there is no research directly relating specific sports to height increase, physical activity does boost hormone development. There have also been suggestions that stretching helps to improve posture, which in turn encourages kids to stand straighter (and hence taller).
Good Sleep Patterns
Numerous studies have shown that sleep aids growth. As your body sleeps and rests, hormones are released and growth and recovery occur. Ideally, from 3 to 5 years, children should be sleeping 11 to 13 hours a night. From 5 to 10 years, they should be sleeping up to 11 hours. Until the age of 17, kids should be sleeping at least 8 hours a night. Sleep discipline is also important. Maintaining a habit of sleeping at the same time everyday helps children develop a routine for sleep, which helps facilitate a better night’s rest.
Grow Tall, my Child!
While environment plays a smaller role in determining how a child grows to reach his maximum height, it does not mean that its significance isn’t important. Up to 20 to 40 per cent of height is influenced by environmental or lifestyle factors, small changes can make a big difference during puberty.
Achieving maximum growth is something all Mums want for their kids. The great news is that many of these methods an be easily incorporated into your child’s lifestyle.
Just for fun, you can use online height predictors (like this one) to see how tall your child can potentially be. Usually, kids reach their peak height by the time puberty ends; so start now and let them reach for the stars!