Both adolescents and their parents are interested in nutritional issues during puberty. Most often this is due to the desire of the former to get rid of the problems with the figure that may arise during this period, and the desire of the latter to sincerely help their children to painlessly survive it.
What is puberty
Sexual maturation, or puberty – This is a natural process, as a result of which changes occur in the adolescent’s body, making him an adult capable of procreation. It is triggered by signals that come from the brain to the sex glands. In response, they produce certain hormones that stimulate the growth and development of the brain, skin, bones, muscles, hair, breasts, and reproductive organs.
Girls puberty, as a rule, occurs at the age of 9-14 years and is controlled mainly by hormones such as estrogen and estradiol, in boys – at the age of 10 – 17 years. Accordingly, testosterone and androgen are taking over from them.
All these changes are often visible to the surrounding naked eye. And it’s not even about the increased growth and development of individual organs and systems. And in mood swings, irritability, and sometimes aggressiveness that are associated with puberty. During the same period, many adolescents have low self-esteem, self-doubt and dissatisfaction with themselves.
Recently, scientists have started talking about premature puberty, which can begin in girls of an earlier age. Various factors can provoke it, as well as postpone it:
- 1 Genes – In 2013, scientists from the University of São Paulo in Brazil, together with their Boston colleagues, published a sensational article in the New England Journal of Medicine. As a result of research, they discovered a new gene – MKRN3, which in some cases provokes the development of premature puberty. In addition, it is well known that 46% of girls start puberty at the same age as their mothers.
- 2 Окружающая среда – there is an opinion that phthalates – chemicals that are used in the manufacture of toys, plastic products or cosmetics, as well as waste from pharmaceutical companies specializing in the production of sex steroids, being incompletely processed, enter the environment. And even in low concentrations, they can provoke the onset of early puberty (at 7 years of age and earlier).
- 3 Racial or national differences: The onset of menstruation in girls of different nations varies from 12 to 18 years old. In representatives of the Negroid race, menarche occurs earlier than everyone else, in representatives of the Asian race living in mountainous regions – later than everyone else.
- 4 disease – some of them can provoke a hormonal surge and, as a result, the onset of early sexual development.
- 5 Food.
Effects of food on puberty
Diet has a tremendous impact on the process of sexual development, especially in girls. Excessively fatty and high-calorie food, which brings additional energy that is not used by the body, subsequently accumulates in it in the form of subcutaneous fat. And he, as you know, is responsible for the bearing and feeding of the offspring and, at some point, signals that there is already enough of it and the body is ready to procreate. This is confirmed by the results of studies that were conducted at the University of Michigan and were published in 2007 in the journal “Pediatrics».
Also, scientists note that in families of vegetarians, puberty in girls begins later than in families of meat-eaters. In addition, poor nutrition, as well as nutrition with a high content of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1, which is produced more actively in the body when eating meat and milk) can provoke premature sexual development.
German scientists from Fulda University of Applied Sciences also pointed out the effect of animal protein on puberty. They were able to prove that “girls whose diet was high in animal protein entered puberty six months earlier than those who consumed it in smaller quantities.”
Vitamins and minerals during puberty
Puberty is characterized by increased growth and development of all organs and systems. This means that during this period, adolescents need a varied and balanced diet, which should include:
- Protein – It is responsible for the growth of cells, tissues and muscles in the body. It comes from meat and dairy products, fish, seafood, as well as legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Healthy fats are those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and oily fish. They should not be neglected as they support the growth and development of the brain.
- Carbohydrates are sources of inexhaustible energy that the body is enriched with through the consumption of foods from whole grains.
- Iron – this trace element is extremely necessary during puberty, as it is directly involved in the growth and development of all organs and systems. The level of hemoglobin in the blood and the synthesis of immune cells depend on it. For representatives of the strong half of humanity, iron helps to strengthen the bones, and for the representatives of the weak, it helps to make up for blood loss during menstruation. Its deficiency leads to weakness, increased fatigue, headaches, depression, irritability, frequent incidence of influenza, SARS, etc. Iron is contained in seafood, meat, eggs, legumes and dried fruits.
- Zinc – it is also necessary for the growth of the body, as it takes part in metabolic processes, is responsible for the formation of the skeleton and the functioning of the immune system. You can enrich your body with it by consuming seafood, lean meat, legumes, nuts, cheese.
- Calcium and vitamin D are the bones of the growing body that need them most. All kinds of dairy products are the source of these substances.
- Folic acid – it takes part in the processes of hematopoiesis, cell division and the synthesis of amino acids and is found in nuts, legumes, liver, spinach, cabbage.
- Magnesium is a stress-relieving mineral that comes primarily from nuts, cereals and legumes.
- Potassium – it has a positive effect on the work of the heart and brain, prevents the appearance of depression and is found in nuts, bananas, potatoes, legumes and dried fruits.
- Vitamin K is essential for bone health and is found in spinach and various types of kale.
Top 10 foods for puberty
Chicken meat is a source of protein, which is a building material for the body. You can replace it with other lean types of meat.
All types of fish – it contains protein, healthy fats, omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated acids, which are responsible for the functioning of the brain, as well as phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
Apples are a source of iron and boron, which strengthens bones. In addition, they improve digestion, effectively cleanse the body and prevent excess weight.
Peaches – they enrich the body with potassium, iron and phosphorus. They also improve the functioning of the brain and heart, relieve nervous and emotional stress.
Citrus fruits are a source of vitamin C and antioxidants that boost immunity and help the body fight stress.
Carrots – it contains potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron, as well as vitamins A, B, C, E, PP, K. Regular consumption of carrots improves vision and the work of the cardiovascular system, prevents depression and excess weight.
Buckwheat – it enriches the body with iron, potassium, calcium, iodine, zinc, vitamins of group B, PP, E. And it has a positive effect on the work of the cardiovascular system and intestines, and also contributes to the mental and physical development of children.
Water – its role in the body can hardly be overestimated. It is equally useful for people of all ages, as it is a breeding ground for cells, improves well-being, takes part in metabolic processes and prevents excess weight.
Milk is a source of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.
Any kind of nuts – they contain healthy fats, protein, vitamins A, E, B, PP, as well as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, etc.
What else to do during puberty
- Avoid excessively fatty and salty foods. The first can cause excess weight gain, which is the cause of many troubles in adolescents. The second is to postpone the onset of puberty.
- Exercise can help you control your weight and deal with stress.
- Find a hobby – it will make it easier to deal with stressful situations, improve well-being and raise self-esteem.
And finally, just love yourself for being one of a kind! And this will help not only to overcome any difficulties, but also to truly enjoy life!