When it comes to eating, most people know they can use food to manipulate their weight. However, very few know that it’s also possible to use foods to grow taller. While genetics is the determining factor when it comes to height, the environment also plays a huge role in how tall you’re going to be.
Therefore, if you’re in your teens, and want to add a few inches to your frame naturally here are a few foods that help you grow taller.
Is It Possible to Increase Height With Food?
Before diving into the meat and potatoes — pun intended — we have to clear the air. When it comes to height, genetics is king. If your family is short, then you will likely be of a similar height. Therefore, once you reach adulthood and finish growing, there is no way to increase your height naturally.
However, recent research shows that certain environmental factors you’re exposed to during puberty do in fact impact height. These include:
• Exercise: Regular activity has a huge impact on your height during puberty. Exercise prompts healthy bone growth and strengthens your muscles. This, in turn, ensures that your body develops properly.
• Sleep: Sleep is possibly the biggest contributor to height and overall health. During sleep, the body repairs muscle and releases the growth hormone. Without a good night’s rest, your hormones will become unbalanced, and maybe even completely suppressed. As a result, this will stunt your growth. Therefore, if you’re considering pulling an all-nighter for your next exam, think again.
• Illness: This one is a no-brainer, but we should still mention it. Various illnesses can severely impact growth and development in young children. This could be anything from digestive issues, to systemic diseases, or various metabolic disorders.
• Climate and urbanization: Though it may seem unusual, where you grew up also impacts how tall you’re going to be. This is because growing up in urban areas gives you more access to better nutrition and medical care.
What’s more, recent research shows that there is a strong correlation between climate and height. Namely, men in colder countries seem to be taller than those who hail from more tropical regions. While more studies are needed to understand this phenomenon, it’s theorized that a larger frame helps the body conserve more heat.
• Nutrition: Last, but certainly not least, is of course nutrition. The kind of food you eat heavily impacts your quality of life. It also determines if your bones will develop properly. Proper cell division requires an adequate combination of vitamins, minerals, calories, water, and fats. If your diet is lacking in any of these important elements, then it won’t be able to support optimal bone growth and muscle regeneration.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that play into healthy growth. While a lot of them are admittedly out of your control, things like sleep, exercise, and nutrition are something you can improve. The body requires over 50 essential nutrients to support proper development. Therefore, if you’re looking to optimize your height, you should pay more attention to the foods you eat.
11 Types of Foods That Help You Grow Taller
So nutrition is important for proper growth, that much is clear. But what does that mean exactly? With new ‘superfoods’ coming out every single day, it’s hard to know what is healthy and what isn’t.
Luckily, growth isn’t nearly as complicated. When it comes down to it, foods that help you grow taller can be broken down into several key nutrients:
Bodybuilders everywhere will tell you that the only way to grow muscle is to eat enough protein. This also applies to height. Protein is one of the three essential macronutrients that make up a healthy diet. It’s not only the building block of muscle but plays a vital role in repairing and strengthening damaged tissues.
At its core, protein is composed of amino acids, which are organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, or sulfur. The body requires around 20 amino acids to grow and develop properly. However, since we naturally produce around 12, they are considered non-essential.
The other 8 are known as essential amino acids, and we need to get them from food. Therefore, to support proper development, you need to consume plenty of quality protein. However, the kind of protein you choose matters.
Protein can be complete and incomplete. Complete sources of protein contain all the essential amino acids you require in your diet. Incomplete sources, on the other hand, lack one or more essential amino acids.
Generally, animal-based products contain complete proteins, while incomplete proteins are usually found in plant-based sources. However, there are exceptions to this, and the kind of proteins that work for you will be highly individualized.
Lean meats are synonymous with protein. Many health experts say that chicken is the best muscle-building food since it contains a whopping 20g of protein per 3-ounce serving. Not only that, but chicken is high in other growth-supporting vitamins like vitamin B12.
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that’s crucial for maintaining optimal brain function. It also plays a vital role in growing taller and maintaining your height. Lastly, lean chicken breast has a lot of taurine, an amino acid that regulates bone formation. So chicken is pretty much at the top of the list of foods that help you grow taller.
Apart from chicken, other lean meats that support growth include turkey, veal, lean beef, and lamb. Out of all these options, turkey is a stand-out, since it has around 24.5g of protein per 4 ounces. It also has a fairly low fat content, making it a more heart-healthy option.
While chicken and turkey boast impressive amounts of protein, fish can certainly give them a run for their money. In fact, fish may be even healthier for you than most meats, since it contains a variety of other nutrients which support healthy growth.
Namely, fatty fish contains plenty of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s help repair cell walls, and keep your heart, lungs, and blood vessels healthy. These acids also lower LDL cholesterol levels, the type of cholesterol that contributes to heart disease and stroke.
Like meat, fish is rich in B12 too, so it prompts healthy bone growth. Some of the most protein-dense kinds of seafood include lobster, shrimp and halibut. Out of all of these options, shrimp has the highest protein content with 24.5g of protein per 4 ounces.
Protein-rich oily fishes include salmon with 20g of protein per 4 ounces and herring with 24g per 4 ounces. While it may have a more modest protein content, sardines are also an excellent oily fish to include in your diet. It’s one of the best foods that help you grow taller since it’s also rich in calcium, which is vital for healthy bone growth.
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse. They have plenty of minerals and vitamins, which support proper muscle and bone growth. While eggs have a modest 6g of protein, the quality of this protein is second to none.
For starters, it’s a complete source of protein, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids. What’s more, these amino acids are more bioavailable than the proteins found in other sources. This means that the body can absorb it much more easily, and use it more efficiently.
However, the benefits of eggs don’t end there. As mentioned, they’re also full of vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B2, B12, and vitamin D. Out of all of these, vitamin D is a particular stand-out. It not only maintains healthy skin, but it helps your body absorb calcium more easily.
Calcium is vital for maintaining bone density, especially during those prime bone-building years. Therefore, if you’re looking for foods that help you grow taller, look no further than good ol’ eggs.
Plant-Based Protein Sources
While you may think only animal products contain protein, this isn’t the case. Plenty of plants boast an impressive protein content, with a boat-load of other vitamins to boot. To be fair, a lot of them are incomplete sources of protein. However, there are a few that boast all the essential amino acids necessary for supporting optimal growth.
Complete Plant-based Protein Sources
• Soybeans: Soybeans get a bad rep for various reasons. One of them is that they supposedly contribute to the development of breast cancer and that they lower testosterone in men. Both of these have been thoroughly debunked.
Soybeans are not only safe to eat, but they’re a very nutritious, complete source of protein. They pack a whopping 29 g of protein per cup, along with heaps of other nutrients like zinc, selenium, magnesium, and calcium. All of these minerals are essential for repairing bones and maintaining muscle growth.
• Quinoa: if you’re looking for foods that help you grow taller, then quinoa is your new best friend. This gluten-free whole grain is a superfood by every definition of the word. For starters, it boasts a solid 8 g of protein per cup.
Moreover, it’s loaded with nutrients like vitamin B, and magnesium. Magnesium in particular helps you get a good night’s rest. As we discussed, getting enough sleep is key if you want to grow naturally. So, if you need a more nutritious alternative to rice, quinoa is the way to go.
• Tofu: Since it’s derived from soybeans, tofu is also a complete source of protein. Made from condensed soy milk, this plant superfood is the ultimate meat substitute in every sense of the word. For starters, it’s incredibly versatile, meaning that if prepared correctly, it can be as tasty as meat, both in terms of texture and flavor.
Secondly, it’s incredibly healthy, packing 9 g of protein per 4 ounces, along with a plethora of other vitamins. It is rich in iron, magnesium, potassium, w and zinc, all vital nutrients that help support healthy growth and muscle development. Overall it’s one of the best foods that will help you grow taller if you’re plant-based.
• Tempeh: Another soybean derivative, this meat substitute is tofu’s lesser-known cousin. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that get pressed into firm strips that can be baked, sauteed, or grilled.
Unlike tofu, which has a mild, or completely neutral flavor, tempeh has a sharper, more nutty aftertaste. It’s also a nutrition bomb, with a solid 16g of protein per 3 oz serving, along with several B vitamins. As a bonus, tempeh is a fermented food, meaning that it boasts plenty of probiotic properties that maintain a healthy gut.
• Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a staple of good vegan cooking. Not only does it make food taste cheesy, but it’s full of good nutrition! This inactive species of yeast has around 2g of protein per tablespoon. It’s also rich in B vitamins, as well as antioxidants that help your immune system fight off infection.
Therefore, if you need a healthier topping for your next pasta dish, sprinkle some nutritional yeast and enjoy.
Incomplete Plant-based Protein Sources
Apart from soybeans and their derivatives, there are plenty of other plants with solid protein content. Granted, they aren’t complete sources. However, if you eat them in combination with each other, you’ll be able to build up a meal that is not only satisfying but completely nutritionally balanced!
• Legumes: Legume is a term used to refer to a family of plants that include things like various types of beans, lentils, green peas, chickpeas, and so on. They’re incredibly nutritious, boasting plenty of b vitamins, magnesium, iron, folate, and calcium. Plus, they’re also full of protein. Lentils contain a solid 9g of protein per cup, while various types of beans have anywhere between 7-10g per cup.
• Oats and whole-sprouted grains: Oatmeal is a breakfast staple. However this grain doesn’t just provide good, complex carbohydrates to kickstart your day. It actually provides an impressive amount of protein, with rolled oats packing a whopping 13.5 g of protein per 3 ounces. Whole-grain breads also have a solid protein kick. Certain can have a solid 6g of protein per slice.
Next to protein, foods that make you grow taller will also contain several key vitamins. These include:
• B vitamins, most notably B12
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin D
• Vitamin K
Therefore, if you want to ensure optimal growth, make sure to choose foods that are loaded with these vitamins. A lot of the above-mentioned protein sources contain a lot of these vitamins. However, if you want to get the highest concentration of these vitamins, you will only be able to find them in fruits and veggies. Some of the most prominent sources include:
Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
Leafy greens are one of the best foods that will help you grow taller. Things like kale, spinach, arugula, and cabbage are bursting with healthy vitamins that help support optimal muscle and bone growth. In particular, they’re loaded with vitamin K.
Vitamin K is essential in promoting calcium absorption as well as regulating blood pressure, and bone metabolism. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts also boast impressive amounts of vitamin K. However, they’re also filled with vitamin C, E, and various carotenoids, all of which help increase bone density.
Sweet potatoes are the white potato’s tastier, more nutritious cousin. They’re filled with fiber and vitamin B6 which improves immune function and keeps your gut healthy. This in turn ensures your body can absorb all the essential nutrients it needs to increase your height.
What’s more, sweet potatoes have a very high concentration of vitamin A. While this vitamin is associated with good eyesight, it’s also helpful at maintaining optimal bone health.
Berries are nature’s candy. However, unlike traditional sugary treats, these bad boys come with plenty of vitamins to support your growth. For one, they’re filled to bursting with vitamin C. While you may associate this vitamin with a healthy immune system, it does so much more.
It plays a key role in maintaining and repairing damaged muscle tissue. It also prompts healthy cell growth and collagen development. Therefore eating berries like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and cranberries is the ultimate secret to growing taller.
When it comes to foods that help you grow taller, okra is definitely an underrated champion. This seed pod hails from Ethiopia and has been a staple of African, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisine for centuries. Not only does it have a unique taste, but it also contains all the aforementioned vitamins that promote growth. Therefore if you want to try one of the more exotic foods that make you grow taller, try a tasty okra recipe.
The last component of a growth-promoting diet is minerals. Dietary minerals do everything for your body, including preventing cell damage, fighting off cancer, as well as boosting your immune response. Four of them in particular can also add a few inches to your frame. These include:
• Vitamin D
So if you want your height to skyrocket, be sure to add the following foods to your diet:
When you were a kid, you likely heard your mom telling you to drink milk to grow big and strong. This is because milk and other dairy products are loaded with calcium. This incredible mineral is the building block of bones. It’s also what gives your teeth, nails, and cartilage hardness and structure.
Therefore, if you want to increase your height during your prime bone-building years, be sure to add plenty of yogurt, milk, and cheese to your diet. Some of the tastiest options include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, skyr, parmesan cheese, and low-fat milk.
Nuts may be nature’s most perfect snack. It’s actually one of the few foods that naturally contains all three essential nutrients —fat, carbs, and protein. Just a serving of peanuts provides 9.5g of protein, 8g of fat, 6g of carbs, and plenty of biotins to help your body convert food into energy more efficiently. As if that’s not enough, nuts are also loaded with heaps of healthy minerals that promote growth.
Almonds, for example, contain 75 mg of calcium and 80g of magnesium per serving, as well as plenty of unsaturated fats that promote heart health. Other mineral-rich nuts you should consider adding to your diet include brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, and walnuts.
If you’re allergic to nuts, then seeds are your new best friend. Like nuts, seeds also have a pretty impressive fat, protein, and carb ratio. Just a tablespoon of chia seeds contains 4g of protein, 9g of fat, 12g of carbs, and plenty of fiber to keep you satiated. Other seeds like sesame, flax, pumpkin, and sunflower are equally as nutritious, containing plenty of the aforementioned growth-promoting minerals.
Just three tbsp of sesame seeds contain around 22% of your RDI of calcium, 25% of your RDI of magnesium, and 21% of your RDI of zinc. Therefore if you’re looking for one of the simplest foods that help you grow taller, then consider sprinkling some seeds on top of your next meal.
Other Tips To Follow
While consuming the right foods is a crucial part of healthy development, it’s not the only thing that helps add inches to your frame. As discussed, other factors like sleep and exercise also contribute to your growth. Exercise in particular is a vital part of healthy development, especially during the teen years.
It helps improve balance and coordination, as well as build muscle and strengthen bones. Not to mention that exercise triggers the release of endorphins. This not only gives you a confidence boost but also a mood boost too.
So, if you want to get the most out of all the foods that will help you grow taller, be sure to include the following exercises in your daily routine:
• Strength training: Lifting heavy isn’t just a way to get the perfect body. Weight-lifting helps strengthen joints, as well as increase bone density. During your adolescence, this will help add inches to your brain. However, it will also serve you beyond adolescence, since regular weight training will make sure you maintain optimal bone and muscle health as you age into your sunset years.
• Jumping, jogging, or skipping: This type of cardio is particularly effective because it targets the lower body. It not only improves bone strength but also increases joint resistance.
• Cycling: Cycling is one of the most effective forms of cardio when it comes to intensity. However, it’s particularly beneficial for increasing height for the same reason jumping and skipping is — it targets the lower body. Prolonged cycling sessions put a strain on the legs, which in turn helps strengthen muscle.
• Core and back exercises: Proper posture is the ultimate key to increasing height. Therefore, to coax those growth plates to increase, you need to maintain a strong, straight back. The best exercises for this include pullups, cat-camel back stretches, and planks.
Planks also double as good core exercises, since a strong core keeps your back straight. Apart from planks, other exercises you can add to your list include the superman, jackknives, abdominal crunches, and side crunches.