Early puberty or precocious puberty has started to become normal these days and people seem to be just fine with this. But, have you ever given it a thought that what has changed now that did not exist during our time or when our parents were teenagers.
If I start to list out all of it, I will need too much space. I have come to list out some significant changes, how they affect the sexual health in children and sexual maturity.
Doctors think it is happening with greater frequency since the 1990s, especially among girls. Many factors have been implicated, hormones in food, hormone-mimicking pollutants in the waterways, and even social issues.
Imagine a girl of age six and a boy of age seven showing signs of puberty, I do not think this is normal and no, it is not in our ‘genes’. We happen to blame everything on our genes when it comes to health issues, habits, an increasing waist line, I mean just name it and it can be linked to genes.
I am not a doctor but my interest in these issues has led me to read, research and satiate the curious self within.
One possible reason for the rise in precocious puberty could be the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America, in the last 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. As far as India is concerned, by 2025, India will have over 17 million obese children and stand second among 184 countries where the number of obese children are concerned, says a study published in Paediatric Obesity, an international journal.
How fat plays a role in puberty
Puberty requires the body to have a certain weight and fat distribution, hence we see the delay for female gymnasts and ballerinas. This means that 8-year-old girls weighing as much as a normal 12-year-old are at risk for precocious or early puberty.
Also, across the board, fat children have high levels of the protein leptin. This chemical, through a complicated chain involving the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, can stimulate the release of the three main hormones in puberty, hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. In short, obesity among kids leads to early puberty. The facts are backed by a study by Kirsten Krahnstoever Davison of Penn State.
Milk can be the culprit
Let us come to the basics. When god made us and this Earth, he intended that cow or buffalo milk is meant to be digested by a 50 pound calf and not by a 3 kg human infant and so on. Mothers proudly invest in milk (coming in packets), add a dash of bournvita or whatever those chocolate coloured powders are and make kids have a glass full the first thing in the morning. Even I did this but now I don’t. Yes, my child does not drink milk and the difference I have seen is that she has gained height after getting off milk and bournvita, her skin has become flawless, her hemoglobin has increased and she has oodles of stamina.
Now, what is it that the packet milk or commercial dairy contains which is harmful? An excessive dose of estrogen. When cattle refuse to give milk, the dairy owners or farmers inject hormones (estrogen). The result is a hearty supply of milk but this milk is extremely high in estrogen. Estrogen is a female hormone, excess estrogen leads to male breast in boys (we often see this now) and an early sexual maturity in girls as young as seven to nine years of age. Organic dairy is however acceptable and can be consumed.
I am talking of dairy, it means milk and all of the milk products. Also, if your child complains of uneasiness or stomachache after having milk, please get a test done for lactose intolerance.
Milk does no good to your child if he or she is lactose intolerant, it will only add fat and more of it and lots of uneasy episodes. Please get it checked. I have lactose intolerance and I figured it out recently. Unfortunately, I grew up having loads of milk and now imagine the harm it has done to me. I cannot go back in time but I can mend my ways now.
Yes, you heard it right. Meat, especially that chunky juicy and extra soft chicken leg that you get in a bucket, is poison. Chicken is injected with estrogen to make it fleshy, plump, soft and juicy. Remember, chicken is suppose to be white meat, if it is pink, don’t eat it.
Eating meat can aggravate estrogen dominance. In fact, women who consume more red meat and eat less fish and vegetables are thought to be more at risk for endometriosis. Overall, more meat consumption is associated with less fiber consumption, which raises bad estrogens and grows the wrong bacteria in your microbiome and 70 per cent of our health depends on this microbiome.
Growth-promoting hormones are implanted in most cattle. These hormones promote protein synthesis and result in cattle that are 10 to 30 percent larger than non-treated counterparts. Synthetic hormones in cattle mimic naturally occurring hormones in the animal.
Some children eat meat and chicken almost every day. It is making them estrogen dominant, hence the early puberty.
I had once heard a doctor saying that soybean is an excellent source of protein and everyone, especially women, should eat it on a daily basis. I started consuming soya, soymilk, soya chunks, bla bla and more bla. Ultimately, I got PCOD, a syndrome which affects most of us these days. Now, I do not consume soya, and guess what, my PCOD has gone and that too without any medical treatment. Now, imagine what soybean can do to kids. Yes, estrogen dominance again. Corn and soya are among the most genetically modified or GM foods. Stay away from GM foods as they are not natural.
Soybeans contain isoflavones, which are chemically similar to estrogens. Soybeans are a complete protein source and a dietary staple in many cultures. Soy contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones that may mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen in your body.
Overly nice looking fruits and vegetables
Pesticides are used in many commercially grown fruit, vegetable, and grain crops to protect them from insects, weeds, fungi, diseases, mice and other animals, bacteria, viruses, and mold. There are several pesticides, insecticides and fungicides that inhibit male hormone and there are many that mimic estrogen.
The best way is that never buy vegetables and fruits that look extra appealing. If possible grow your own kitchen garden, buy fresh produce from vendors and not malls. Peel fruits and vegetables before giving them to your kids, at least, this will get us rid of a substantial percentage of dangerous chemicals. Immerse fruits and vegetables in table vinegar and water for about 20 minutes. It helps remove the wax and other chemical coatings from the produce.
Do not take your kids to international fast food chains
I cannot name them here but you know what I am talking about. Since the time, these international burger makers, fries makers and chicken bucket sellers have come to India, kids have seen a mammoth increase in obesity and adults are no exception. Imagine, sprinkling 50 grams of sugar on dal-chawal, roti-sabzi, even burger and fries. Can you eat it? I do not think so. Now, add a coke or sweetened soda to it and there it goes. You can have it. Medical science permits two teaspoons of sugar per day. Imagine gulping down 15 teaspoons of sugar with one meal; that is sweetened soda for you.
And ya, the fruit juices that come in cartons and tetra packs. I can’t believe this that kids’ meal onboard a plane, on a train, at restaurants etc. contain a pack of this poisonous liquid. It is nothing but a concoction made of very little fruit juice, loads of sugar and several preservatives.
Oh wait, there are these ‘No sugar and preservatives added’ juice types. Read the ingredients, it will say fruit juice concentrate and water. This fruit juice concentrate is made of sugar, added flavours, colours or dyes, and preservatives. When these companies prepare juice, they simply add water to the concentrates they buy from various other companies and dish out a selling gimmick to us ‘No sugar and preservatives added’. And, we happily buy it. Do not buy it. Buy a juicer instead and make fruit and vegetables juice blends at home. Your kids will love it. Excess sugar and preventives, salt and colourings create the same havoc on your children as they do on you.
https://youtu.be/iFVn3kuZ4Dc (Watch it).
Do not keep these fast food varieties (the frozen ones), tetra and bottle drinks at home and please do not serve them to your guests. They are no longer ‘izzat ka sawal items’. Make potato chips at home, they are way more healthy than the commercial French fries.
What types of products contain “foreign estrogens” or unnatural estrogen
- Weed killers
- Sunscreen lotions that contain 4-MBC (You will look cuter with a bit of tan and so will your child. Do not overuse sunscreens).
- Food preservatives such as BHA (Almost all packet foods contain this).
- Canned foods and plastics (BPA and BPA-S).
- Insecticides and pesticides.
- Food Dyes (Means food colourings, the ‘edible’ ones).
- Food chemicals that are used to protect fats and oils from becoming rancid.
- Anti-perspirants that are made with Metalloestrogens or toxic metals (Apply lemon as a deodorant. Trust me, it can cure the worst body odor).
- Make ups and skin care products that have the preservative called paraben (Check out for paraben-free options. Biotique is a fantastic option).
- Tap water (most city waters are contaminated with estrogens from oral contraceptive pills. Use glass bottles to preserve water. Say bye to plastics).
- Detergents and surfactants (Thode mein zyada wala funda is good here. Use less detergent powder).
- Growth hormones in dairy and meat products (I have already mentioned this).
Now you will think that what to eat if not all this. Simply follow a thumb rule that do not eat it if it is made inside a factory or comes in a packet. Make your own chana puri in mustard, coconut or olive oil. Make fries at home, fry papad, make cakes and cookies at home with jaggery (it imparts a better flavor than white sugar), make chips at home. Cut thin slices any vegetable of your choice (sweet potato, potato, tomato, zucchini, brinjal, carrot, jackfruit, raw banana, etc.) and drizzle with olive oil, add salt, pepper, and spices of your choice and spread the slices on a baking tray. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes on 200 degrees celcius (the time will be more for moist vegetables. The thinner the slices are, the crispier they will be). They are yum and you won’t ever grab a packet of chips.
Lastly, be an example to your children. They will eventually follow your eating habits.