Holistic Guide to Puberty
Puberty is a beautiful life stage of growth and transformation. Major physical, intellectual, and emotional changes occur during a small window of time, sometimes seemingly overnight. It marks a time when an individual builds the foundation of their character, personality, sense-of-self, and a strong foundation for their health and immunity in the years to come.
Transitioning into puberty can evoke anxious and unsettled emotions and feelings due to the rapid pace and high volume of change. To support the body during this process, nutrient consumption, exercise, and stress-management techniques are essential.
Focusing on these three elements assists in supporting all physical changes: production, and balancing of hormones, moods, metabolism, self-confidence, and emotional health.
The following elements will help to support and ease the transition:
Calories: No need to count calories - just be sure to fill up on nutrient-dense foods! Eat balanced meals (with carbs, fats and proteins) & try your best not to skip meals (which only disrupts hormones & metabolism) It’s helpful to eat regular meals, at regular meal times.
Best food sources: Organic vegetables and fruit, organic whole grains, grass-fed and pasture-raised animal products, wild-caught fish, healthy fats, sprouted beans, legumes, and raw nuts & seeds.
Avoid: Processed, GMO foods, and foods are grown with pesticides should be completely avoided as they contain synthetic estrogen. This leads to an imbalance in new hormones that are being produced.
Sugar: Do your best to balance your intake of sugar & save the sweets for special occasions and movie nights with friends! Overconsumption of sweets generally leads to major mood swings and intense pms.
Protein: Protein supports the numerous physical changes occurring, building and tone of muscles and balance of blood sugars (which will help to stabilize hormones and mood-swings. Best Protein food sources: Grass-fed, pasture-raised, antibiotic and hormone free beef, poultry, eggs, turkey, and lamb, wild-caught fish (examples: salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies), quinoa, beans, buckwheat, green peas, nuts, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, hemp, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds and sesame seeds.
Vitamins & Minerals
The most important vitamins and minerals needed to support puberty are antioxidants. The most potent are vitamins A, C, E, Selenium, and Zinc.
Best sources: beef liver, carrots, sweet potato, kale, spinach, broccoli, eggs, cantaloupe, bell peppers, tomato, dark leafy greens, fish.
Vitamin C - Best sources: guava, black currant, red pepper, kiwi, green peppers, oranges, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, kale, parsley, Brussels sprouts, pineapple, grapefruit, peas, cauliflower, mango. Supports skin health and immune system.
Vitamin E - Best sources: sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, almonds, wheat germ, mango, avocado, butternut squash, broccoli, spinach, kiwi, tomato. Supports skin, hair, and eye health.
Selenium - Best sources: Eggs, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, lamb of beef liver, rockfish, herring fish, chicken breast, wild-caught salmon, turkey, chia seeds, mushrooms. Supports metabolism, immune system, and cell building.
Zinc - Best sources: lamb, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, cocoa powder, cashews, mushrooms, dark leafy greens, chicken. Supports acne prone skin and immune system.
Other minerals to support puberty are:
Calcium - Best food sources: cooked kale, sardines (bones in), broccoli, watercress, bok choy, okra, almonds. Supports strong & healthy bones
Chromium - Best food sources: broccoli, grapes, potatoes, garlic, basil, grass-fed beef, oranges, turkey, green beans, apples, bananas.
Magnesium - Best food sources: spinach (cooked), Swiss chard (cooked), pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate, banana, tamarind, potato (with skin), quinoa. Helps calm anxiety and balances blood sugar.
Phosphorus -Best food sources: sunflower seeds, white beans, mung beans, turkey breast, grass-fed beef, almonds, brown rice, potatoes, broccoli, eggs. Builds strong bones & teeth.
Regular physical activity during puberty is beneficial for all aspects of health: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Type II diabetes and high blood pressure are common among teens; therefore, engaging in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day is important for balancing weight, improving circulation, managing blood sugar levels and cholesterol, and reducing unnecessary fat storage. Physical activity also encourages production of endorphins, which are chemicals that improve overall mood. Specifically, it can reduce the risk of depression, enhance self-esteem, increase self-efficacy, and promote good quality sleep. Furthermore, increasing circulation improves metabolism, immunity, and endurance.
Playing a sport and working out in a gym is not the only ways to exercise. There are numerous ways to engage in physical activity, and finding your favorite form is crucial for commitment and enjoyment.
Types of beneficial exercise:
Resistance training with weights
Cycling (indoor and outdoor)
Joining a sports team
While exercise is a beneficial stress-management technique, there are many other forms that promote and support overall health during puberty. These include:
- Getting adequate good quality sleep - Aim for 9 hours every night, and not looking at a screen at least 1-2 hours before going to bed.
- Spend time engaging in your hobbies - Doing things you are passionate about and are good at will enhance self-esteem and improve mood.
- Spending Quality time with friends.
- Talk to someone about feelings - Expressing your hardships and concerns to an adult can help relieve tension (and you might receive great advice in return!) Therapy is always helpful too if you need the support and understanding from someone outside of your immediate family.
- Find balance - Try to not take on too much at once.
Engage in deep breathing - Some examples are:
Equal breathing - take a breath in through nose for four counts, then exhale for four counts
Abdominal breathing - place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Breath into your hand on your belly, and make sure your chest does not rise. Aim to breathe in 6 to 10 times per minute for 10 minutes.
Alternate nostril breathing - hold your right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with your ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Continue this pattern with both nostrils.
Practice progressive relaxation - Close eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group two to three times each. Start with feet and toes, and move up on the body. Focus on your knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and eyes - all while maintaining deep and slow belly breaths. This is a great practice before going to bed at night or whenever you are feeling anxious or stressed.