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If you are a parent of a teenager you know where I’m coming from. Suddenly there is this independent / dependent person in the house, spending more time in the mirror, on Snap Chat and on Instagram than you ever thought possible. They are, at once, fully needing you and fully not needing you, in fact they may be down right embarrassed of you….and it is evident that what their friends think, matters.

This is a twisted time for us Moms and Dads, trying to exercise some control, trying to keep our teens on track, trying to maintain some sort of level of cool, which apparently we are completely lacking, according to our very “swaggy” all-knowing, eye-rolling offspring. Our teens are going through the motions, growing up and finding themselves, and it is our job to guide them, but boy it can be tough sometimes, right?

Providing healthy nutrition is a big part of all of this. We all know that eating crap makes us feel like crap, and when it comes to our growing and developing teens, who we aim to keep happy, content and focused in school, it is important that they are fueled with nutrient-dense food. You have likely noticed that junk food plays a significant role in the social world of the average teenager! Pizza is more popular than ever. It is hard to avoid the junk; I’m not going to pretend I have it nailed down completely. But I do have some ammunition that seems to be working, at least most of the time.

Warning: This strategy is for stealthy parents only, and includes a nonchalant conversation about acne during puberty. Shall I continue? Simply share the following with your teen:

It turns out that acne is a disease that is predominant in the western world, by those eating a western diet, one specifically rich in dairy products. Eastern cultures eating a traditional diet primarily of plants, and no dairy, rarely see a pimple. Dairy products have been linked by numerous studies to Acne Vulgaris because of the hormone content in milk. When your teen indulges in cheese pizza, milk and sour cream, they are eating naturally occurring, pregnant cows hormones. We break two very important natural laws when we consume dairy. First, we drink the milk of another species, and second we drink milk beyond infancy. No other animal does this. Making matters worse, cows have been genetically engineered so that they can be impregnated while they are still milked. (typically mammals need to wean their young before they can conceive again) The result is that the hormone levels in the milk taken from cows at end stage pregnancy is 33 times that of the non-pregnant cow. Since cow milk comes from pregnant cows, the hormone load in dairy products is over the top.

One landmark study examined the dietary dairy intake 47,000 high school females, and found a positive association with acne for both total milk and skim milk. Several Major Harvard studies have shown that skim milk may be even more acne promoting, since estrogen levels are even higher in skim milk. These hormones are also responsible for the earliest onset of puberty and the latest onset of menopause, and in combination with casein (the main protein in cow milk) and Igf-1, (insulin-like growth factor, which significantly increases as a result of cow milk consumption), encouraging our kids not to consume milk provides protection for them against one day suffering from breast, prostate, colon and lung cancers. These exogenous hormones were not designed to be consumed during teenage and adult years. It’s no secret that teen acne closely parallels hormonal activity, and when extra hormones are added to the already increased naturally occurring human hormones, acne is the common result.

When we provide our teen with this critical information about the link between acne and cow milk, they may seek out alternatives, because the last thing our teens want is zits. Talk about motivation! Just this past weekend, I found myself at Pizza Hut (against my will!) with my kids and their friends. What a pleasant surprise it was to hear my children order a vegetarian pizza without cheese. It’s about progress, not perfection. We are getting there!

Keep up the good work.

Warmly,

Margot

p.s. references are thanks to Dr. Colin Campbell (The China Study, Whole) and Dr. Gregor (How Not to Die) at Nutritionfacts.org!