Celebrate Fertility by Eating Your COLORS
March is National Nutrition Month.
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) is encouraging everyone to Eat Right with Colors.
In addition to supporting eating colorful food, this month-long campaign will focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Reproductive Medicine Associates of CT (RMACT) is joining the American Dietetic Association by encouraging their patients to eat colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy everyday to support sound pre-conception and prenatal nutrition.
Getting our nutrients from whole foods is best. Clearly, it is critical to provide the best nutrition in the early stages of pregnancy, but equally as important long before conception is to increase nutrient stores and to establish healthy eating, activity, and lifestyle behaviors. Are you nutritionally ready for pregnancy? Do you eat 4-5 servings of vegetables per day? How about your fruit intake? Have you consumed 3 servings today? Foods rich in folate (folic acid), iron, B6, B12, calcium & vitamin D, essential fats, vitamins A, C, zinc, and protein are key nutrients for conception and a healthy pregnancy. Excess intakes of vitamin supplements can be dangerous, but eating colorful foods at all meals and snacks and will supply nutrient and energy dense foods in a safe, healthy, and enjoyable manner.
Adequate folic acid stores and daily intake is so critical during conception and especially during the first 30 days of pregnancy that all women of childbearing age should be taking this supplement and eating foods rich in folate daily. Folic acid or folate (source found in food) has shown to significantly reduce neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The neural tube is the foundation for the fetal brain and spinal cord. Folic acid plays a key role in DNA synthesis of red blood cells, nervous system, and proteins, placental support, and helps to prevent miscarriage, preterm delivery, and maternal anemia.
DID YOU EAT YOUR COLORS TODAY?
Some colorful foods naturally rich in folate are green leafy spinach, turnip greens, collards, romaine lettuce, asparagus, oranges, lentils, split peas, beans and legumes of all color, raspberries, blueberries, backberries, artichokes, brussel sprouts, broccoli, beets, and canteloupe-to name a few. In addition, many pasta, rice, cereals, breads and grain products in the U.S are enriched with folic acid. It is important to check food labels to look for whole grains and enriched grains.
Deep orange, yellow, and green foods provide beta carotene/vitamin A. This nutrient is essential for vision, cellular growth, and development/maintenance of bones, skin, GI and urinary tracts. Color your day with carrots, pumpkin, collards, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, broccoli, peppers, papaya, cantaloupe, guava, apricots, mandarin oranges, peaches, and persimmons.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects and repairs tissues from damage by free radicals, builds a healthy immune system, and promotes healthy gums, teeth, bones, cartilage, collagen, and ligaments. When consumed with iron-rich food, vitamin C enhances iron absorption. Some colorful food sources for vitamin C are citrus fruits-oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, bell peppers, green beans, strawberries, papaya, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, mango, guava, cauliflower, kale, cassava, spinach, kohlrabi, cabbage, and collards.
B vitamins are important in the early stages of pregnancy and beyond due to their key role in red blood cell and DNA synthesis and protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism. Vitamin B6 can be found in banana, lentils, avocado, mango, eggs, watermelon, broccoli, spinach, nuts, and whole/enriched grains. Vitamin B12 can be consumed by eating meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. Vegetarians should speak to their physicians about taking B12 supplements.
Dairy food sources are known to be rich in calcium, but many individuals experience difficulty eating dairy rich foods. Maternal calcium deficiency will increase risk for osteoporosis later in life for the mother. Calcium not only creates strong bones and teeth, but also plays a role in heart rhythm, blood clotting mechanism, and the muscular system. Nondairy sources of calcium include almonds, dried beans/peas, kale, collards, bok choy, spinach, shrimp, sesame seeds, rhubarb, turnip greens, sardines, and salmon with bones. Vitamin D is key for calcium absorption. Note: cheese and many yogurts are not fortified with vitamin D. Fatty fish is the best sources of Vitamin D, along with fortified milk and yogurt sources.
The recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend an increased focus on a Mediterranean plant-based diet which is not only heart healthy, but also supportive of "The Fertility Diet" Principles.
Help spread the message of good nutrition to "Eat Right with Color." It is important to take time to be mindful of the food we eat and notice how much more enjoyable it is to eat colorful foods
UPCOMING NUTRITION EVENTS AT RMACT (Free and open to the public):
Fertility Nutrition & Lifestyle Seminar:
Mon 3/21 6:30 pm at Danbury RMACT
Sat 3/26 8:30 am at Norwalk RMACT
Grocery Store Tours
Thurs 3/24 6:30pm at Caraluzzi’s, Wilton, CT
Tues 3/29 6:30 pm at Whole Foods, Westport, CT
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
I wrote last week about the cost of infertility treatment and even used the word elitist, which ticked some people off. Very shortly afterwards, I got into a spirited conversation with two of my closest friends about the political, emotional, financial in’s and out’s of infertility coverage in the United States. I was taken aback, frankly, listening to their points of view, and realizing that it was probably representative of the general public.
What I heard is that people without health insurance (that covers treatment), without a state mandate or without substantial financial resources, in essence, are out of luck, as far as they were concerned, about creating their families.
So my mind started jumping around about this and I started looking up information. Here are a few things that I found out.
About insurance, coverage and experimental treatment:
In the past, insurance carriers that do not have exclusions have denied claims for one of the following three reasons:
1. Infertility is not an illness;
2. Treatment of infertility is not medically necessary;
3. Treatment of infertility is experimental.
These are invalid reasons to deny your claim. Infertility is an illness (2). Medically necessary is usually defined by insurance policies as medically required and medically appropriate for diagnosis and treatment of an illness or injury under professionally recognized standards of health care. Treatments such as GIFT, IVF, ZIFT/PROST have NOT been on the American Medical Association's experimental list since the late 1980s.
Interesting information above, given that GIFT, ZIFT/PROST have not been options that have been used in infertility treatment for many, many years. This is information from INCIID, (InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc.) a well respected patient advocacy organization, included in a paper written several years ago. The three reasons cited for non coverage are as true today as they were when this paper is written.
Many roads, in the early 2000’s led to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities ACT). It was felt that if infertility was recognized as a disease that it would be more compelling to have insurance covering it. While that has worked to a certain extent, has the ADA ruling been more helpful in creating state mandates? Currently we have 14 states with state mandated coverage.
From ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine)in their area of patient information. A simple definition of infertility:
Infertility is NOT an inconvenience; it is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body's ability to perform the basic function of reproduction.
Under ADA, reproduction has been held by the US Supreme Court to be a major life activity. (In fact, no less important than learning or working.) More about whether or not infertility is considered a disease:
The U. S. Supreme Court held in 1998 that infertility is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But the Court subsequently held that a person is not considered disabled under the act if the disability can be overcome by mitigating or corrective measures. And a lower court held in 2000 that, while infertility is a disability, an employer’s health plan that excludes treatment for it is not discriminatory under ADA if it applies to all employees.
It seems to me that infertility is considered a disease, but a somewhat special disease in that treatment is considered optional, or even a life style choice as reported in Newsweek.
Here’s how the article begins:
When doctors at a local St. Louis clinic told Marcie Campbell it would cost more than $15,000 to try to get her pregnant, she was crushed. For somebody with polycystic ovary syndrome, coupled with blocked fallopian tubes, in vitro fertilization was the best option to conceive a child. But with a household income of $47,000 a year, it was hardly an option. (Missouri isn’t one of the 15 states that mandate insurance coverage for IVF.)
“I told them, ‘There’s no way.’ We can’t afford it. Maybe rich folks can,” says Campbell, 33.
It takes me back full circle to the conversation with my friends. Is infertility treatment elitist? Interesting to me that this article reports that this couple was able to afford treatment for $7,500, not $15,000; we all know that some prospective parents, in this economy can’t afford that either.
We don’t dictate to couples without fertility problems how much money they have to have, how far up the corporate ladder they have risen before they start their family. Without infertility, when and how you start a family is entirely within your own discretion and that decision is made in the privacy of your own home. Is someone making minimum wage less able to raise a child? Less able to be a loving parent?
The article continues, pointing out the significant differences between insurance and affordable Infertility treatment here in the US and in Europe.
Whether infertility should be classified as a disease or a socially constructed need is a dilemma at the center of this debate. While most other developed countries consider infertility a medical condition and insurance policies often cover the costs of IVF, health insurers in the U.S. typically don’t think “wanting a child” is a medical necessity.
We don’t value our children less in this country. So what is it? And better yet, going forward, what can we do to ensure that infertility treatment is either covered by insurance, a state mandate, or health care reform?
What can we do to make this a reality?