Summer! Get Serious about Fruits & Veggies!

Hillary WrightBy Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN
Director of Nutritional Counseling
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF

We’ve all heard it – many times. “Eat more fruits and vegetables.” But despite the non-stop exposure to this recommendation, most Americans are still not heeding the call. Only 14% of American adults eat the recommended two fruits and three vegetables a day. At the same time, 16% of our total calories are coming from added sugars – that’s approaching a fifth of our daily calories from refined carbohydrates that add no nutrients and a lot of empty calories to our diets.

The consequences of this unfortunately reality are undeniable – Americans are heavier than ever and chronic disease like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and their effects, are wreaking havoc on our quality of life. In both men and women, we’ve also increasingly come to understand these negative health effects are extending to our fertility.

Like all the cells in our body, eggs and sperm are potentially influenced by our diet and lifestyle. Present in most health conditions is a common thread of chronic inflammation and oxidation in Essay Writers the body that can negatively affect the development and genetic health of all our cells, and conception requires that two genetically healthy cells unite and multiply. Excess inflammation, oxidation and toxic influences may all combine to make our cells more vulnerable to genetic damage, or create other hormonal changes that are potentially harmful to conception.

Fortunately, the quality of the foods we eat (along with regular physical activity and weight control) have the potential to help neutralize inflammation and oxidative stress, nurturing good reproductive health.

The best place to start? Eat more fruits and vegetables! Plant foods contain thousands of health-promoting chemicals called phytonutrients (phyto means plant in Greek) that act as natural anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and detoxifiers. Though each individual fruit or vegetables may contain hundreds of different phytonutrients – which go by strange, multi-syllable names like carotenoids, isothiocyanates and polyphenols, to name just a few — the pigment that gives a plant it’s color often suggest it’s a concentrated source of a particular category. Orange/red pigments, like tomatoes, winter squash and carrots, tend to suggest a good concentration of carotenoids; berries and red grapes indicate the presence of polyphenols; and greens vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts are abundant sources of lutein.

These are just a few examples of the thousands of phytonutrients found in the hundreds of fruits and veggies available, particularly this time of year when flavorful fruits and vegetables abound. And make no mistake – there are no dietary supplements, powders or elixirs that can replicate what nature provides.

The simplest way to increase your intake of health-protecting phytonutrients is to cover half your plate with plant foods at meals as often as possible, and follow the simple suggestion to “eat according to the rainbow!”

If all you see is green on your plate or in your salad, add some red, orange or yellow. Research also shows that if you store fruits and vegetables where you can see them – in a bowl on the kitchen table, on the front of the shelf in your refrigerator, or on top of your desk – you’ll be much more likely to make them a regular part of your fertility-boosting diet!

ABOUT HILLARY WRIGHT

After 12 years as a nutrition-based educator for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates (HVMA), Director of Nutrition Hillary Wright transitioned to a part-time position at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She is also the founder of New Vision Nutrition in Arlington, Massachusetts — a private nutrition consulting practice that includes nutrition counseling, public speaking, and teaching nutrition to colleges and institutions. She is a contributing editor and regular writer for the newsletter “Environmental Nutrition” and is currently working with the Arlington Public Schools on grant-funded programs designed to increase nutrition, education and physical activity in  the community. Hillary’s clinical interests include women’s health and nutritional management of polycycstic overy syndrome (PCOS).