Nutrition: The Fuel for Good Health

Few preventive measures feed our overall health like proper nutrition does. It’s the fountain from which good health often flows.

Just ask Ericka Shuman, a health guide and registered dietitian for Capital Blue Cross Connect health and wellness centers.

“Nutrition fuels our body, and without the right food we literally don’t have the right amount of energy,” Shuman said. “So nutrition helps us to function optimally. It’s also very important for disease prevention.”

“There’s so many reasons people eat the way they do,” she added. “It could be about food insecurity. It could be about mental health. We need to be aware of what we’re feeding our body, and why, and how that impacts our overall health.”

The data and the danger of poor nutrition

Proper nutrition is literally a life-and-death issue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which counts poor nutrition among the major risk factors it works to reduce in order to help Americans prevent chronic diseases.

The CDC says poor nutrition can cause obesity, heart disease and stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and deficient brain function for infants and toddlers with deficient iron levels, or whose mothers had low iron levels during pregnancy .

Which makes America’s generally poor nutritional numbers all the more problematic. According to the CDC:

  • Fewer than 10% of American adults and adolescents eat enough fruits and vegetables.

  • 90% of Americans consume too much sodium, raising their risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

  • 14% of children 1 to 2 years old and 16% of pregnant women are iron deficient.

  • Every day, 60% of young people and half of United States adults consume a sugary drink.

  • U.S. diets include far too much-added sugars and saturated fats.

“It’s really important to realize that good nutrition is not one-size-fits-all. Because it’s so individualized, it’s important to have a consultation to meet goals tailored specifically to your needs."
— Ericka Shuman, Capital Blue Cross health guide/registered dietitian

Poor Nutrition = Poor Function

The bill for all this bad eating is big. Healthcare for obesity alone, for instance, costs Americans $147 billion a year, according to the CDC .

And there’s another cost, Shuman said.

“Without proper nutrition, you’re not going to feel good,” Shuman said. “You’re going to feel lethargic. So you won’t be functioning at your top level.”

You can decrease these energy dips by eating better, educating yourself on what proper nutrition means for you, and having a healthcare plan that provides nutritional guidance and counseling.

Capital Blue Cross does just that. Its registered dietitians (RDs) offer free nutritional consultations – in person and by telephone, to both members and nonmembers – and offer members covered follow-up medical nutrition therapy and health coaching at Capital Blue Cross Connect centers. Those follow-up services are also available to nonmembers for a fee.

Capital's Registered Dietitians provide nutrition guidance to members covered by employer-group or individual plans.

“We help anyone,” Shuman said. “If someone calls the store and says, ‘I’d like to make an appointment,’ we just say, ‘OK,’ and we’re there to help.”

She added that access to personalized consultations and nutrition plans is critical.

“It’s really important to realize that good nutrition is not one-size-fits-all,” Shuman said. “Because it’s so individualized, it’s important to have a consultation to meet goals tailored specifically to your needs.

“That’s why we have registered dietitians to work through people’s personal barriers to change and to work through complex issues with anything related to their health.”