Turns out Debra Kortvely’s weight was just fine. But that didn’t mean her recent consultation with a registered dietitian was a waste of time.
Quite the contrary.
“It changed my life,” Kortvely said.
A 62-year-old, health-conscious retiree who walks 45 minutes with her dog each morning and regularly hits the gym, Kortvely figured she needed to drop 5 or 10 pesky pounds when she sat down recently for a consultation with Capital Blue Cross registered dietitian Ericka Koffel.
But after a broad conversation with Kortvely about her health, eating habits, food preferences, exercise regimen, and more, Koffel came to a critical conclusion: While Kortvely was at a healthy weight, there were nutritional modifications she could make to ease the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that had plagued her for years.
“So I basically provided nutrition therapy for her IBS,” Koffel said, “and she emailed me recently to say she’s doing really well.”
March is National Nutrition Month, and Kortvely’s story illustrates that proper nutrition is a highly individualized and important piece of a person’s overall health.
Evidence abounds that Americans too often fail to make healthy nutritional choices, and with dire results, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes poor nutrition among the country’s major risk factors for chronic diseases.
Poor nutrition can cause obesity, heart disease and stroke, and Type 2 diabetes – even deficient brain function for infants and toddlers whose mothers had low iron levels during pregnancy.
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.
U.S. diets include far too much added sugars and saturated fats.
The bill for all this bad eating is big. It escalates healthcare costs for chronic conditions and increases employee absenteeism. Healthcare for obesity alone, for instance, costs Americans $147 billion a year, according to the CDC.
Employers can help through educational initiatives and by offering healthcare plans that provide nutritional guidance and counseling.
Capital Blue Cross does just that. Its registered dietitians (RDs) offer free nutritional consultations – in person and virtual, to members and nonmembers – and offer members covered follow-up medical nutrition therapy and health coaching at Capital Blue Cross Connect health and wellness centers. Those follow-up services are also available to nonmembers for a fee.
Capital RDs also provide individual consultations and nutrition therapy to members covered by employer-group or individual plans.
Kortvely had tried everything for her IBS.
“I’ve struggled with it for years,” she said. “I’ve gone to gastroenterologists, and had numerous tests done to find out what my stomach issues or ailments were, so everyone just labeled it as IBS because they couldn’t find anything.
“So it was kind of like, ‘OK, so how do I control this?’”
Koffel wound up providing the answer. Thanks to her thorough conversation and counseling, and Kortvely’s ability to stick to the suggested nutritional modifications, Kortvely’s IBS problems have nearly disappeared.
“I swear within two weeks of my consultation with Ericka, 97% of my stomach issues were gone,” she said.
“It just speaks to the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy habits,” Koffel said, “and to the significance of healthy food choices in relation to people’s health.”