Foodie Tuesday is almost here!


Foodie Tuesday has returned! …Except we’re a day late…so we would like to introduce Foodie Wednesday this week!

Fall is here, but not for much longer. In nearly one month winter will have set in, and unhealthy eating & laziness will also be setting in… NOT! Wait a minute……. Just because the months of notorious unhealthy eating are creeping up on us doesn’t mean we have to let all of our hard work with our bodies go to waste. Beginning this coming Tuesday, November 25, we will provide you with yummy recipes for eating healthy throughout the cold months to come.

We wanted to warm you up this week with an overview of some of the fresh, rich in folate, produce our beautiful state of California provides us, in the fall and winter months.  california-dreaming-panoAnd to the rest of the world outside of California, all of these foods still apply to you (but you may have to be a little more creative)!

FYI: We will be using the words folic acid and folate interchangeably, like we explained two weeks ago, folic acid and folate are essentially the same, the difference is how the body recognizes it.

Dark Leafy Greens
-Spinach- 1cup= 263 mcg of folate
-Collard Greens- 1cup= 177mcg of folate
-Romaine Lettuce- 1cupe= 76 mcg of folate
Broccoli– 1cup= 24% of daily folic acid recommendation
Citrus Fruits
-Papaya- 1 papaya= 115mcg of folate
-Oranges- 1 orange= 40mcg of folate
-Grapefruit- 1 grapefruit= 30mcg of folate
Brussels Sprouts– 1cup= 25% of daily folic acid recommendation
Cauliflower– 1cup= 55mcg of folate and approx. 14% of daily folic acid recommendation
Beets– 1cup= 76mcg of folate and approx. 20% of daily folic acid recommendation
Celery– 1cup= 34mcg of folate and approx. 8% of daily folic acid recommendation
Winter Squash– 1cup= 57mcg of folate and approx. 14% of daily folic acid recommendation.

vegetables-to-grow-in-winter-640x360

Now that we are all aware of some of the folate rich produce available in the fall and winter months, we can let the information marinate until Tuesday. Make sure to stay tuned and bring your appetite next week!

Until next time, keep folicin’ San Francisco.

Hi again…!


Hi again everyone! It’s been a while since we’ve last posted, so we decided to start to get back on track. First things first, a warm welcome to all of our new followers and an even warmer hello to our dedicated previous followers. Go Folic! Get Healthy is a nutritional project we have created here in San Francisco. We are all about YOU! Our primary focus is ensuring every female of child-bearing age gets the proper amount of folic acid (according to the NIH an average of 400mcg). Go Folic! Get Healthy is so committed to making sure every female in SF can get adequate folic acid we provide FREE VITAMINS!! Currently you can come to 30 Van Ness, suit 210 during business hours (Monday – Thursday, 1pm-4pm) and we will give you a free bottle of multivitamins.

Folic Acid Awareness Week is January 5, 2014- January 11, 2014 and during that week we will have so many great activities going on in the community, but most importantly that will be the start of your local community clinics distributing multivitamins. Way more convenient, right?!

WHAT IS IT REALLY? What is folic acid?? Folic acid is water-soluble B vitamin, which is important for women to get before, during, and after pregnancy. Folic Acid helps produce DNA and form healthy new cells. The process of creating new healthy cells is inevitably important to a developing fetus.

WHY? Why, you ask. 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned! WHAT THE FOLIC?? So all you women out there who are not planning on having a baby anytime soon and women who are…. Listen up…. Folic Acid is VERY important in helping reduce the number of babies born with neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are defects in the brain or spine of the developing fetus, which ultimately lead to various problems when the baby is born.

So now that we know why us ladies should take folic acid if we get pregnant, let’s talk about the other reasons we want to take folic acid. How many times have you looked in the mirror and wondered when is your hair finally going to grow out of the, not-so-hot-haircut-anymore? Well ladies, fortunately the answer has been right in front of us. Yes, you guessed correctly, the answer is folic acid. Folic acid has shown to increase the rate of hair and nail growth. And speaking from first hand experience here at Go Folic! Get Healthy, we have experienced it ourselves!

So let’s recap… to help prevent any neural tube defects from happening, as well as to expedite your hair & nail growth, a daily multivitamin with 400mcg of folic acid, as well as eating folate rich foods help reduce your chances (or grow longer hair)! You can find folate (the form of folic acid once it gets broken down in the body) in food such as dark green vegetables, beans, and fortified cereals. In addition, a few fruits such as, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, oranges and grapefruit juice also are rich in folate.

Well ladies and gent’s (those of you wise guys who want to ensure their girlfriend, wife, sister, cousin, etc. stay healthy) it’s been a pleasure… This is just the start of many more blogs to come. As we continue to blog we will get more in depth of the specifics of folic acid. If there are any specific questions on folic acid please comment and let us know. Also, if there are any topics in particular you want to know more about, we can also take request for blog topicsJ

Until next time, keep folicin’ San Francisco.

IMG_0171

Women’s Health News Round-Up: November 15, 2013


This week’s news round-up focuses on health events and new or revised health resources.  What’s included?  A New York Times article about the question of why Americans weigh more now than we did 40 years ago, Diabetes Awareness Month, lesbian/bi/queer women and STI risk, and the relative benefits of HPV vs. pap screening.

Gut bacteriaWhy do Americans Weigh More Now than We Did 40 Years Ago?
For many people it seems clear that the “obesity epidemic” (a phrase we don’t like) is due to bigger portion sizes and less physical activity, a view that is not supported by the research – you cannot tell how much someone eats or exercises just by looking at them.  However, a recent article in the New York Times explores one important factor with which few people are  familiar – changes in the gut bacteria that help us digest carbohydrates, provide vitamins, and regulate how much fat our body stores.  Click here to read the article.

National Diabetes Month 2013November is Diabetes Awareness Month!
Diabetes is a preconception health issue.  Uncontrolled, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes raise the risk of problems for baby and mother. Diabetes affects nearly 26 million Americans and an estimated 79 million people are at risk for developing it. During November, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and its partners are working with individuals, families and communities to take action and encourage simple, but important lifestyle changes to improve their health – particularly if they have diabetes or are at risk for the disease.

Also during Diabetes Awareness Month, the American Diabetes Association, which sponsors the event, is focusing on raising awareness that diabetes is a condition that affects people who have it on a daily basis.  They are inviting people with diabetes to share their photos and stories of living with the disease on Facebook as part of their “Day in the Life of…” campaign.

What to cook if you have diabetes? You can download “Tasty Recipes for People with Diabetes and Their Families” by clicking here (PDF – 1 MB).

Lesbians in love - still from the Taiwanese film, Spider Lilies"Are women who have sex with women at risk for getting STIs?
The Womenshealth.gov website recently updated their website for lesbian and bisexual women.  They now provide a whole section on how STIs are transmitted during sex between women.  In addition to impairing fertility, untreated STIs – including some that are more likely to affect women who have sex with women and trans men,  can affect a developing fetus and raise the risk for preterm birth.  Access the health fact sheet here.

a doctor talks to her patientHPV Screening vs. Pap Smears
Finally, a new study published in the Lancet suggests that screening for the human papillomavirus (HPV) is more effective than Pap tests for protecting women against invasive cervical cancer.  This is life-saving news for the 12,340 who are diagnosed with the condition annually.  Get the full story here.


Why aren’t we all talking about Renisha McBride? Racial Injustice as a Public Health Issue


Go Folic! usually steers clear of controversy.  So why I am writing this post, especially as I am one of only two regular contributors to this blog? As a white woman who is concerned with women’s well-being and who works in the field of public health, I feel compelled to speak out, and to ask my other white colleagues to follow suite.

Who is Renisha McBride?

Renisha McBride funeral coverAt about 2:30 AM on Saturday, November 2, Renisha McBride got into a car accident in her home neighborhood of Dearborn, Michigan. She decided to knock on the door of a nearby house in order to seek assistance.  After being refused help, she began to walk away. It was then that the 70-year old homeowner shot her in the back of the head with a rifle, claiming that he feared for his life.

As many of her advocates have pointed out, if Renisha had been white and the elderly man who shot her had been black, the shooter would have been jailed and the national news machine would have picked up this story immediately.  But Renisha was black, and the shooter was white. It’s Sunday morning now, and this story is getting more coverage in the mainstream press . However, early on, one of the only non-black national news sources to cover the story was Salon.com (thank you, Joan Walsh).

I am a progressive news junkie – a day doesn’t pass when I don’t listen to KPFA, watch the evening news, and peruse the headlines of the New York Times.  The fact that it took almost a full week for me to learn about Ms. McBride’s death – via a Davey D interview on Hard Knock Radio with filmmaker Dream Hampton – says much about the state of racism and racial injustice in America.

Theodore Paul Wafer, the man who used such force when he shot Renisha that her family was unable to hold an open casket funeral, cited Michigan’s “Stand Your Ground Law” as justification, claiming that he was afraid for his life. How can one be threatened by an unarmed teenage girl who is walking away from you?  It is certainly beyond me to understand.  There can be no justification for what happened.

Why write about Renisha McBride on a health blog?

Within public health circles, it is well known that African-American women are two to three times more likely than white women to give birth to babies that are born too small (low birthweight, or less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) and too early (preterm, or at less than 37 weeks of pregnancy). These health disparities continue to impact the health of black women, men and children throughout the life course; poor birth outcomes predict infant mortality, as well as other adverse outcomes, from child disabilities and asthma to adult cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

When first presented with these statistics, I assumed that poverty (certainly a result of racism) was to blame.  It was overwhelming to learn that even black women who are well-educated and financially successful – in other words, women who I count among my friends and colleagues – experience poor birth outcomes at two to three times the rate of their white peers.

Why do these disparities exist, even after socioeconomic status is taken into account?  As Jason Silverstein so eloquently documents in a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly, “Racism is Bad for Our Bodies.” Living in a world where one not only experiences discrimination, but also must ready oneself to experience it on a daily basis creates a constant state of stress that a growing number of studies have shown to increase the risk of everything from depression, to hypertension to breast cancer to infant mortality. As Mr. Silverstein points out, the problem is so pronounced and so so serious that two prestigious journals – The American Journal of Public Health and The Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race – dedicated entire issues to the subject.

What is a white woman’a role?

In her interview with Davey D, which you can listen to in the KPFA archives, Dream Hampton states that white women have an obligation to confront our own racism and our own fears of black people.  I suspect that many of us who work in public health would maintain that in embracing the “fight” against health disparities, we have already done so.

black dad and babyIs this actually the case?  In my fields – reproductive and Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) – black men are usually excluded from conversations (and program funding), even though for the majority of women, they are one half of the equation.  Even worse, black men are frequently demonized as the perpetrators of violence against black women.

These beliefs clearly reflect the racial narrative that is woven into the fabric of white American culture and media, in which people who inhabit black or brown bodies are portrayed as criminals, as slaves, as victims, but rarely as full human beings.

Black folks are not a cause…

Recently, I was asked to join a community advisory board for a project that is addressing race-based health disparities.  During our first meeting, members were asked to state why we were interested in the project.  Almost every white woman at the table, myself included, said something about her commitment to “The Cause.” However, black members’ responses were women far more personal, as women talked eloquently about their own experiences and/or the real life impact of racial injustice on the health of people that they loved.

I thought about my own response long after the meeting.  Intuitively, I knew it was wrong, but couldn’t put my finger on why, despite how deeply troubling I found it.  When I sat down to write this post, it hit me – I had turned black women into a cause, an act that is every bit as dehumanizing as acting on other racial stereotypes can be.

“It’s the Skin We’re In”

We cannot escape the skin we’re in, no matter our color.  But those of us who are white can afford to ignore its consequences.  In a study that was initially published in the January 2009 issue of the Maternal and Child Health Journal, black women of all socioeconomic backgrounds reported racism experiences during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood and vigilance in anticipating future racism events.

The “cause” of racism I can walk away from when I leave my office if I am white. It is much more difficult to walk away from racism when I understand a problem as affecting colleagues and people I love on a daily basis.

Were I to have a daughter of Renisha’s age who found herself in the same circumstances, I would want her to be able to seek help, in whatever neighborhood she found herself.  Living in a world where one must constantly fear for one’s own life or the life of one’s children, can only intensify the health impacts of discrimination.

As one protester in Detroit pointed out to a Voice of Detroit Reporter, “I have a twelve-year-old daughter. I don’t want to hear this kind of news about her. We have a Black President, but it is still open season on us. I’ve been working since the age of 14 and have three college degrees, but people still stereotype me, following me around as I’m shopping.”

It is incumbent upon all of us who work in the health field and are white to support our black sisters and brothers in their fight to ensure an end to this “open season” on black folks of all ages.  We must make repealing “Stand Your Ground” laws and “Stop and Frisk” policies a matter of public health.

Before that, If we genuinely want no more Oscar Grants, no more Trayvon Martins, no more Jack Lamar Robersons, no more Jonathan Ferrells, and no more Renisha McBrides, we must confront the racist, irrational fears we hold of both black women and men. (Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine can be good place to start). We must refuse to feel comfortable with or to support media portrayals of black men and women as criminals, victims, or causes, and examine our motives in wanting to help.  We must listen to and acknowledge the stories that black folks tell about their experiences of racism.  And we must invite our other white friends and colleagues to do the same.

In Closing

________________________________________________________

Shivaun Nestor, Go Folic! CoordinatorWritten with great respect,
Shivaun

Thoughts? Differences of opinion?  Please comment, remembering that we reserve the right to moderate and expect that people discuss issues with respect.

Halloween Preconception Health Tip! Love Your Teeth


Healthy Halloween Teeth?

Healthy Halloween Teeth?

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, which is sponsored by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA).  So it only seemed logical to focus on oral health for our last post of the month.  Yes, today’s post is partially inspired by the candy that is so tempting during and directly after Halloween, not to mention the beautiful sugar skulls that are part of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations.  But it’s also inspired by the importance of dental health for moms-to-be, both before and during pregnancy.

Sugar Skull

Click on the sugar skull for a traditional sugar skull recipe.Why is dental health important for women who might or want to get pregnant?

Brushing, flossing and regular cleaning is important for all women since problems with your teeth and gums can affect the health of your entire body. It’s even more important before and during pregnancy, including for these reasons:

  • Gum disease and other dental problems can affect the health of a pregnancy,  increasing the risk for both having a baby early (preterm) and giving birth to a baby that is too small (low birth weight).
  • The changing hormone levels that occur with pregnancy can actually make some dental problems worse.
  • If a woman’s mouth is healthy before and during pregnancy, it’s likely that her baby will be born with a healthy mouth too.  

Tips for Better Dental Health

Here are some dental health tips from Every Woman California.

  • Visit a dentist at least once a year, or as often as the dentist recommends, for cleaning, exam and protective treatments, such as fluoride and dental sealants.
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush at least two times every day, especially before bed.
  • Floss your teeth every day.
  • Limit foods and drinks containing sugar to mealtimes only. Don’t drink juice, soda or carbonated drinks, including diet soda, between meals. Juices and sodas contain sugar that can cause tooth decay (cavities). Even diet sodas contain acids that can weaken the outer surface of your teeth.
  • If you use chewing gum or candies, choose brands that are sugarless. Those containing xylitol are best and can help protect your teeth. Xylitol can actually help decrease the amount of harmful bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.

What should you do if you don’t have dental insurance?

Despite the fact that a healthy mouth plays an important role in overall health, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t include dental coverage.  And dental care can be very expensive. Fortunately, if you live in San Francisco, there are many sources of free and low-cost dental care, and the San Francisco Health Plan (Healthy SF) does cover some services.  Click here for a recently updated list of low-cost dental providers from the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

How do you brush your teeth?

According to the ADHA, brushing and flossing regularly is the best thing that you can do to keep your mouth healthy.  Are you doing it correctly?  The video below provides a great “how to.” For more tips, click here to go to the ADHA website.

Weekly Health News Round-Up: October 25, 2013


In the news recently – Breast Cancer Awareness Month, youth and herpes immunity, a possible vaccine for those who already have the condition, and a new contraceptive method on the horizon.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Image from mammogram reminder e-card from healthfinder.govThis October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. About 1 out of every 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point during her life. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women. While breast cancer is more common in women over age 40, younger women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancers should also talk to their doctors. And men are not immune; over 2,000 are diagnosed each year.

The good news is that breast cancer is very survivable, especially if it’s found and treated early.  Here are some tips from healthfinder.gov:

  • Your risk increases if a close family member has had breast or ovarian cancer.
  • If you are age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about mammography.
  • Women ages 50 to 74 need mammograms every 2 years.
  • If you are male, click here to learn more about breast cancer in men from the NIH National Cancer Institute.

Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms. Here are a list of questions to guide that discussion.  Never had a mammogram? Nervous?  Click here for a short video about what to expect.  Want to share this information with a friend or family member?  Send an e-card to show you care.

Can eating peanut butter in adolescence reduce breast disease risk as an adult?

On the prevention front, a new study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests that eating peanut butter regularly during the preteen and teen years appears to decrease the risk of developing benign breast disease as an adult.  Click here to read more.

Growing Number of Youth Lack Herpes Simplex 1 Antibodies

holding handsAccording to a new CDC study, many U.S. teens may be more likely to get genital herpes because they didn’t get cold sores as kids.  Published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases and available online, the findings show that fewer of today’s teens have been exposed in their childhood to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), a common cause of cold sores, than U.S. adolescents in previous years. Without these antibodies, today’s teens may be more susceptible – when they become sexually active – to genital infections also caused by the virus, particularly through oral sex. To learn more about herpes, check out TeenSource.org, as well as the San Francisco DPH City Clinic website.

Herpes Vaccines on the Horizon?

herpes virusAccording to the CDC, approximately 1 in 6 U.S. adults between the ages of 14 and 49 has been infected by Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2), usually associated with genital infections.  A much larger number of people are estimated to be infected by Herpes Simplex Virus 1, which can result in oral or genital outbreaks. While not usually a life-threatening disease, research shows that people with herpes are two to three times more likely to acquire HIV, and that herpes can also make HIV-infected individuals more likely to transmit HIV to others.

vaccinations by injectionHowever, two vaccines currently under investigation may help to slow the herpes epidemic.  According to a report presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Denver, Colorado on Sept. 12, 2013, a new vaccine may reduce transmission of the virus by reducing “viral shedding” via the skin among those who already have HSV-2.  A study published in New England Journal of Medicine in January 2012, found that another vaccine was partially effective at preventing the genital transmission of HSV-1 among women.  While it had no effect on HSV-2 transmission, those women who received the investigational vaccine had fewer than half (58%) the cases of genital herpes caused by HSV-1 compared with women who received the control vaccine.  Stay tuned for more updates!

Phase 3 Trial of 1-Year Contraceptive Vaginal Ring Shows Positive Results

Nestorone 1-year contraceptive vaginal ringThe Population Council announced at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine that its 1-year vaginal ring is as safe and effective as other birth control methods that contain both estrogen and progesterone.  The Stage 3 trial involved more than 1,100 healthy, normally ovulating women across 12 study sites in Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Women who participated in the study were highly satisfied with the ring, found it easy to use, and indicated that they would recommend it to other women. The ring was also well-accepted by their partners.

According to Ruth Merkatz, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Development for the Population Council’s Reproductive Health Program, “If approved by regulatory authorities, the ring will offer a unique contraceptive option: a contraceptive that is effective for one full year, is under the woman’s control, and does not require insertion by a health care professional.”  To learn more, go to http://www.popcouncil.org/projects/115_OneYearCombVagRing.asp

Weekly Round-Up: Women’s Health News 8.16.13


In this week’s news – more benefits to breastfeeding, the wide use of withdrawal as birth control, post-partum depression among urban women, a new HIV treatment, help for smokers who want to quit, and decreases in the U.S. infertility rate.

One Third of All U.S. Women Uses Withdrawal for Birth Control
If you and a partner have used withdrawal for birth control, you’re not alone.  A new study found that up to 1/3 of sexually active U.S. women between the ages of 15-24 has done so.  While withdrawal can be almost as effective as condoms for pregnancy prevention when used perfectly, it is a very difficult method to use, resulting in a failure rate of 30%.  While many women use withdrawal when they cannot afford more effective hormonal methods of birth control, this will hopefully become less common since the Affordable Care Act requires that all insurance plans cover contraception with no co-pay.  If you are using withdrawal, it is very important to take a daily vitamin with folic acid in case you do get pregnant (see the Go Folic! website). Click here to learn more about the study.

New Moms – Breastfeeding May Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer!
A new analysis published in this month’s Journal of Clinical Nursing found that breastfeeding for more than six months may safeguard nonsmoking mothers against breast cancer. The same does not seem to hold true for smoking mothers, though. These findings add to the list of benefits of breastfeeding for women and their babies. Click here to learn more.

Urban Moms at Greater Risk for Post-Partum Depression
A new Canadian study found that that women living in urban centers with more than 500,000 inhabitants were at higher risk of postpartum depression than women in other areas. Postpartum depression is a serious health concern for women and their children and women who lack of social support and/or have a history of depression are at greater risk.  To learn more about the study, click here.

Thinking of Becoming an Ex-Smoker? Meditation May Help
One of the first actions doctors recommend to a woman smoker who wants to get pregnant is to quit smoking. But that can be easier said than done. A small study conducted by the University of Oregon’s department of psychology found that learning a particular type of meditation technique might make it easier for smokers to cut down, at least on a short-term basis. Mindfulness meditation is designed to help people to relax, focus on the current moment and, essentially, go with the flow of thoughts and sensations. Click here to learn more.

Good News for Would-Be Parents – U.S. Fertily Rate is Decreasing!
A couple is considered to be infertile if they have been having unprotected vaginal intercourse for 12 months in a row without experiencing a pregnancy. According to the National Health Statistics Report, the rate of infertility among U.S. couples, ages 15-44 declined between 1982 and 2010, from 8.5% to 6.0%. Click here to download the full report (PDF).

New HIV Drug Just Approved
On August 12, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Tivicay (dolutegravir), a new drug to treat HIV-1 infection. It can be used to treat HIV-infected adults who have never taken HIV therapy (treatment-naïve) and HIV-infected adults who have previously taken HIV therapy (treatment-experienced). The drug is also approved the drug for children ages 12 years and older weighing at least 40 kilograms. Visit the FDA website to learn more.