Asparagus is full of folic acid and antioxidants.

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The old saying goes that a pregnant woman is eating for two. The new twist on that old wisdom (this time backed by solid research) is that a woman should be eating for two before she becomes pregnant -- certainly in terms of the quality of her diet if not truly in terms of quantity.

It's only been fairly recently that science has shown us just how much is at stake if a woman's nutritional status is not up to snuff when she conceives. Certain aspects of the fetus's normal development depend greatly on the mother's nutrition before she becomes pregnant. One of the most crucial links is that between the mother-to-be's intake of folic acid and neural-tube birth defects in her child. If the woman is at a healthy, appropriate weight for her size when she conceives, this also appears to have a beneficial effect on pregnancy outcome.

In this article, we will review how women can decrease the risk of neural-tube birth defects by eating a healthier diet and increasing their intake of folic acid. This alternative treatment can be followed before and during pregnancy.

Of course, a woman's nutrition and lifestyle during pregnancy can greatly affect her chances of delivering a healthy baby, too. Adequate weight gain during pregnancy is important for reducing the chance of having a low-birth-weight infant, who has a higher risk of health problems as a result. Avoiding toxic substances -- such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other illegal drugs, and even many legal medications -- during pregnancy also increases the likelihood of having a healthy baby.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.