Superstar for Liver Health – An Interview with Lauren Wagner

An Interview with Lauren Wagner,
Registered Dietitian: Abdominal Transplant Educator at Keck Medicine of USC

What do you enjoy most about being a nutritionist?

Striving to empower, educate, and support my clients to achieve great health and wellness is my very favorite part of being a nutritionist. I love teaming up with individuals to develop personalized action plans that support their unique health profile and nutrition goals.

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to eat healthy?

That’s an easy one – establish a relationship with an outpatient Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)! It’s as simple as hopping on the internet and visiting or talking to your Primary Care Physician about a referral.
Eating healthy starts with taking a good look at your current eating habits and lifestyle. From there you want to determine goals – perhaps you want to eat better or affect your current disease state, lose weight, improve cholesterol, improve blood pressure, reduce body fat, increase energy levels, improve family nutrition or decrease inflammation. Whatever your goals are, you want to establish them first.From there, with some guidance, you start making gradual changes to your eating habits, lifestyle and behaviors to support those goals.
A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is the perfect teammate to guide you through this process, making it simple and easy to follow.

What is your number one piece of advice regarding liver health?

I have 3, so I hope that’s okay :)

  1. Eat a balanced, Mediterranean style diet that’s loaded with vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, plant proteins, lean animal proteins, probiotics, healthy monounsaturated and omega 3 fats.
  2. Drink enough water – every day. For healthy individuals that aren’t on a fluid restriction that means take your weight in pounds and cut that number in half. That’s the amount, in ounces of water, you should be drinking daily.
  3. Find a form of physical activity you enjoy doing and work to get in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week, I’d shoot for 30 minutes daily.

What foods would you suggest liver patients stop eating?

  1. Salt -- that includes both salt added at the table and excess salt that’s already been added to highly processed foods. Get good at reading labels while grocery shopping – if there’s less than 140mg of sodium per serving, that’s great! If there’s greater than 300mg of sodium per serving, I’d put that product back and find something else.
  2. Sugar -- especially fructose and high fructose corn syrup found in soda, fruit juice and highly processed sweets.
  3. High glycemic index foods -- sweets, white pasta, white rice, white bread, refined cereals.
  4. Saturated and trans fats -- fatty meats, fatty dairy products and highly processed foods.
  5. Last but not least, if your liver isn't functioning well, you should also hold off on any alcohol consumption.

To finish up, tell us an interesting fact about you.

So I grew up on a dairy farm in Upstate New York, and this provided me with unique early experiences for sure! Proper life stage nutrition for our 500 cow dairy herd was a frequent topic of dinner conversation. Feed rations, trace minerals and seasonal recipe modifications - these things directly affected herd health and quality of milk production. My deep-rooted aspiration for health and wellness is based on watching our herd flourish with proper nutrition.

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