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How healthy is your diet: a closer look at diet and supplements

Randi Mann Wise Woman special series 2022

Our Wise Woman Wellness series continues with Randi Mann taking a closer look at knowing what’s best to put into our bodies in terms of nutrition and supplements.
Randi Mann: “Health is really related to the inner-connectedness of our gut, our brain, our immune and our hormone systems. It all connects and food is a piece of all of that. So I always tell my patients, it’s always food first. What you’re eating and drinking every day is sending messages to your cells. We turn cancer genes on or suppress them – we use food as medicine.”
DIET
“It’s so important to understand that our choices that we’re making every day are making our health good or bad, so if you make healthy choices on a daily basis it’s going to make a big difference in your health long term,” she said.
She recommends the 80-20 rule to her patients. Letting them know to eat right at least 80% of the time, and use the 20% or less for not so healthy choices.
“For true health and healing we have to work every day to send the right messages to ourselves and food keeps us well-nourished. The right foods help lower our stress level and balance our hormone levels, so if we can stay well-supported and calm our bodies, we will function better. Our bodies know what to do to stay healthy and to heal if we give them the right stuff things and stop giving ourselves the wrong things,” she said.
DIGESTION
“You have to also have a good digestive system to absorb the foods you eat, and that means a good healthy lining in your GI tract, the right bacteria in your gut along with the right acidity and enzymes in your gut as well,” Mann said.
She said sometimes that is where supplements come in. When women are having digestive issues she will suggest different supplements to stimulate provide different enzymes and optimal pH to promote digestive health or probiotics which help support their optimal gut flora and digestion.
She also said good digestion starts with something as simple as taking time when you’re eating, rather than rushing.
“It starts with chewing your food. It’s recommended to chew your food at least 30 times and if you actually count how many times you chew you will realize that you may not be even close to that. Chewing mixes up the saliva and breaks up the food for your stomach to then digest it. In the saliva are enzymes that break up the starch and sugars so we need the saliva to mix in there,” she said.
She also recommends sitting down when you eat. Eat mindfully to enjoy the flavors and the sensations in your mouth and feelings of fullness.
“Take a break – that’s all part of mindful eating,” Mann said.
Mann also recommends that her patients eat 25 grams of good quality protein in the morning (before 10 a.m.).
“That protein helps the body feel satiated. It helps set up your body to get ready to do your detox processes because your liver needs certain amino acids from proteins. To get 25 grams in the morning, someone might think an egg or two is enough. This is incorrect as an egg might only have 6 grams in it, so it’s hard to get 25 grams of protein unless you’re really making an effort. Good quality protein powders help with that. That’s a quick, easy way to get your protein,” Mann said.
She also recommends trying to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, which also includes eating a healthy lunch and dinner and a small snack or two that has some fat, fiber and protein in it…even though she knows our busy lifestyles can often make getting those meals challenging.
She also recommends people, especially those with a lot of health issues and/or autoimmune conditions, try eliminating gluten from their diet and eat dairy in moderation. Still she said it’s not the same for everyone.
“Everybody’s different. There is no one size fits all diet for every person,” Mann said.
She also recommends eating plenty of healthy fats and fewer fats called omega-6s (found in processed foods, salad dressing and processed vegetable oils like canola, safflower etc.).
“Fats are really important and they make us feel full longer,” Mann said. Those include healthy olive and avocado foods and oils, butter from grass fed beef, fish such as salmon and fish oil, nuts and seeds including flax seeds.” “Staying hydrated is important and everyone should drink clean, filtered water throughout the day – half your weight in ounces daily.”
Limit sugar and processed foods and “eat the rainbow” – at least 5 different colorful fruits and vegetables a day. Opt for more complex carbohydrates such as from vegetables, fruits, beans and lentils instead of bread products in the diet.
She also recommends eating organic if you can. Avoid the follow “dirty dozen” if you cannot find them in organic form as they generally have higher pesticide concentrations.
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Kale, collard greens, and mustard greens
4. Nectarines
5. Apples
6. Grapes
7. Cherries
8. Peaches
9. Pears
10. Bell peppers and hot peppers
11. Celery
12. Tomatoes
Eat the clean 15 (not as essential to eat these in organic form as they have little, if any, measurable pesticide residues) which are:
1. Sweet corn
2. Avocados
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Onions
6. Frozen Sweet Peas
7. Papayas
8. Asparagus
9. Mangos
10. Eggplant
11. Honeydew
12. Kiwi
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Grapefruit
She also recommends eating good fats.
“Fats are really important and they make us feel full longer,” Mann said. Those include healthy olive and avocado foods and oils, butter from grass fed beef, fish such as salmon and fish oil, nuts and seeds including flax seeds.” “Staying hydrated is important and everyone should drink clean, filtered water throughout the day – half your weight in ounces daily.”
Besides eating as healthy as possible, Mann also recommends a few supplements to aid in promoting optimum health.
Mann said that something we need, especially in Wisconsin is to get the right amount of Vitamin D.
“I like patients to keep their Vitamin D level up – a minimum of 50 and for most people here in Wisconsin that means you have to take a Vitamin D3 supplement that should also include vitamin K to support calcium absorption into the bones,” she said. She encourages her patients to also take a daily, high quality, therapeutically dosed multivitamin and mineral along with fish oil and a probiotic as each have definite benefits for the body”.
In functional nutrition, a “balanced diet” is one that works for you, your unique health concerns and preferences. In other words, there isn’t one diet or way of eating that works for everyone. A food plan should be tailored to you in order to improve your overall health and well-being.
Randi Mann isa Woman’s Health Nurse Practitioner and though not a nutritionist, teaching her patients about healthy eating was part of her training in her studies regarding functional medicine.

Quiz: How healthy is your diet
Circle your answers after careful thought, then add up your points (numbers in parentheses).
1. How many fruits do you normally eat each day (1/2 cup fresh fruit or dried fruit, 1 medium piece, 1 cup unsweetened juice?)
a. 0 (-2)
b. 1(0)
c. 2 to 3 (+2)
d. 4 or more (+3)

2. How many vegetable servings do you normally eat each day (1 cup leafy greens, ½ cup any other veggie, or raw or cooked?)
a. 0 (-4)
b. 1(0)
c. 2 (+1)
d. 4 or more (+3)

3. How many different varieties of vegetables do you eat in a normal month?
a. 2 or less (-4)
b. 3 to 4 (0)
c. 5 to 6 (+1)
d. 7 to 8 (+3)
e. 9 or more (+4)

4. How many times do you eat dried beans or peas (legumes, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, green peas, etc.) in a normal week?
a. 0 (-2)
b. 1 to 2 (0)
c. 3 to 4 (+1)
d. 5 to 6 (+2)
e. 7 or more (+3)

5. How many times do you eat red meat in a normal weak?
a. 6 or more (-4)
b. 4 to 5 (-3)
c. 1 to 3 (-1)
d. Less than once a week (+2)
e. 0 (+3)

6. How many times do you eat in a fast food restaurant in a normal week?
a. 6 or more (-5)
b. 4 to 5 (-4)
c. 1 to 3 (-3)
d. Less than once a week (-2)
e. 0 (0)

7. In a typical day, what do you drink most often?
a. Soda (regular or diet) (-4)
b. Caffeinated coffee or tea (-1)
c. Decaffeinated coffee or tea (0)
d. Milk or fruit juice (0)
e. Herbal tea or water (+3)

8. How many 12 oz. cans of soda do you drink in a normal day?
a. 6 or more (-5)
b. 4 to 5 (-4)
c. 2 to 3 (-3)
d. 1 (-2)
e. Less than 1 (-1)
f. 0 (0)

9. How often do you eat fish in a typical week?
a. Never (-2)
b. Once (+1)
c. Twice (+2)
d. 3 to 5 times (+3)

10. In a typical week, how often do you eat whole grains (100% whole grain bread, whole oats, brown rice, quinoa, whole rye crackers?)
a. Never (-3)
b. 1 to 2 times a week (-1)
c. 3 to 4 times a week (0)
d. 5 to 6 times a week (+1)
e. 1 or more times a day (+3)

11. How often do you eat sweets such as cookies, cakes or ice cream?
a. 1 or more times a day (-3)
b. Every other day (-2)
c. Twice a week (-1)
d. Once a week (0)
e. 2 to 3 times a month (+1)
f. Rarely (+3)

Your Total Score ___________________
Scoring: 22-28 – Great eating habits
17-21 – Pretty good eating habits
12 – 16 – Needs some improvement
9 or less – Needs much improvement, try to change one habit at a time

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