By Thais Harris, NC
Nutrition Education Program Manager
Our last article outlined our food philosophy. In this article, we want to tell you about our Ceres Extras, which are “superfoods” we provide to clients and also sell to the general public at our Bodega Avenue location. These Extras were formulated to provide clients with extra support for their immune system, energy level, healthy gut flora, and nausea relief.
Supporting our body through what we eat is relatively simple when we are well but becomes a bigger and more important challenge when we are dealing with a critical illness. Illness changes how our energy is used, effects our appetite and ability to eat, and adds nutritional demands. When we are ill and healing from a serious illness, every bite counts.
During a serious illness, the loss of vital energy may be one of the most difficult obstacles we face. Our store of energy is what allows us to do the physical, emotional and mental activities we aspire to during our waking day. Pain associated with illness can further deplete our reserves as the body seeks to repair itself.
Cathryn Couch, MBA, Thais Harris, N.C., and Lily Mazzarella, MS, CNS, provide oversight regarding Ceres’ food philosophy, menu planning, recipe development and the formulation of Ceres Extras. We continue to improve our products and meals based on research and feedback from clients. We always ask clients to check with their doctors first to make sure the herbs and mushrooms in our formulas work for them during their treatment.
• Immune Broth
• Vital Bites
• Nettles and Seaweed Spice Blend
• Ceres’ Smoothie Mix
• Ceres’ Ginger Glycerite—Nausea Support
We also provide Skin Salvation to our clients, an all-organic salve formulated to support skin healing and restoration (donated by Galen’s Way), and goat kefir, donated by Redwood Hill Farm & Creamery, which is a good source of protein and calcium, and offers needed probiotics to assist in repopulating our client’s gut flora (published studies show that enzyme and probiotic-rich kefir strengthens the immune system while promoting digestive health).
This is a potassium rich, alkalinizing, vegetable-based broth that was specifically formulated for our clients who are going through chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer, but would be nourishing for anyone who is weakened by illness.
Our preference is to send a container of all the ingredients so that clients can brew their own broth. This method gives clients several quarts a week of broth. If clients are unable to make their own, we send them a quart of prepared broth weekly.
We recommend that clients do not drink or use Immune Broth on the day before they receive chemotherapy, the day of treatment, and for two days after, as the mushrooms may interfere with some chemo drugs.
In recent years, sea vegetables — formerly called seaweeds — have become favorites in the whole foods arena. If you aren’t already familiar with sea vegetables, you might be asking, “Why would anyone want to eat sea vegetables?”
The main reason is that sea vegetables provide a broad range of minerals that are bioavailable — readily available — to our bodies.
Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine and vitamin K, a very good source of the B vitamin folate and of magnesium, and a good source of iron, calcium, and the B vitamins riboflavin and pantothenic acid. In addition, sea vegetables contain good amounts of lignans, chlorophyll, protein, and phytonutrients with cancer protective properties.
Lignans have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis, or blood cell growth, the process through which fast-growing tumors not only gain extra nourishment, but send cancer cells out in the bloodstream to establish secondary tumors or metastases in other areas of the body. In addition, lignans have been credited with inhibiting estrogen synthesis in fat cells as effectively as some of the drugs used in cancer chemotherapy. In postmenopausal women, fat tissue is a primary site where estrogen is synthesized, and high levels of certain estrogen metabolites are considered a significant risk factor for breast cancer.
Research is also showing a link between low iodine levels and breast cancer. Sea vegetables with the highest iodine contents include bladderwrack and nori.
These raw organic balls are more than just a healthy treat. They are formulated to nourish our clients undergoing chemo and radiation therapy and are helpful to anyone under stress.
We recommend that clients do not eat Vital Bites on the day before they receive chemotherapy, the day of treatment, and for two days after, as the mushrooms may interfere with some chemo drugs.
The ingredients in our Vital Bites are: raw sprouted California almonds, organic coconut oil, organic coconut, organic local honey, organic cocoa powder and spices, our proprietary organic herb blend (shiitake, reishi and cordyceps mushroom powders, eleuthero, turmeric, ashwaganda and licorice).
The herbs included in our Vital Bites are considered tonics and have been used for centuries in both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine to enhance vitality and well-being. Modern herbalists call them adaptogens. Adaptogens are a class of herbs which provide systemwide resistance to a broad range of factors, enhance our capacity to manage emotional, physical and environmental stress, and have a normalizing or balancing effect on the body.
Mushrooms have been treasured as remedies for disease and as natural health supplements for thousands of years. In many Asian countries, supplementation with mushrooms is considered standard practice for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. An increasing number of Western studies are supporting these claims of the benefits of mushrooms.
A few of the most potent — and most studied — varieties of mushrooms include reishi, cordyceps, maitake and shiitake. Most mushroom varieties are considered to be adaptogens — substances that help the body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic functions, and help restore balance. When in 1993 the Chinese Olympic athletes were accused of using drugs to enhance their performance, it was actually cordyceps mushrooms that were credited for their incredible stamina.
A growing body of research is supporting the use of mushrooms in both cancer prevention and in reducing the side effects of traditional cancer treatments. The combination of active ingredients in mushrooms seems to maximize the body’s immune response which is vital to recognizing and eliminating tumor cells.
A 2005 study by Cancer Research UK noted, “These compounds have been shown to be safe when taken over long periods of treatment and significantly, these compounds appear to reduce the adverse effects of radiation and chemotherapy.” In general, mushrooms work to facilitate the body’s movement towards health. If you are not allergic to them and enjoy their flavor and texture, we suggest that you include two or three servings of a variety of mushrooms in your weekly menus.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut support healthy intestinal bacteria which in turn enables the body to digest and assimilate the food we eat. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and many pharmaceutical drugs disrupt the intestinal bacteria. Eating small amounts of fermented foods on a daily basis can help support and/or restore healthy digestion.
Our clients receive a pint of our raw sauerkraut each week. Our serving suggestion is one or two tablespoons per day or more.
Ingredients: raw organic cabbage, sea salt and either ginger, seaweed, dill or other herbs and spices.
This tasty mixture of seaweed, herbs and seeds provides an easy way to get small amounts of supportive herbs into your diet each day and can be easily used as condiment on any food. It comes in a glass spice jar that holds about 2 ounces of herbs.
Ingredients: Organic nettles, basil, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, nori seaweed, dandelion leaf, milk thistle seed, garlic powder, sunflower seeds, thyme, turmeric, black pepper and cayenne.
For clients who are having trouble keeping weight on, or have days when they can’t eat or don’t want to eat solid foods, this smoothie formula can be a wonderful way to get the nutrients they need, especially protein.
We recommend the following directions when using our smoothie mix:
• 2–2½ tablespoons Ceres’ Smoothie Powder (You can start with smaller amounts and build up to 2 TBSP.)
• ½–¾ cup liquid—juice, herbal tea, yogurt, milk (goat, cow, coconut, rice, almond)
• ¾–1½ cup fruit (berries, bananas, mango…)
• ½ cup leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, purple cabbage)
Blend until thick and creamy. Experiment and adjust ingredients to suit your taste.
Ingredients: Client’s choice of high quality whey or rice protein powder, Vitamineral Green (a highly concentrated powdered blend of 31 whole superfood ingredients, including land and sea vegetables, cereal grasses, fruits, algaes, enzymes, probiotics, and beneficial microflora), ground flax seed, organic lecithin, & organic ashwaganda powder.
Ginger is a time-tested remedy for nausea, a common side effect of chemotherapy. The fresh ginger glycerite we make in our kitchen can be taken by the dropperful, diluted in sparkling water to make a no-sugar ginger soda, or added to tea.
We hope this information will inspire you to try one or some of our Ceres Extras, or even make yourself at home!