How I used nutritious shakes then green smoothies to give my wife nourishment when she had no appetite and was wasting away

Photo by Joanna Slodownik (courtesy of Flickr and Creative Commons)

Photo by Joanna Slodownik (courtesy of Flickr and Creative Commons)

This blog describes natural methods of health care that contribute to preventing the development of cancer or to bolstering its treatment. They are meant to serve as a complement to conventional approaches (such as surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy). The contents of this blog cannot replace a physicians opinion. It is not intended to be used to make a diagnosis or to recommend a treatment.

As I mentioned in my wife’s story, at one point the disease had progressed to the point where it started pulling down into cachexia. This is a wasting syndrome in which the illness, if not addressed, can cause extreme weight loss, prolonged loss of appetite and progressive weakness. If not dealt with it can reach the point where the patient no longer has the strength to tolerate cancer treatment.

Dr. Patrick Quillin states in Beating Cancer With Nutrition that about forty percent of people that expire after being diagnosed with cancer don’t die from the disease but from malnutrition.

In addition to dumping certain foods our diet (sugar, white flour, white rice, red meat, etc.) and adding in other items (whole grains, stevia, fish, etc.) I searched for a way to get my wife the nutrition her body needed to recover from chemo and battle her illness.

In Beating Cancer With Nutrition I found a recipe for something called the Dragonslayer Shake which allows you to choose among ingredients to build your own unique nutritional shake. I chose my own “recipe” and started feeding my wife Dragonslayer Shakes twice a day–morning and evening. I probably used way too much soy milk because my wife frequently complained that the shakes was too thick and hard to swallow.

With more reading I tweaked the recipe a lot until I have what we use today.

When searching Amazon for books with recipes for nutritional shakes I repeatedly found titles about “green smoothies”. The name sounded pretty yuckie but with so many titles I was curious and started to investigate.

I found that green smoothies have become increasingly popular the last few years and don’t taste bad if properly made (despite the gross sounding name).

We had tried a few average blenders but they were only so-so at liquefying ingredients. I became impressed when I watched a commercial for the Nutribullet (you can also watch it at Nutribullet.com). It seemed to liquefy ingredients far better than the ones we had used. Their website also has some impressive testimonials that helped convince me to give it a try. On their website the unit costs about $120 plus postage. At Walmart.com I bought one for $99.95 (and their postage is cheaper).

The cream of the crop among blenders is Vitamix but their units range from over $400 to over $600. (Maybe some day.) Blend Tech is another more expensive, longer lasting brand you might consider if you’d like something longer lasting.

Green smoothies are usually some mix of fruits and vegetables. The recipe booklet that comes with the Nutribullet usually uses a mix of half fruits and half veggies. The fruit helps balance out the veggies so you don’t feel like you’re drinking freshly mowed grass. They actually taste pretty good and are highly nutritious. I compare it to drinking your daily salad without all the fuss of chopping and chewing.

I wanted to tailor my wife’s smoothies to her cancer needs. I wanted to pack each one with veggies and fruits that had some cancer fighting qualities in them.

In the book Anticancer by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber I found a section of charts titled “Classification of the Effects of Certain Foods on Several Specific Cancer.” Each chart shows the result of experiments done by Canadian cancer researcher Dr. Richard Beliveau, Ph.D. in which he used crude extracts from various fruits and vegetables and exposed them to the cells of several types of cancer. The charts rate (from highest to lowest) effectiveness of inhibiting the growth of various cancers). NOTE: Dr. Beliveau wrote an excellent, well illustrated book titled Foods to Fight Cancer if you’re interested.

From the chart showing the effect of certain fruits and vegetables on breast cancer I chose certain ones to use in a green smoothie. Unfortunately I had to reject the ones at the very top of the chart (garlic, leeks, scallions, brussels sprouts) because, although they were the most effective on targeting all types of cancer cells their strong taste would make a green smoothie intolerable for long.

I chose certain vegetables and fruits that also showed strong cancer fighting ability but that didn’t taste unbearably strong: cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and broccoli. For the vegetable half of the smoothies I rotate two of these in a morning smoothie and two others in the evening. I also throw in some collard greens, or swiss chard or other veggies for variety.

Depending which vegetable I’m using for that particular smoothie I tear the vegetables into small chunks that will allow me to pack the maximum amount into the container.

I use only the green portions of brocoli along with the short stems that support them. I break them up into little chunks and put them into the blender container. Unfortunately the big stems get dumped into our garden for much because they have a relatively tough skin.

I also break the cauliflower up into small chunks to get the maximum amount into the container, or tear up the cabbage or kale leaves into little chunks and compress them into the bottom half.

Because of pesticides, dirt, and an occassional bug I recommend washing well (especially the vegetable portion). I pour the chunks in a tightly sealed Rubbermaid container with water, shake vigorously and drain.

I pack the washed veggies back into the bottom half of the blender container and proceed on to the fruit half.

For the fruit half of the smoothies I usually use frozen strawberries or frozen blueberries/raspberries/blackberries mix (I get at the local Cost-U-Less) because of their anti-cancer properties I read in Dr. Beliveau’s book. I also use overripe frozen bananas to thicken and sweeten things.

Because I use frozen bananas and frozen berries (and sometimes frozen orange sections or other frozen fruits) I normally don’t need to wash them. If you use fruits that may have been exposed to pesticides it’s a good idea to wash them like the vegetables.

I add in a couple teaspoons of ground flax seeds (for the extremely high omega 3 content), a couple of teaspoons of wheat germ (just because I’ve read it’s got lots of healthy stuff in it).

I also add in a teaspoon or so of whey powder for protein (something important when you’re wasting away and losing weight). In Life Over Cancer, Dr. Block recommends cold processed whey and from research I found that Designer Whey is processed that way. In the book he recommends avoiding dairy products because the casein portion of the milk protein is not helpful when dealing with cancer. But the whey portion of the milk protein doesn’t cause any problems.

Finally I add in a teaspoon or two of green powder drink mix (or “superfood” as Dr. Block calls it). There are several brands on the market. They tend to be pricey because they contain so many dehydrated ingredients. For example a partial list of the one I use contains: spirulina, barley grass, chlorella, asparagus, royal jelly, aloe vera, and probiotics to support the immune system. And there are five more sections of ingredients for various reasons.

I searched the internet for websites that review and rate green drink mixes and based on taste and content ratings I chose Emerald Balance. As a side benefit It really makes my wife’s smoothies taste much better. When we run out I really notice it.

I searched around for a reasonably priced online source of Designer Whey and Emerald Balance and found Dr. Vita (drvita.com). Many if not most of the brand names health foods they sell are discounted and they tack on nothing additional for postage. I’ve ordered a few times from them so far and they’ve done okay so far.

For tablet supplements I presently give a reasonable quality multivitamin. For now we use Ultra Woman 50 Plus twice a day. It has no iron because she is post menopausal and in Life Over Cancer states that some studies have shown that iron can have some negative effects in dealing with cancer.

She also takes vitamin D3 (10,000 IU) once day and Omega 3 fish oil triple strength (950 mg. active omega 3) both from Vitamin World.

We recently came back from a trip to The Block Center and are awaiting test results and recommendation for any additional supplementation. But this is a snap shot of where we’re at for now.

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